School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2013 Newsletter

By Ya'Acov
I woke up early this morning, travelling on the overnight train from Berlin to Paris. Iím en route to South Arica and my dreams, not surprisingly, were all travelling dreams. When I woke, the smell of the land around Knysna, where I will teach next weekend, was fresh in my nostrils. For a moment, I wasnít sure where I was. I could feel the motion of the train, and the fleeting images of my dreams were still in front of my eyes.

That in-between place, between one city and another, between waking and sleeping, between cityscape and the open landscape of the countryside, and between movement and stillness, has always held a fascination for me. I like that feeling of not knowing where I am. Am I dreaming or am I awake? Am I at home or somewhere else? Saturday night in Berlin. Sunday night on the train. Monday night in the air over Africa and Tuesday night in Johannesburg; well, that’s what comes of teaching movement for nearly 25 years!

We’re in the process of moving from the house we’ve lived in for the past 12 years. It’s been a beautiful home for us. When we first arrived, on September 1st 2000, we had just come back to Devon from assisting on a six-week summer intensive with Gabrielle in California. We were totally engaged with our 5Rhythms work and our work as one of the two Moving Centre Schools in existence at that time. I remember doing a burial ceremony in the garden soon after moving in (and having to explain to the neighbours why I was digging a grave in the garden!). During the ceremony, I felt such a strong connection with the land. For the first time, I felt truly at home. I was in touch with the deer that roam in the forest next to our house. I felt deeply welcomed. I had the distinct feeling that I could do this ceremony every couple of years until I died. It would save anyone else the trouble of digging my grave too and I would have died as I lived – in ceremony! I had felt that same feeling of homecoming when I first met the 5Rhythms and Gabrielle in 1988; finally, a sense of belonging, of rightness, of welcome. And so I committed myself totally to that practice and I learned so much from it. Alongside my other shamanic studies, I was finding my way into the core of the one I am and looking for the form of my offering. It was tough going at times.

The realisation that shamanism was the language that made sense of my experience was fraught with challenges. I had to straighten out my ideas of what shamanism was and find out just exactly what that shamanic spirit inside me needed. Growing up in our industrialised story of separation from body, land and our own ground presents a certain kind of challenge. The battle between the rational and the poetic, the freedom and creativity of the spirit and the realities of trying to survive in this world, raged on in me. I was looking for a contemporary shamanism inside a culture that had virtually destroyed its own shamanic roots. And in order to do that, I had to learn from shamanic traditions from other cultures. For years, I held a Native American pipe that was given to me (by my therapist!). I always felt as if it was on loan and once I felt I had remembered how to pray, I gave it back to a Native American Medicine Woman who I believe still holds it.

I remember when Suprapto Suryadarmo invited me as a guest to one of his groups and introduced me as a ‘Jewish shaman’ how I felt such a conflict of responses. Part of me felt proud to be finally recognised. But much stronger was the feeling of being exposed, branded and even shamed. I talked to Gabrielle about it and she delivered one of her hammer blow responses that would crush an old story to powder and simultaneously open a new door. ‘Stop thinking that being a shaman is special. It’s just a job like any other.’  Aha! And there I was, on a new road.

When I was young, I loved to be outside. I loved my little special place in the garden under a small tree where my imagination was wild and free and I talked endlessly with the spirit beings that were my friends. I loved the open space by the sea and the magic of the sand hills. I loved nature without realising it. It was shamanism that brought me back to that love and sense of the aliveness of the land. The land, just like the body, is alive with story.

So there I was, in a new millennium, at home in our garden, and at home in my practice, my community and my teaching. And it was at that new peak of contentment that things began to change. Isn’t it one of the Creators little cosmic jokes that just when we feel we’ve arrived somewhere, we see that the perfection of that moment has passed and the picture is already changing. Hold on as we might, the cracks have appeared and the skin is feeling too tight and some new dream is arising from deep in the heart of the soul and even though we may resist, we already know that we must follow. And isn’t this nature’s way too? At the height of Winter, the promise of spring can already be seen. And just when the sun reaches its peak of strength, death is already present pulling us towards the end of one thing and the birth of another. This story is so present in the Celtic wheel of the year but even more potently, it is present wherever nature is.

And that’s how it was for me. No sooner had I arrived home in my practice, than life was already pointing out the inescapability of change. I had recently met up with a long time dream teacher of mine for the first time in the flesh and that meeting had truly blown my mind. My dreamscapes were changing radically and the Amazon had already reached out its gnarly, primal fingers towards me and called me to another sense of home. And my relationship to my beloved teaching practice and love of the 5Rhythms had also reached a deep sense of limitation inside me. I was no longer content, satisfied or held. On the contrary, I began meeting people from all directions who challenged the stories that had imperceptibly become my beliefs. Why only 5 Rhythms? Why does energy only move in that pattern? My meetings in dreams and on my journeys and with shamans from different cultures had already shifted me out of my comfort zone and a new round of growing pains had begun.

Around that time, what is now the Movement Medicine mandala arrived in my dreams like a bolt of lightening. I didn’t get it. I thought it was a logo for the next stage in a long-term project that I have only recently realised is the very long-term creative project called life! It’s taken more than 10 years for our understanding of what it contains to reach its current state. I think that the most important thing we’ve realised so far is that, just like any other practice, it really is a story. And like any good story, it is alive with possibility and in order to stay alive, it must evolve. And the more people that are working with it, the more of an inevitability that evolution is. Your view is different than mine and any good relationship has to make space not just to tolerate difference, but also to positively celebrate it. It’s the magnificence of diversity that is the juice of community, whether that be a human community or the much wider community of life. Sometimes, we fall into the pallid and toxic zone of silencing ourselves in order to fit in or hold on. But if we are continually saying to life ‘I want to be the one I am. I want to keep on evolving towards a deeper sense of self-knowledge and knowledge of life, in matter and spirit, and give everything I’ve got’ then life will respond. Life is the dance between fluidity and structure and we are only heading for trouble if we ignore one or the other.

To be clear, it’s not that I decided that the 5Rhythms were no longer valid, not at all. Even when we were leaving, it was clear that they and our years of practice with them would always remain a part of our foundation. It was simply that they were no longer my practice and when I was able to look a little more clearly, I could see that they hadn’t been for some time. It was like a snake shedding its skin. Underneath, there was already a fully formed new skin and the process of evolution, though painful on the human level, could not have been more natural. So it is with the dance of Re-Creation. And it serves us well to follow the changing seasons and keep up-to-date with the story we are telling. It serves us to both relax in what is known to us and to continue to dance deeper into our relationship with the unknown. And it is this dance that is the focus of the residential workshop called Re-Creation. Please consider this your personal invitation to join us in Devon at the beginning of May. We have a strong circle already preparing. Re-Creation is an important part of life. Giving time and space to it insures that we don’t go stale. If you’d like to take some time to check in and see if the story you are telling through your being, actions and choices is up to date, this may be a good place for you. We will also work with the Movement Medicine S.E.E.R (Systemic Essential Energy Retrieval) Process which is a fantastic tool for extracting maximum juice and learning from our past experiences, and making it available as pure energy in the present.  As always, please contact Roland if you want more details. (

For us, a new land is calling, only 15 minutes away from where we live now, but a quantum shift in terms of what it is. Even though the deal for our new home is not yet 100% finalised, I have already felt deeply nourished and supported by the land we will be living on. Old trees and ancient stones and a little brook that runs through it, powering a hydro-electric plant that provides way more electricity than we will use, have already become the new ground I am standing on. It’s astonishing to me that this is so but these past two weekends of teaching in Berlin and Paris have been deeply supported by this new connection. And this, like everything else, like always, is only just beginning. Beginning again. Re-Creation is just what it says it is, on an on and on.

Wishing you all the ongoing strength of connection, re-creation and the support to go on being the one you are and giving the gifts you bring. Susannah’s train is about to arrive at Paddington and we’re off to Mama Africa. 

Ya’Acov. April 2013.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.