School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

Back to contents

Issue: September Newsletter
Standing on New Ground

By Ya'Acov
Back on the road again and were at the beginning of our 25th year of teaching. They say that time speeds up as we get older but Im not so sure. The more Im here, the more time stops. When Im not here or to be more precise, when Im caught in that strange place were all educated in to where the head, (or at least that portion of fantastic rationality somewhat to the left of the brain), seems to think its in control, then indeed time is moving way too fast.

If I were to ask that part of my intelligence to comment on the summer we’ve just lived through, I’m sure it would come up with a more or less accurate bullet point summary of the past six weeks. As useful as that might be at times, I doubt you’d find it very interesting. Would a description of my new garden friend, a 4-stroke ‘green’ Honda powered strimmer, inspire you to get up and dance? Probably not; but I dare say if I tell you how surprised I am at the simple joy of getting up early and doing an hour on the garden before breakfast, you might just read on. People are stories. Here’s a little of mine from the summer past.

Strimming is a whole new kind of movement medicine, with full shaking medicine attachments and connection to the four directions fully included. And the absolute need for present moment embodied awareness of the slope I’m climbing and the plants that I’m leaving be, as the whir of the cutters seeks out the spiky roots of the brambles. I’m still pulling out the tiny thorns that seem able to find the softest parts of my hands in revenge for my impertinent human interference.

Some months ago in February, we asked the seller of our new home if we could spend the night there and do a little ceremony. He’d already checked out our website and recognised our slightly leftfield approach to life, so he didn’t bat an eyelid. He’s quite an unusual fellow himself and over the months of our negotiations, we grew fond of him and the juxtapositions of his character. I’ve never met anyone who says goodbye or ends a conversation as speedily as he does. When the conversation is over, he’s gone before there’s a chance for any lingering fondness to creep in. And yet his love of life is so, so obvious in the way he battled through an extraordinary amount of bureaucratic red-tape to set up the mini hydro-electric scheme that now provides the electricity for our property from the little brook that runs through it. Anyway, he agreed, and even went to the trouble of lighting a fire in the little house by the water that is down the hill from the main residence. We parked up, set up the space and began a conversation with the land that has been going on ever since. As we drummed, we spoke to the spirits of the land. We told them a little of who we are and the sense of meaning and purpose that runs like that little brook through our lives. We asked: ‘if it supports the deep purpose of our lives and our work to be here, then may it be so. If not, we let go.’ I was shown a couple of images of who I would have to become to be the caretaker of such natural power and beauty. I saw myself riding a horse across the moors. I saw myself cutting through the undergrowth to make more space for the young trees that the previous caretaker had planted everywhere. I saw and I was fairly certain that I was seeing something of the future, maybe a decade or so from now. But I was wrong. The land called us and we responded and we have spent a summer coming into deeper relationship with it, and through that, each other and our selves too.

Moving house was one thing. But our beautiful little home in Dartington had also been the energetic centre of our mesa (*). So, naturally, we had to dismantle that too as we were in the process of moving. We gave thanks, prayed for the new owners, and asked that which was integral to our work and lives to come with us. Over the summer, we have unpacked both on the physical and the metaphysical level. The power of nature is that much more evident on the edge of Dartmoor. The rocks and the old oaks, the sycamore that sings through the night outside my bedroom window, and the many thousands of beings that we share our new home with, have a force that was simply not present in our old home. And where there is more power, there is the need for more responsibility. Summertime seems to be our relationship intensive time. And this year, the bar has been significantly raised. Little things that we could get away with in a less lucid or powerfully illuminating context suddenly appeared as rather sore or significantly-in-need-of-attention-blind-spots in this new landscape. It became quickly evident that we needed to up our game. It’s one thing to be connected to the elemental powers on the dance floor and the occasional ritual that takes us out into nature. And it’s another altogether to be living inside them. If we do not take care of the land and its needs, it will become quickly evident and the same it appears is true for our relationship with our selves and each other in this new chapter of our lives. Congruity is an ever-deepening dance of uncovering that which no longer fits.

For many years, we have made sure to always do something new each summer and immerse ourselves back into complete beginner territory. This year, our new home is providing a wealth of opportunities to remember our status as beginners. One of my incantations this summer has been: I’m working up to being a novice. I feel the land is stripping me back, just as I am asked as one of its caretakers to strip back the invading colony of Himalayan balsam weed before it pops its seed and jumps nearly 15 metres in any direction the wind takes it to spread its watery roots. Things that look beautiful are not always good for the whole it seems! And so, the daily ceremony of learning what is needed from us here and communicating what it is we need has been the dance of my summer. I have been on a fast learning curve. How does ground source heating work? How does the 10KW hydroelectric Pelton wheel work and what kind of maintenance does it need? Where is the leak in the thousands of metres of water pipe that has ‘donated’ 96000 litres of water at our expense? And why might the land have needed 96000 litre of water?

Our new home is on the land from which the stone that built the mental hospital next to us was quarried. The hospital closed down only in the 90’s. The previous owner and his ex-wife made their money by buying that and developing it into a very lovely village with over 200 homes. During the time that the mental hospital was operating, some 700 patients died there. There is a graveyard very close to us. The graves do not have names attached to them but numbers. The earth was sad and needed to cry. 96000 litres of water it seems. In ceremony, we met many of those who had lived and died here. Some of them had suffered greatly and needed to simply be acknowledged and helped on their way. Others were super creative folks who had just not been able to find their way in this world. Others had been admitted to the hospital against their will. Stories need to be told and heard. So we listened. And we told our own too. And we asked the power of the sun that shone through the burning logs in our ceremony to take those souls that wanted to be released home.

At times, we were asked to share more details of our ancestry, or our work, or our personal stories. At times, the energy was so strong that we left our personalities behind and became the masculine and feminine spirits of the land dancing and meeting through our bodies and hearts. And that was quite a ride! And amazingly, we were given horses to ride and we travelled from our home out onto Dartmoor to meet the old stones and circles, and to take in the views and the clean air, and to climb the rocky torrs and hear the buzzards cry out to the wind. One walker told me as we passed by that we were cheating (being on horseback). I replied that all depended on which game we were playing and with what rules. So for me, the game has changed and I with it. Who is this man that rides a horse and wants to know about the nutrients in the waters? Who is this man that has followed his dream and is being stretched into a new place of being and strength at the centre of his circle. Though I know this feeling that is constant and old that has accompanied me since I was a child talking to the spirits in the garden, this new expression is a delightful and unexpected surprise. I rediscovered the stars behind my belly button and remembered where I come from. I found a new level of sensitivity and the ground to hold it. I found that the quantum leap we took in our relationship last summer was just a warm-up for this one. It’s not easy but I don’t think easy suits me very well. Relaxation yes, but I like to be stretched and pulled apart from time to time.

And so here I am, arriving in Oslo to begin again. Rested and regenerated. I feel humbled by the task that may be common to us all to cut away what no longer serves us so that the shining simplicity of our true nature can shine through and dance its dance in this precious world. Going back to work used to remind me of the dread of beginning a new year at school but this year, there is a continuity that just makes sense. From rest to action and back again. And so I will continue to travel and offer the direct medicine that is the dance. And I will bring with me this sense of standing on new ground. I hope to meet you out there on the road and dance a dance with you, and remember again who we are, and what matters to us. In October, I will spend another month at home and I have committed myself to writing down the story of my initiation into shamanic practice and turning it into a new book. Another chapter, another story to tell. And as they say, telling the story that was, makes space for a new story to be born.

I wish you all a beautiful and balanced equinox time. May the ground beneath you hold you and strengthen you and may the wind lift up your heart to the sky.

Ya’Acov. September 2013.


Ya’Acov’s Autumn Term Calendar



16-22                    Apprenticeship Final Module at Rill with Susannah

27-6/10       Initiation at Rill with Susannah (still a few spots left – contact Roland)



8                  Bringing the Dance Back Home: Webinar online wherever you are


5                  Bringing the Dance Back Home: Webinar online wherever you are

8-10            Tending the Circle in Hamburg: Contact Jens on +49 40 729 100 61

22-24                    The Way of the Dancing Warrior in Prague. Contact Veronika on +420 776 243 348      


2-11            Professional Training Module 1 at Rill with Susannah

17                Bringing the Dance Back Home: Webinar online wherever you are

18-22                    Returning Home: Switzerland with Susannah. Contact Roland

(*) mesa is the Spanish word for table. In the shamanic context, it means the energetic container that a shaman develops through their training that makes the space safe to work in. The Movement Medicine mandala is the symbol, which describes the territory that is the energetic field that is Movement Medicine.

Back to contents

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.