School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: Movement Medicine Newsletter March 2014
The dancing Tree of Life in Amazon

By Margus Mägi
“One round trip ticket from Earth to Heaven, please!” And once again I am on my transcendental journey. My Movement Medicine dancing practice is the engine.

The integration into my dance of the metaphors “Tree of Life” and the four elements “earth, fire, water and air” have over the years facilitated this journey between the reality I live in and my inner spiritual world.

The Pachamama Alliance´s  workshop “Awakening the dreamer “ prior to the Summer Long Dance 2011 was a heart and eye opener to me. Since then I have wanted to go to the rainforest in Ecuador. When the “Dancing with the Heart of the World” journey, with Susannah and YaÁcov as two of the leaders, was offered in December 2013 I felt this was the perfect time to go. To dance with the trees in the rainforest, what a treat!

In my Biographic Intention Statement I wrote  ”to learn more about the spiritual world of the Indians and deeply root in my heart the insight that we are all one, and then use this good energy in my dream changing work at home”

Did I reach my goal? Yes! In addition, more than that - the awareness of that we all are one has since the journey become a part of me. I can feel it in the very muscles, bones and cells of my body. It leavens my daily life, guides my actions and strengthens my intentions.

Much more often than before I ask myself: ”What is important to me in my life? Are my actions sustainable with regard to their impact on environmental, social and spiritual issues?”

My dance helps me to find the answers.


The teaching of the Indians

The most important part of the journey for me was the meeting with the Indians.

The elements that had the greatest impact on me were how they made us feel at home and how they faced difficulties and enjoyed life, their way of living in harmony with the nature and their deep connection with and knowledge of the forest and the spiritual world.

The welcome ceremonies

They did it with such dignity and openness.  Their generosity and hospitality made me feel at home at once.

The people in the San Clemente community, situated on the slopes of the volcano Imbabura, greeted us with an out-door lunch including an abundance of delicious local dishes. My high altitude sickness disappeared like a miracle after ingestion of five glasses of refreshing fruit juice. After lunch, we were invited to stay in their houses and share their daily life.

The Achuar people spoke of their community and the current threat of oil exploitation. They expressed a very firm, courageous ”NO!” They will defend their land until the ”ultimate consequence”.

The question ”What would I die for?" flashed through my mind

Then they wanted to know who we were, and they listened to our presentations with deep sincere interest. I was deeply moved by this, sensing that I was invited to support them the best way I could.

The Sapara people gave us all nicknames, based on the evaluation of the specific energy field in each of us. I became Sumakau”the monkey who likes the sunrise”.

How did they know? At home, through the wall of windows facing towards east I like to watch the radiating light of the rising sun paint the water of the sea from metallic silver to golden yellow.

All the welcoming ceremonies strengthened my feeling of being a (guest) member of the tribes. I experienced a growing sweet sense of reciprocity – they made me feel that I was important to them and they were increasingly important to me.  

Be worried and happy

The Achuar and the Sapara people were very open about the severe difficulties facing them. Besides the threat of oil exploitation, the Saparas also feared extinction as a tribe, being so few left knowing the language and their cultural heritage.

Yes, they were obviously worried.  However, in spite of that, they showed all signs of enjoying life. Their goodhearted laughter’s were easily aroused, they had a lot of humour and liked to make jokes. They played games, sang and danced with us. It seemed so easy for them to create an atmosphere of ”easy going life”.

(Like the raft trip;  the Achuar built two solid rafts based on what was available in the nature. While we slowly drifted downstream in the cloudy sometimes drizzling weather the Achur flopped into the river fully dressed and invited us swim and play with them. After some hesitation, we did so, but first we had to change to bathing suits and protect our dry cloths. When we reached home the Achuar waved goodbye to the rafts ad let them go…)

They took time to talk and be together with themselves and us.

The feeling of chronically shortage of time, which I´m so used to at home, was not there.

 Questions like “what is important in my life” and “how could that be, that they were so capable of wholeheartedly embrace all aspects of life, the good as well as the bad?” started to echo in my mind.

The forest is generous

”We live in an abundance. All we really need we can take from the forest” we were told

“That is really true” I thought when I looked at the beautiful hut with its thick roof of woven palm leaves resting on arches of tree branches and columns of high logs, some few pieces of wooden furniture, the log fire for cooking, plates and bowels of clay.

The words “space and freedom” came to me.

At home, I have three small houses and one little bigger one,  all full of various things, and a car and a motorboat, two kayaks – but do I feel that I live in an abundance?  No, most often I complain to my friends I have too many things to take care of, they steal too much of my precious time…

We are offered excellent food of local origin; vegetables and fruits from the surrounding ”gardens”, fish from the rivers and prey from the forest.

In Sweden, I can buy oranges from Israel, apples from Argentina and kiwi from New Zeeland...

There are of cause things from the outside world too, like metal saucepans, machetes, wristwatches, mobile phones, computers, solar cells and outboard motors. For the Indians there is no contradiction. 

”We do not resist western technology, we use the best of both cultures. Let the condor and the eagle fly together”.

Be connected with the forest

”Please do not touch anything when you walk”!

I did not listened to the advice. I grabbed a vine in order to hold the balance on the muddy trail and a burning sensation suffused my palm.

I realized that I knew almost nothing about the vegetation surrounding me, the variation was confusing and overwhelming. If I were left alone in the forest, I would be totally lost.

Our fellow Indians moved with ease and confidence along the trail.  Stopped here and there to tell us about the plants, sometimes the same plant could serve as building material, food and medicine.

The knowledge of medical plants was impressing.

Andres the Sapara had about 2000 different medical plants in his two forest ”gardens”. His dream was to write a book about his plants.

The Kapoc tree was overwhelming in its size. Considered sacred and the ground surrounding it, was used by the Achuar to perform spiritual and dream changing ceremonies. I could feel its power, when resting my hand on its enormous trunk.

For me the bath in the sacred waterfall was like a solemn and cleansing ritual of initiation into the spiritual world of the forest.

Then I saw it! We were left alone for meditation in Andres ”medical plant garden”. I sat relaxed taking in all the growing richness surrounding me without focusing on anything particular. The light between the trunks and leaves started to vibrate and suddenly it was changed into big almost solid looking vertical and diagonal columns of vibrating bright light. It reminded me of the northen lights I had seen in wintertime in Sweden…..

Descending the hill back to the camp, I saw in distance a bird with huge wings sailing above the canopy. ”Yes”, confirmed Andres, ”it is a condor”.

Slowly I started to accept my sensation of duality that had troubled me since I arrived to the forest. Yes, I am a visitor from a very different culture, and the forest has so many unveiled secrets, which I will never be able to understand. Nevertheless, the forest is also a part of me and I am a part of the forest - I felt that my inner tree of life was growing.

Dream talk

The stock fire is glowing in the darkness. Still sleepy I dink bowl after bowl of

morning tea (”waiaska”), abruptly alerted by nausea and an unresistable urge to through up. ”Good cleansing” the Indians comment smilingly ”had any dreams tonight?”

We start sharing dreams. It takes time. Our reports are translated from English to Spanish and sometimes to the local language, discussed by the Indians and their interpretations of the dreams are translated the other way around. The interpretations embrace a great variety of circumstances. Some interpretations are related to the actual situation (”I dreamed that I was threatened by some obscure forces” – ”yes your dream deals with our situation and the threat of the oil companies”) others about the spiritual world (”In my dream our group was accompanied by a big yellow anaconda when we followed an Inca trail in the mountains” – ”Ah, this is the spirit of the Boa who is protecting you”).

We have time, lots of time. Gradually the darkness turns into the discrete light of the daybreak, relieving the beauty of the adjacent vegetation.

And I contemplate on the beauty of the meeting. My heart is full of gratitude. We are different and still so alike. We share our hopes, fears, joys and sorrows. We acknowledge the importance of being treated with respect and justice, to have a meaningful life, to love and to be beloved.

”This here is really empowering! I have to initiate dream sharing meetings with my friends”.

My inner Tree of Life is thriving

In their physical form the four elements are essential for all the living on Mother Earth. The elements connect us all to each other, we all share them, they are parts of us and we are parts of them. In that very sense obviously we are all one.

Coming to the forest the truth of this became more evident as ever before for me.

Standing with my bare feet deep in the mud, inhaling the humid, oxygen rich air in the midst of the energetic vegetation I became a living part of the forest, my Tree of Life had rooted itself in my body and in the forest.

Sensing the metaphorical characteristics of the elements I feel supported, protected, rooted in and nourished by the earth.. The transforming, creative power of the water flows along the branches to all the leaves and meets the solar energy that feeds my inner fire, the power of my intentions and passions for growing. High up in the top of my tree I meet the air which brings me the overview of my on-going life, the visions and a sense of limitless freedom.

That´s my dancing Tree of Life.

When dancing with my fellow travellers in the evenings, the voices of the forest accompanies our music.

 Yes I am dancing with the heart of the world.

The teaching of the visions

I see the blue gleaming celestial body of Mother Earth floating in cosmos and suddenly she lies in my lap, like a little child needing support and protection. When I hold her I feel love and compassion in my heart.

Then I am slowly sucked into Mother Earth, I sense her soft, warm, protecting inner self.  My heart is filled with gratitude and faith.

The roots of the giant Tree of Life embraces the Earth. The branches are covered with flowers, birds, animals and people. All the living on earth is there.

Then all the people are spread over the Earth and everyone has a minor Life of Tree inside.

From an airplane I look down on the rainforest. I see miles after miles of green canopy, like a green ocean. Coming closer the green ocean relieves an enormous variation of all kind of plants. I sense the “ecological” energy, how the plants interact with each other and with the insects, birds and animal that live there. Suddenly, instead of trees I see lots of people all with inner Trees of Lives standing there, like a forest. They have all different needs of protection, support, nutrition, water, solar energy and space. In addition, I sense their needs of expansion or contraction, their feelings of love, affection, hatred, fear, joy and sorrow, their needs of stability or change, their passions and intentions. I can “see” their visions and dreams like thin veils surrounding the treetops. I am aware of a whole range of aspects of what it is to be human and to live connected to each other. The life energy of the Trees varies, from very strong to almost extinct.

An inner voice urges me “reforest your people at home!”

In conclusion

I have understood that profound political, economical and social changes can only be sustainable if they are based on ”grounded spirituality”.

I see that the metaphors of Tree of Life and the four elements can be very useful for me when I try to explain what I mean with “grounded spirituality” as I go on with my dream changing work at home. To do it by dancing is a good idea.

I am very grateful for the teaching of the Indians. The journey was really life changing. I want to thank the excellent leaders of the journey; Cristina Serrano, David Tucker, Susannah and YaÁcov Darling Khan. They treated us with respect, love and wisdom. Their leadership was clear and resolute when needed. Simultaneously they were also parts of the group. To dance together brought us closer to one other. They contributed, according to their individual experiences and knowledge, to deepen our understanding of the spiritual world of the Indians and the social and political situation in Ecuador.

What next?

An article about my journey has been published in the local newspaper. An invitation to join the network “A Sustainable Life” was included in the article. People are taking contact and many are interested to join. My intention is to create a local forum were we can discuss what is important to us, share our dreams and visions for our lives and local community that can be environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling.

Vive la selva!

Margus Mägi

Susannah and Y'a'Acov will be leading their next journey to the Amazon with the Pachamama Alliance next January. For more information go to the journeys section of .

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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.