School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: Spring Extra Movement Medicine Newsletter
I am a Dancing Soul

Maaianne Knuth from Zimbabwe
At the end of November I went to Johannesburg for a workshop with Caroline Carey. It was a Movement Medicine workshop called the Circle, the Fire and the Phoenix. I almost did not go - because both my husband and my mother were traveling at that time. I have never left my children without one of the three of us present.

Phoenix Dance

My sister looked after them but my son was Very Unhappy. "I am too young to be left alone, Mom" is what he told me. His beautiful 5 year old unhappy self. But I went. I missed the Friday night session, but I went for Saturday and Sunday.

Am I ever glad I did. It was a Gateway. An enormous gateway.

After 80 odd days of dancing I entered a river of sacred dance that infused my whole being and opened me to go deeper, wider, wilder ;-), higher.

Day 1

We danced with our masculine and female impulses. Feeling them, experiencing them, expressing them. Noticing how they breathe differently in us. Although I am a strong woman, my masculine felt very awkward. Rusty almost. In the dance I realised that my masculine has not felt so very welcome in my being -not so very welcome at all. And so I began to dance my he'ness :). My warrior, protector, defender.

He is pretty awesome.

And in welcoming him in me I experienced that we can dance together, our feminine and masculine. We can have fun. My feminine is gorgeous, effortless, and strong. And she is now ready to invite my masculine to play, to frolick, to rock this house.

Connected & True...

Sometimes we were asked to dance with another person. I noticed how often I felt swayed to dance like my partner. In mirroring and following them I felt like I was giving them something, but I also lost something of my Self. I worked with it throughout the first day, and by the end I was able to hold space in a group dance for an energy I felt was missing. Instead of being swept away by the predominant energy of our group, I expressed the un-expressed.

It opened the question that still travels with me: How to stay True to my energy and myself, without disconnecting from the Other?

How to stay true to my Impulse and yet deeply connected to the Other?

That feels like a pretty fundamental question for all of us. I love dropping questions into the dance. I remember the image I have had of a question creating a small explosion in the fabric of the universe - opening, opening, opening. Without questions we stay closed. Questions Open. Dropping questions into the dance can create a right whirlwind of openings. And in the movement, clarity can arise. Almost as if by magic.

Dancing with the ancestors

During the afternoon of the first day we danced with our ancestors. First we danced with the feminine line, then the male.

There I was dancing, dancing. Happy, excited to be in a room full of dancing souls. Caroline invites us   a step back into the river of time. To step back into the past, to step back into the lineage of women who stand behind us. I dance my body back and WHAM!

I am engulfed in a river of grief. It came out of left field and utterly stunned me. Grief so immense. So so immense. Tears rushed through me, weighed me down. I felt like I would never ever ever stop crying. I was crying the tears of all the women in my line - and there was much to grieve. I did not see the abuse, but I could feel it. Downtrodden, abused, hurting women.  

And then the anger rose. Oh my god did it rise. Still with many tears. Perhaps still with grief. Grief and Rage. Such immense rage. I wanted to rip someone’s throat out. I was like a volcano erupting with wild redhot fury.

“Keep moving.” Caroline was probably speaking to us all, but it felt like she was speaking to me only.

“Keep moving.”

I moved, and moved, and moved. I feared this grief and rage being with me for the whole weekend. It was all consuming.

At a certain point she asked us - “What do you want to express, that may not has been expressed in your line yet?” I don’t really know whether the music changed or not, I just knew that I had to express my essence, our essence.

And I positively Exploded!

My dance became a fire work of energy. I bounded through the space, EXPRESSING my female line. Our beauty. Our grace. Our power. Our Joy. Yes here it was. Joy was here too. It came out, like the sun comes out after having been covered and hidden utterly and totally by thick layers of clouds.

The dance became a commitment, an affirmation, a baptism into expression. Into not stepping back, not stepping down as subservient wife or woman or slave.

It became a commitment to LOVE this world Freely whether it is returned or not.

Love, Express, Explode.

In the end I broke loose, broke free. It was as if I was released from old story. Woman. Temptress. Whore. Weak Sex.

Love! Love Freely. Love the man dancing opposite you. Love with no fear. No shyness. Be Free.

I ended the dance spent. and yet full of strength. The pain of my line had been expressed - I am sure there is more to come but a big big release happened that afternoon.

Thank you Caroline. Thank you Mothers before me.

We repeated the same with the male line.

In this dance I was holding space for the masculine. I picked up violence and anger. Rage unexpressed. I sensed it, but it did not take me over in the same way as I had experienced with the female line.

I touched the stiffness of Farfar (my grandfather) and many others. Stiff. Stiff. Rigor Mortis. I shook it loose. Shook it loose. And then as I touched the lineage I realised the overwhelming sense of impotence. An impotence that translated into a desire to control the female, leading to beating down on woman. Both destroyed. Man and Woman. An utter mess, an utter loose-loose. That we can now choose to step away from. Impotence and rage. Here I go, dancing through you.

Reclaiming my power. Our Power. Committing to stand as a warrior with integrity to protect and create safe space for the feminine. I cried here. And to keep my heart open.

From this day.

To keep moving. To dance it. To dance it.

Day 2

Words fail me UTTERLY

It was bigger than I think my words will be able to capture.

This day we danced the Circle, the Fire and the Phoenix. Much was released in me, surely - and I have no idea what it might have been. The masculine, holding the feminine, allowing the void to cleanse us.

Let me be a little clearer here....

Caroline invited us into two circles - the outer circle was the masculine, the warrior, holding space, protecting the feminine which was dancing in the inner circle. The feminine in constant motion, allowing the universe to keep flowing moving moving moving, closer to the void, closer to the mystery. Masculine holding space, for feminine to move, flow, move, flow, touch the void.

You will know”, Caroline said, when you need to be in the centre. In the centre was the void. Which I guess is both the big “I am” where the individual dies... and perhaps is reborn more whole. That is what it felt like.

I went into the centre and lost control. My body shook, I danced like a wild creature. No longer woman or man. Simply a Being releasing, letting go, letting go, releasing, shaking loose. And then back again – holding space, as masculine for the feminine and for the mysterious release that was happening in the centre, and then feminine keeping it all in motion, keep moving, keep moving, let it all flow, let it all move. We were to follow our flow and our process, and just make sure that each circle was at all times strong enough. So we surrendered to the process, and attended to holding the whole.

I was more anxious on the outer circle in my masculine energy. Wanting to make sure everyone did it just right. Ah there is a gap over the, someone fill it! After a while I relaxed a little more into it, and began to trust our collective capacity to hold the circle. Feminine circle felt, again, effortless and sweet although tiresome because there was more movement, more moving in it. The centre was terrifying and ecstatic at the same time. Letting go... of control.

I have no idea how long we danced this circle of life. Two hours? Three?

At the end we were tired, happy, connected. Free. Even if just for a little while - we touched an essence of freedom.

The days beyond

I returned home, and changed all my playlists. Old music that had not made it into my playlists was found. So much beautiful sacred music was found, and I dance now with a spirit that was opened in that workshop with the Circle, the Fire and the Phoenix. I noticed the shamanic influence on some of the music (of the CDs that I had bought in Joburg) and I cried with joy. Two streams of mine finding a place of connection. The following weekend I went to a Ceremony in South Africa. In it I was initiated as a healer. My healing salve is through creating Space. The Universe is Space and I open the valves to enable Space, more Space, more Space. The dance is one of my tools. My laughter is another. I laugh and space is created around me. I dance and space is created in my cells. I dance with others, and we make space together.

I write with great gratitude for the doorway that Caroline offered. I feel like I came home during that weekend in Johannesburg, and I am now getting to know my home. This body, the eternal movement of life, and the still point at the centre. I am dancing with them. Something was awoken. I continue to dance with the ancestors. Perhaps because we opened the floodgates of grief, the powerful women in my line have now been able to join me in the dance too. Or the power of the feminine. I am sure the same women who were downtrodden also held so much power. I dance with it now. I dance with my masculine. It’s strength and its shadow. And I am experiencing that awful dance of everyone losing. I am learning that I can’t ‘fix’ it through judgement and control, but as I learn to accept them all and love them in my heart something in me moves.

I am becoming more free in this beautiful dance that is life, that is life, that is soul, that is mother, that is father.

I am a Dancing Soul.

Aren’t we all?

In December I made a commitment to my self to keep dancing every day for a 1000 daysTo keep moving. To Dance it All.


Caroline is teaching in South Africa this month - March.  For more details go to:

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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.