School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

News Roundup and Forthcoming Events
By Roland

Since the last newsletter:

Ya’Acov has joined Susannah in reaching his 50th year. Hearty congratulations to both of them. The DKs are now 100!

  • Congratulations to the 48 Movement Medicine Apprentices have now finished the second Professional Training course and are now Apprentice Movement Medicine Teachers or Facilitators and join those from the first Professional Training course in taking this wonderful work out into the world.  I notice from the Movement Medicine Association site that there are now regular Movement Medicine classes in 8 countries and 3 continents and the list is growing.  If there is no class near you why not contact one of the teachers and see if they would like to run one?
  • 50 students from 17 countries have been accepted into the 3rd Apprenticeship Programme which starts in August this year.  We wish them well as they start on this exciting journey.
  • The Rill Estate, where we do our main UK residential workshops, has gone on the market with Stags  estate agents. We are pleased to tell you that we have reached an agreement with Richard and Louise Holman which will mean that all our bookings there are assured till the end of 2015 and we are, of course, hoping to come to an arrangement with the new owners to ensure that we will be continuing to run workshops there after that date.  If your dream is running a residential centre where The School of Movement Medicine is a regular client and you have access to finance, here’s your chance.
  • We are thrilled that Manari Ushigua Kaji, a visionary leader from the Sapara people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, will be coming to join us at the Long Dance.  Susannah and Ya'Acov met him in January in the Amazon and know what a beautiful being he is. He'll bring depth, magic and the message from the forest all the way to Somerset.  The Long Dance will take place 28th June – 4th July in Somerset and we still have a few places left.  If you are interested in attending then please either ask me to send you an application form or download one yourself from here and send it to me by email.   We also have a couple of places left on the crew team.  Those on the team pay a reduced rate of £148, are not required to fast or raise the sponsorship money.  In addition those on the team will also receive a free Movement Medicine weekend workshop or can have a reduction of £130 on one of the residential workshops organised by me.  In return we expect the crew to arrive by 3.0 pm on the first day and stay on the last day till about 3.00pm.  There will be a certain amount of practical work to do during periods outside the 72 hour ceremony and in addition they will be required to work for about 12 hours during the ceremony.   None of the work is strenuous, but the work during the ceremony does involve keeping the toilets clean amongst other things.  If you are interested in joining the team please contact me by email: or phone me on 00 44 (0)1803 762255. All proceeds on the Long dance go to supporting the Pachamama Alliance. If you are not coming but want to join in with this, please either sponsor a dancer, or make a contribution directly to the Pachamama Alliance and let them and us know you have done it in the name of the Long Dance.
  • Rosie has been working hard to completely rebuild our website which we hope will be up and running some time over the next few weeks.  The current design is now about 8 years old and is beginning to show its age and we are looking forward to the brand new look and capacity of our website.  Susannah and Ya’Acov have just completed 3 days website writing in Basel, which, they tell me, once they got going, was a pleasure.
  • We are in the process of preparing our new brochure for print in July to be mailed to our postal mailing list at the beginning of September.  If you want to receive more than 1 copy please let me know.
  • Our calendar for next year is now complete and is available here.  Over the next few days we will be adding the workshop titles where these presently missing.
  • We are pleased to announce that David Mooney has joined the team of Movement Medicine teachers who will act as guest teachers for the School and he will be going to Austria for the School next year.  We are really pleased to say that the system of guest teachers is working well and that the school is now able to provide a much better coverage as a result.  The guest teachers have been very well received where they have taught and we receive reports that their teaching has been of the highest standard.  David joins Caroline Carey, Christian de Sousa and Mark Boylan on the guest teacher team.  We will probably be adding one of two more names to this list over the next year.
  • One of the reasons that we are extending the role of guest teachers is a result of realising that Susannah and Ya’Acov need to spend more time on the professional training aspect of the work and that it is just not possible for them to go and teach in all our venues every year.   Two recent developments have been to offer five CPD (Continued Professional Development) webinars for those who have completed the Professional Training.  These webinars will start in September and are already well booked.  There will also be further professional development courses starting in 2016.
  • An unfortunate incident occurred last month when we accidentally deleted 80 accounts from the webinar database on the day of the webinar.  We are very sorry that this should have occurred and have now restored all the accounts and added a months subscription to all those affected.  The next webinar is due to take place on Tuesday 17th June.  £35 will buy you a subscription to 10 webinars and also access to all the recorded webinars to experience as often and whenever you want.  Signing up is simple – just go to  

Forthcoming Workshops:

June 13 – 15 Munich, Germany     Ya'Acov Poetry of Presence Contact: Claudia +49 89 292644

June 13 - 15 Edinburgh, Scotland     Susannah Love Stories  Contact: Catherine +44 131 557 4278

June 17  Where you are!  Susannah & Ya'Acov Bringing the Dance Back Home - The School of Movment Medcine Webinar   Contact:  Roland +44 1803 762255

28 June  - 4 July Earth Spirit, Somerset      Susannah & Ya'Acov Summer Long Dance  Contact: Roland +44 1803 762255

8 July  Susannah & Ya'Acov Bringing the Dance Back Home - The School of Movment Medicine Webinar   Contact:  Roland +44 1803 762255                                                 

August 18 - 27 Rill Estate, Devon  Susannah & Ya'Acov  Apprenticeship Programme Mod 1.  Contact  Roland +44 1803 762255                                                                                    

Sept 5 – 14 Rill Estate, Devon  Susannah & Ya'Acov Initiation  Contact Roland +44 1803 762255                                                        

16  Sept Bringing the Dance Back Home - The School of Movment Medicine Webinar   Contact:  Roland +44 1803 762255

24 - 28 Sept  Rill Estate, Devon   Ya'Acov & Charlie Morley Poetry of Presence Contact:  Roland +44 1803 762255


Wishing you a fabulous summer, and look forward to seeing some of you at the Long Dance



Rainbow Hammocks and the mystery
By Susannah
I got home last week from a visit to my parents, to find out that my ticket to Switzerland had been booked a day earlier than it should have been, which gave me a very short turn around time. Before that I’d been teaching Phoenix (thank you to all the Phoenix dancers for a beautiful and profound journey) and I was longing for a couple of days quietly at home before setting off again. So I was not pleased when I got home to get the message from the guy who books our tickets that he’d made a mistake, had only just realised it, and that it was too late to rectify it. In fact I felt defeated, unsupported and really upset.

And then I felt my psyche adapting to the new reality. I called in help to do the things I wasn’t going to have time to do, found a local hairdresser to cut my hair, which had suddenly become really important, and got packed. Arriving in Switzerland a day earlier meant that I had an extra night and day with Ya’Acov, and gave me the opportunity to dance with him in Basel, where he was doing a one-day workshop on the Sunday, called Ascension, a journey through the roots, trunk and branches of the Tree of Life.

It’s a long time since I danced a class with Ya’Acov, and I’ve never done a workshop with him before. It was beautiful. So happy to be in the hands of a master teacher and DJ and receive Movement Medicine simply as a participant. I’m grateful to all the dancers who greeted me so warmly and then let me get on with dancing, and to the assistant team who held the space so surely that I could really let go. One thing that Ya’Acov said several times really resonated with me. He invited us to feel the internal movement that is going on, even when we are sitting, and then explained how, in the dance, we are just getting out of the way to allow this natural movement of life to move us. And then he talked about the decision and commitment needed to keep moving, if we are to move through and with everything, as there are also parts of us that don’t want or don’t know how to move with life. Oh yes.

As many of you know, my mother has been living with cancer for several years now. She’s been so gracious, steady and wise, I’m full of respect for her. She’s refused to make cancer into the enemy, has been clear that her body is not a battle field, and has several times turned from seeming to be on the brink to coming back into full vital life. The last time this happened, over a year ago, she feels that it was her surrender to dying that allowed a new lease of life. Now, she’s at the point of saying “no more chemo” and we’re facing her death square on, on a new level. She’s weaker than before, but magnificent in her spirit. When she was first ill, and many people of all faiths were praying for her, she imagined a “rainbow hammock” which held her and sustained her, each different coloured thread of which was someone’s prayer and love for her.  It’s still important, now, as a support for the next part of the journey. The image at the top of this article was painted by my god daughter, Lua, for my Mum.

I’m aware of how the workshop Initiation has prepared me in many ways for this journey of accompanying my Mum in her dying process, and, at the same time, how deep and unknown this journey is. I’m grateful not to be frightened of my own heart, as I let the waves of my own love and grief through, celebrating my mother’s life and receiving and giving love. And I’m so grateful that my Dad is there, strong and awake and taking such beautiful care of everything, day by day.  And I am so grateful for all the love and support my Mum and I receive from so many of you.  You are part of that rainbow hammock.

So, dancing in Basel I had much to dance for and with. To get down into the roots and pray and ask and give thanks for support, love, wisdom and guidance for my Mum, my Dad, for all my family and for myself was powerful and beautiful. In the afternoon, as we “lifted the lid” to the heavens, I was dancing with a beautiful elder, and suddenly, quite spontaneously, we two and everyone else simultaneously raised our arms and cried out in a huge burst of love, gratitude and joy with the heavens. I felt the sky raining down blessing on each of us, for all of our relations and for all we are connected to. Thank you life, thank you Ya’Acov, thank you everyone!

A few months ago I asked my Mum, whose name is Elizabeth Darlington, what she’d discovered in her life that she would like to pass on to the next generations. She thought about it for a few weeks and then said; “I’ve discovered that the story we tell ourselves about who we are and what life is like, has a huge influence on our identity, our sense of belonging and our life experience”. Wow. A few weeks later again, she told me that she didn’t really believe in God but she did believe in the mystery, and that what really is behind life and the universe is far beyond and far more mysterious than we have even begun to fathom.

I bow to the mystery of life, including the mystery of “mistakes when booking travel tickets” and I look forward to sharing dance floors with many of you soon, as the Long Dance approaches, and, the other end of the summer, Initiation sends out its call for those wishing to bring their life cycle, from birth to death into the transformative fire of the dance.

The Summer Long Dance will take place June 28th to July 4th. This year, we are honoured to have Manari Ushigua Kaji, a native of the Sapara nationality from the Ecuadorian Amazon, visiting us. He’s a beautiful being from a tribe of the most loving, funny, caring people we have ever met. During his years as a tribal and political leader, he has been the President of the Sápara Nationality of Ecuador, the Binational Coordinator of the Sapara of Ecuador and Peru and the Vice National Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of Ecuador called CONAIE. We met him this past January in his home village in the Amazon and we are delighted that he will join us,

Love and courage to us all,



June 2014

Dancing Across the Great Divide
By Ya'Acov
21 years ago, at midday on a sweltering summer’s day, a few miles outside the village of Snowflake, Arizona, I crawled out of a sweat lodge into the harsh glare of the desert sun. It was even hotter outside than it was inside. And this was the fourth lodge we’d done in as many days as we prepared for the Deer Tribe’s Sundance.

We had an hour to recover. And then fully dressed in our ceremonial gear, all of us, men and women, in long skirts and fringed shirts, circled the Sun Dance ceremonial ground. We danced for 20 hours a day for the next three days and nights. We each had a lane and we danced backwards and forwards up and down that lane to the repeating rhythms of four Sundance songs, without food and with a tiny amount of water. We were dancing for life. We were dancing for our families and we were dancing for our dreams.

I had left our young son at home with his mama and I had lots to pray for. We were right at the beginning of our professional journey, having been teaching for four years, and we were just about breaking even. Things were tight. We were a young family and we were reliant on making the work we were teaching known and accessible in order to make a living. And so we travelled and set up lots of dancing communities in as many places as our young bodies could take us. We worked hard. We prayed hard and we played hard too. There was an edge to those times. Many times, I experienced the cold pit of fear in my stomach as we struggled to make ends meet. We were super passionate about what we were doing. And we had experienced its benefit in very tangible ways. Gabrielle Roth, one of our central teachers at that time, had a love of the artist inside everyone. The dance was the pathway to discovering the vast and untapped reserves we had inside us. And so tap we did. I practiced like a man possessed. Maybe I was. The dance had taken hold of me and there was no way back.

The Sundance was an extraordinary event. We were 140 dancers from around the world all determined to dance past our previously known limitations and take a big leap across that great divide into the arms of the unknown. Carlos Castenada’s teacher, Don Juan, had famously written about the unknown in this way. When you look out into it, it is vast and it simply stares right back daring you to enter. The unknown has always been my oasis. I fell asleep just beyond its gates every night for years when I was a child. But to meet it in this way, dancing through the hot sun, dancing past my thirst and my hunger, was a whole new journey. I turned my heart towards the Tree of Life at the centre of our circle and lifted up my prayers again and again. I went past so many barriers in those 72 hours. There was so much in the way of the conversation I was trying to have with the Great Spirit but our ancestors were wise. They knew it takes time for the everyday mind to let go. They knew that giving up on sleep and food and comfort was a certain route to the ecstatic communion with life that nourished them deeper than anything else whilst reminding them of the big picture in which their lives existed. And so here we were, thirsting for the spirit, hungering for surrender and approaching that great mystical doorway on our own two feet. The Sundance drummers and singers carried us, holding us steady as our spirits danced along the thin line that divides the everyday from the eternal.

To say I was changed by that ceremony would be to make a molehill out of a mountain. It was as if the silence that dawned with the rising sun and deepened on its journey through the sky, struck a mortal blow to the part of me that was committed to my limitations. When I walked back in through the front door of our tiny cottage in the village of Ashburton and picked up our young son and held my beloved close, I knew that I was carrying the seed of a dream that would never let me go.

It took years for me to unwind the golden thread that had wrapped itself around my heart. I was never exactly sure how it would unfold or where it would lead. I just knew this. I am not a Native American. I am European. And our European shamanic roots were viciously and consistently attacked over many generations, and the connection we had always enjoyed with the nature we are, was left hanging by a thread. But like the song we used to sing on the many nonviolent political demonstrations we loved so much says:

You can’t kill the spirit

She is like a mountain

Old and strong

She goes on

And on and on

When our new body of work landed so forcefully over a period of years that was heralded by two dreams, one that brought me the image of the mandala we work with, and the other that brought the name Movement Medicine to Susannah, that golden thread had found some form. Having been a pipe carrier in the Native American tradition, I was always certain I was being leant a means through which to remember what we as a culture had forgotten. Through that pipe, I remembered how to pray, not reading someone else’s lines, but directly from the embodied heart, in intimate conversation with the spirits, the elementals and the Yin and the Yang of the Great Mystery. And once I had remembered, with deep gratitude, I returned the pipe to a full blood Native American Medicine Woman who had dreamed of it.

I knew, and I really cannot remember from where I knew this, that one of my creative challenges was to do my part to build a bridge between the cultural graveyard where our European traditions used to thrive and the ancient wisdom of the land and our ancestors. Susannah and I both knew that we wanted to weave this together with the contemporary cutting edge wisdom that is mapping our intelligence and how it works. Science and mystery are a beautiful couple. And as we have discovered a little more of how our brain functions and how the right and left sides of the brain are bridged by the nerve filled fibre called the corpus callosum, we are starting to discover a new story. This new story is healing the ruptures caused by the story of separation we have been telling for several hundred years. Separation was the name of the game. And now it’s interconnection. We talk not in terms of one side dominating the other but in terms of the gift of dynamic polarity through which all creation happens. Bridges it seems, are necessary to join one thing to another. And it’s not just the two sides of the brain that are enjoying the recognition of the mutual necessity of the others existence. It’s also the rising recognition that we ignore the intelligence of the body and our neuron filled guts at our peril. And the heart, for so long marginalised to the unreachable fantasy of romantic love, has also broken free from its shackles and we are aware of the need to recognise and value our emotional intelligence. But, bring them all together, in the delicious threesome of body-heart-mind working together and the fireworks of intelligence start to explode carving new neural pathways like shooting stars across the sky.

Shamanism is down to earth and it embraces the heights. It’s practical and creative. It’s about relationship. It’s about what and how we create with life. This is the mantra of our ceremonies and our work in general. Over the years, beginning with an overnight ceremony called The Alchemist’s Garden, alongside Susannah and many others, I have developed a way of being in ceremony that is real, challenging and full of potent healing medicine. It’s a way of being with spirit through the body-heart-mind that is a bridge between old and new, yin and yang and giving and receiving. It’s a place that honours the Fool, the Dancing Warrior, the Wise Elder and the many different experiences we each bring to sacred space. And most of all, it is ceremony that is relevant for our culture and for our times that honours the many indigenous traditions through which we have learned and yet doesn’t mimic any of them. The deepest expression of this that we have so far found is our annual School of Movement Medicine Summer Long Dance.

Ritual is the way that humans have always used to place their own lives back in relationship to the bigger picture of existence. We remember where we came from, what we are dependent on, our community and the wider community of all life. We bring things inside ourselves and between us back into balance by committing a certain amount of time to giving back to life. It’s called reciprocity. We only take what we give. And ritual is the weighing scales on which we measure where we are and bring things back into balance.

Last year, in 2013, the Long Dance finally landed in its originally dreamed form. It took many years and a lot of hard work from a lot of people for us to create the ground and the safety to be able to enter into such a deep journey together. Last year, we danced the full 72-hour version for the first time and it was beautiful how everything just fell into place. The ceremony went on a full 24 hours longer than it had done up to that point but the overall feeling amongst the dancers was that it was in fact more relaxed and more fulfilling than the 48-hour version. When things fall into place, there is a relaxation in the whole system. It took 21 years to find its shape but there we were, 135 people in a circle, dancing our way back home. At one point in the ceremony, I was watching the dancers and praying, singing. As I sang, my voice vibrated and cracked the mould of my seeing. Suddenly, there was just movement, and then, there was nothing, just a vast shimmering void of absolutely nothing at all. For a while, as Susannah (my beloved) and Sarah (a good friend who supports us at these ceremonies) held the space, I disappeared once again into that place that is always waiting behind the doors of our perception. It is always there. It is us who come and go.

This year, our Summer Long Dance will take place June 28th to July 4th and at the time of writing, there are still a few places left if you feel in your heart to take your place and take the journey. To date, the School of Movement Medicine’s Long Dances have raised well over £200,000-00 for a whole host of fantastic projects that support people who would have no chance to attend the ceremony itself. This year, we are very honoured to have Manari Ushigua Kaji, a native of the Sapara nationality from the Ecuadorian Amazon, visiting us. During his years as a tribal and political leader, he has been the President of the Sápara Nationality of Ecuador, the Binational Coordinator of the Sapara of Ecuador and Peru and the Vice National Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of Ecuador called CONAIE. We met him this past January in his home village in the Amazon and we are delighted that he will join us.

Sometimes, we have to take a leap in order to find out that the dance is holding us. As Gabrielle Roth used to say, after you jump and before you land, there is God.

Ya’Acov Darling Khan. June 2014

Manari, Welcome to the Long Dance!
By Susannah & Ya'Acov
We are honoured that this year, Manari Ushigua Kaji, a visionary leader from the Sapara people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, will be with us for the Long Dance. The Sapara people are a dream culture who are on the edge of extinction, and yet exude joy, gentleness and strength.

Manari’s village was declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity site in 2002. Manari carries an ancestral legacy delivered by his Father. His people are famous in the Art of Dreaming, healing and curing, and walking the path of evolution and transformation. His learning material was his life in the Amazon Rainforest as a child with his father and family. Years later, Manari studied in the city of Puyo and joined the regional indigenous organization to ensure that his people's voices were heard and their territory protected. He has become well recognized and respected for his work in this area. There are still several public policies that affect the integrity and violate the rights of the Sapara people. This is especially so in what the Ecuadorian Government has called the 11th Round of oil exploration that affects 100% of the Sapara Territory. Manari leads a permanent vigil designed to support the rights of his people who are determined to not allow this to happen. The Sapara poeple consider that this possibility that their land will be exploited for oil is a criminal act towards themselves and the generations that will follow. They are also well aware destruction of the Amazon would affect the sustainability of life on earth for the generations to come. During his years as a tribal and political leader, he has coordinated and been the President of the Sápara Nationality of Ecuador, the Binational Coordinator of the Sapara of Ecuador and Peru and the Vice National Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of Ecuador called CONAIE. Manari is the also the father of 3 girls to whom he is passing on the legacy of the art of dreaming and healing passed to him by his father.

We met him this past January in his home village in the Amazon and we are delighted that he will join us.

The Long Dance is open for those ready to make a commitment to dancing prayer and action for all our relations. The central project we are dancing for this year once more is the Pachamama Alliance, which supports the Achuar and the Sapara in their stand for the forest and for all of life. If you wish to join us for the School of Movement Medicine’s annual celebration of life, please be in touch with Roland urgently to take up one of the last places available. If you are unable to make it, please feel free to support the event by making a donation to the Pachamama Alliance. Please make sure to mark that your donation is in connection with the Long Dance.

Looking forward to seeing you there.


Susannah & Ya’Acov

Moving Stories
By Rob Porteous
One way in which I understand what I do in my work as a counsellor is that I engage in a dialogue with the stories people bring about who they are and what happens to them. Very often these stories have a repeating pattern or theme running through them, like the dance of the understudy through life’s experiences.

Through the exploration of these repetitions- diverse situations which have the same emotional tone or outcome- we begin to discover how characters superimpose themselves on one another, to fit the needs of the story. A distant wife becomes the un-mothered mother the child experienced. A demanding boss becomes the judgemental dad. A new relationship embodies the childhood fantasy of a more co-operative, compassionate world.

The psyche is an expert at re-creating familiar situations for us to deal with. Time and again I find myself back in the same place, facing the same questions, the same anxieties. So what is the function of this repetition? Each time something happens that brings with it the familiar sense of, ‘Ah, here I am again,’ I believe it is an opportunity to become more conscious of what is going on, and in particular what part I play in re-creating an expected scenario. It offers the possibility of better understanding what lies behind the story I keep telling myself.

Humans are a narrative species. We use stories to give meaning to experience. Because of our capacity to remember the past and imagine the future, we are able to put the present in a context that transcends this moment, now, and seeks to make sense of what happens in a more enduring way. But when a child is forced to make sense of experiences that make no sense- parental neglect, abuse, war, alienation from, and exploitation of, the earth- the stories she or he creates will similarly contain dysfunctional elements, particularly associated with the child’s internal sense of self-worth.

Over time, the story I make up about who I am and what happens to me and what I can do about it has a dual effect. In the beginning, in an unwelcoming environment, the child invents the story as a protection. It’s a way of helping him bear difficult experiences. The idea that ‘My parents would love me, if only…’ helps to preserve what is most important to him: the capacity to imagine a better world. In exhonorating the parents (even at the expense of his own sense of being good enough) he protects his belief in a just and nurturing world. (This is explored in Dorothy Bloch’s beautiful book on childhood trauma, So the witch won’t eat me.)

But as time goes on the story that was once useful becomes a barrier between the person and the experience. We no longer feel or sense in our bodies what is going on because the story takes over, dictating how we understand the situation and what we have to do in response. The mind tells us, ‘This always happens to me,’ or ‘I never get what I want,’ or ‘There’s no point in…’ and other examples of catastrophic thinking, where the easiest thing is to blame the problem on the other, and project what we don’t like in ourselves onto someone else. An example of this, I think, is in the disaffection shown in the recent European elections in the votes for UKIP and the Front National.

So all of us, at times, get stuck in an outdated and counterproductive story. The story predetermines our responses. As a child, whenever an adult asked me, ‘Do you want this or that?’ I answered, ‘I don’t mind.’ Invariably, it was a lie. I knew perfectly well what I wanted. But the behaviour protected me from the realisation of how much I did mind, in a world where I didn’t expect to get what I wanted.

In order for something in this dynamic to change, we have to get back to the original experience that helped to create the stories in the first place. That what stories that move us do. They touch us. They bring up feelings- sadness, anger, joy- that put us in touch with our humanity. They move us, emotionally and physically, when we are open to the energy they contain and allow it to move through us and find appropriate expression.

Getting in touch with these feelings is not the same as acting them out. It’s not OK for me to kill someone, but acknowledging the extreme anger I have felt on occasions when I have felt trapped is an important part of reclaiming the projections I put onto the other. Really owning the feeling, and its embodied impact on me is, I believe, an essential part of moving into a different narrative which may produce different outcomes. We need to connect our thinking, feeling and sensing if we are to act more wholeheartedly. Developing the ability to be in touch with deep emotion and reflect on it at the same time, and be aware of how it affects me in my body, helps me to give what is happening more breath, to be more grounded and less overwhelmed, and to move between feeling, thinking and action

A story I am very familiar with is, ‘Nobody caresWhen I say something there won’t be a response.’ If I look at this story in the light of the Phoenix process, I see the assumptions behind the story are ‘I am not enough. I don’t matter.’ This assumption arouses feelings of fear, anger, distress, being lost, feeling inadequate and incompetent. In an attempt to get away from the feelings I make huge efforts to change the situation. When those efforts don’t elicit a response, they simply confirm the story: ‘Nobody cares.’

If, however, I allow myself to embody and stay with the feelings aroused by the story, I realise at once how tired I am of making efforts. Under the tiredness, I feel a deep sadness. If I stay with the sadness, I begin to reconnect with just how passionately as a child I wanted to live in a world that was fair, where people co-operate and collaborate rather than fighting each other. I realise I want to rest in the place described beautifully by John Heider in his book, The Tao of Leadership: ‘Do nothing, and everything that is needful will be done.’

If I trust my intention, and trust that my intention will communicate itself to others, what I do is more relevant, more focused. It has a clearer direction. I see the steps I need to take towards a goal. Rather than wasting effort in trying to reach my goal in one fell swoop, I allow myself to take time to experience the journey. I am more open to what I may learn about myself along the way.

I am about to embark with Ali Young on a series of four workshops called Moving Stories, with the aim of helping participants re-embody their experience and re-imagine who they are. In the workshops we will use movement and dance, storytelling and individual psychological work to look at our relationship to ourselves, to the other, to community and to spirit or the divine. The stories we will be working with come from Greek mythology. I have lived with them since studying Greek tragedy at university 50 years ago. The first is the story of Oedipus, whose parents exposed him as a baby on the hillside to die, because they could not stand the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. The second story concerns The Bacchae, the worshippers of Dionysus, and what happens when their ecstatic energy, reconnecting to wildness and nature, threatens to disrupt the established order. The third story is of Orestes and the cycle of violence he is caught up in, following the Trojan war. The fourth story is of Cupid and Psyche, and how we can move from unconscious attachment to conscious relationship.

For me, these stories lead us through the chambers of the heart, showing us how we can deal with our fear, anger, grief and joy in ways that increase our understanding of who we are, deepen our relationship to the other, and our sense of belonging and community, and ultimately our connection to spirit.

What interests me is not so much these stories in themselves, as literature, but how they resonate with us as individuals. Our personal responses to the archetypal themes they portray. Stories began in an oral tradition, which means that telling stories was part of the experience of being in community; people sitting together and listening to a tale. It also means that while the narrative of the story will have been handed down from previous generations, each story teller will give it his own inflection. The story can change to take account of the context in which it is told. The song lines of the aborigines in Australia were intimately connected to the place they were travelling through. The stories were embedded in the landscape, just as oral story telling is part of our embodied experience. David Abram, in his book The spell of the sensuous, shows how the invention of the alphabet and printing contributed to our dissociation from the earth and the idea that stories belong exclusively in the mind.

When a story lives in the landscape surrounding it- when the traditions of a culture are rooted in the history and experience of a people- then meaning can emerge from the interplay of narrative and experience, thinking and feeling. Children are generally very good at allowing this imaginative dialogue to shape their play. But when the story is just something going on in our heads, it cuts us off from our actual lived experience. The story imposes meaning on experience, rather than allowing meaning to reveal itself.

When my head is full of ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ and predetermined outcomes, I am cut off from my capacity to act in my own right, rather than simply react to circumstance. What I want to do in these workshops is to help participants reconnect with their internal, embodied responses to life experiences, so that we can reclaim our ability to accept what we sense and feel, and allow it to shape our intentions in the world.

If you would like to know more about this work, you can contact me at


                                                            Rob Porteous              29/5/14




Movement Medicine and Lucid Dreaming
The Poetry of Presence Movement Medicine and Lucid Dreaming Workshop with Ya’Acov and Charlie Morley is coming up in September. Here, bestselling author, Charlie, talks about the connection between Movement Medicine and lucid dreaming practice.

In a lucid dream we become conscious within the unconscious while we sleep. We have not woken up though. In fact we are sound asleep but part of the brain (the right dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex, in case you were wondering) has reactivated, thus allowing the dreamer to experience the dream state with self-reflective awareness. We know that we are dreaming as we are dreaming and thus gain access to the most powerful virtual reality generator in existence: the human mind. And so our story begins…

As a teenager, it was the free accessibility of lucid dreaming was one of its real selling points for me. There was no equipment to be bought, no initiation to be done, no club to join. The only commodities required were sleep and determination. Also it was great place to have lots of dream-sex and as a teenager, sex (whether in dream or waking) was one of my driving motivations to start any new project!

A few years later when I got into Tibetan Buddhism I started to read about something called “dream yoga”. Dream yoga is the term given to a collection of lucid dreaming, conscious sleeping and (what in the West we refer to as) “out-of-body experience” practices aimed at spiritual growth and mind training. Within the context of dream yoga the lucid dream state is used to go way beyond sexual fantasy and instead used as a way to do spiritual practice while we sleep. I was captivated by this possibility.

Once my lucid dream practice became my spiritual practice things really started to take off and I spent the next 5 years reading everything I could find on the subjects of both lucid dreaming and dream yoga. I received teachings on these practices from the rare few who were offering them, and went on Buddhist retreats with dream yoga specialists such as Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, the man who would eventually become my guru and suggest that I start sharing my experiences with others.

But what was I doing before I started running the lucid dreaming workshops full time? For 10 years I managed and was part of a hip hop collective of break dancers and hip hop performers called THROWDOWN. The collective had workshop leaders, a professional crew and an events team putting on monthly dance battles at a nightclub in downtown Brixton, South London.

Living these two lives of dream and dance was not as contradictory as it may seem. In the breakers I saw a certain panoramic gaze shining from their eyes as they danced that I had seen in meditators before. It was the wide angle, peripheral vision that allowed them to see the whole dance floor as they spun on their heads and the same steady mind that takes in space without preference as we meditate. After the bravado of battle was over with and they actually hit the lino the b-boys were not in a state of trance, they were in a state of meditation: one pointed focus set within a broad panoramic awareness. It’s not that they were meditating while dancing, it was that dance was their meditation.

I saw that same look again a few years later in the eyes of the dancers at last year’s Poetry of Presence retreat and realised that dance as meditation wasn’t just being practiced by the breakers in Brixton but by the hundreds of Movement Medicine practitioners around the world who use their dance to go deeply into stillness.

The nocturnal practice of meditation within sleep and dreams known as lucid dreaming is one of the most dance like forms of meditation there is. Lucid dreaming is not about dream control, it’s about making friends with the dreaming mind, it’s about dancing with our dreams. Just as some dances require one to lead and the other to follow, so too in our lucid dreams. One night we let the dream take the lead as we allow it to guide us but another night we may lead the dream with a firm hand round the waist, directing the dance as we go.

When we become conscious within our dreams the first thing we need to do is to listen carefully to the music of the dream. Each dream plays a different music, with no tune ever the same. We take a moment to feel the beat, to move to the rhythm of the dream and once we are in synch, then and only then, can we  begin to choreograph the dream at will, dancing with “the dreamer” to the music of our mind.

The dreamer is the name that I give to the part of the unconscious mind that creates and plays out our dreams. Using our own internal archetypes as actors and the wellspring of  memories and creative possibilities as the stage the dreamer is a the theatrical choreographer of our dreams. She directs each scene and creates the plot, masterfully encrypting message and meaning into even her most fringe and experimental works. Once we become lucid we will often be invited to the stage by the dreamer where we can humbly make plot requests and suggestions which will be incorporated into her play.

My connection to Movement Medicine begun around 3 years ago when a cold call from a friend of friend called Ya’Acov led to a series of synchronicities, including me dreaming of this strange named man before I met him, (in the dream he looked identical to how he actually looks!) These co-incidences soon blossomed into some lucid dreaming workshops for Ya’Acov, Susannah and a few of their friends and then culminated in the first ever Movement Medicine Lucid Dreaming retreat last year. Since then my relationship with Yaacov has moved still deeper as we shared ceremony together and I opened fully to the guidance of his experience.

Dance has been linked to dreaming for millennia. In some African shamanic traditions the friction caused between the feet and the ground as you dance is said to awaken the umbilini (an energy source comparable to kundalini) leading to more energetically powerful dreams that night. To dance is to connect with body, synchronise the two hemispheres of the brain and allow creativity to flow freely;  the exact three qualities that we need to foster in order to dream lucidly.

At last years retreat we found a level of lucidity far higher than we would have expected as we spent the days dancing and learning the lucid dreaming techniques while spending the nights engaging in the optional “group dreaming” practices which involves sleeping side by side and briefly waking every 90 minutes for the last few hours of sleep, allowing us to fall back into the dream lucidly and collectively.

To all the Movement Medicine practitioners I say this: to dance is to dream so please come join us for what is set to be an amazing few days of movement, dreaming and high levels of lucidity!

Charlie Morley June 2104


The Poetry of Presence workshop led Ya'Acov and Charlie will take place 24th - 28th September at Rill Estate in Devon.  Please follow the link for more details


Charlie Morley is the Hay House author of the bestselling Dreams of Awakening. He received the traditional “authorisation to teach” within the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism from Lama Yeshe Rinpoche in 2008 and was described by mindfulness expert Rob Nairn  as “the most authentic practitioner of lucid dreaming teaching in Europe”.  For the past 5 years Charlie has run retreats and workshops around the world, written two books on the subject, taught dream work for the Mindfulness Association  and given the first ever talk on lucid dreaming at the well-known TED conferences. For the past 4 years Charlie has lived at Kagyu Samye Dzong Buddhist Centre in London. 

Watch Charlie’s TED talk here:



The poem below, 'Behind' is written by Ya'Acov. He read it to those who were gathered to celebrate his 50th birthday at the end of April and I was so struck by how it captured something essential both about him and about the Movement Medicine work, I immediately asked if we could publish it in this newsletter. I am so glad that he has agreed and I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I do - Roland




Out of sight

A flash of light

Across my eyes


A missed heartbeat

An Unexpected turn

Something so well known and

So well forgotten the first time

I opened my eyes


There it is.

Not a memory. Not a sound.

Not sight. Not smell, taste or touch.

Not even a sixth sense.


Not in a holy book

Or on the screen

Or on the front page


Something so known to me and so forgotten

Invisibly quickening the blood

Turning the wheel

Bursting the bud


Between breaths

The marriage of moving and not moving

Slow as a mountain

And fast as a quicksilver hare through the long grass


It’s this that pierces the veil

It’s this that is singing in the silence

It’s this invitation

To be here

To keep on reaching

So far past what I think I know

It dawns at the end of imagination and

Ushers me into the Unknown


It’s this other conversation of parallel words in parallel worlds

Where my hand touches your hand

And the eye sees without looking

And the heart pulls through dreams from the other side

And I turn sideways

And like the people of old

I disappear into the light


Ya’Acov DK   April 24, 2014

Gateways Of The Mind
November 8th-9th 2014

The Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London

The Consciousness Revolution is here!

Ya’Acov Darling Khan – Co-founder of The School of Movement Medicine one of the keynote teachers for 2014!

Gateways Of The Mind returns to London on the 8th & 9th November for another transformational weekend of presentations, practical sessions, panel debates, meditational soundscapes, art and workshops.

A gateway of the mind is a methodology to enable us to understand our deeper self, the cosmos and the nature of reality. There are many gateways of the mind, including lucid dreaming, out of body experiences, shamanic practices, meditation, dance to name a few. The by-products of these practices include physical and emotional well-being, healing, mind-training, consciousness expansion and wisdom. The aim of these practices are viewed similarly across many ancient traditions – the integration of our 'ultimate self' with our physical self in order to transcend the cycle of birth, death, afterlife and re-birth. 

Gateways London '14 will present experts, authors and practitioners who will elucidate on each part of the wheel of life and outline the importance of lucidity throughout. From one of the most ancient surviving civilisations on the planet, the Dogons, to the wisdom tradition of the Sufis and to the research by some of our most progressive Western minds. 

As we strive to understand and explain our very essence it is important to maintain an open and expansive approach to our personal evolution. What can we learn from our ancestors and their experiences and how do we combine that with our own in today’s digital driven world? 

Combining sacred and ancient knowledge with cutting edge ideas Gateways Of The Mind attempts to connect the dots and provide inspiration for us all on our personal journey. 

This years line-up includes:

-        Dr. Rupert Sheldrake – Word Famous Author & Biologist

-        Ya’Acov Darling Khan – Co-founder of The School Of Movement Medicine

-        Dr. Nigel Hamilton – Head of the UK Sufi Order

-        Dr. Nigel Hamilton – Neuropsychiatrist & Author

-        Penny Sartori – Near Death Experience Expert and Author

-        Naba Shenmirah Iritah – Dogon Priest Of The Khemetic Tradition


All information on the speakers and their presentations can be found at 

Through a mutual friend and colleague Charlie Morley – Ya’Acov and Davyd Farrell – co-founder and organizer of Gateways Of The Mind were introduced to each other and immediately got on with many shared interests and passions. Ya’Acov felt strongly that the introduction of movement into Gateways would be an excellent way to demonstrate another of the more subtle but extremely important messages of this event – that of ‘Conscious Living’

Ya’Acov will be the last teacher on the first day (Saturday 8th) and will hold the space between the waking state and the dream world over night before recommencement of the event on the Sunday morning.

More information on Ya’Acov’s presentation ‘A Matter Of Spirit’ and the associated practical exercise at Gateways can be found here on the event website


Last Early Bird tickets now available with

20% discount available – only 35 tickets available!

The 3rd and final batch of specially priced tickets are now available at £130 for the full weekend of Saturday & Sunday. Normal price is £165

Tickets can be purchased directly here –

Please note that the capacity of this venue is only 270 people and both of the previous early bird ticket offers sold out which means the event is now already over ½ full.

If you are thinking of coming to this extraordinary weekend then we do advise not only booking your ticket early to save money, but also if you are coming from outside of London to help plan your hotel and travel well in advance.

Gateways Of The Mind started out in 2012 and is now run in both London and Dublin. Initially focusing on lucid dreaming and out of body experiences the event has subsequently evolved and grown into a much more expansive event that looks at consciousness exploration and evolution from many different perspectives. Thus – there are always teachings from ancient and traditional wisdom paths coupled with the latest western and scientific thinking and the most cutting edge thinkers and practitioners of our time.


The Consciousness Revolution is here – are you a part of it?




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.