School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: September Newsletter
The Beginnings of Elder Hood

By Ya'Acov
We are back teaching again after a creative summer together at home. For the first time in our new home, we ate mostly from our own garden throughout the summer and we so enjoyed being at home, looking after our land and being fed by it. After a short rest at the beginning of the summer, Susannah set to work on her album Torch Songs and me on my new book, Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart The 21st Century Initiation of an Everyday Shaman.

I am delighted to tell you that I completed the second draft on the last day of our holidays. What a process it has been. 

I began with this project nine years ago and it’s been on my shoulders for all that time, whispering in my ear: ‘write me, write me…..’ But I was unable to find the time or the focus to get down to it. Three years ago, at Initiation, as each dancer in the circle was witnessed making their commitments to bring their learnings from the workshop into their day-to-day lives, I joined in. I had put the month of October aside to write and I made my public commitment to get on with writing my book. I spent the whole month on a writing retreat at home, struggling to organise my life’s journey into a book. Day after day, I sat with pieces of paper all around me on the floor, each one with a story written on it, looking to find the structure for the book.

It was really difficult but I managed to get started and in that month, with the help of much drumming, prayer and ritual in conversation with the spirit of the book, I wrote the introduction and first three chapters. It was a tough beginning but I was happy that I had managed to start. I sent the work I had done to Michelle Pilley, the wonderful MD of Hay House UK. Though she and Hay House love our first book, Movement Medicine – How to Awaken, Dance and Live your Dreams, it was written for a niche market within a niche market and hence, in publishing terms, it’s a slow burner and a slow seller. Because of this, she had told me that Hay House would probably be unable to publish my book but she was generously, happy to give me feedback.

After a month or two, I heard from her. She gave me very honest feedback which, though hard to take, was a genuine gift. She told me she thought my first attempts had been cathartic and that this was fine if I wanted to write a book only for those who already know me. However, if I wanted my story to make an offering to those beyond our known circle, I should probably start again. She talked about the difference between a teaching voice and a story telling voice and as Susannah had already been doing me for some time, advised me to simply tell the story and let it speak for itself. 

The intention of the book is to share the story of my initiatory journey into being what we have come to call everyday shamanism. So, I took her and Susannah’s advice, deleted my work and began again. I wrote a new synopsis, part of which read:
Based on remarkable happenings with some extraordinary teachers, this book tracks my own initiation into the shaman’s world and the healing journey that I felt compelled to take. It places my own healing in the bigger context of the challenges we face as a species in these times of great change and possibility. Recognising how my own wounds are not merely personal but part of the system of exile from our own nature and from the nature around us, the healing journey has taken me to the depths of the Amazon, dance studios in New York, the caves of South Wales and to the far North of the Arctic Circle. 

Because of my busy teaching schedule, it took me until the late autumn of last year to reach the same stage. I sent what I had done to Michelle in November last year. I told her that I had a gut feeling that Hay House are our publishers for this book and that, though I understood the reality of numbers, I very much wanted to stay with them. I heard back from Michelle in January. Her email arrived during our Professional Training module. It said simply:I have read your manuscript and … I’m very happy to take it forward into the meeting again.” I was ecstatic to get this mail. A few weeks later, Hay House confirmed that they would publish my new book. By then, I had got to the end of chapter 8 and I knew I had the summer to write the rest. 

After a short rest, I set myself a writing schedule and got down to the serious business of writing it. It has been a very deep journey for me, a thorough recapitulation of my shamanic journey. I began with a ceremony to ask for all the support possible so that I could make the very best offering I could through this project. The whole summer has felt like turning myself inside out as I put my journey into words and onto the page. Each evening, Susannah would share her musical work from the day and I would read some of what I had written. Susannah’s new album is a real treat of powerful, heartfelt prayers for the earth and I so loved hearing them finding their form. I’m so looking forward to you hearing them!

It was such a delight to be alongside each other as we got deeper and deeper into the creative juice of our parallel projects. We finished within 24 hours of each other and my book is now with the publishers and Susannah’s album is with a professional mixer. My book will go through the process of editing now before it finds it final form and ends up with you in May or June next year. I hope you’ll enjoy it! I’ll keep you posted on our new facebook page:

All summer, the subject of elder hood kept coming in to our conversations with many different people. I turned 52 this year so that places me on the first step of this new cycle. Life’s choreography has its own perfection and so it was interesting and timely to receive the invitation to join the Roots of the Earth Kiva ceremony in the Netherlands. There, we joined elders from different traditions around the world to pray for our earth. It was a deeply moving experience to join in with a ceremony that has the intention of placing prayers inside the earth so that they can strengthen our collective roots at this time of change. The ceremony was led by Heriberto Villasenor who received the tradition from Tigre Perez. The intention to bring healing to all the different races on the planet and to join with elders from around the world was deeply meaningful and touching as we held our place as part of a small group of European ‘Elders.’

Each day began and ended with a sweat lodge and we were glad to offer a Movement Medicine session there in a large circus tent to embody the Kiva and the ‘roots of the earth’ in our dance. We were really impressed by the energy and commitment of Martijn the organiser, whose family’s land the gathering took place on, and by Heriberto and his whole team for their humility, hard work and dedication to bringing this prayer to the four corners of the earth. As the days went on and the elders went down into the kiva to pray together, the energy of the place shifted perceptibly. Both Susannah and I felt honoured to have the opportunity to offer our prayers and to take our place in the ceremony. For me, it was another step on the road to accepting that we are step by step being initiated into the role of Elder.

Through many conversations with our son and his friends over the summer, we have been seeing how important it is for us to spend time with this next generation of seekers and both support them through what we have learned and receive their wisdom as they look to how to walk their talk, live good lives and protect the earth.

Last night, after our first module of our couples ongoing group, The Space Between Us, ended, Susannah and I got together with Michael and Christiane from the Waldhaus Centre. Both their children and their grandchildren were there by the fire and our son joined us too having arrived a night early to work in the kitchen at Waldhaus. Four elders and four deep seekers from the next generation sat round the fire and shared our sense of what is going on. It was a hearty discussion, woven from prayers, our concerns for the world and out own struggles and victories. It was such a simple and strong evening, blessed by a magnificent sunset, a couple of timely shooting stars and the strength of family. The Space Between Us, our first couples group since 2011, was a great experience for us both. To see couples moving together and having the courage to face the challenges of relationship as a spiritual practice was so moving. And by the fire, Susannah and I both shared our gratitude for having found a purpose in our lives that gives us such satisfaction. We recognise that without our work, our lives would be so much the poorer.

So, I return to work with joy and happiness to be able to share my heart and Movement Medicine with so many and hold spaces where people can find out who they are and what turns them on and so, discover the deepest joy we know of; that of leading a life dedicated to giving what we have in gratitude for the life we are given.

Wishing you all a fine entry into the autumn or spring.

With way more than 21 Gratitudes. Ya’Acov DK. September 2016

Upcoming Workshops with Ya’Acov:

413 September: Initiation, with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Rill, Devon, UK.
An intensive 10-day retreat which guides you through your life cycle from birth to death, in a moving, creative, embodied and dancing way. This workshop is an extraordinary, life-changing, challenging, profound and deeply rewarding journey.
Contact Roland: +44 1803 762255;

1923 October: The Way of the Dancing Warrior (men's edition), with Ya'Acov. Orval, Belgium.
This is a chance to discover this beautiful archetypal energy of the dancing warrior which always seeks out compassion, truth, passion and wisdom in a way of dancing presence. Release yourself from destructive patterns and invoke a new pattern born from the sweat of your dance, the courage of your heart, the fierceness of your intention, and the reclaiming of your own dignity and authority as a man.
Contact Frank:
+31 71 8893253;

23rd October: Move! Evening, with Ya’Acov. Antwerp, Belgium.
During this evening you can experience your body as an intelligent dancer, while you are guided through some basic tools of Movement Medicine. You are invited to let your mind have a rest while arriving in your body to feel and express what moves inside, beyond and underneath.
Contact Luc: + 32 61 32 99 20;

24th October: Move! Evening, with Ya’Acov. Utrecht, Netherlands
During this evening you can experience your body as an intelligent dancer, while you are guided through some basic tools of Movement Medicine. You are invited to let your mind have a rest while arriving in your body to feel and express what moves inside, beyond and underneath.
Contact Marold:

2830 October: Holy Trinity, with Ya’Acov. Hamburg, Germany.
Discover your own Dancing Warrior, your Wise Elder and your dancing
Fool, which are three key elements of Movement Medicine practice. In the dance, they strengthen the vertical connection we can develop between earth and sky. They help us to receive support from below, inspiration from above and the humility, wisdom and compassion of the heart that link them.
Contact Jens:
+49 40 729 100 61; 

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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.