20 February 2024
18 min read

Anyone who has tended a productive garden, developed a project, built a house, created a business, or who has had the blessing of bringing their dream into the world almost certainly knows that it nearly always takes far, far longer than originally imagined. And it also, almost certainly, turns out to be far, far more demanding, rewarding and full of learning than one could possibly have envisaged. 

An unexpected milestone

A very, very long time ago, or that’s what it feels like, we reached an unexpected milestone in our lives. That is what this blog is about. We didn't know then how significant it was, and I'm sure we still don't!

Actually, it was only about 4 years ago when Carrie Branovan proposed that we give Movement Medicine a refresh. She pointed out that we had 5 websites, all with different styles, looks and vibes. Each one of them was beautiful in its own right. In terms of their content and what they actually represented, they were coherent with each other. However, it sure didn’t look like that. Carrie pointed out that the depth, gravitas and clarity of the practice and path of Movement Medicine as experienced by participants was not at all matched by the way it was represented.

Carrie Branovan

Nor were the teachers we had trained visible upfront on any of our websites. The Movement Medicine community had become a strong international weave of dancers and teachers from many places and backgrounds. But this also was not at all clear. As our son, Reuben, kept saying to us: “It looks as if it’s all about you! But that isn't how it is anymore!" We understood, but sensing what a refresh might mean, we were reluctant to dive into action.

However, the information about Movement Medicine was scattered far and wide. We had innocently spread out in a plethora of creative diversification and individuation. But we had not noticed the cost of this; the lack of a coherent clarity and unity of presentation and of information.

We sensed the huge amount of work it would take to update all our systems and re-articulate our expression of this practice. So, already busy and stretched, we put it into the "Sounds good. One day!" pot.

A knock!

By the time Carrie knocked again we'd had several profoundly revelatory moments. Carolyn Cooke had organised my 'Art of Communication' online workshop, sharing the skills of Embodied Listening over a weekend. It was beautiful, deep and satisfying and the feedback was exceptionally positive. My only regret was there I wanted to share this with more people. I know how transformational these skills are and how, if you use them, they can reverberate positively within all your relationships for the rest of your life. I know how powerful it is, and I was frustrated. When we debriefed, Carolyn gave me a good talking to.

Listen Up! The Art of Communication

She told me that the way our websites and those of our Professionals were not coherent with each other severely weakened the vibe of Movement Medicine. We looked like scattered individuals. Though there is so much warmth and mutual care within the community of those who practice and teach Movement Medicine, it didn't look like it. We didn't look like a family, a tribe, each supporting each other to shine, individual and united. This was a moment. I pledged to myself that at some point we would have a "united" Movement Medicine website, with whoever of our Professionals wanted to join us in that, and that I wouldn't offer that online work again until it was done. Now, finally, the website is there, we are ready and so Carolyn and I will be offering this work again soon. Look out for its new title: "Listen Up!"

Unity & Freedom

Megumi Miyata is a Movement Medicine teacher in Japan. Several years before this point we were developing the concept that some of our most experienced teachers might go on to teach Apprenticeship Programmes. We had been emphasising the freedom that the new Apprenticeship teachers would have to bring their own vibration to their Apprenticeships. Then Megumi asked an important question which brought us up short.

Megumi Miyata

She told us that whilst she appreciated that freedom, she wanted to know what potential participants would be able to rely on as the constants of all Movement Medicine Apprenticeships, together with the individual flavour of the particular teachers. We immediately recognised the importance of this challenge and I began to document all the key practices, learning, experiences and enquiries which were part of all the 7 Apprenticeships we had taught. This new workbook forms the curriculum which guides the work of our amazing new Apprentice Leaders. Thank you Megumi! We are so proud of this diversification of Apprenticeship possibilities for Movement Medicine dancers.

We were surprised us to see how far individuation had (unconsciously) become more compelling to us than the need for community, unity and coherence. The wonderful and late West African Medicine Man, Malidoma Some, talks about the mutual reciprocal relationship between individuality and community. A community upholds the flowering of the individual, whose flowering strengthens the community of which they are part. Somehow, somewhere, we'd lost track of this balance and this necessary reciprocity.

Nature speaks

And the last such moment sealed the deal. On a summer's day in 2021, we were out walking in a wild, wet valley close to where we live. We’d sat down under a huge hawthorn tree to be quiet, to listen to the wind schooshling through the leaves and to contemplate where we were in our lives. 

That valley....

As we sat I began to feel an ache between my shoulders, as if my two shoulder blades were stretched too far apart. As if my ‘wings’ were flying off in different directions.

And then suddenly I saw it, how the two wings of our work were drawing apart and we were in the middle, torn. At the time the School of Movement Medicine represented our "in room” events and 21 Gratitudes was presenting the online stuff. This arrangement had grown up organically over time and each step had made perfect sense when we made it. But now, looking at it afresh, I saw the incoherence and understood why my shoulder blades were aching. I looked up and saw that the hawthorn tree we had sat under was actually two hawthorn trees, spiralling round and round each other. There it is! That's what we need! A reweaving of the different channels of our work, back together into one trunk. It's all Movement Medicine!

During this quiet contemplation Ya'Acov had had his own revelation. He had understood that we were at a threshold in our work and had come to exactly the same conclusion, that it was was time to bring all the different threads of our work together in to a new and coherent tapestry.

As we started sharing what had arisen in our quietness, we walked further down the shrub land of this wild marshy valley towards the river Erme. Suddenly, a movement in front of us. We stood in awe as a huge heron rose from behind the goat willow trees in front of us up into the great sky. Two wings. That is it. That's what we need, the two wings and the body that connects them; to fly, to fly, to fly!

We began talking with Digitalis Web Build (the behind the scenes geniuses whose work empowers our online presence) and they completely understood the heron, which became a real symbol of what we were trying to do. As we discussed the creation of a new website to represent all things Movement Medicine, they offered us some wise advice: "If you want your professionals on the new website you will need to go through a community process and make sure your stakeholders are actually onboard. There is simply no point in doing this if they are not."

So when Carrie brought up 'The Refresh' again, we were ready. We got down to work together and she expertly guided us back to first principles and through a deep reexamination of what Movement Medicine is and what and who it is for. As a result of this she created a beautiful proposal for how the new website would represent our Professionals. This was discussed at the Movement Medicine Association Annual Assembly in June 2022. The Movement Medicine Association is the professional body which holds the ethics and professional standards for Movement Medicine teachers and facilitators. Carrie's proposal was passed with 100% agreement, which had never happened before. So, we were on!

My Father's last ERa

Some time before this my father had come to live with us. His doctor in the north of England had told him that his Prostrate cancer would eventually get him, and that, when that time came, he would need care and support. She advised that whilst he was still relatively well and robust, he moved to a place with more support. Dad called us one day in early 2021 when we were up on Dartmoor with one of the ponies.

Hearing the gravity in his voice, I asked Dad to wait until I had sat down out of the wind. Once I was settled, he explained what the doctor had told him and asked, very simply, whether he could come and live with us. Since my mother died in 2014, we had talked about this several times, but because we were away so much on the road teaching, it just had never seemed sensible. Dad lived within a strong community near Oldham, where he played different roles and was well known, loved and respected. The most significant of these, at least in his own estimation, was as Founder of Emmaus Mossley. But now things were different. Covid had stopped us travelling, was preventing him from partaking in his activities in Oldham and meanwhile we were "staying home and connecting globally) via re-inventing our work from online with the Movement Medicine Study Hub. So Dad coming to live with us made a new kind of sense.

We said "Yes!". It was one of those choiceness choices. As you can probably imagine, Ya'Acov was impeccably generous, patient and kind with his father-in-law throughout what turned out to be a 28 month saga together. He and my father got to know each other deeply. I got to know my Dad in all sorts of ways I didn't even know I didn't know him. Reuben our son and his wife Haein live down down the valley and Samson (Reuben's cousin) lives across the way. Dad felt cradled (in his words) in this little hamlet of family and neighbours, and I'm so grateful to how all of us played significant and different roles in Dad's last years.

Richard Darlington with his Emmaus medal for service.

We converted our garage into "Dad's Den" a self-contained home which he loved. His windows looked out onto the garden which he helped tend. In his last month, he asked for his bed to be placed exactly where he could see his bird feeder and the flowers. We had a profoundly beautiful last month as he and we approached his dying. He brought so much awareness, conscious consent and humour to the process. There was much sharing, laughter, tears and completions.

"All together now!"

One Friday night in that last month, we had a simple Shabbat ceremony of giving gratitude for the week. This simple ceremonial form was something which Samson, Reuben's cousin, had brought to us. Dad loved this moment of gathered community, structured sharing and gentle celebration. One particular Friday night, when Dad was already under home hospice care, Samson, his siblings and I shared this ceremony together and as it closed, Samson asked Dad for the closing words. Immediately, joyfully he said: "All together now!" which has become his epitaph. Thank you Dad!

If you'd like to read more about this journey, see my previous blogs.

Dad died peacefully on 4th July, with the epic full moon, accompanied by a chorus of screech owls during the Summer Long Dance. I danced back and forth between the ceremony of the Long Dance and the ceremony of Dad's letting go. I'm eternally grateful to the support of Thea Henderson who held the space with him, the support of the angles of the St Luke's home hospice team, the District Nurses and our local GP practice all of whom were brilliant. My god sister, Nell Stanislas who is a nurse with lots of experience of palliative care was an incredible support to Dad and to us too. Thank you Nell!

Dad's funeral was the day after my 60th birthday, both of which were beautiful events. I was so glad that, just as at the Long Dance, I was able to be full heartedly real on both occasions, bringing tears and laughter, joy and grief, together without either emotion cancelling out any of the other.

Accompanying my father on his last journey was an incredible privilege and something which will always stay with me. I'm grateful for the wider support of our family, especially the warm, supportive presence of my brother and his wife. Always there.

And, I'm only just recognising the extent of the repercussions. The amount of work creating a new website involves was more than I had any idea of. As I look back now, I stagger with the number of details and the level of intricacy we've been tracing for the last years. "Merely" creating the new logo, the Phoenix, was a massive task. Choosing our fonts and making sure that our Professionals were in touch with what was happening was also quite a task.

As Dad became less strong and independent, I was needed more and more and it became harder and then impossible to focus on the endless details of the new website. I must have driven our allies at Digitalis crazy as it took me a while to really recognise this reality. Eventually we drastically re-scheduled the launch for January/February 2024, a year later than we had originally been aiming for.

Ya'Acov on his way to the Amazon

In the early spring of 2023 Ya'Acov went to the Amazon without me. This was another choiceless choice, as, by then, Dad was too fragile for me to go.

However this decision opened three new possibilities. It gave me precious extra time with my father, film maker Emilio Mula and I made the film (My road to Emmaus Mossley) about the meaning of his life, and I wrote the Amazon Blog. I'm proud of both of these and so grateful that I had this opportunity. One advice that Dad gives in the film is about the importance of keeping all stakeholders informed and in touch with the ups and downs of a project. This is what I have attempted to do with our Professionals with our new website project, known internally as "One for all and all for one". Thanks Dad for this sage advice!

I feel my father cheering us on: "All together now!"

Crossing the river

All through this long process, I've had the image of setting out on a long trek, leaving one set of mountains that had been home, to cross a long wide valley, in the middle of which is a deep river, and then another long hot trek towards our new mountain home. So often, I've felt exhausted by the length of the process and and then simply have surrendered to the reality and done my best to enjoy ever step. I've definitely not always managed that! But, for most of the time, that's been true, and that is in large part because of the incredible company on the journey, in the foreground of which is, of course my dear beloved Ya'Acov. What a journey we've been though in the last years. And it does just gets better.

I want to add a thanks in here to to our new admins Claire and Laura, who in the middle of all of this whirlwind came in, had to get orientated with the particulars of Movement Medicine, Apprenticeship, Training and all of that and have been overhauling it all. Thank you! And dear Roland, who passed the baton to them and who served Movement Medicine faithfully for so many years. To the Movement Medicine Association with whom we worked shoulder to shoulder on some intense refresh detail as we updated our systems. And of course to Digitalis, our amazing patient and visionary website developers, to Carrie, Carolyn, Megumi and to all our extraordinary professionals.


I love that word, together with its antitheses: "discombobulation". As I'm sure any of you who have been through the death of a parent or loved one know, there is lots and lots of discombobulation to move through.

In the Autumn I was finally recombobulated enough to able to get down to playing my part fully in everything I needed to do to allow the website to move into its completion phase. I was tasked with the role of being the one who instructed, encouraged and created the materials to support our amazing and diverse Professionals from across the world to add their Profiles and Events to the website. It's been quite an exercise, as so many of us are not (yet) digital babes. But we got there, together. We were touched by how some of the more tech savvy members of the MM Professional community stepped up to support those who needed help to become visible in their beautiful offerings. Together we can do this was a common mantra heard being muttered through my lips!

We hope you agree that the results, including the interactive map, the spotlights and the stories are stunning. Enjoy!

A prayer amidst the agony

Meanwhile, the ongoing agony of Israel and Gaza, as well as Ukraine, has blown so many holes in a sense of humanity moving forward in a good way together - and in the power of the international community to enforce sanity. Here, I am simply going to share Ya'Acov's "Life and Death on the Doorstep" his article on the subject and "Of Grief and Prayer" which I wrote in November. In the face of this ongoing horror I feel utterly aghast. I pray that the leaders and negotiators of the many countries who are seeking to find a practicable real way out of this immense horror towards a sustainable peace can somehow "make a way out of no way".

This has to stop.

Since being part of the peace movement in the 1980's, I've been trying to forgive myself for not being able to "save the world" (dear slightly grandiose Susy). Now, embarking on my sixties, I'm simply trying to make the contribution I can make, and make it well. Movement Medicine is our prayer in action.

A warm welcome

So. Ya'Acov and I warmly welcome you to our new website home. We're sure you will find resources and opportunities to strengthen your being and your belonging as part of it all - to support you to play your part, whatever it is. As rebel theologian Matthew Fox says: "This is a time for all hands in deck. Each one of us is needed." And I would like to add; "each one of us has a place."

Before I end with these words from one of our main teachers, Gabrielle Roth, we want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been part of the journey to create this website, whether your part was an apparently big part or an apparently small one. It all matters. THANK YOU one and all,

with our love, Susannah Darling Khan

PS check out the full website of which this is part! xx

“If you don't dance your dance, who will?"”
Gabrielle Roth

Susannah Darling Khan

Susannah's life is dedicated to the quest for a world where beauty and compassion flourish....