Happy New Year dear fellow human being. We wish you and your loved ones, good health, and soul-deep fulfilment in the year ahead. We understand how overwhelming life and its struggles can be. And the more research we do about the nervous system, the more we discover about why Movement Medicine works. Thank you for seeing the value in Movement Medicine and for taking the time to read and give your attention to our offerings.
To begin the New Year, why not commit to a year of practice and find out about the benefits of regular practice as part of a global online village? We have the perfect theme to get your New Year off to a good start on the Movement Medicine Study Hub. Our focus will be ‘Dreaming in the Dark – the Dance of Commitment.’ And, to encourage you further, why not take advantage of our New Year Sale? The sale ends at midnight on January 8th.
We recognise that things of real value take a long time to come into being. You for instance. Just take a moment to consider how much time, energy, love and effort have gone into creating the one you call yourself. And, with respect, though I’m pretty certain that you’ve put a lot of effort in, only a small part of this came from within you. Most of it came from the living earth, the sun, the waters, the oxygen, your ancestors, your ma and pa, your friends and the massive effort of generations upon generations to make life better for us.
Movement Medicine is not an easy option. But my goodness, to make that effort to learn to dance with what life brings, to stand up, grow up and play your role, now that’s a road to old school ecstatic states. Old school ecstasy? Yes. Ecstasis that means totality, the discipline of being a free spirit (thank you Gabrielle for that one) rather than the modern-day version of ‘do whatever the fuck you want’ and call that freedom. There is no genuine ecstasis that excludes our grief, our fury and our fears. That door in the heart called joy is behind all those others and if you bypass those chambers of the heart, your ecstasy will be so much the poorer.
Since I was a child, I have committed my life to three things. Mystery, the disciplined practice of gratitude and the power of love. I’m no superhero. I’ve had my depressions, my blue years, my time in broken heart land, my very human foibles. And, some of the posts I’ve been reading and the social media frenzy of certainty, and righteous superiority, point scoring and violence in words, you might think that being dedicated to mystery (as in not knowing but being willing to learn) is some kind of spiritual bypass for the suffering in the world. But in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Not turning away from the agonies and the ecstasies of life in a body requires enormous strength and resource. People sometimes ask me, ‘what are you doing about the suffering in Gaza, or of those who lost their loved ones yesterday, or the wars in Yemen or the Congo?’ My answer is the same today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow. I work every day to the best of my ability to provide opportunities for healing. I try not to add to the suffering in the world. Each morning, I pray for those who died in war in the last 24 hours and for those who are left behind. Together, Susannah and I drum and sing and turn towards what we are aware of.
I watch the little ones leaving their bodies. I hear the cries of parents and friends. I witness the loss, The fury. The revenge. And I pray. And then I get down to work. And my work, my vocation, is to be a shaman in the modern world and to introduce people to the modern application of this ancient connection technology. My work has always been and continues to be a calling to make spaces where people can see beyond their certainties and reach back towards the mystery behind it all. It’s not a special job. But it’s my job. And I love it because it matches my core values. And so I commit to it every day having genuinely very little idea if the work we do and the prayers we offer, have any effect whatsoever in this world. I know that the attention we give matters. And it is possible that my attention is the best thing I have to offer.
I hear the collective noise we are making as a species. The ways we throw out our certainties at each other in order to try to dull the unbearable feeling of our insignificance and powerlessness. We proudly posture on the side of the right. We tribalise. We do the us and them dance so well.
‘And if you don’t use my words, that makes you a ‘them.’ And if you are a ‘them,’ apparently it’s ok to throw any amount of abuse your way. And I hear this noise, the echoes of bombs and bones, the screaming agony of not knowing what to do. The nightmare that stays with us when we open our eyes.
Don’t get me wrong. Screaming ‘stop!’ in the face of cruelty is a prayer too. Screaming at those who might have different ways of working in the world than you is not. It’s just noise. More noise. It may make the righteous feel more righteous but in fact it adds to the suffering and feeds the vortex that is forever hungry for what life energy we feed it. Who can measure the effectiveness of words written on social media against the effectiveness of a silent prayer? I witness a lot of that and sometimes, someone just speaks directly from their heart. And be it fury or grief, it matters not - it moves mountains. I thank the deep thinkers, the historians, the newly awakened, the artists, the singers, the diplomats working in the background, seeking any road not yet explored, the ordinary people who are just moved to stand up for peace for all – and in the end, if peace is what we want, we have to be willing to see the rights and the wrongs on both sides, whatever they weigh on your personal scales of justice, of any conflict, which is so much more demanding than taking sides.
Or the effectiveness of a slow, steady march in the direction of change, even whilst the victims of war fall in cruel circumstances every day. Finding a genuine response and staying awake as that response changes is the art of listening to many different points of view. I’m grateful for all the ways people respond as creatively and strongly as they can to today’s challenges. The very many good servants of life quietly getting on with working in the background to try to find cracks in the walls of war. All of these things, and many more, are part of our human song. In the end, you have to know which note is yours to sing and to sing it, loudly or quietly as the song of your soul dictates.
Pain, past and present, will be expressed for better or for worse. And there’s plenty of it. There is an energy of conflict, dry wood everywhere, just waiting for the spark of a misplaced word or out of fashion idea to set a new wildfire. Lashing out is commonplace. The newly converted speak the ‘facts’ they just learned as if they really know.
There is an energy in our world. I’m going to call it evil. And it’s a tricky foe. It will wear any face to draw you in. It will speak any words to bring you into its vortex, sucking the very beauty out of your bones. It seems so harmless at times. Even righteous. The anonymous venom that we call trolling – designed to hurt as much as possible, to rip what ground away from under the feet of today’s unfortunate target ‘other.’ Sure, it doesn’t usually kill. Not like a bomb or a knife or a bullet. But it’s playing the same game, and it serves the same master.
It's not a person this evil. It’s a force. To be less dramatic, I could call it destruction. It’s part of the world, the universe. Apparently whilst I was writing this article, planets exploded into dust, and the universe expanded in all directions at once. If there is creation, there is destruction.
And this is one of the reasons that we dance. And it’s one of the reasons that Gabrielle Roth was my teacher for 18 years. Shut the fuck up and dance! was a phrase she used from time to time. Our human mind is such an amazing tool. But disconnected from body and heart, it can be such a trickster, leading us into constructed stories and emotions and self-fulfilling prophecies. When it’s allowed to wander free, as an individual, you might say, trouble often follows. The mind disembodied can be so sure of itself. It uses its inattentional blindness masterfully to back up its certainties, treating the body (as Sir Ken Robinson so famously said) as a taxi to take it from one meeting to the next.
If you dance deeper than your thoughts can ever take you, you’ll meet your heart. And if you keep dancing, your heart will empty in sweat, furies and tears. Dancing through, not around, what’s actually going on is the invitation. Another Gabrielle-ism – the only way out is through – brings me to what we mean by ecstasy. In the 1980’s, once I’d got over my self-consciousness, dancing for long hours, moving so deep ‘til tears and sweat mingled and shapes came and went like a teenager’s ideas.
In the end, deep as it went, it wasn’t enough. And we travelled far and wide to seek out the missing pieces of the puzzle. Movement Medicine is what we found and founded. It's a movement, that's part of a much bigger movement. It offers a way for us to find the unimaginable answers to our apparently unsolvable issues. In movement, the lens clears. The connection to a greater power than Self is tangible, knowable. And we don’t do it alone. We dance together. We pray together. Jew and Muslim, Christian and Buddhist, Shamanist and Atheist, and we merge our individual threads into a tapestry, a medicine basket in which healing can happen. Even for a moment, we remember.
I serve the beat. Rhythm is my God. And rhythm has infinite forms. And it’s my job today, and tomorrow, just as it was for the past 35 years, to bring this medicine of surrendering to the beat to as many people as I can whilst my heart still beats. The paradox continues today – aware of the horrors of war in Gaza and Israel alongside the beautiful smile of the old Swiss woman sitting opposite me as I write, red dress and matching hand bag. The light of mystery shining from her wet eyes when we say hello.
Do what you must. And I will do the same. And when we meet, I’ll be glad to see you. And when we don’t, just know that if ever I once saw you dance, I saw your soul – and for that I am the richer.
Peace. Shalom. Salam. Life is Movement. And Movement is Medicine.
YDK January 2024
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