23 September 2017
15 min read

Dear all,
I’m going to try and share something about our relationship as we are evolving in it. Enough of you have asked me searching questions in a particular vein to make me feel that it’s time to speak. As you may have seen on FB, I’ve done a string of videos recently of me interviewing Ya’Acov about his personal experience and purpose(s) in writing his recent book: 'Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart'. Having witnessed his process of writing it from close up, I knew there were aspects of this that I wanted other people to share too.

In a lovely response to one of those video interviews, someone asked: “What’s been your experience of this process?” Thank you for the question.

I sense that for some people there is a sense of unease or disquiet about me playing the ‘supportive wife’ role. So I want to share the inside story as openly as I can. I want to let you know what it is and what it isn’t for me. Eventually, I’m intending to write much more about this as it’s part of a big shift in my own life, but I want to give you a quick sketch right now.

First of all, here is some context. When Ya’Acov first floated the idea of writing his own book, some years ago, I was a bit panicked. Actually, I was really discombobulated, and then really embarrassed about being so discombobulated.

I somehow knew that this book would go big, and that it would far outstrip our previous book (Movement Medicine) in terms of the broadness of its appeal and reach. Ya’Acov has that thing about him. And as well as being excited about this new frontier, I was jealous, in advance, all those years ago. I was both jealous and frightened, frightened of being left behind, of feeling lesser, of feeling a failure; all that.

A few years ago, when Ya’Acov actually started to write his book in earnest, we were both at the point of feeling that we were ready to offer our work to a much wider group of people, not just to people who identify with dance as their spiritual practice.

We made a joint decision that we would get behind Ya’Acov’s book to spearhead that expansion and that we would take it as an opportunity to work with the trust and mutual support dynamic between us and see what we could heal there. Could I trust him to lead in this way? Could I trust that I would be upheld and supported, rather than diminished and extinguished?

The journey, for me, since then, has been a huge one of confronting my fears and deeply unconsciously held assumptions about trusting a man to lead. These fears and assumptions are present in our current culture, plus those of my female lineage as they live inside of me, plus my own personal survival strategies and they are all pushing in the same direction: “Don’t!” To be more precise, I mean, of course, my fears of trusting my man to lead. It’s been the deepest, hardest and ultimately most fulfilling personal inner work of my life so far.

I’ve had to see things about myself which are far from the strong, gentle, trusting and open woman I thought I was. I’ve had to see things about my family patterning and that of my female lineage that were distressing and unsavoury.

Exactly a year ago, in a taxi on the way to our wedding anniversary holiday, I suddenly discovered that, on a deep and unconscious level, I’ve had no concept of a male partner as being able to be strong and safe. The injunction I was unconsciously carrying was something like: “You’ve just got to be strong. Don’t depend on anyone. And whatever you do, don’t depend on your man. Either your man is going to be strong and unsafe (violent or/and domineering) or safe but weak. Either way you’ve got to be strong. And you’ve got to keep proving yourself as the better leader.”

That was shocking to see and hear resonating down the ancestral lines. Until that moment in the taxi, I didn’t even know that that story was there, inlaid in my cells with threads that go back to the multiple trauma’s of war and the witch burnings and, I’m sure much more historically, as well as my own survival strategy linked to the nature of my experience of landing in this life, and powerful currents in our current culture.

Once I could see how strong and real that story had been on the unconscious, unexamined assumptions level on which powerful stories operate, I could begin to take it apart and update it.

At the same time, I’ve come to see just how passively aggressive, belittling and undermining I had casually and chronically been of my man, and I could see that pattern too echoing in my female lineage; the tendency to either belittle or be plain mean: withholding praise, acknowledgement or recognition. When I first saw this, I was deeply shocked. Both that I was doing it, but also that I had never noticed it before. I felt like I’d been wearing a blindfold forever, and when I took it off, which in itself was a massive process for us both, I could suddenly see this aspect of myself. And it wasn’t pretty. I’d stumbled on a massive blind spot (more like a blind domain) in my knowledge of self as an apparently gentle and generous being and woman.

So, for Ya’Acov to take the lead, and for me to trust him with this, has meant many things. It’s meant him doing the work of becoming (even more) trustworthy, me coming to trust both him and myself much more, to relax in my being, in my feet, arriving here on this earth more deeply, coming to trust that I have my own place in the world. It’s meant confronting and feeling the fear, pain and anger of my female ancestors and what deep work that has been. It’s meant finally (after three decades of being together) relaxing in the arms of my beloved on a totally new level. It’s been a systemic revolution and evolution, from the war of the sexes to something quite different.

By ‘systemic revolution’ I mean that the state we were in was something we were co-creating. It was not my fault, nor Ya’Acov’s fault, but related to both of our personal, family and the prevailing culture and had become the accepted ‘thermostat’ norm of our relationship. Of course it wasn’t all bad, there was lots to celebrate. And only from the ground of all that goodness could we have the safe ground from which to explore this new territory together. In order to shift our system, we’ve both had to take new levels of responsibility, open up, clean up and make new choices which have sometimes felt very scary. Our system could only move when we were both ready, willing and able.

And of course, if we are to talk about systems, there’s the wider context of our prevailing culture and its norms. Though I believe feminism to be a necessary and important movement, like any movement it has some shadows which are not necessarily inherent in its stand for equality, but have nevertheless come to be deeply associated with it: namely, the assumption that men are to blame and that male power is in and of itself bad and dangerous, rather than simply often either denied or held unconsciously and unaccountably and therefore, in both cases, dangerous. I feel like I’m breaking a taboo to be sharing my personal story which challenges both this and of course the counterpart myth too, that women’s power is somehow in and of itself better or cleaner. As Ya’Acov often says: “Power itself is neutral and it’s up to each one of us to decide what its for and to hold ourselves accountable.” I agree.

The pay off of this new state is golden on two fronts, one to do with how good I feel when I grok, over and over again, that it’s actually OK. That I haven’t fallen off the world or been forgotten or left out in the cold, and that I’m OK in this new role of, besides being the co-creator of Movement Medicine beside Ya’Acov, and all the other things I am, I’m also the wife of a best selling brilliant author whose book is deservedly making quite a splash out there as it delivers its medicine in many different places.

And the other pay off is huge. The love, relaxation, mutual respect, adoration and playfulness between us has just gone on to a whole new level. That is affecting my very being, the refinement of my and our work, and the day-to-day experience of life hugely in a positive way. The more I trust Ya’Acov to hold and support me, the more empowered and delightedly free I am feeling as a woman and as simply myself, which is quite the opposite of the story I had been unknowingly telling myself. This is not a decision I’ve been able to make with words; to trust and be worthy of trust is an ongoing work for both of us. It reminds of the thing in salsa that Sangeet Portalski told us about many years ago: “The man leading the woman is not about domination, he is supporting her to fly”. Yes.

I’m so grateful to have this chance, which Ya’Acov and I are co-creating in this lifetime, of healing some of the male-female woundings and experiencing the love that is flowing from that healing. For me, it’s absolutely clear. Our sexual life has woken up to a whole new level of mysterious, subtle and gorgeous love-making. After 31 years together, we’re more in love than ever. No-one ever told me how much better it could continue to get.

I want to thank the many people who’ve asked me to share my story too. There’s lots I want to share. One of the many things I love about how Ya’Acov has written “Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart” is how he has managed to both honour me deeply, and at the same time, not to tell my story. It’s coming. But it will be a while, partly because these things take time, partly because I’m still in the arc of this process, and because, most importantly, I want to consolidate this new relaxation. When I do share, it will come from a place of my cup overflowing, rather than from a fearful drive to ‘catch up’. I’ve needed to let go and drop into a new level of being held by life and by my husband, in order to flower in a new way, with deeper roots.

This summer I went out on my annual birthday vision quest and had a surprising and profound experience confirmed for me this new direction and is helping me re-write my inner story. It involved a flamboyantly deep pink rose sunset, a white horse, and a gentle flock of angel sheep who welcomed me.

Like any ‘re-set’ or ‘update’ of the old trauma stories that are embedded deep in our psyches and cultures, it takes time, patience, passion and repetition, compassion, courage and connection with others playing their part of the same re-set. To quote that beautiful Hopi saying: “I forget, I fall down, I get up and I go on dancing. We forget, we fall down, we get up and we go on dancing.” Yes indeed. And the sweet strong nectar of this new dance is a deep incentive to face what needs facing to re-find our connection when we lose it. Thank you Ya’Acov!

And last but not least I want to honour my mother. I sense that she made a deep and conscious decision to not pass down the pain that she had inherited and that the wheel of suffering would stop with her. That was personally costly for her and she was unflinchingly committed. The inner work I’ve been writing about here is not caused by any lack of love or consciousness from her, my father or their parents, but is a reflection of how many generations it takes to heal deep patterning.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you every support, courage and humour in your own steps towards freeing the beauty and capacity to love of your own heart.

With warmth, and hope to see you somewhere on a dance floor soon,

Susannah Darling Khan


Susannah’s offerings and upcoming workshops:

Music Medicine: Susannah’s latest offerings also include compiling the new MP3 “Music for Life” Album: Vol 4 “For the Love of Life”, with contributions from a stellar group of artists. Available now from Music Medicine. She is also working on her new album of guided Movement Medicine dance meditations: “Life Grooves” which will be available soon.
Susannah’s song “Let her Go” is her song for her mother. Look down the bottom for the video about this.

There’s two recent interviews Ya’Acov and I have given about our relationship which you might find interesting.

Here’s the one with Shakti Malan, RIP. And here’s a video interview with Jocelyn Mercado about their learnings about relationship through the cauldron of their own.

6–8 October: Rock my Soul, with Susannah. Edinburgh, Scotland.
This workshop weaves together the wildness, the silence, the strength, the vulnerability, the spiritual and the physical of our human experience and offers all this to the dance and the connections with each other as well as with our selves. Learn just a little more about what grounds you here, as prayer and divinity meets joy and playfulness.
Contact Catherine Wright: +44 131 557 4278; [email protected]

10–12 November: Life Lab, with Susannah. Paris, France.
In this new workshop, the dancers can discover new possibilities of showing up in this life, finding wonderful ways of resourcing and new possibilities of engaging and relating to body, heart and mind, inviting widened awareness and presences within self. The participants will walk (or dance) away with a wide knowledge of new skills around embodiment, and a practical empowering tool kit to integrate this into every day life.
Pierre-Henri Therond:
+ 33 615 325 816; [email protected]

18–19 November: Heart in the City, with Susannah. Sheffield, UK.
With a Move! Evening on November 17.
In this workshop Susannah magically weaves together the medicine and transformative potential of expressive dance and shared song. No experience in either is required, only the willingness to discover what vastness lies in going beyond your comfort zone. You will learn more about the wisdom of your body and its movement and inner spaces and in that process discover what voice and sound is inside of you waiting to be freed, shared and celebrated.
Contact Kerri Cripps: 07796334584; [email protected]

22 November: Move! Evening, with Susannah. Antwerp, Belgium.
This introductory event provides the opportunity to get into that body and just dance, express and move for one evening. Letting the mind drop into the body, our inner dancer will lead the way to free and authentic movement, bringing your whole self into the dance.
Contact Luc: + 32 613 299 20; [email protected]

23 November: Move! Evening, with Susannah. Strasbourg, France.
This introductory event provides the opportunity to get into that body and just dance, express and move for one evening. Letting the mind drop into the body, our inner dancer will lead the way to free and authentic movement, bringing your whole self into the dance.
Contact Fabienne Hester: +33 (0)6 83 96 12 54; [email protected]

25 November: Journey to the Amazon – Fundraiser Event, with Susannah. Basel, Switzerland.
Susannah talks about her experiences of her yearly visits to the Amazon, sharing heartfull stories, some slides of the journeys and the passion of making a difference where we can. This is a fundraiser for the Pachama Alliance who is powerfully supporting the protection of the rainforest and its peoples.
Contact Kristin: +41 78 801 32 10; [email protected]

25–26 November: Source, with Susannah. Basel, Switzerland.
In this safe and gentle space the participants are invited to discover more about their sexual energy, Source. We will be and move with our creative sexual energy, embody the masculine and feminine parts inside, discover and release some of the personal shadows around sexuality and finding back to the innocence of a sexual-creative being.
Contact Kristin: +41 78 801 32 10; [email protected]


Susannah Darling Khan

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