Dear Movement Medicine Community, I am on my way to Japan. That’s further East than I’ve ever been before and it’s a fulfilment of a childhood dream. It’s another journey into the unknown. Another place. Another culture. Another story. I had the weekend at home with Susannah and friends celebrating my 51st birthday with dance, good food, and ritual. I reviewed my year, acknowledged the lessons learned, some with grace, others with the uneven edge of resistance. As I watch my life moving on by, there is a feeling of both experience gained and mystery deepening. More than ever I know who I am and more than ever, I am in love with the questions that life asks of me and the knowledge that if I delve deep enough beneath the surface, the common ground I find is the unknown.
In ritual last week, I sat quietly listening to the land around me. The movement of the stream, quieted by a warm, dry spell, sang of the spring. The oaks around me whispered of a new season of growing in the warm evening air. Keep steady was the message I received. Trust in the goodness of what you are offering and stay steady as the winds of change blow all around you. It’s been a strong few years since we released Movement Medicine into the world on a stormy night in January 2007. The storm that night was a sign of things to come as what we had thought was to be a peaceful and mutually understood individuation from our 5Rhythms family turned bitter on a raft of misunderstandings. We were, sadly, never able to find peace with Gabrielle, even as she danced her last dances, so we had to find peace inside. We left because, after 18 years in 5R land, we were following a command from the same source of life that has guided us always. We had been given a new practice and a new story, rooted in many other stories and it needed to be told. We often describe Movement Medicine as a story, not solely because we know our human capacity to dogmatise stories into one and only truths, but because we know it truly as that. The idea that there really are 5 Rhythms or that there really are 21 gateways is kind of ludicrous. They are simply descriptions of something too vast and too mysterious to fix inside a one size fits all truth. A good story is a living story. Though the structure of a good story will last the test of time, the way it moves and the way it is shared may well evolve.
Recognising the story that we are telling both as individuals, as a species and in our relationships with all species is a way to recognise the underlying principles that drive our actions. Our indigenous friends call this the dream we are dreaming. They tell us that we dream is what we create. Another way of saying that is that the story we tell conditions are perception of how things are, and therefore our actions and therefore the outcome of any given situation. And becoming conscious of what we dream is one of the underlying intentions of Movement Medicine. What really matters to us? How can we connect to a greater truth than our own drive to satisfy our own immediate needs? Can we make our day-to-day life a truer reflection of who we are? Movement Medicine is a demanding practice. It asks a level of maturity of its practitioners in that it asks of us all to listen to what is true and bring that into movement. It asks us to find a deep acceptance of where we are and an even deeper letting go of any attachment to staying there as the dance of life moves us on from yin to yang and back again. It teaches us to learn to trust the dance or the process of movement in a very embodied way. It invites us to investigate where we place the authority to choose and to act from within our own psyches. It gives us tools to heal the past and release the energy that may be stuck there so that it is available to us now in the present. It puts us in touch with the recognition that we are all brilliant survivors and that we have the creativity within us to become conscious of and shed strategies that no longer serve us. And it reminds us that we are capable of so much more than we may have been led to believe. It dares us to remember the soul’s journey and to become conscious of the difference between the essential self and the conditioned self so that we can make the choice again and again to be who we are and give everything we’ve got and be compassionate when we forget. It’s not an easy journey and it takes a lot of courage to stay with it when the going gets tough as it inevitably sometimes does.
Movement Medicine invites us to journey deep and to journey far, alone and together. When reading applications for our third Professional Training that will begin next year, we were struck by how many apprentices mentioned the power of the community they feel so much a part of. We take time to build up this sense of community in all our work. Community is a central station in the Movement Medicine story. Within a strong circle, we inspire one another to accept what is true and, from the ground of this truth, to grow into our next steps.Our community is young but as the spring comes, we have noticed the signs of growth as people’s classes and offerings begin to find their place in the world.
Springtime is a good time for a growth spurt! And we have several offerings between now and the summer that will give you the opportunity for just that. In a few short weeks, I will be offering the Phoenix Retreat (please see Susannah’s article about the Phoenix Retreat in this newsletter). There is a strong circle already formed who are preparing to meet this great teacher of life, death and rebirth and to learn to work with the extraordinarily powerful healing tool that is the Phoenix Process. And as Susannah’s article says, there have been mistakes about the level of prerequisites required to take part and there is still space in the circle if you feel the call.
And we are also in the preparation stages for this year’s Summer Long Dance. I cannot recommend the Long Dance enough if you want to touch and be touched by the raw spirit of Movement Medicine practice. As many of you will know, we are delighted that Manari Ushigua, leader of the Sappara people of the Ecuadorian Amazon, will be with us again. This year he will travel with Belen Paez, the super strong and passionate woman who ran Fundacion Pachamama in Ecuador until the government closed it down nearly 18 months ago. I and we wish to heartily invite you to take the leap and come and join us for the Long Dance ceremony and take your place in a circle of people intent on offering up our thanks for this life in very real and concrete ways. As well as that, the Long Dance is a powerful ritual in which to learn to know yourself ever more deeply. It’s a ritual that offers a gateway to direct experience of the mystery and your place in it, and a direct experience of who you are in community. This support you to know and strengthen your place in this great circle of life. If you want to know more about the situation in the Amazon, please see the article (which is in English and German) called ‘Reasons why there is cause for hope in the Ecuadorian Amazon.’
So dear dancers, wherever the beat takes you, please know there is a very warm welcome waiting for you in a Movement Medicine event circle near you. And if there isn’t a circle near you, why not take the apprenticeship journey and then train to create one yourself. Wherever we meet, may you wake with a smile on your face, fall asleep charmed and live each day as the one you are.
With love and respect for you and the unfolding story we are all part of.
Ya’Acov Darling Khan
P.S. Haikus from my time in Japan
Roads that sing ‘slow down’
Between the Old and the New
There is one way home
The Old Pink Lady
Weary arms held to the sky
Sees between mountains
(about a 1000 year old Cherry blossom tree we met)
Beauty the eyes see
Hidden poison shakes the skin
The Old Ones say ‘choose’
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