In this article, Ya’Acov shares the challenges and learnings that these past six months have been personally, relationally and professionally. As we approach the next ‘open gate period’ (October 26-30) for 21 Gratitudes – The Movement Medicine online Study Hub, he shares more about his growing understanding and excitement about this opportunity to really bring the dance back home that the Study Hub offers.
It’s been a while since we’ve been in touch but as the trees turn golden brown again, and the autumn rains fall here in Devon, we want to reach out to you all, this marvellous worldwide community of human beings, who we miss so very much.
We miss our work in the many countries and cities we have been blessed to visit during our 32 years on the road. Even though we remain connected to many of you through 21 Gratitudes (more about this later), online work is just not the same as ‘in the room’ work and it will never replace it. Nor is it meant to.
As the pandemic landed in all our lives, we could see clearly that this situation was going to have serious and long-lasting repercussions. Very early on we understood that the fairest thing we could do for ourselves and our organisers and for you, was to make a clear choice to cancel all our workshops for a year.
We are very blessed. We live in the countryside. We have land to walk on. And COVID time has presented us with the opportunity to do something completely new – to stay at home and really get to know that land, our relationship and our work on a much deeper level.
Naturally, we are connected to what is happening in our world. We acknowledge the untold suffering that this pandemic has brought to so many people, many of whom are dancers within this community. We acknowledge the political upheavals that have on the one hand, opened our hearts, eyes and minds to many things Susannah and I had been only partially aware of. At the same time, we humans have a tendency to think that the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated. And in this, we run the risk of creating a dangerous polarisation where to disagree with, or question any side of the political narrative runs the risk of being cancelled, or further excluded. Polarisation is a choice and it’s not one we are willing to make. Making enemies of those that have different views than us involves a refusing to see them. That is not who I am. Nor is it what Movement Medicine is.
During these times, we have been in such a deep process on so many levels. Personally, not being on the road has given me the time to consider so many aspects of my life that frankly, in the last few years, I hadn’t had the time to.
In the summer, I took myself out on vision quest. I sat by the fire and prayed my heart out. All I asked was that my death would be close by to keep me focused. In short, what I understood was that for the whole of my life, I have been doing my very best to get somewhere where I wasn’t. I don’t regret this in the slightest. Quite the contrary. My determination to know who I am and give everything that’s inside me to say thank you for this absolute fucking miracle that we are here at all has been appropriate and successful. In April, I turned 56, the same age that my father died of multiple cancers. The ceremony helped me to see that I have now entered a different cycle of my life. I’ve passed through the gateway that is the years often named as mid-life crisis, and what I heard from the spirits that have always inspired and guided me so well was very simple.
“You have arrived where you intended to. You have LAND-ed. You are here. We invite you to enjoy your life to the very fullest you can whilst your heart still beats.”
Had I not enjoyed the privilege of being human up until now? Well, yes, I really had loved and enjoyed my life. But the pace that I (and maybe our whole western world) was moving at had made it impossible to really appreciate what life was giving me. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had been astonished, humbled and somewhat ashamed at the recognition of my own profligacy. Moving at that speed necessarily means more consumption on all levels. Working that hard means the need to compensate with quick fixes. And the speed made it hard to even taste my food, no matter how many Michelin stars the chef had. Now, with our income gone and no support from our government – they had to draw the line somewhere – suddenly, in a way that I hadn’t had to do since my early 20’s, every expenditure had to be questioned. Thanks to our very ethical and marvellous bank, we had a mortgage holiday. We cancelled all outgoings that weren’t absolutely necessary. We made plans to see this through. And we thanked our lucky stars that, for the past three years, we had been planning the launch of the Movement Medicine Study Hub.
Meanwhile, I danced like crazy. More than at any other time in my life, I found myself needing my practice. And so, I leaned into the medicine of movement and our practices. Of course, there were my own ancestral fears of survival. The memories of the uncertainties and unknowns that they had lived with as the norm, stormed into my dreams and practice space. I cried and shouted and shook. I used the practices we have worked so hard to share with you. And I have never been so grateful to all my teachers and everything I learned from them that are so much a part of our work.
In April, as planned, we launched the Study Hub. And what a teaching this is proving to be. We are six months in now and beginning to really find our feet. As I already said, the Study Hub was never meant to replace being in the room together. And it never will. However, for many years, we have been pondering how to best support people to integrate the insights gained in the altered state that Movement Medicine puts us in to. We started with Bringing the Dance Back Home webinars seven years ago. We learned a lot about teaching through a camera lens. But the Study Hub is a different ‘animal’ altogether.
For one thing, it makes our work much more accessible to many more people around the world; the Study Hub truly is, already, a world-wide community. Perhaps the most interesting thing that we have learned so far is that creating the content for the Hub is giving us the opportunity, much in the same way that we do in the Long Dance, to travel deeply through the 21 Gateways that make up the landscape of Movement Medicine.
After four months of preparing the video lessons, live classes, ceremonies, prayer sessions, and everything else that is part of making the Hub thrive, we became aware of how deeply engaged we are with the material. As well as breaking our work down into bite sized chunks designed to be inspiring and digestible, we are recognising that, of course, we are taking the journey we are offering ourselves. More and more, we are loving the personal enquiries that are naturally so intrinsic to the weekly pulse and monthly focus that the Hub catalyses. Any of you who have ever studied Movement Medicine will know something of how these 21 Gateways are a landscape that encourage us all to stand up, grow up and play our role as soulful, engaged human beings in this life.
Don’t forget to sign up to the waitlist to receive all the news about the open gate period.
And of course, any of you who are in long-term relationship will know that COVID time has been a relationship intensive. I am writing this the day before our 31st wedding anniversary (34 years together); and to celebrate, I can safely say to you that in these past six months, we have learned more about ourselves, our relationship and our work than in the previous three decades. After what feels like thousands of years of war between man and woman, blame and counter-blame, cruelty of all kinds – we have found the way to actually take responsibility for who we are, what we feel, and step out of the vicious circle which keeps insuring continued suffering for all. If you don’t know what we specifically mean by the vicious circle, I humbly suggest you read chapter 8 of my latest book Shaman (signed editions now available).
“Vicious circles are self‐perpetuating blame and counter‐blame patterns which spiral deeper and deeper into negativity and destruction. They can happen within us and between us, and they frequently do. Our world is full of them and our media is full of the resulting aggravation.”
Susannah and I have made a passionate and fierce peace that is neither compromised nor flattened out and neutralised by any spiritual bullshit or bypassing. This is the harvest of 34 years of learning what it takes to actually feel safe enough to open to who the other one ACTUALLY is. We are mapping this landscape and plan to offer work to couples again at some point, as soon as we can. But if you want a good place to start, please do avail yourself of Susannah’s latest masterpiece, the Embodied Listening Course. If there was ever a time in which we need to learn to listen better to ourselves and each other, that time is now. We have successfully used the material in this course with our families (neither of which are particularly into this kind of work) on zoom over lockdown. The effect? We feel we know and love the people in our families much better than we ever did before. How’s that for a result!
Finally, I am in the process of setting up my own latest offering which will be 1-1 work online under the name of Point of Light. More soon.
There is much more I could write, and I will again soon. In the meantime, thanks so much for reading. From my home to yours. From my very human heart to yours, may you, your loved ones and families be safe and well on all levels.
With so much love and respect for all of us who have chosen to be here in this time. I have seen a future that makes sense of all of this. To get there, as many of us as possible are going to have to Stand Up, Grow Up and Play Our Role. See you on the Study Hub or as soon as is safely possible on a dance floor.
Before I end, I want to take the time to acknowledge all the Movement Medicine Teachers and Facilitators we have trained. They are all represented by the Movement Medicine Association which has a marvellous new website about to launch. We are proud of all of our teachers and since local events are likely to be what’s on offer for the moment. We are so glad that these wonderful, creative, passionate and unique human beings are all out there, finding their ways to offer this potent medicine for our times. We commend them to you.
Ya’Acov Darling Khan. October 2020.
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