Season of Lights – December 2015
As usual, I’m on the train writing to you all. As the light faded from the afternoon sky before I left home, we lit the candles for the 5th night of the Festival of Lights or Chanukah. This marks the fact that we have just gone past the darkest night of the year which is the dark moon closest to winter solstice. Over the next 48 hours, our politicians will make choices on our behalves at COP21 in Paris that may well affect all of us in the years to come. At the same time, we are being encouraged to be good consumers and spend as much as we dare in the Christmas rush. I recently came across this quote, taken from our own book. It seems apt:
“…..(after the second world war), Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was the first person to take his uncle’s ideas and utilize them to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires. Advertising techniques have become more subtle and sophisticated over the years and we have been hypnotized en masse to equate happiness with the latest gadget or product to come off the mass-production line. And yet, research shows that beyond basic standards of survival, there is no correlation between happiness and owning more and more things. And because the majority are trapped in what the Achuar people of Ecuador call ‘the dream of the north’, it seems ‘sane to continue even as we sleepwalk towards our own destruction.”
I love it that in this community, it’s cool to care for more than our own wellbeing and to engage with the wider picture of what is happening to the delicate balance of life on earth. I love it that our facebook page is alive with inspirations, petitions, and full of the cares and concerns of the people we share the dance floor and this planet with. I am happy that more and more, the people who come to dance are really passionate about finding themselves AND finding the deepest offering they can make to life.
I understand how demanding this journey is. Together with Susannah, I have been travelling and teaching since January 1989. And for many years before that, we were passionate seekers, looking for a sense in life that gave us meaning, purpose and a feeling of connection between our being and actions. Naturally, we have never stopped being students. We love to question our assumptions and find new ways of seeing things. An embodied practice such as Movement Medicine grows and changes with the seasons and the people who practice it. Each dancer brings something new. Like anything alive, the Movement Medicine landscape is both fixed and in flux. Like the body itself, life changes shape and we have to be both flexible and stable to respond. Our work is designed to catalyse creativity. As we give our body back to the dance, and as we surrender our hearts to the ocean of feelings that we all carry, and as we learn to focus the mind on what is happening as it is happening, we become present. And once we are here, and once we begin to recognise who we really are, beyond our thoughts, personal histories and backgrounds, then it appears that life opens its doors. I have no idea how this works but it seems less and less mysterious and more and more simple. Being who we are and giving what we’ve got is as good a meaning to life as I have yet found.
We are noticing that this young body of work, rooted as it is in lineages that go way back, is still very much in development. We have learned so much about Movement Medicine this past year and it feels to me as if the medicine just gets stronger. In a few weeks, we will begin our third Professional Training with a circle of apprentices who already carry so much of their own medicine. We are excited to see what each new teacher will bring, to the practice, to their communities and to the world in general.
At this time of year, we like to take time to take stock of where we are, personally, professionally, with our guardianship of our land, and with everything that we are connected to. It feels so important to stop for a moment, and acknowledge the turning of the year; what has been learned, what has been lost, what has been unexpected, what has uplifted our spirits? Who are we now? And in the silence that is deep in the dance, to listen to our guiding spirits. I need to ask for guidance and for inspiration. And I need to give thanks for what has passed and to acknowledge what has hurt and what has supported me along the way. And I need to acknowledge that I have caused hurt too. I need to bring my life as it is now to the bigger picture that ritual provides.
As the years roll by, I experience again and again that I reap what I sew. And I notice more and more that when I remember to ask, help is always at hand. When I recognise how much I am being given, how rich my experience of being human is, there is nothing else to do than bow, wave my feathers in thanks and be awestruck by the deep suffering and joy of human being. It’s a good job that the great designer designed the heart as a muscle so that it can stretch and stretch and grow strong enough to take the blows and still dare to love.
This is how it is for me. I get that it takes everything we have to stay faithful to the dreams that matter to us. I get that this faith is often challenged by disappointment, setbacks and the overwhelming sense of powerlessness we so often feel in the face of the challenges we face individually and collectively. And I know that there is no way to predict the outcome of standing up and revealing our selves to life and saying ‘yes, this is who I am. This I what I care about. This is what I love. And this is what I dedicate this life to.’ I have learned that I need light to be able to see in the dark. Take a tiny little candle out and hold it up to the stormy night, and you will soon be in the dark again. I have learned that I must strengthen the light inside me and get to know the dark so that I can acknowledge fear but not be overwhelmed by it. I know how easy it is to return to what is known when the shit hits the fan. And I know the feeling of victory when I manage to weave even the tiniest thread of a dream that matters to me into the fabric of my day-to-day life.
We are surrounded by and submerged in the unknown. And yet there is much to dance for. And when we dance, we remember who we are, where we come from, our place in the circle and what is ours to offer. And for me, it’s all worth it for this – this knowing of self and spirit in communion – communion between human people, and between all peoples – communion between what is, what was and what will be – this creating and recreating with what life brings, this eternal and endlessly fascinating dance with life. This is the nectar for me. And to this, I freely admit, I am fully and incurably addicted.
Before I leave you, here are a few dates from my early 2016 calendar that may interest you:
Date Event Where
2 Feb Bringing the Dance Back Home Webinar Online MM Class
5-7 Feb Dare to Dream (back teaching in Italy) Verona
March 14 Deadline for applications to new format Apprenticeship Programme
June 25 Earth Dance Fundraising All Night Ritual Worldwide
I wish you all a peaceful and passionate turning of the year. And may 2016 bring us the knowledge that we are dreaming this dream and that we are delightfully responsible for the choices we make. And whilst I’m praying, may we find a little more peace in our hearts and a few more smiles on our faces. May we wake up laughing for no reason at all and may our tears, (yes, there will be tears), connect us ever deeper to the waters of life. And may our breathing be deep and the air around us fresh. And may what matters most to us take up more and more time and space in our day-to-day dance.
Happy Season of Lights to you dear Dancer – let’s dance on, dance deeper, and never stop. With Love. Ya’Acov DK. December 2015