Time to Dance, to Pray and to Remember Who We Are – March 2017
I’ve spent the last month travelling in the USA, teaching workshops along the way and meeting a wide variety of super interesting and creative people. It’s been an unusual month for me. A kind of pilgrimage and journey back into my past. And a month without my beloved who has been travelling in Africa.
I’ve been in Philadelphia, New York, Burlington, Santa Fe, Sebastopol, San Francisco and will end my tour with a trip to Port Townsend near Seattle. In New York, I was looking for a restaurant and my GPS led me right past Gabrielle Roth’s old apartment. I laughed and cried as I stood there for a while remembering good times and bad and blew her a kiss wherever she might be. In Santa Fe, I spent many hours with an old teacher, Victor Sanchez, who I haven’t seen for more than 20 years. We did a fire ceremony, asking the grandfather to help us speak from our hearts. We covered a vast array of topics and enjoyed each other’s company very much. And in Mill Valley, I dropped in on Kathy Altman and Lori Saltzman. They cooked me a beautiful meal and we had such a kind, deep and honest conversation that for me, healed a little more of the scar tissue from the difficult times we all went through in our different challenges with Gabrielle.
I’ve encountered a wide variety of responses to what is happening politically here in the US (and in many places around the world). Many people tell me they are afraid of the changes they see, disgusted, upset, at times overwhelmed. Naturally, recognising our emotional realities and acknowledging them is important. But I prefer not to be a feather in the wind, blown around by my own knee-jerk emotional responses to what the media chooses to place in front of me as news. I don’t wish to have my head in the sand but nor do I wish to be overwhelmed myself by the 24-hour-a-day stream of attention grabbing distractions that we call news. Starting the day by remembering the goodness of life, the power of this earth, the mystery of it all as I do my practice has become more and more important to me. I am not practising to become a better person. I am practising to give time to remembering what is true for me. To open my eyes and my heart to what is actually happening inside me and around me.
Movement Medicine is intended to awaken the dancer inside us. And the dancer is the word we use to describe the intelligence of life that lives the body, keeps the heart beating, and replaces our cells. This intelligence is movement. This intelligence is already connected, awake and aware. It is we who choose whether to remain distracted or focus our attention. Distraction is a modern disease. Our attention spans are shortening. And this only increases our feather-in-the-wind victim based approach to this magnificent gift of life. I have to choose every day what is the focus of my attention. I have to choose whether or not to be overwhelmed and thus paralysed into submission or whether to wake up, face my resistance, and do the work of remembering and identifying with the intelligence of life whilst it still dances in this temple called the body. My practice has become more and more of a necessity for me as I experience the daily invitation to stay afraid, overwhelmed and powerless from the hundreds of screens blaring out a common theme and drowning out my capacity to feel my own feet on this earth.
I have no idea where this whole life on earth shebang is headed. I both rest in the mystery of life and feel impelled by an ever deepening love for life to act. This is no longer a paradox for me. The non-ordinary states I access in my practice and in our workshops deepen by experience of both the mystery of life and the necessity I feel to stand up for life. I have no idea whether we as a species will wake up in time to recognise the need to change the effect of our human species’ presence on earth from blight and destruction to benign, responsible and sustainable. I know we are capable. In my work, I am blessed week in week out to witness the extraordinary courage of people from so many walks of life dispelling distraction, shutting down the non-stop babble of the frontal neo-cortex and plugging back in to the deeper, wider intelligence of non-ordinary states of awareness. There is a lot of research being done into the positive effects of non-ordinary states. In Stephen Kotler’s and Jamie Wheal’s book Stealing Fire, they write:
“In non-ordinary states, the information we receive can be so novel and intense that it feels like it’s coming from a source outside ourselves. But, by breaking down what’s going on in the brain, we start to see that what feels supernatural might just be super-natural: beyond our normal experience, for sure, but not beyond our capabilities.”
Let’s be clear. Non-ordinary states or states of ecstasy are a human need. As a species, we have come up with an astonishing variety of ways to induce them, not all of them healthy by any means. However, when we reach for a cigarette, check our status on facebook or remember to use the tools in our personal awareness tool-kit, we are seeking that sense of connection that comes from changing our state. Movement Medicine is the synthesis of methods, structures and understandings that we have found most useful in gaining reliable access to these heightened states in which we can remember who we are, where we come from, and what matters most to us.
We often say that Movement Medicine is medicine for our times. We practice focus. We practice interoception (perception of the interior). We practice giving our physical bodies back to the intelligence that is already moving and connected inside us. And we work with methods and themes designed to give us access to the power we have inside us to see the bigger picture of our lives and to find creative solutions to our individual and collective challenges. You do not have to believe in anything to achieve this. You only have to be curious enough to explore. You only have to decide to concentrate and pay attention for the short time it takes for the body to awaken. You only have to decide to want to know your own heart and give it space to move. And you only have to choose to turn the mind away from the chaotic busyness of ongoing distraction and allow it to become the beautiful flower that opens to drink in the light of new inspirations, ideas, and possibilities for yourself and all that you care for.
This is why ritual is such an important part of our work. Ritual is our drug of choice. It’s our route one into the wider intelligence of non-ordinary states. Non-ordinary states release a whole host of chemicals in the brain that sharpen our focus, shut down our inner critic and help us to notice more of what’s actually going on around us and inside us NOW, in the present. Our brainwaves change from the agitation of beta brain waves to the wider expanse of alpha brainwaves and in this state, our day-dreamer wakes up and we notice all kinds of connections that were previously invisible to us. In ritual, the process of long, focused movement in turn opens the road to a theta brainwave state which gives us access to a much deeper level of intuition. In our normal day to day state, our attention is taken up with so many things and therefore, it is literally impossible for us to see the bigger picture. In this condition, we are about as far from our natural state as we can get.
It’s clear that in order to transform, we need to access our creativity. Creativity is as natural to humans as breathing. However, for many of us, accessing to our creativity is shut down by our normal state. Regaining reliable access to our creativity is a matter of entering into the state of mind in which creativity exists. Research is revealing what the shamans of past and present know. Non-ordinary states open the doors to the bigger picture in which solutions emerge. I find all of this super fascinating. And the more research I do, the more I understand how and why Movement Medicine works. It is a healthy, safe and balanced way to gain safe access to the kind of states in which we can heal, discover the power that is both in us and beyond us and remember the bigger picture in which our lives exist.
So dear ones, today is Spring Equinox and I am inviting you to join us for this year’s Summer Long Dance. We know it’s a big commitment to get there and we also know what a profound journey it is. There is a very strong circle of people gathering now – perhaps there is a place in that circle with your name on it. I cannot recommend it highly enough as a place to deepen your knowledge of who you are, access the states I have been writing about, and fall more and more in love with the mystery and beauty of life on earth. I hope to see you there.
Wishing you a fine spring blossoming and delightful autumn shedding depending on which hemisphere of the world you are reading this in.
With my love and respect for the one you are.
Ya’Acov DK. March 2017
PS: I am in the final stages with my new book. The edit is complete, and we are at second proof reading stage. I cannot wait to share it with you. In the next few newsletters, there will be more news about how to pre-order and some special offerings we’re cooking up. If you want to be at the launch in London, click on the link. The launch will also be shown on facebook live.
Forthcoming workshops with Ya’Acov: see article.