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What Life Asks of Us – December 2016

  |   News, Ya’Acov's Posts

Ya’Acov’s newsletter article in which you’ll find a few hints about a new workshop coming in 2017 and a short teaser of his book, Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart.

“When I acknowledge what is already being given, then I can give a whole lot more. When I receive what’s already being given, then I can receive a whole lot more.”
This is my latest incantation. Incantations are a major part of the way we integrate change in Movement Medicine practice. For those who don’t know what an incantation is, let me explain. An incantation is a distilled, short sentence that sums up the intention to integrate new learning into everyday life.

Incantations are designed to replace an outmoded internal dialogue with an up-to-date story that dignifies who we are and who we are becoming. Combined with movement (embodiment), strong emotion (the passion to evolve) and congruent, chosen small steps (choice in action), they are powerful medicine and they have been a powerful element of my own practice for many years.

This one evolved from an understanding that I received in the last ceremony we did on the journey we co-led in the Amazon with the Pachamama Alliance earlier this year (next one is taking place Jan 2–16 2018, details available soon, see I was sitting by the river, late at night, after the major work of the ceremony had been completed, in what is one of my favourite spots on this earth. In that place, everything is itself. Life and death dance closely together and in that moment, I felt so blessed to be there and be held in the power of nature’s immense mirror. I was breathing slowly and deeply and I ‘saw’ the breath coming in and going out. I felt how I habitually made my breathing shallower than it needs to be and the deeper I breathed in, the deeper I could breathe out. The deeper I breathed out, the deeper I could breathe in. And then I was inside a figure of eight, receiving and giving through this symbol of infinity. It went from back to front, from side to side, from the heights to the depths and in every other direction conceivable. I expanded until my separate sense of self popped and I was back where it all began and where it will all end.

There were tears and laughter in equal measure as I was shown how my previous experience of reciprocity had been so distorted, squeezed and narrow. I was taught to focus on receiving being a reward for what I gave. But it turns out that the way reciprocity works in life is quite different. What greater gift can a human give to another than receiving what they have to offer? What greater gift can I receive than to give you what I’ve got? The point is to clear the pathways through which this giving and receiving happens. Watch out for a new workshop in 2017 that will focus on this – The Alchemy of Infinity: The Shamanic Dance of Reciprocity.

Since that moment, my sense of life has been subtly different. I have started to take life in much more deeply. My senses have become more sensitised. All this comes alongside the writing of my book; quite a journey for me in itself. In the writing of it, I have had to confront the many ways in which I have not been owning who I have become. As a good friend who read my manuscript for me recently said to me: “Wow, they had to work very hard to get you to accept that you are a shaman.” It’s true. Even though I wanted to be acknowledged, there was an even stronger part of me that was much more comfortable in the future possibility of becoming something than the present moment responsibility of owning who I had already become. Know what I mean? One of the hardest things about this whole evolution gig is doing the work to catch our self-talk up with who we have already actually become.

I had my strategy meeting at Hay House, my publishers, earlier this week. It was humbling to have a team of people sitting round a desk who were there to support me to get my book out into the world. It’s been a hell of a journey so far. From the moment I knew I had to write it to the moment in the meeting when I was given the publication date (6.6.2017 –any astrological advice out there?) has taken many years. I didn’t find it easy to write. It definitely wasn’t channelled from some far out and enlightened being. It’s been sculpted from my very human experiences on the path. In writing it, I had all the resistance that stone offers the sculptor’s chisel. I procrastinated and made excuses, even though I knew I would have no peace until I had written it. This book is the second recapitulation of my life.* I did the first in my 20’s. My intention was to take responsibility for my life and clear up some of the more difficult habits of behaviour I had picked up along the way to protect myself. The problem with bad habits is twofold. One, they have a lot of momentum. Two, they take an enormous amount of life energy. Recapitulation is a powerful shamanic tool designed to release ourselves from the stories in which these habits were formed and re-integrate the energy that is tied up in them into our lives now. From my first recapitulation, I released an enormous amount of energy at a time when I really needed it.* We were a young family just beginning our work and as anyone who has begun any kind of new project will tell you, the first three to six years are a time when full commitment is necessary to get things established.

This second recapitulation came at a time when we are working with full commitment to find the ways of bringing Movement Medicine into the world in as strong and effective a way as possible. This will involve the setting up of new schools in different geographical locations and language areas, and it involves Susannah and myself moving into a new role as ‘elders,’ a role we are just beginning to find our feet with. This does not mean we will be leaving Movement Medicine. We plan to be around for as long as we can move, bringing our work to as many places as we possibly can. And interestingly, we feel that Movement Medicine has turned a corner as more and more people are coming to benefit from the particular story and invitation that it offers. We are proud of how the MM community, in these days of reactionary politics, when the very fabric of life on earth is at risk, is engaging so deeply with the very real issues of our times. Spiritual practice just isn’t worth the web space it takes up if it isn’t rooted in the courage to engage with the web of life that we are all part of.

Relationship is the roots of Movement Medicine and relationship involves self, others, the community, the imaginal or spirit world and our relationship with the divine. Take any one of those away and we are considerably weakened in our capacity to be who we are and give what we’ve got. So, personal healing, the healing of our relationships with loved ones, and the strength of community that we can create in which we are free to be ourselves and free to join forces for a shared dream, are in our view, all major parts of spiritual practice in the 21st century. We can no longer avoid the call from nature to stand by what we love, whether it be at Standing Rock or in the Amazon, or in protecting the trees in our local environment. There are no shortage of places to receive the great gift of offering what we have. And regardless of the outcome, there is no greater joy in life than committing to a project that includes our whole being, body, heart and mind, and that comes from the deepest part of our knowing. As Joanna Macey says, if there is any possibility that we are approaching the sunset of life on earth as we have known it, then it is down to each one of us to live and love just as fully as we can. Death is part of life and it makes life all the sweeter.

To end, here’s a short paragraph from the introduction of Jaguar in the Body, Butterfly in the Heart to give you a little taste of what you can expect:

I’ve been through heaven and hell many times over in order to find something that is down-to-earth and real, honours the old ways and is appropriate for the modality, challenges and realities of our times. I have seen again and again how my unconscious reactions to my own history obscured the simplicity of the matter and had me seeking out more and more fantastical experiences in order to prove that spirit is for real. The shamanic path is full of pitfalls. There are so many ways to get confused, distracted, and an equal number of ways to fall into illusion. No matter the intensity of training, it’s the experience of life itself that teaches us how to use the power we have access to in a responsible way. It’s taken me a long time to learn to trust myself. Maybe that’s just the way things are.

Wishing you all a healthy and strong solstice time and all blessing for the new year.

Ya’Acov DK. December 2016

* The SEER Process is the Movement Medicine practice that I have developed with huge support and input from Susannah to do this work. We have just trained a whole group of Movement Medicine professionals in another level of working with the heart and the SEER process so you can expect to see it or elements of it made more available over the months and years to come. It’s a super effective shamanic tool and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Forthcoming Workshops with Ya’Acov:

December 3–4Power Stories with Ya’Acov. London, UK.
With preceding 
Move! Evening Friday, 2 December.
This workshop is an invitation to find out more about the power you hold inside and your relationship to that resource. Through dance and embodiment, we explore how it manifests through past stories, how we might deny our own power, or give it over to another authority within or without, and how we can access that power in a healthy, truthful way to give space to even more of what we are.
Contact Alex Hanly: + 44 7868842219;

December 17: Fusion with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Geneva, Switzerland.
For this day in dance and body the focus will be on the presence and the balance of yin and yang energies and qualities in our selves and in our lives. It is this sweet middle between the acceptance of yin and the direction and action of yang which brings us to this fusion of both these opposing forces in life.
Contact Veronique: +33 7 81 46 57 49,

December 18–22: Returning Home with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Waldhaus, Switzerland.
During this winter solstice gathering we take time to give thanks to and honour what has been and to nurture ourselves with community and dance practice during the shortest days of the year. We listen to our winter dreams that may wish to be seen and heard and plant any new seeds for a new year and a new cycle ahead.
Contact Roland: 
+44 1803

January 25–28: Winter Dream Dance (AP’s only) with Susannah and Ya’Acov. Rill Estate, Devon, UK.
This is a gathering where any MM Apprentices and teachers meet and rejoice in their connection, support and community. As a winter dance, this is an invitation to turn inward and to nourish and be held by the practice shared, and to experience and be part of our dances and dreams weaving together.
Contact Roland: Contact Roland: +44 1803 762255