Rhythm and Timing – December 2014
Rhythm and Timing on the Consciousness Trail
Do you notice how the year seems to speed up once we get into late October and November? Maybe it’s the shorter days or the early appearance of Christmas in the shops, but suddenly, we seem to be racing towards the end of another year. The summer is long gone and the autumn rains have softened the ground. The back door mat is muddy from our morning walks and those flooded fields are once again a part of the landscape of South West England.
One of the things we have found really important in our lives is taking time out at the equinoxes and solstices to review how things are going. In the busyness of life, creating islands of reflection time has given us the space to regain the overview, refocus our intention and give thanks for our lives in ritual space. In ritual, we have the opportunity to remember our connections to the bigger picture of life around us. This December, we will once again be in Switzerland offering our Dancing with the Heart of the World workshop at Waldhaus over the Winter Solstice. You will find more details of this gathering later in this article.
I’ve really enjoyed introducing my new workshop Dare to Dream over the past few weeks. It’s one of the things I love about my work. As new understandings become part of my everyday lived experience, I am able to create workshops that turn what I have learned into an offering or an enquiry for others. This process takes time. When I was younger, every new learning made its way quickly onto the dance floor but as I have entered my late 40’s and 50’s, I have started to see how important it is that whatever it is that I am learning has to become a part of my everyday life before I share it with others. A new learning is like a seed. Give the seed away and it cannot grow in my life. However, plant the seed, nurture it and support it to grow and soon enough, I can share the fruit of my work. Next year, I have two new workshops on offer that I’m excited about. The first is called Beyond Muscle and Bone and it’s an embodied enquiry into our relationship with death. The second is called Power Stories which is an investigation into our relationship with power. Check the calendar for details.
One of our commitments as teachers is to do something every year as complete beginners. This autumn, I have been lucky to find a local martial arts teacher who is super committed to his way. I love meeting people who have that level of dedication. It’s obvious in the way they are. He has been practicing for 30 years and he told me recently about one of his teachers. She was a woman who began practicing a certain kind of Ch’i Kung at the age of 5. At that time, women were not supposed to practice martial arts so her grandfather taught her on the rooftop out of view. She practiced for 65 years and at the age of 70, began teaching! Seemingly, she lived and taught to the ripe old age of 105. Can you imagine how rich and ingrained her teaching was? 65 years of practice and then she began! It’s not that I think that is the right or the only way to do things. But it’s a lovely story about the commitment it takes to share the fruits of one’s labours. We are delighted to see how many teachers and facilitators are offering their Movement Medicine fruit in a widening variety of contexts and places.
I was talking with a friend over the weekend about how useful Movement Medicine could be with our elders in Old Age homes, in hospitals, in business and with children and teenagers in schools. Part of the Professional Training we offer is about making give-aways in these kinds of situations and it was a great pleasure for us to see Silvana Rigobon’s photos on the Facebook page of her give-away with elders in Italy. Thank you Silvana! We are beginning to understand that delivering something as deep and as complex as Movement Medicine needs to be done in chunks and language appropriate to the place and culture in which it is being taught. Just getting people moving and aware of the body is already a radical step for many people. I remember what it was like to be in a situation where it felt as if everyone else in the room knew what they were doing and I felt like a fish out of water with no idea of what was expected of me. For people who have never thought of or experienced movement as a pathway to deepening consciousness, finding the courage to come on the dance floor can be quite a leap. Putting myself in the place of being a beginner again reminds me how uncomfortable I felt when I first came onto a dance floor 25 years ago with Gabrielle Roth in a Karate Dojo in London. For me, putting myself in places where my view is challenged and my comfort zone stretched is a wonderful process. It keeps me fresh and in the experience that surrounding the little I know is the vast space of the unknown.
I’ve heard people saying from time to time that Movement Medicine can be too deep for beginners. I don’t agree. It’s down to a teacher or facilitator to welcome beginners into the work and give them steps they can take that are not too threatening all at once. We need to feel safe in order to learn and we need to feel safe in order to be willing to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone. I am well aware that the idea of movement as mindfulness meditation is already a massive leap for a great many people. It is our job as teachers to go on finding ways to open the doors to those who could benefit hugely from Movement Medicine or other conscious dance or body based practices. There is more and more research being done about the benefits of working through the body in order to change our experience of living. The movement from disempowerment to empowerment can seem daunting. We need a certain amount of courage and determination or just plain despair to get us to break out of our boxes and explore the territory beyond the known. And it’s obvious to me that we all have so much more creativity and humanity than we generally give ourselves the time of day to explore and own.
In essence, that’s what I feel Movement Medicine spaces are. They are safe spaces in which we can step out of time for a while and stop the world. The day-to-day rhythm of the 21st century is so fast that we can simply get swept away in the tempo of other people’s rhythms, stories, ideas and expectations about how life is. We can and do lose ourselves in a world that is more interested in selling us gadgets and empty promises than the development of soul, compassion and the direct experience of who we actually are. When we are full of the stress that the industrial world seems to demand from us as the norm, it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees. A workshop space brings us back to the tempo of the body and the heart. We can listen, empty out, renew and remember. The need for spaces such as these is not new. We used to do it in community. We sat by the fire, told and danced our stories in rituals that made no separation between theatre, movement, song, acknowledgement of one another and the challenges of life, healing and renewal of our sense of what mattered most to us in our lives. Workshops now fulfil the same function.
Since we began our teaching work in 1989, we have always taken times like this for ourselves. Every winter solstice, we go into a time and space for review. How have things been over this past year? What did we learn? What were the major experiences of the year that we wish to acknowledge and remember? What do we need to let go of? How have the intentions that we set last year come into form or changed or been forgotten? What can we give thanks for? What’s going on in the wider community of the world we live in because without doubt, this is also having an impact on our experience of life and to forget that is to forget the reality that we live in an interconnected world? And what adjustments do we need to make for the year ahead to go on deepening the alignment between our underlying intentions and the way we live. Our first New Year workshop was in 1990 and was called Patterns in the Sand. This year, as I have already mentioned, we will back at Waldhaus in Switzerland over the Winter Solstice to run one of our favourite events of the year, called Dancing with the Heart of the World. In it, we will take the time to slow down, remember the rhythm of the body and heart and invite the mind to calm and open to the bigger picture once again. You can find full details of the workshop, which includes working with the Pachamama Awakening the Dreamer symposium, on our website calendar. There is a strong circle already gathering and if you feel the call, please contact Roland. We have discovered again and again that we simply could not live the lives we live without these times of enquiry, ritual and renewal.
Finally, I am happy to tell you that details for our fourth apprenticeship programme are now up on our website. The journey does not begin until September 2016 but now is the time to be preparing and taking the prerequisites. Full details of what these are on the website and Roland will be happy to support you with any questions you may have.
As I’ve been writing, the sky has cleared and I am being treated to a feast of late autumn colours. Time to sit back, stop the world for a while and let mama train and her rhythms do the rest. I look forward to seeing you somewhere on the road and wish you all a rich and creative ending of 2014.
Ya’Acov’s Programme Autumn-Winter 2014
Online Monthly Movement Class
Amazon Edition Alliance