What is Movement Medicine?
Movement Medicine is an ecstatic movement meditation practice, designed to develop an experiential and embodied connectedness, grounded in awareness of the profound inter-connectedness of all life.
Movement Medicine is an integration of physical, artistic, spiritual, shamanic and therapeutic practices, and is designed to stimulate human creativity, healing and transformation, especially with regard to the relationship with ourselves, each other, the earth, and the spirit of life. It works with 4 Elements, 5 Dimensions of Awareness, and 9 Gateways to the soul.
Maps of Movement Medicine
Movement Medicine works with 4 different maps to guide the journey, each of which covers a part of the terrain. It is important to remember that a map is not the same as the actual landscape. It is just a map, which should only be used as long as it is useful. The 4 maps are:
The 4 Elements
The 5 Dimensions of Awareness
The 9 Gateways
At the Centre: the Phoenix in the Tree of Life
The 4 Elements
The 4 elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are foundational to Movement Medicine. Each element exists both within and outside of the dancer, who connects to them through movement and imagination and quite literally, as the elements are ever present in the human body. The elements can also be thought of as ‘fields of energy’, which provide an opportunity to explore a wide range of different movement qualities, and a rich and varied language of metaphor which supports the movement practice and helps people to experience their connection with the natural world. Each element has a central core attribute and a more yin and a more yang aspect.
The 5 Dimensions of Awareness
Movement Medicine is grounded in awareness of the profound inter-relatedness of all of life. This map distinguishes between 5 different circles or levels of focus, moving between micro and macro, individual, inter-personal and global and ultimately cosmic dimensions. These 5 are: Self, Relational, Environmental, Ancestral and Divine.
Developing ones awareness and freedom across all these dimensions creates the possibility of being a fully resourced and potent human being. Each dimension has its challenges and its rewards. Someone who is “awake” across all 5 dimensions has an ease of movement between inner and outer awareness, between self, others and environment.
These dimensions can be pictured graphically as a circle (representing the individual), with 4 concentric circles around it, and fluidity between these different ‘doughnuts’.
In movement within the dimension of Self, awareness is created of the individual, interior landscape. Self-respect, self-love and self-care are important keys. This includes knowledge and acknowledgement of one’s personal needs and an honoring of self.
The Relational dimension is essentially about relationship with others, and extends from close relations, family, friends, fellow dancers right out to the macro level of relationship with our communities, society, and the global family. On the dance floor, it is encouraged to discover one’s own dance (literally and figuratively) whilst at the same time opening to others. This manifests as an awareness of the aliveness of space, the potency of one’s own action, and the realization that each individual dance is part of the creation of the dance. This awareness stimulates creative and dynamic relationships in every area of life.
The Environmental dimension includes the local, national and global environment and all that is in it. There is a connection with all living beings, and a sense of ‘family’ that extends to include the natural world. “The earth is my mother, the sun is my father, and the trees and the beings in the forest are my relatives.” This awareness includes the deep love and sense of connection with the whole web of life, which may influence individual choices accordingly.
The Ancestral dimension includes an awareness of family- and cultural patterns, stories, wounds and expectations that each individual may carry, and at the same time creates possibilities to release what no longer serves life, whilst maintaining and even strengthening the connection to the past. All actions have consequences for the world around, including the generations that will follow. The dance is brought in relationship with the ‘spirit of the dance’.
This last dimension of awareness enables a connection to the divine grace and an awareness of the spiritual nature of existence. Movement Medicine supports the idea that there is ‘that of God (or spirit) in each individual.’ Life can be seen as a prayer, a passionate expression of the deepest purpose or destiny. In the dance, it is possible to let individual identity dissolve for a while and take refuge in the grace of becoming the dance.
The 9 gateways
The 9 Gateways are an empowering map of orientation in space and time and reflect 9 aspects of life that we all have to deal with. The 9 Gateways are:
The 9 Gateways are divided into 3 journeys, each of which has an orienting axis; vertical, horizontal (dorsal-ventral, back to front) and horizontal lateral, (side to side). When all these axis are awake, balanced and aligned the dancer becomes potently orientated in space.
The 1st Journey:
The Journey of Personal Power is a journey of awakening and connecting the first three gateways; Body, Heart and Mind. It is the alignment of these three components that creates the presence and personal power from which peaceful being, strong intention and manifestation emerges. This Journey represents the vertical axis, down from the body, (centred in the belly) to the earth, through the heart (centred in the heart) and up through the mind (centred in the head) upwards to the sky.
The 2nd Journey:
The Journey of Responsibility explores the second set of three gateways, which are Past, Present and Future. This Journey can be experienced as an axis through time, from back to front, (and vice versa), horizontally through the body, connecting this present in the centre of the torso now, to the past (ancestors behind us) and future (generations to come, in front of us). Honouring the past and taking full responsibility for the present helps to co-create and envision and take care of the future. Questions arise such as: “Where have I come from? Where am I now? And where am I going? Where have we come from? Where are we now? And where are we going?”
The 3rd Journey:
The Journey of Realisation is through the gateways of Embodiment, Interconnection and Love. Embodiment means to fully manifest the unique, personal gifts of each individual. Growing from this presence in oneself (Embodiment) widening laterally to include the connection with fellow creatures (Interconnection) and then rippling out in all directions, in recognition of the love (Love) which connects everything.
At the Centre: the Phoenix in the Tree of Life (or the 5th element)
At the centre of the Movement Medicine map is the Tree of Life, in whose branches sits the Phoenix and right at the core and permeating everything is the 5th Element.
The Tree of Life is an ancient symbol that represents nature and the place of human beings in it. It also depicts the concept of the shamanic journey through lower, middle and upper worlds that is found in cultures worldwide. It contains the union of opposites, the dynamic and creative meeting of yin and yang, being and becoming, feminine and masculine.
In its branches, at the centre of the medicine wheel, sits the Phoenix, a symbol for the power that everybody has to transform their suffering into wisdom, creativity, light and possibility. Movement Medicine is one of the many possible ways to take the initiatory journey through the Phoenix’s flames of transformation towards responsibility, passion and creativity.
Finally, “the 5th Element”, surrounding and permeating all the other aspects of the mandala, is the force of attraction between opposites that creates the conditions for and the actualisation of life in this universe. The 5th element can be called love, it is also the silence, the void, and the emptiness from which all manifestation arises and to which it returns. It is spirit, God or the Divine, or one of the other names of the ineffable presence of the great mystery.