January 14, 2018 Editor

Dancing With Elephants

Mindfulness Training For Those Living With Dementia, Chronic Illness or an Aging Brain (2017), Jarem Sawatsky, Winnipeg: Red Canoe Press


This is a mind-blowing book! It is written by a man whom my wife and I knew when a child, because of intersecting with his parents (our contemporaries) when they lived in Vancouver, later in Winnipeg and Hamilton. Sadly, Jarem’s father is never mentioned except with reference to his parents’ marriage being “crushed piece by piece” (p. 91). And his mom, who lived the “earthquake” of Huntington’s with denial her only skill, is mentioned numerous times as a kind of foil for what Jarem commits to become other than, determined rather to learn to “dance with elephants”. We knew his brother too, who is also only mentioned for “getting the hell out” of his mother’s home while a teenager at the onslaught of their mom’s dealing with Huntington’s disease. We never hear any name of his family of origin.

I also knew/knew of Jarem’s establishing himself as a noted advocate for peacemaking, justice doing, and in particular his embrace and promotion of Restorative Justice. His university teaching, his books and other writings, are brilliant and wise. Two of his books are offered for free if one signs up for his mailing list. Highly recommended!

Jarem begins by telling us of course that he knows nothing about dancing or elephants. “And yet, this is a training manual and love letter for elephant dancers like yourself (p. 7).” “Elephants” of course are universally the human condition confronting our “big, unacknowledged fears” (p. v7). We learn immediately of Jarem’s lifelong awareness of Huntington’s disease “lurking somewhere in the corner (p. 8).” This is an incurable brain disease that “is a kind of combination of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Schizophrenia (p. 7).”

Please click on: Dancing With Elephants

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Genre: Chronic Illness or an Aging Brain, Mindfulness Training For Those Living With Dementia


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.