5 Reasons to Try Dance Meditation, From Connection to Creativity
And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche
One of the best things that I've discovered over the past few years has been dance meditation. I can honestly say that this hobby has changed my life: through it, I've met life-long friends, gotten in touch with my body on a much deeper and gentler level, found a creative outlet that doesn't rely on a computer in some way, and felt a greater sense of connection with our universe. I also sleep much better!
So, what is dance meditation? Depending on who you ask, you might get different answers from everyone. Dance meditation is, at its simplest, a combination of moving to music while in a state of meditation. Within this broad definition, there are countless manifestations of dance mediation: 5 Rhythms, ecstatic dance, trance, mindful movement, Dance Mandala, and numerous other variations that can include other ways of practicing authentic movement. The possibilities for combining movement, music, and spirituality are truly endless.
While mediation is usually practiced while we are sitting still (or, while walking), movement offers an equally profound meditative experience. I find that I'm often able to unknot internal issues through moving around on the dance floor, that would otherwise stay stuck if I remain physically stagnant.
I've put together a list of the 5 main reasons why I encourage anyone to try dance meditation. Read on to find out why you might want to consider it, too.
There is a lot of emotional connection made with other dancers during a class. Even though there is no talking, and often little eye contact (though, this depends on the type of class you take), everyone in the space is intimately connected through the energy generated from movement. Through our breath and vibration, we communicate on what I consider to be a deeper level than speaking generally offers. When the dance floor is filled with positive energy from bodies moving uniquely, yet in tandem, something akin to magic occurs.
Equally, moving authentically can be quite vulnerable. Dance meditation is not about breaking out the latest practiced step seen in a pop music video; it's about getting in touch with our emotions, and our spiritual essence, and expressing that energy through our physical movements. Experiencing this within a safe space comprised of both friends and strangers is special. Knowing that everyone else is holding the space, so to speak, creates a sense of trust among those participating. After class, we all understand that we have been a part of something sacred, even if we don't know each other's names still. Some of the deepest connection I've experienced in life have been during dance meditation, where we are all reduced to our simplest form -- unique souls coming together in movement.
2. Physical exercise
Life feels better when our bodies are functioning optimally. Being in good physical condition is something to which most of us aspire, at least on some level. Personally, I've had years where I've gone to the gym religiously, only to find myself adamantly shunning anything that resembled workout equipment in favor of riding my bicycle, and taking long walks outside. When I encountered dance meditation, I knew I'd found a physical activity that fulfilled me on numerous levels, rather than just raising my heart rate: this was a spiritual experience that spoke to my heart and soul. The fact that it also happened to be healthy for my body seemed like merely a bonus.
3. Unique experience
Trying something new can be daunting, especially when it involves moving with a bunch of strangers. If you're not used to dancing, or expressing yourself through movement, dance meditation might sound a little kooky. This is all the more reason to give it a go! All of my friends who have tried it have shared that it was an experience they are very grateful for having, even if they didn't connect with it like I do. They were glad to have tried something unique, and to understand what it felt like to dance in a context outside of a club. Many others quickly became converts, and I see them at classes all the time now. Either way, a dance meditation class will offer you a supportive space in which to move authentically with other people -- and that's not something we otherwise get to experience too often!
It is no secret that some traumas (both physical and emotional) cannot be fully healed without a physical component. No matter how much we analyze a situation with friends, talk through it with a professional, or study it, sometimes the only way to move fully forward is through physical movement: to move is to let go, by releasing old, stagnant knots into flowing energy. Dance has long been understood as aÂ path for healing, and adding a meditative component only enhances this aspect.
Dance meditation has been incredibly rejuvenating for me creatively. Whenever I'm feeling stuck with drawing or making art, I just dance out my creative blocks. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but I always come away from a class feeling ready to make something. It also helps with tasks like problem-solving: through the experience of movement, music, and meditation, problems that previously had no solution suddenly seem clearer. Often, the answer is nothing like what my brain had been suggesting! By literally moving through our emotions, we can shift so much energy that would otherwise stay stuck.
Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.