5 Reasons to Try Dance Meditation, From Connection to Creativity

Culture

Tuesday, December 17, 2013, Visits: 143

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!

A woman dances in meditation.

Having the opportunity to experience Dance Mandala classes at my local yoga studio has led me to connect more deeply with myself, and other people.
Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

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.

A dance meditation class.

Moving around with friends and strangers in a safe space is incredibly cathartic! Listening to fantastic music while moving in meditation can create a surreal atmosphere, filled with vibrant energy.
Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

1. Connection

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.

Shadows of dancers during dance meditation.

Connecting with our fellow human beings can be achieved in many ways that don't necessarily include speaking.  Through our shared energy on the dance floor, strangers become close confidants, partners in motion.
Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

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.

A woman energetically moves during dance meditation, in front of a slide.

While I always leave class very sweaty and happily exhausted, during the dance I don't feel like I'm working at all. The best kind of physical exercise is the one that comes naturally.
Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

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!

A woman dances in front of a slide, during a dance meditation performance.

Regardless of whether or not you love dance meditation as much as I do, it will certainly give you a unique and memorable experience! And, you might just find a new creative outlet in which to physically express yourself.
Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

4. Healing

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 a path for healing, and adding a meditative component only enhances this aspect.

A shadow of a dancer during dance meditation.

I know many people (including myself) who have had positive healing experiences through dance meditation. Releasing stale energy through mindful movement is an enjoyable way to move forward with our personal development.
Photo by Kimberly Bryant.

5. Creativity

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.

-- Rumi

13 Comments

1. Frank Thomas

December 19, 2013 at 2:33 PM

I have to say it was just fantastic to discover this article today! I have been practicing yoga for many years now and it is a very important part of my life! A few weeks ago, Dance Mandala appeared on the yoga studio's calender and I was super curious, but hadnt decided to try it up until now. After reading your opinions, expressing your experiences, and defining it a bit more than I was aware of, I believe that I must now go to a class and see how it feels! Who knows, maybe I will have another reason to spend even more time at the yoga studio, and that is indeed a gooood thing!

2. Jameson

December 19, 2013 at 2:37 PM

I know that dance may not seem like a masculine thing to most, but it has really helped me get centered. I, along with one other man, joined a dance class to get a non-traditional form of exercise and meet some new people. It turned out to be a much greater experience than that.

I have tried yoga, as well as some other exercise routines, but none have been as relaxing or centering as dance. It allows for a non-traditional form of self-expression and a way to forget about life and focus on movement for a moment. It has been one of the most life changing experiences and, even though I'm just beginning, I get excited about what the future holds.

I would encourage everyone, no matter how late in the game you may be, to give it a shot! You never know if you'll like it unless you try.

3. Jeff

December 19, 2013 at 2:40 PM

I have been waiting for an article like this. Yoga and dancing go hand in hand and you can really discover your true self doing either one. It is a creative and passive way to let your inner spirit out and truly make you feel alive and one with the world again.

4. PunkRockChick

December 19, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Dancing and yoga can be for everyone, even if you feel you are masculine. There is nothing wrong with discovering your innerself and connecting with the earth. Yoga and dancing are a great way to accomplish that whether you're a man or a woman.

5. AuntieCathie

December 19, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Kimberly Bryant's photos capture the creativity described as an outcome of dance so well. The worldwide effort to respect our physical nature through movement is catching on across the globe. The Ministry of Health in Ghana notes the deleterious effects of the sedentary lifestyle. It is time for all peoples across the globe to incorporate movement in their daily lives to connect their spirit and their body in new and creative ways.

6. Simone

December 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM

I think something like this would be amazing for women to take a break from cardio and reconnect to their inner being. We all focus too much on the outside world and that's what has gotten us into an obesity epidemic. If children, especially, were introduced to dance meditation they would learn early that movement feels good and learn what a well-treated body feels like before they get to a point where they have to undo years of damage. Do you think that kids would be able to appreciate something like Dance Mandala or is this only for teens or adults who have already gotten in touch with their inner selves in some way?

7. Ivan

December 19, 2013 at 3:12 PM

My first reaction to reading the phrase "dance meditation" was skepticism. I asked myself "how can someone meditate and dance at the same time?" It just seems to me that the two things work fine independently of one another, but that together it just wouldn't be possible. As I continued reading this article, I became a believer. The way Rumi laid out the different benefits and aspects of it, I found myself being intrigued.

Dance meditation is a really unique way to achieve mental, spiritual, and physical health. I really like that its something that you can do alone or that you can share with a group of like minded people. I imagine the energy of a room full of people dance meditating would be cathartic and an eye opening spiritual experience. This is something I'd really love to incorporate with my yoga routine.

8. Rox

December 19, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Just do it! That sums it up very nicely. I, however, do not feel the need to do it with other people. In the space of my own living room is perfectly fine for me. I often think that people assemble in gyms and studios for the wrong reasons, and completely miss the point of exercise for one's self, not for the look of being with others. We came into this world by ourselves, there is nothing wrong with being by ourselves and learning who we are first, before venturing out into a group setting. This can take years of discipline to achieve. Do you know your inner self, by it's self?

9. Darcy

December 19, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I love how this article discusses the power of meditation when dancing is incorporated. I've been practicing meditation fervently for the past two years and whenever I attended a group meditation, we were either seated or squatting during the routine. I began practicing on my own and discovered that movement actually makes meditation much more powerful. It's quite simple. When you meditate, you focus your mind and this causes "chi energy" to flow throughout your body. But by incorporating dancing or movement into the meditation routine, it loosens up your body just as meditation relaxes your mind and the result is a stronger flow of "chi energy." It's funny because most meditation routines begins with stretching and a little movement but then they stop to sit or squat when they meditate. Clearly, by continuing to stretch, move, and dance throughout the meditation routine you can exponentially improve your spiritual experience which causes a lot of benefits for your mind, body, and soul.

10. Mturker

December 24, 2013 at 3:05 PM

At first glance at the title of the article, I was thrown off guard by the juxtaposition of "dance" and "meditation." My normal perception of mediation is the lack of movement and complete inner solitude of the body. However, I can see how dancing in this certain, unique style, could ultimately offer the same sense of meditation that sitting down with your legs crossed would otherwise offer.

11. jessica

December 26, 2013 at 2:43 PM

Well said. There is a distinct difference between analysis and synthesis. I agree with the author and the 5 points in this article. Dance submerges one into the primitive aspects of the soul. It chips away at a physical art form identifiable to the senses in a super-conscious way. Dance in a way, unlocks a barrier to truth and awareness just as other art forms such as music and song. Our ancestors knew it best as they danced around a fire, and not just for sport. I believe we can turn to this wonderful art form as a therapeutic method of healing and return to ecstasy it brings about.

12. dg

December 26, 2013 at 2:45 PM

This blog really reasonated with me having just tried dance meditation for the first time about a week ago at the spa I work at. The spa recently added this activity to its class schedule, and guests really love it! I think the author captures the essence of dance meditation perfectly in recognizing the connection between movement, spirituality and problem solving. After my own personal experience with dance meditation, I left the class feeling like I could better cope with some of the problems I've been experiencing recently in a more relaxed and effective way.

13. Ariella

December 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Okay, I am classically trained in dance for 26 years, ballet, tap, jazz, and modern. I have been doing trance dancing since I was a child. Other people meditated, and did yoga and running, I put on music and would dance out my frustrations, my pain, my psychosis even if I were upset. Sometimes I would do it just to feel good, or because I was particularly happy. I dance around to music while I cook, just anytime really is a time to dance.

It is always alone though.
At first I thought, well gosh this sounds a lot like clubbing. Then I read the article deeper. I never considered trance dancing WITH other people! I can see how it would be very interesting but I also think of it as a religious experience when I dance.

I am unsure I would want to have this religious experience with others. What if their energy is off, or they are physically dominant or something? Dance is such an intimate experience. Raw and vulnerable. I am curious how those deep emotions are dealt with in a class. I will have to investigate this further before trying it.

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