I find that when I tell people about how I love to go to ecstatic dancing in my community that some number of people are intimidated at the thought of letting loose on the dance floor. I have personally found it the most comfortable way I can be with people right now, but I understand that for many dancing is a somewhat scary thing. What I like about the groups I dance with here is that it’s as acceptable to sit against the wall and meditate as it is to dance. I often meditate or do yoga in the corner when I’m not up to dancing the whole session. It’s truly a safe space for me and I love it. There is a lovely and comfortable intimacy that develops with these folks even though many of us have never even spoken before.
Yesterday I visited an old friend of mine who teaches Nia. I did Nia only once many years ago, so it was pretty new to me this time as well. Nia is a more directive dance class in which the students follow the teacher. It too is a lot of fun. I think that for some people it might be a nice way to ease into the whole dance thing.
I’m still rehabbing so before I attend any class (yoga, dance, Tai Chi, or even non-exercise events, actually) I always ask the teacher or organizers if it would be okay if I sit down or leave early. I tell the people that I do not want to disrupt the class or event in any way and if it’s not a situation that comfortably allows for such accommodation I will not be offended in any way. That has worked out really well. I express my needs and also my concern for the classes needs. Most of the time there is no conflict. On a couple of occasions I have been told it probably wouldn’t work out and I’m grateful to know that and I simply don’t go to the class or event. This is how I have learned to take care of myself and make healthy boundaries.
So yesterday, I actually danced for about half an hour and then I left. It was perfect for me. My nervous system goes into overdrive very easily and so I need to listen very intently to my body so that I don’t overdo it. I know a lot of folks recovering from psychiatric drug use and withdrawal are in similar conditions so I share my strategies that you, too, might learn to ask for what you need and start to create safe spaces for yourselves as I am learning to do. I’m so grateful to have found so many lovely people in my community that are willing to help support my rehabilitation process. I needed to ask, though, to find them.
Below is a video with on of the co-founders of Nia teaching some basic moves. You can follow along in your living room if you like. Or look for local Nia classes here.
More ECSTATIC DANCE posts on Beyond Meds