Dancing is an integral part of my healing process. I’ve been doing ecstatic dance in my community for almost 2 years now. (off and on as my body/mind/spirit allows and prefers…healing is non-linear and practices need and in fact most often should not be practiced in a dogmatic fashion).
Ecstatic dance is awesome in the literal sense of the word and I consider it a body oriented mindfulness practice as well. I’ve also referred to it as self-directed body-work in conversations with friends. Sometimes my “dance” is about moving and stretching my body in some really odd ways to get at something that is tightly held in the body and needs release. Dancing can sometimes be me not moving at all (on the surface) while the music courses through my body and my cells and neurons DANCE.
I want to point out that dancing is our human inheritance and one can do this in ones living room on their own or with friends too. You don’t need to learn this from one of the many trademarked versions out there now. Those can be fun too and I’ve enjoyed some of the trademarked versions too…like 5Rhythms and Nia which I’ve shared about on Beyond Meds before…but honestly…this stuff is in our blood — in our DNA…just get up and start moving! Your body will guide you. Last night I got up in the middle of the night to move something through before I could go back to sleep. I have learned to trust those impulses.
Below I’m reposting something I wrote a year ago on this subject.
I can feel both dance and music changing and healing my brain’s neurons. Seriously. We can change our brains and I’m doing it. Neuroplasticity. There is a multitude of ways to heal. My self-directed protocol involves many different things.
A friend of mine asked today what ecstatic dance looks like. I’ve tried to find good videos on youtube and it’s really hard to find anything that catches the essence for me. What happens on the dance floor is actually very intimate and I suppose that is why there aren’t all that many videos online. Filming and photography isn’t allowed in the community I dance with. In any case, I’ve collected a few videos below that together might help people get a feeling for what dancing in community looks and feels like.
Dancing is a practice and discipline. The ecstatic aspect can be light or dark. People might cry either in despair or in joy on the dance floor. Anything goes. You can curl up in the fetal position in a corner and cry or leap as high as you can while running in circles. I have spent time sitting cross-legged in meditation or laying on my back with my feet up the wall. Feeling the vibrations of dancing feet and loud music while lying flat on the floor is quite nice too. The practice involves letting the body do what it wants to do. All while wonderful music pulsates around us as well. It’s a liberating and lovely celebration every single time I partake and that holds true whether I’m in a good mood or not because this is a place where any mood is okay. It’s a safe and beautiful space to feel and emote as we need to among others who allow for that which is human to unfold to music and movement.
This one has a guy telling his story of how he uses dance as a practice.
“I praise the dance, for it frees people from the burdensome; from the things that threaten to dominate the spirit and make it heavy, and to unravel the loose ends of the soul. I praise the dance, for it binds body, mind, and soul into a human whole; it binds the scattered people into a new community; it binds the community into a new space and time. I praise the dance. Dance transforms the person. Humans are constantly in danger of disintegrating, becoming only brain, will, or feeling. Dancing, however, demands the whole person, fully centered, resting on the breath; not possessed by motivation, or the desire for people and things, which is due to the demon of self-isolation. … I praise the dance, for it transforms space, it transforms time, it transforms people and community. The dance can transform us. We are all turned to stone if we forget how to dance and continue to covet things and let them dance around us. I praise the dance for it makes the dead live.” — George Goestch (attribution is a bit unclear but it seems most think that Goestch wrote this)
Gabrielle Roth said: ”When you put the psyche in motion it heals itself.”
Moving in many different ways has become and will remain a foundational aspect of becoming well for me. I do yoga, I walk, I dance, I garden and I mindfully am present with the movements of my body when I do just about everything. Even when I do the dishes or any other household chores. Becoming conscious of our incredibly lovely animal bodies can be a deep and profound joy. The wonderful thing about this is doing something like mowing the lawn ceases to be a chore. It becomes time to be with your lovely body.
In dance we can go deep into that which doesn’t come up in other more ordinary movements.
Noted artist, philosopher, and dancer Gabrielle Roth devoted her life to honoring and communicating the language of primal movement and experimental theater. Since the mid-1960s, Roth has taken thousands of people on a journey from physical and emotional inertia to the freedom of ecstasy, from the tyranny of the chattering ego-mind to the blessed emptiness of stillness.
We need to free our bodies and mind!! There is no separation.
See more on healing with music too. MUSIC and sounds for the soul
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