“Everyone here is a freak, just like me” — (Ecstatic Dance)

Organic trauma therapy: Ecstatic dance as profound mindfulness practice

I’m healing multiple brain injuries and a rather extreme trauma history. Dance helps with both.

A few months ago someone at the end of one of our dances said, *Everyone here is a freak, just like me.*  The room broke up in laughter because, indeed, we’re all freaks just like him and we get to come together and celebrate that fact in safety. There really are no words to express what happens there on that floor and yet, that is what I’m intending to do here today. Speak what happens on that magical dance floor. I warn you, I will fail. If you really want to know what goes on I highly recommend finding your local Ecstatic Dance scene and experiencing the wonder for yourself.

Dance and movement in general has been my most important tools for healing. Dancing can be used as a tool to learn how to live well. Also, it’s not limited to those who can be on their feet. We can do it seated or even laying down if we have to. Just move to the music and feel it. I have spent an entire dance on the floor nodding my head and shaking my legs around on days I’ve not been strong enough to be on my feet.

Dancing is a practice and discipline as well as also just plain fun. There is no need to think about any of this for most people. Just showing up and having a good time is plenty.

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 about in circles. Men and women both can let their internal 5 year old ballerina out on the floor and there is nothing more beautiful than watching that happen among adults. I have spent time sitting cross-legged in meditation or laying on my back with my feet up the wall, too. Feeling the vibrations of dancing feet and loud music while lying flat on the floor is quite nice too and then ventures into sound healing which is equally powerful to dance in my opinion.

The dance 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.

The dance floor has been container to some of my most profound trauma healing I’ve been privileged to experience. It’s hard to explain how that happens because it also often involves other dancers while never communicating via speech. A lot of much more profound communication happens in our body movements. We see the stories of others being enacted right there on the dance floor even while we enact our own stories via the movements of our body.  The language of energetics just happens and the trauma release just happens too…sometimes while laughing and/or crying too. I am finding that I still don’t know how to articulate what is happening and so I’ll just say, that, yes, there is something frankly magical about how it works.

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 and amounts to learning to live well in all ways at all times. A seamless integration of all the things we do to support ourselves and others.

If your nervous system goes into overdrive very easily as mine did for so many years it’s very important to listen very intently to the body so that we 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.

Dancing brings the most joyous and wonderful moments of my life as I continue to heal. When one surrenders to the energy on the dance floor one is swept away with everyone else….dancing from this trance state is a miracle every time as your body leads the way doing things you didn’t even know it could do. (and when it doesn’t come easy — because no, it doesn’t always come easy for me either, we just do what does come easy, that day. No rules. No right or wrong.) If we do feel insecure that part of us needs tender love and care too, so there is no reason to push if this particular form isn’t for you. Trust your instincts.

This is a joyous and ecstatic form of movement meditation…one of these waves can stay with me all week…as if I received an information download of sorts during the dance that is then processed later…healing at every turn…

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, I do qi gong and I am mindfully present with the movements of my body when I do just about everything. Even when I do the dishes, laundry or any other household chores. Becoming conscious of our incredibly lovely animal bodies can be a deep and profound joy.

Ecstasy is not overstating the wonder of listening to and moving your body in this attentive and meditative trance-like state.

see more posts on this: Ecstatic Dance

More on trauma and post traumatic stress

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AND yes, I could use some compensation for the many 100s of hours I’ve worked with folks over the years. Working like we do and not getting any sort of compensation that I might live more comfortably in the face of continued challenges continues to teach us what we’ve learned from psychiatry. We must not be worth it. Let’s change that patterning. If I helped you or a loved one out, please help me back now. thank you.

****We could  use some financial support at the moment! You know, for things like the mortgage so that we can maintain a roof over our heads. Yup. I do this all for no other compensation than  what the readers want to offer in support. Thank you!****

For a multitude of ideas about how to create a life filled with safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs visit the drop-down menus at the top of this page. 

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

4 Responses

  1. Japanese Butoh is the ultimate mindfulness meditation. “The Dance of Darkness” done with hairless bodies covered with rice powder, except for a cloth groin cup . . . micromovements will get you there. See “Sankai Juku” on YouTube. Also “shadowbody” . . . post Hiroshima/Nagasaki reaction to trauma. The utterly authentic self in all its drooling stumbling actions make me reconsider the meaning of beauty and ugly. This is a “new” kind of beauty, I feel.

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  2. Butoh can be done alone. Every move could be butoh; completely mindful; completely authentic (Adam Koan is shadowbody at the Subody Butoh School (?) in Dharamsala. Beam me up, Scottie.

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