The Mind/Body Connection and Dance
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body. And it's partly the language that we don't want to show.” ~~ Martha Graham
Gaze at a modern dancer freestyling through the air... it’s as though you’re hypnotized into gliding right along with her. Whether you’re watching or stepping along to the beat, there’s something truly captivating about dance. When you’re dancing, not only is it physically liberating, especially if you’re slumped over a desk all day, it’s also a natural way to get out of your own head. Beyond music and words, dancing allows your intuitive nature to take hold and an internal rhythm to set in. Unable to hide, your body language reveals itself. Like Yoga and meditation, it allows you to block out external noise and gain clarity.
Is dance one of the first mind/body disciplines? Maybe... Especially, given that 8000 years ago an ancient painting in the Magura cave in Bulgaria, illustrates whirling figures engaged in a ritualistic fertility dance. Throughout history, magic and self expression were translated through the body’s moves. And over time, dance has taken on an abundance of different styles and forms.
Do you ever notice how dancers stand taller with a natural sense of ease? Just the look of a dancer is different… Timeless grace and confidence seem to radiate from within. It’s as though dancers age differently than the average person. So it’s not surprising that a new research study (Queen’s University Belfast) showed that even social dancing has benefits, helping people live longer and more joyfully; it also creates a feeling of belonging and social engagement.
No need to be ballerina-thin and flexible, also like Yoga, dance is for every body type. While the act of dancing looks dramatic... surprisingly, its wellness benefits extend to most ordinary tasks; a Queensland University study discovered that women who danced had better posture, greater flexibility and were able to perform daily activities with greater ease and confidence.
So what are you waiting for? Shake, rattle and roll your way to wellness.
Dance Out of Your Comfort Zone
Does fear hold you back from new experiences? It’s easy to stay cocooned, doing the things that feel safe, reluctant to take risks. According to an ancient African proverb, “when the music changes, so does the dance.” It’s true… as you sway, you adapt to change in an active flow. Even very subtle feelings of self-consciousness may prevent you from expressing yourself. And they can ripple over to various aspects of your life. One way to practice compassion toward yourself daily is to dance in front of a mirror. Be your own dance partner. Watch your body as you move. Release judgement and generate feelings of loving kindness. In this safe setting, let your movements evolve into a moving meditation.
Find Your Flexibility
Daily routines happen on autopilot. And unfortunately, the habitual ways you sit and stand can result in stiffness, joint pain, inflammation and more. There 206 are bones in your body and they ought to be cared for. So give yourself a daily warm-up. Loosen the synovial fluid in your joints. Let the stiffness go. Arms, legs, torso, shake your body and wiggle, until you feel the fluidity flowing through your bones. Movement allows your lymphatic system to circulate, helping it function more efficiently as it strengthens immunity.
Expressive Movement & Awareness
While all dance involves mindfulness, there’s also a hybrid called “Dancing Mindfulness,” founded by Dr. Jamie Marich. It’s a dance experience with the goal of holistic healing through movement. Research shows that Dancing Mindfulness can promote an overall sense of well-being and self-acceptance. Marich also believes her practice spirals over to various areas of life, and naturally deepens creativity. Also Trance Dance, is a fusion of sound, breathing and movement that transports you into a hypnotic state. Both Dancing Mindfulness and Trace Dance, aim to link the body and mind through the power of dance.
Connect With Your Intuition
Before you greet the day, meditate or do Yoga, give yourself time to connect with your inner power and attune to your body. Put on slow music. Listen for at least three minutes… Lengthen your torso, align your spine and stretch. When you’re ready, feel the vibrations… Let them guide you and create your own moves. Pay no attention to the thoughts as they pass through the mind. Just move… Heighten your awareness as much as possible. Enjoy the sensations as they arise. Then later on, throughout your day, recall this feeling of being in touch with your inner voice. Whenever you feel the need, pause and attune to your intuitive nature.