A while ago I wrote down a list of topics I wanted to write about, and while I’ve written about a few, the rest have gathered dust – or as I like to think of it: they’ve matured.
Last night I flicked through my notebook and realised that I need to stop being lazy (or at least stop perceiving myself as lazy) and just write. I could wallow in the thought of wasted hours that would’ve been better spent writing, or I could just write.
I must admit I have been losing focus on my writing – the fear of people’s reactions are holding me back – and my own self-belief took a plummet and I questioned whether writing was really the way forward for me. Then I kept seeing the saying “follow your bliss” EVERYWHERE a couple of days ago, and as a big believer in synchronicity shining a light on our next step, I thought it would be silly to ignore it.
Writing is my bliss and although I have trouble succinctly expressing what I mean, at least I’m trying and persevering (my tarot cards yesterday kept mentioning perseverance – another sign!) I’m still finding my voice, and luckily for me there are a community of people who join me on this journey and listen to my voice. Whether they listen just once or are frequent listeners, they are still choosing to give up a few moments of their time to read my words and appreciate my voice. And I’m grateful for that.
There’s a blogger on here who writes on similar subjects as me (here’s the link to her blog: therapyjourney), but she adds the psychological background and research. I always read her posts and yearn for her clarity of speech and her eloquence. I then remember that as individuals we have our own style, our own voice, and we’re both expressing our TRUTH. I think that an audience can ALWAYS tell if the writer is passionate about their topic and this enhances the truth of their words which can resonate and stir something inside the reader. It really does show if you’re speaking your truth.
Anyway, leading on from the above (I didn’t expect to bust out so much there!) my topic today is about dancing! This is part one of two (tomorrow I’m going to be posting about music) and I focus on its healing properties and the benefits of it on the mind, body and soul.
Let’s get started!
We’ve all had those totally shitty days where nothing seems to go right and we feel utterly vile. The world seems dull, gloomy and boring and our mood drops into one of despair.
History and science suggests that dancing is one way to bring you out of your funk so you can get funky! (Yes, yes…that sentence is truly awful, but I believe that sentence is so awful that it’s good. I cannot possibly deny it access to the final edit (or deny you a laugh!) Haha!)
“And those who were seen to be dancing, were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ~ Friederich Nietzsche
Dancing – professionally or socially – allows us to literally shake off the negativity holding us down in that moment. It becomes a form of therapy that allows our minds to relax and grow in the moment and our bodies to be led by the rhythm of the universe.
Scientifically, dancing generates a sense of well-being. This is because dancing releases endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that have similar properties to morphine so right away nature has gifted us our very own pain-relief!
As I write this the song Footloose comes on the radio…how could I ignore another synchronistic event?! Soooo, I got up and danced. It’s one of those songs that I hear and I just have to move and groove. Admittedly I felt very self-conscious at first – in fact, I distracted myself by folding clothes while dancing then realised what I was doing, and fully immersed myself in the moment. I have no idea why I was self-conscious. It’s not as though I had an audience! (not one that I could see anyway…!) I ended up getting into it and lo’ and behold! I started LAUGHING at how ridiculous my self-consciousness was. I actually found light-hearted amusement in my movements.
“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.” ~ Agnes de Mille
This quote got me thinking of the Native American’s and why they danced. For the Native American’s dance was a form of prayer; a way of expressing joy or grief, ensuring a successful harvest, or blessing a new-born baby or a marriage. It was a method induced to create a stronger connection to their follow man and nature. The dances the Native American’s performed are said to be healing not only for the dancer, but also for those in close proximity to the dancer.
One of the fundamental features to Native American dance is the drum. It is said to be the heartbeat of Mother Earth. It provides the bass for the song and helps create and guide the energetic tone of the dance. Each movement is believed to hold an energetic message or intention.
For example the Ghost Dance was created at a time when the “White Man” had exerted a lot of social control in America and had alienated the Native American’s from each other and from their spiritual roots. They experienced a “soul-loss”. It’s an uplifting dance and “affirms that we are not just human individuals living in a material world, but also part of a bigger community of spirited beings who are deeply connected to the earth and also capable of flying beyond the limitations of the material world on an exhilarating flight of free spirit.”
“To dance is to reach for a word that doesn’t exist…To feel the meaning of a moment in time.” ~ Beth Jones
To me dancing is about celebrating the joy of being alive, of being able to connect with your body and move it in a way where thinking is impossible and you know only the movement and your body. It’s about being in the moment and allowing your body the freedom to express itself and allowing your mind to unwind and be at ease. Dancing allows you to mindfully and consciously be aware of your movements and to notice where you feel tense and sore so then you can work out the kinks and let the energy loose in a healthy, and most importantly, FUN way. It is about FEELING the meaning and letting yourself move in an uninhibited and totally free way.
According to Costas Karageorghis, moving to the beat is “an instinctive response”. It’s written into our DNA to respond to music by moving our bodies. Notice how often you tap your feet, nod your head, or gently sway when you hear a song. Often we do this unconsciously. Imagine how good you’d feel doing this consciously for 5-10 minutes a day…
There’s an African proverb that says “When the music changes, so does the dance.” So if you feel as though there’s a situation in your life where dancing doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It means that you change the dance. Change the moves. If you’re feeling sad then perhaps swaying might be your move; if you’re angry then perhaps jumping and stamping your feet will be your move. Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care! (Another cheesy line….I went there!)
Don’t let life define your direction or your moves; let your soul speak it through your movements.
Other Health Benefits of Dancing:
- It reduces stress
- Your bones get stronger and there’s a reduced risk of osteoporosis
- You get to make new friends (If you go to classes that is!)
- It increases self-esteem and confidence
- It’s a creative outlet
- It improves general and psychological well-being
- IT’S FUN!!!
A Quick Guide to Uninhibited Dancing
I don’t know why I’m including a guide to dancing, but it could help! I think it serves as a helpful reminder that it’s ok to do it, and that NO you DON’T look silly!
So, here’s my guide:
Step 1: Put on a song you LOVE and absolutely can’t resist dancing to, or a song that reflects your current mood – you don’t have to pick a happy, fast-paced song. Anything you feel drawn to is perfectly ok.
Step 2: Take a few deep breaths and allow the music to wash over you and fill you from the inside out.
Step 3: If you’re feeling self-conscious or unsure then start with small movements. I usually start by swaying or gently stamping my feet, and then it progresses to twirls and head shaking and full on jumping around! Whatever feels right and natural to you, do it.
Step 4: Allow the free-flow of movement to guide you. Don’t think.
Step 5: Smile! Laugh! If you’re feeling sad or angry then cry! Shout! Scream! Let it all out. Don’t resist: persist!
Don’t be afraid to dance and to let your body move in the way it wants to. It may feel strange at first, but trust me, afterwards you feel amazing!
Trust in yourself to let loose and be free.
And just because it came on the radio last night and I just HAVE to dance to this song, here’s Footloose for you!
Be happy. Be you.
http://www.sunflower-health.com/resources/ghost-dance.htm [Accessed 09 March 2015]
http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/13819/1/How-Dancing-Can-Be-Good-for-Our-Body-and-Soul.html [Accessed 09 March 2015]
http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/dance-workout [Accessed 09 March 2015]
All images retrieved from Google