There’s a reason why ancient cultures, and even some conservative present ones, prohibit dancing.
Dancing was always feared in repressed societies. Dancing was thought to be the work of evil, this mad gyrating and complete letting go – this stepping outside of your mind?
Goodness! It is, was and will be unacceptable.
It was feared that people must never be allowed to feel so free, to believe that they can just let go and in that letting go tap into a wild reservoir of untamed energy that can conquer other minds and convince all to bathe in these waters of liberation – this will make for anarchy, democracy, lack of control of a handful over thousands of people. Once the body is liberated, the mind will soon follow.
Therefore something this powerful can only be evil, so ban it! Or so went the harangue. And so it was done.
And yet people have continued dancing, privately, indoors, in their own sacred circles and in solitude too. Dancing is the way to liberate the mind through the body. It is the perfect antidote to the mechanical world we are now forced to live in, one we have unwittingly contributed to.
It makes you think, how do the religious pundits and conservatives who labeled it evil, react to a baby who begins bouncing long before he learns to walk?
Movement to rhythmic sound is innate to the human being.
Music is powerful, it is a language that truly has no boundaries, and when you allow yourself to swim freely in that ocean of rhythm, you yourself find your boundaries becoming evanescent.
There is a sense of relief, a sense of joy, a sense of full participation in a way that unlocks so many knots and releases so many kinks in the gross and subtle body and the mind, as we dance. Sometimes so much letting go can frighten even those who are lost in the dance.
As a teacher in the Prana Flow style of yoga, created by Shiva Rea, I had to attend a mandatory Trance Dance training module during my training. This dancing invitation, coupled with the work that I do as a yoga teacher in exploring and pushing my own limits to unearth all that lies within my own consciousness and the layers thereof, opened a gateway to a world that was unfathomable to me, until then. I danced into un-chartered territory within my soul.
Though dancing has always been a language I have been comfortable with, it always makes me feel like a bird free of her mental cage when I am on the dance floor. The icing on the cake of my trance dance experience was finding myself in a room full of devotees, that had just spent a week studying yoga philosophy and befriending their shadows, coming together in kindness and kinship, and then celebrating the long days of training with the grand finale of a trance dance occasion.
What ensued thereafter was pure magic!
I recall moving slowly in the candle-lit studio, surrendering my senses to the drum-beat, the sound of moving feet and bodies twirling all around. I felt myself relinquishing, releasing every mental construct I knew of and glide into this space of complete wantonness. Movement beyond my conscious mind birthed from my core and traveled out ever so potently and feverishly to my extremities.
Yes! Shakti was in the house.
The idea that I was in control of anything: my life, my body, my movements, my thoughts, all slipped away. The sound of music and exuberant movement was all that was in charge and I was more than willing to relinquish all of myself to it.
In that moment of complete surrender, a sudden and unexpected sense of fear gripped me. The fear of completely letting go, feeling myself free-falling off the edge of my mind, willingly allowing just the wind and this music to carry me seemed vast and unfathomable. As a bigger, deeper, larger-than-self took over, a side I was unaware of, a strength I was not familiar with, something small and anxious within me suddenly constricted and surreptitiously started to hold me back. The ego began to make its presence known.
The patterns of my ego, always in control of how it judged me had receded in this dance until that moment, and what I was left with was this wild bird-like feeling: this complete sense of unrestraint I had only imagined but never before experienced with such intensity.
And I was alarmed at my own ability to let go to this extent, (without any intoxicant or any substance to carry me to this place, need I add). Just an instinctive letting go into a place I had never before chanced upon, albeit fantasized about.
And like everything you have ever wanted for your entire life, when something you have been awaiting for finally makes an appearance in your life, for a moment you are totally stumped by its enormity, its very presence, and that is what I experienced.
This is when I understood fully why dance was always restricted, banned and contained in so many cultures from the beginning of civilization. In this letting go, a wilderness and lack of restraint ensues within the individual gyrating instinctively to the music and not being a slave of his or her own thoughts and social constructs anymore. A triumph over the mind, the ego, though liberating for the one experiencing it, but utterly frightening for those who fancy themselves in control of societies, to witness.
There, in that moment of being completely separate from your judging mind, you escape through a small crack into a world where no boundaries exist, no mind to tell you what is right and what is wrong. All that you are is right, and here, and now and ripe for this moment and there isn’t a thing that is wrong with your instinct that now leads.
In dance, we are free to be.
And love and accept our body and our souls, just the way they are.
There is no time for the mind to interfere, and this is the reason why we should be dancing more.
Alone, or in company of kindred souls, this letting go and allowing the mind its quietude so that the soul can meditate to music, while the body releases its own kinks through movement –
is so very vital for a healthy sense of being whole.
Tania Kazi is a yoga and meditation guide residing in New York City.
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