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August 3, 2017

5 Tips for Healing Pain & Self-Esteem through Dance.

We’re not all cut out for spending hours on a yoga mat, studying esoteric philosophy, or meditating crossed-legged to reach inner stillness.

Some people need movement to bring their mind into their body. I’d like to offer a solution. Now, I don’t want to add another thing to our “to-do list” to “fix” a problem. Rather, this is simply a way to tap into our innate wisdom through effortlessness and simplicity.

I want to share an experience which made me comprehend a deep and profound yogic principle—detachment from the fruits of our actions. It may take hours of esoteric discourse to grasp this principle, but I found an opportunity to simply dance to it!

I took a dance class, and our given assignment was to choose a point in space and move in our own way to that point. All 10 of us took off from where we stood and started to dance our way toward our chosen destination.

Internally, so many emotions and thoughts raced through me—I can still recall some of them. Doubts about not being creative enough or fluent in my body expression—my ever-present fear of not doing the exercise “right,” and the challenge of “being” with the others moving around hung with me. At the same time, I was mesmerized by how each one of us interpreted the simple task in such diverse and unique ways.

Once it was over and we reflected on the experience, my precious teacher Mark Tompkins gave me a pearl for life. I don’t recall his exact words, but it was along the lines of:

“You are so attached to the destination you want to reach, it generates rigidity. There are many different things happening around you. People moving and coming your way, sounds and lights changing, your inner state shifting. Allow yourself to interact with these and you may find yourself ending up in a much better place.”

That is the magic of movement. Our body tells us so much about who we are and what needs to be transformed in our being. Comprehension comes in a mere moment of experience.

I can write about dozens of core-shaking experiences, triggering the dark side of my ego and enhancing my light through movement. I don’t even call it dance; it’s just allowing my body to express itself through whatever movement is alive at that moment.

Dance helps unlock frozen images stored in the muscles and tissues. Our body reacts in subtle ways to positive and negative experiences in life; contracting or expanding. Movement helps us access these accumulated, stored memories in the body and release them.

We can find ourselves in bliss, in deep sorrow, in confusion, in light, in fear—in many different emotions during a movement session. Problems we carry around literally live in our structure and find a path, through movement, to come to the surface to release. As a result, we create space for harmony and balance.

Dance is one of the most ancient methods of healing used by shamans and priests to tap into an exalted state of being. It releases tension to create a positive change in the overall physical and emotional condition of the dancer. The spontaneous expression of emotions, without any use of words, helps to explore our inherent creativity. We tap into a natural, often veiled, part of ourselves that’s programmed to solve problems, as if they were little games of life instead of obstacles sourcing our suffering.

With the growing number of studies proving the immense benefits of music and movement in healing, dance therapy is becoming increasingly prominent and recognized.

Dance has scientifically-proven effects on fibromyalgia, lower back pain, scoliosis, high blood pressure, depression, and emotional trauma. Dance also helps resolve body-image issues and inspire a positive outlook toward life.

Look, we may not have metaphysical revelations every time we hit the floor, but there will surely be a big shift in our joy toward life and our own existence. As Rumi beautifully expresses: “Dance and make joyous the love around you. Dance, and your veils which hide the light shall swirl in a heap at your feet.”

Here are five simple tips to tap into the wisdom of your body through dance.

1. Choose an uplifting track: Once accustomed, you could probably move to the sound of the growing grass, but until then, choose a track that works for you—one that lifts your mood.

2. Breathe: Before turning the volume up, take a moment to breathe deeply in and out. Scan your body to feel what sensations are alive in your limbs, your torso, and your head. Which part of your body wants to move? This connection will help you move authentically, rather than getting caught in the patterns.

3. Let go of performance anxiety: This is a connection you establish with yourself. You don’t need to look in a certain way or achieve anything. Breathe out any tension that you may have around “performing.”

4. Dance your heart out: Now is the time to turn the music on and just follow what your body tells you to do. Move to the rhythm as your body pleases, without any consideration of aesthetics or performance.

5. Take a moment of awareness: Whenever you feel like it, just take a moment of stillness with your eyes closed. Bring awareness to what emotions and sensations are alive in you.

The rest will follow and flow.
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Author: Dijan Albayrak
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron

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