Ecstatic dance is one of the oldest and most universal spiritual movements in human history. Cave paintings from 40 millenia ago show that dance goes back to the roots of our existence on this planet. In the 21st century ecstatic dance has become popular worldwide once again. I wrote an article about this movement a few months ago which you can read here: https://www.elephantjournal.com/now/ecstatic-dance-healing-through-dance-explodes-worldwide/
After publication I received continuing emails from dancers about the ways it had changed their lives and opened their hearts. What makes an ecstatic dance group successful and flourishing?
Here is a video of my local dance community in action. It expresses the experience much better than words can do!
Creating a Safe Space
Women often love to dance but have told me they often do not attend dance events because others in the dance are there to pick up women. The local “Dance Temple” groups have a protocol to prevent this kind of thing from happening. The dance floor is a “non talking” environment so that people can come, abandon themselves to the music and dance as intensely and expressively as they wish without being pursued. Mostly people dance solo. Before anyone dances with another, eye contact communication to ensure mutual agreement is expected.
During the peak intensity of an ecstatic dance journey many people unleash their wild side. Many dancers like to express their true nature with no regard for how they look and move. They want to dance just exactly like they would do in private. Ecstatic dance is an organic experience where the look and feel of the dancers around you affects your own dance. If there is any sense of “inhibition”, ecstatic dance cannot flourish. It is a very delicate environment to cultivate!
I am going to let the article speak the words of the dancers themselves. You will feel from their words how they experience meditation, healing, embodiment and safety in a dance environment.
Let them speak from their own hearts of the magical experience of dance as a spiritual unfolding …
“The unbounded freedom that I feel when I allow myself to dance like nobody is watching makes me feel invincible. I find a strength in myself that surprises me from all the positive energy that builds in the room as people start losing themselves in the bliss of the beat. It’s truly magical and healing on such deep levels. It removes negative emotions from all levels of my soul. After dancing I feeling cleansed. It’s truly a form of meditation, medicine and magic in motion.”
by Frances Litman
“Dance is play. I worked out anger, hurt, disappointment expression of joy and love of play and a profound need for freedom thru dance. I did not have any physical ailments to cure only a suppressed desire to play and release and be wild. I feel liberated and empowered to just be free and unapologetically have fun. This is the great thing about ecstatic dance – Play, joy and acceptance, fitness and joie de vivre.”
by Lisa Jeffery
“I just moved to Victoria last year in the midst of a mental breakdown. I then lost my father in a traumatic way. Dance temple is my therapy, church and playground as well as a place to slowly learn about connecting with others through dance.
I always go with the intentions to just be present and open with love towards myself and others.
I never know what will come up. Sometimes it is joy and smiles. Sometimes it is tears and tenderness. Sometimes I connect with my father. Sometimes I connect with just myself. Sometimes I connect with others on the dance floor.
When you are going through traumatic experiences socializing, dance and music provides lots of healing. Something nice about dance temple is you can be in a social environment and not have to share with words where you are at. You can share in other ways and your dance becomes a gift to yourself, other dancers and to the universe. I find it to be a very helpful adjunct to traditional talk therapy and it helps me dance through the grief and depression and connect to the present.”
“I really enjoy that I can dance solo if desired, and that there is minimal facilitation. Also, Jaz (a facilitator) always has very joyful sets, and I feel joyful during and afterwards. I generally love the music.
The fact it is a drug free space is also really important to me.
The timing is always good on Sunday mornings too, as an alternative to a sit-down service I also attend at a church. I appreciate the opportunity to pray and meditate while dancing. I love both, and this practice fits in with my other spiritual practices (such as kundalini yoga). It’s a sacred space, which I love.
I appreciate that families are welcome … I have a family and just knowing that they would be welcome is huge for me. I feel a real community space should be like this – inclusive, with mentoring opportunities.
I feel more joyful and centred. often I am having new ideas and solutions while I am dancing, or after going to the cards on the altar. I can contribute to the group’s healing while I am dancing. I need exercise too – so it’s an awesome way for me to stretch and move.
If I need to release something it helps me to do this. I can always see where I’m at when I come to dance temple, and I always leave in a better mental, physical, spiritual state.
The reason why it feels safe for me at dance temple is that I can express myself authentically, and that is what others are doing as well, expressing themselves authentically. I am not forced to interact with others and if I choose to there is freedom in it.”
These dancers express the spirit of ecstatic dance from their hearts much better than I could! Dancing authentically within a safe environment is the fundamental guideline for successful ecstatic dance.
I highly recommend building ecstatic dance environments in your communities wherever you live. Its meditation through movement and it is so so fun!
Ian Faulkner of Vancouver Island is known as a “crazy eccentric inventor” by his friends and neighbors because he does not own a car, has supported his family for 40 years by inventing electronic products, and has dozens of unusual hobbies. He is a Sufi, Buddhist, Christian, and Taoist spiritual explorer using meditation, psychedelics, bodywork, and ecstatic dance. Ian’s professional skills include electronic engineering, Trager massage, intimacy education, web journalism, and scientific research for product development. He has many hobbies including beekeeping, alternative medicine, photography, rock collecting, astronomy, mushroom study, jewelry making, dancing, yoga, and meditation. He is active on Facebook and maintains many web sites which are showcased on the landing page here: ( http://ian-faulkner.com )Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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