The Spiritual Power Of Dance
“ Nothing happens until something moves”- Albert Einstien
“I don’t want to go. I hate it there. ” This was the 5 year old me pleading to my dad as he was about to take me to my weekend dance classes. I dreaded the idea of going to my Bharatanatyam classes. Why wouldn’t I? The only image I could conjure up was of my teacher throwing the cane at our feet every time we did a wrong step. Unfortunately, in most cases those feet were mine. My dad’s persistence won each time and before I knew it, I had spent 10 years learning 3 different forms of Indian classical dance. Little did I realize then how dance was shaping up my life and had become an integral part of me in the process.
Life took over as I started to believe the words of people around me saying that I wasn’t good enough or this was not something that was meant for me. I got lost following the crowd doing things I was ‘expected to’ forgetting the very source of my pure joy. As years passed, I craved for the same thing I had once loathed learning. Dance was always a part of me since the time I remember .
Today, we think of dance as an entertainment or a form of exercise. However, there was a time when dance was considered as the highest expression of our spirituality and a part of our life’s journey. An expression of mind, body and soul that helps with our healing. Beyond being a form of physical exercise, dance has helped me in numerous ways and I am appalled at how much it can help anyone out there who has not yet being introduced to its amazing powers.
Dance has been my “go to ” form of expression ever since I was a child incapable of putting my feelings and thoughts into words. As an adult, I still struggle with it at times. Movement is one of the very first forms of human expression. Even before birth, the fetus moves in the womb. Movement and dance take the ability to communicate to another level. It’s a form of non-verbal communication that creates a bond between the body and the spirit. Dance is an elemental, eternal form of human expression. To dance is to let the body express it self rhythmically. Movement touches the centers of our being beyond the reach of vocabularies of reason. It communicates from the innermost soul which cannot be truly expressed through words. Personally, speaking was terrifying so finding this language through movement was the missing link.
Increasing personal confidence
Dancing made me comfortable in my own body. I realized that I was becoming less conscious of my body as I danced and felt more comfortable in my skin. My concentration was on my moves rather than how I looked. It’s not only helped me again the comfort and confidence on stage but also behind the camera. I figured that if I could dance fearlessly on the stage or on camera , I could as well speak. Communication, something which is so important in today’s day and age.
Discover other creative sides
Although I started with Bharatanatyam and it formed the base for any other dance form, I was able to discover other forms of dancing such as Kathak, Salsa, Bachata and even Belly dance. As long as we have a foundation on any one classical dance form (doesn’t matter which), it’s easier to pick up other forms of dance. Dance has encouraged me to explore other sides of my creativity such as writing. It puts me in a state of FLOW where when the right side of the brain lights up (creative side) , it naturally spills the creativity into any other thing we do. Achieving a state of flow can be a great way to make the activities you pursue more engaging and enjoyable. Not only do people often perform better when they are in this state, but they are also often able to improve their skills in that area.
Getting through rough moments
Dance has helped immensely during the days where I felt that I was being sucked into a rabbit hole of negativity. There were days where I had to make choices and decisions. Moving around to the tunes of the music has helped me clear my head and brought me to a zone where I felt like no matter how difficult the situation looks at the time, I will get through. When we experience an emotional low, emotions tend to get stuck in our body. Any kind of movement or creative activity can lower the impact of the emotion and make it less permanent by letting it flow through our bodies. I have noticed the days when I feel down and tired don’t feel like getting up or dancing , those are the days I need to dance the most. It instantly lifts me up .
Talent without discipline is a sad sight
We all have different talents we are born with but without discipline, it withers out. I for one felt I was not born with a talent to dance. Years of practice and discipline not only helped , I was able to incorporate the same discipline in other areas of my life. To me dance is divine and I approach it with the same love and respect that I expect to get from it. It took a lot of discipline to get back into dance after 10 years. Neither did I remember all of it nor was my body as flexible as it was back then. I had to start from scratch. However, the discipline I followed earlier paid back. Parts of it were still etched in my muscle memory and it was easier to pick up .Dance has taught me the more discipline and dedication I give to any area of my life, it reciprocates.
Being fully present in the ‘Now’
When dancing, I would be so engrossed in the moves and music that there can possibly be no other thought crossing my mind. As human beings, we go through an approximate of 6 to 9 negative thoughts for every positive one. We might either play our past experiences in our head or keep wondering how the future is going to look like. What we really need is to live in the now and savor every moment of it. Dance is about allowing the mind to stay steady and simply in the now. By consistently engaging in practice about here and now, we allow the chains binding us to the past to fall away. Dance is another form of moving meditation. If I get into the zone , the effects are very similar to that of a still meditation. In dance , we continuously remind ourselves to come back to awareness, to honor the present and to consider the possibility of creativity and healing. We remain grounded and unaffected by the suction of the future, pulling us to worry about things we cannot control. Dance engages our whole being. The very nature of movement and dance demand that we are fully present.
I have been doing mudras since I was 4 without realizing their full impact. Mudras are nothing but hand gestures done in a certain way that signals an appropriate message back to the brain. These simple hand gestures show their effects in as little as 5 minutes if done correctly in a restful position. They clear the blockages in our energy centers and help us relieve stress , anxiety and even headaches. They rewire our brains to send positive thought out to the universe in turn attracting more positivity into our lives. I discovered Mudra healing a couple of years back and realized how they had been helping me all my life as well as the ease with which it could be Incorporated by anyone to experience its full benefits.
Healing powers of dance
I had always subconsciously felt but never realized until lately that dance can be used for healing. Dance is being recognized to help with psychological and physical health benefits. In ancient times , dance was used as a healing tool and lately has been highly recognized with the power to heal with Dance therapy getting more and more common. Dance therapy was developed in United states in the 1940’s as a means of expressing feelings and emotions through movement. It has helped to gain insights in to a person’s mind and to release rigid of repetitive behavior.
Carl Jung is one of the pioneers for the concepts of Dance Therapy. Medical Intuitive Carol Roitberger explains in one of her books that dance is one of a variety of methods to enhance the health of our energy centers (Chakras) and therefore our human body. There are methods that can be practiced in awakening and rebuilding the human body. These methods encourage releasing toxins from the body, support getting in touch with the lost part of us and see life as an exciting opportunity to learn, grow and develop. One of the most common goals of any dance therapy modality is to stimulate healing from within. We are all made of feelings and emotions, movement can change your feelings. If nothing changes in your body, your feelings cannot change. So many people share the positive effects of dancing mindfulness practice on healing from addictions, trauma and physical illness.
My interest in dance goes far beyond just entertainment. It is to reconnect with the innate intelligence of our bodies and what our bodies have to say to us. After all, If our mind effects the body, why can’t we use our bodies to effect the mind.
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