Mindful Movement* as Therapy
*Mindful Movement and Dance are used here inter-changeably
- Engages all your energy. Focus on breath, the interface of body /mind/spirit
- Can be done lying down, sitting or standing (even in a wheelchair),
- Takes you through the Self beyond the self
- Dance is an amazing healer, lifting the spirit even in
- Elder hood
- Well-being it can promote a false impression that it is only about you.
- Dance can be slow, mournful, small, lyrical,
swaying, stomping, clapping, lifting, reaching,
touching, exultation, loving, nurturing, joyful
Dance is a body/mind/spirit connection that engages the soul in a way beyond words.
Improvised dance, with the consciousness of meditation, allows the logical mind to unhinge. Dance as prayer lets the ageless, infinite soul of the self-move and breathe— into a kind of silence that pulses with the truth of the heart.
Ah, but some might say, “I am fearful of my dance — afraid to make a wrong step. I think my body is not graceful or beautiful enough.” But do you think a jaguar leaps from a tree and then turns back to say, “That wasn’t a very good leap. I should do it better”? No, because the jaguar leaps naturally.
So, too, it is human nature to dance. Remember when you were a child and your body was breathing and alive with the fun of each new movement — before you ever knew words like competition, graceful, or clumsy. That playful child is still in each of us, no matter our age, size, disposition, or condition. The place of dance and song, the instinct to dance, to move, is present in every stage of life, from infancy to elder hood. I have learned this from dancing with people in all stages of life – from nursery school to nursing home. This desire to move creatively, to be playful in movement- no matter how small or large- lives within each of us.
There is no wrong way. Your dance is your Truth, prayer, your immediate expression and can be your intimate connection with God through the wondrous vehicle of your body.
Many think of dance as celebratory — as an expression of happiness. But true joy is wholeness. We have the opportunity to come into wholeness, to be healed by dance. Dance is the authentic movement that comes from the breath, the heart and the soul.
We can allow soul to move the muscles. This becomes the dance of one’s truth in any given moment, because the fluidity of movement that offers limitless possibilities can come from the deepest place within. It can be small or large, soundless or vocal. It can be solo, with a partner or with a group.
Dance can be playful, silly, somber, exploratory, amazing. We can amaze ourselves with unexpected possibilities as we create movement in the moment.
But what if one is grief-stricken, if one’s heart is broken open?
“Dancing is not rising to your feet painlessly
Like a whirl of dust blown about by the wind.
Dancing is when you rise above both worlds,
Tearing your heart to pieces and giving up your soul.”— Rumi
In the darkest times of my life, dance has been my deepest healing prayer. There is a sacred healing when I take my dance to the trees and the beach. Dancing on the earth and touching sky takes me beyond myself. Dancing in the water delights my dolphin-nature.
As I connect with myself, I feel a transporting of energy beyond self into the Divine, the moving, breathing, creative energy of the infinite universe.
I may come beseeching God from a hurting place, I may come burnt-out,confused, tormented. I may wish to dance exaltation and gratitude.
Dance as prayer does not have to be a big deal. It can be as simple as breathing in and out from your heart center and raising your arms in an open gesture. What happens when you raise your arms in this simple way? Can you feel that you up-lift your spirit? Can you feel a quality of presence, praise, and thanksgiving?
And when you move to the rhythm of your own inhale and exhale, can you feel how organically you connect with your self?
I do not know in what form God responds to prayer. I do know that by dancing our prayers, energy is transformed.
Take off your shoes and stand on holy ground.
Declare the holiness of this moment.