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Dance as Meditation

Dancing was and still is one of the most elaborate ways of communications. Ancient Egyptians used dance and music to mimic the movements of the sun, the moon and other stars. Their priests and priestesses used cosmic interpretations in their ceremonial rituals to unite with the Gods. Those dance movements can be found on pyramid walls and many relics. Later, in the 8th century BC, Greeks initiated dancing rituals during the games at Olympia and scenes of dancing villagers honoring the god of wine, Dionysus, were depicted on Greek vases. From the first time African warriors put war paint on their faces and engaged in dancing rituals around the fire to cheer victory, to the modern day era, when we visit the theatre to watch ballet dancers moving swiftly on the stage, dancing as a way to express emotions has changed its performance act immensely. Today, there are still tribes in many parts of the world that have dancing rituals. The west, on the other hand, inspired by their raw knowledge on this healing therapy, has learnt to implement these tactical movements in many colorful ways.

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Why Dance Meditation is Good for our Modern Lifestyle?

There aren’t many ways in which we are able to employ all of our energy, positive or negative. Your boss might be obnoxious, but you have to keep it to yourself to keep your job. A colleague may be stepping out of the line way more times than you would normally allow. The new course of action might not be your speed, but you have to work, just like everyone else. Or you may feel tense when relationships lock you in a position of a narrow routine. At the end of the day, instead of feeling glad your working hours are over, you feel tense, from the inside out. If you do nothing about the tension, it turns into stress and once you are stressed out, the only way out is jumping on the Stairmaster. And if you are a little bit lazy or you hardly used your gym membership, you have to admit that exercising every day after work or early in the morning is the last thing you want us to suggest. You would rather go to bed strained and anxious, then jogging around your neighborhood.

But everybody likes to dance. Whether you dance with your friends on a night out, or you would rather secretly impersonate Elvis in front of the mirror while you shower, dancing is a lot of fun. The minute you feel the music going through your body, stress slowly fades away. It’s nearly magic, how music affects our brains and therefore our moods. Many people tried to meditate without any favorable results. Some might come out disappointed with the entire experience. Meditating takes a lot of practice and much more effort than we can afford. We live reckless lifestyles, where we barely have any time to eat properly and two hours daily dedicated to sitting down calmly and focusing on breathing seem like a waste of time for many people. If you still want to reap the benefits of meditating through dance, you can do that and it’s a lot easier conduct (conduit?) than simply meditating. Meditating is a technique that doesn’t necessarily have to be passive. When you are meditating in the conventional way, when you “wake up” you still need to get back to the world of clutter. That is confusing for some people and the benefits of the practice can turn out to be valid just for the moment. That is why meditating through dancing is a lot more effective for many people. That way, you can learn to focus, but instead of focusing on silence, you learn to synchronize your being with the rest of the world.

What you Need to Start a Dance Meditation Practice

You have probably put yourself in a situation where you cut loose in a middle of a song, just because you felt like it. Afterwards you’ve felt energized, powerful and uplifted. That’s how you will feel after every dance meditation, because you will learn how to guide your emotions. You will learn how to channel the negative feelings and how to duplicate the positive ones. Just as there are Pilates teachers and bodybuilding trainers, there are also many dance meditation instructors. If you have no idea how to start, it will be best to let a practiced hand and mind lead you and teach you how to unwind. It might be hard to find one on one instructor, and group meditations are maybe more fun, but if you feel self-conscious about your body or the way you move, you can practice at home. It may seem like you need instructions at the beginning, but once you get used to the idea of letting your body follow its natural rhythms, you will realize that the instructor will only make your practice difficult.

Eventually, you will come to the conclusion that dance meditations are much improvised, even if teachers are involved. There are no rules to follow and strict guidelines that will get you in trance. You do what you feel is natural, even if it seems unnatural or stupid to the outsiders. The only thing you need to do is get your apartment “dance-proofed”. Make a lot of room, enough to give you the space to practice your dance meditation. Then, download lots of music. African beats, Chinese beats or simply any music that makes you get up and dance. Make a playlist and make sure it’s longer than half an hour. At first, you may need time to stretch and put your body into motion, so list the slower, gentler songs first. Anything with drums, fast rhythms and stimulating tones will definitely make you get up and shake your booty. At the end, you know which genre lifts your spirit the most. Make a mix of many genres of music, so you can combine the classical pieces at first to help you stretch your muscles and then use dance music, dub step, Eastern rhythms or any other world music. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes and shoes, but barefoot dancing will make you get in touch with the dancer inside you best. If you don’t have carpets in your home, keep your sneakers on. Don’t eat before you start dancing, because you don’t know how hard you will feel like dancing and a full stomach can make you nauseous.

How to Practice Dance Meditation

Dance meditation is one of the simplest ways to find the joyful, serene and happy place inside you. You will be able to feel more free and alive then you have ever been in your whole life, because dancing releases stress, it aligns the brain hemispheres and makes them work as one. Maybe you won’t be able to feel very harmonized, but that is only until you learn to let go of your tension built on top of your muscles and thoughts. And with dancing, that can be achieved in a very short amount of time. Start your playlist and smile, because you are about to do something very powerful with the least amount of effort. When you are ready to start, don’t. Let your mind become familiar with what you are about to do and make it want it. You can close your eyes at first and let the music penetrate your body, your organs and as soon as you feel the first butterflies in your stomach, that means you are ready to start dancing. Don’t start jumping around your living room at once if you don’t feel the excitement yet. Trust your instincts and listen to your body. It will tell you what feels comfortable the most and when is the right time. Raise your hands, turn around in circles, and move across the room like a ballet dancer. Find the child inside you and let it free. Jump up and down and remember to breathe. Breathe through your nose intensely and force the air out of your nose. Humming loudly will help you to feel the vibrations and hum deeply, from your stomach.

Dancing is about expression. Do whatever feels natural and don’t hold back. Dance meditation is not about the performance and the way you look. It’s about letting your mind synchronize with your body. Look in your heart and find your biggest sorrow. Raise your arms and let it go, let the air take it. Run in circles when you feel some old wound surfacing and keep running until your legs start to hurt more. Make your body keep up with the festivity. Then forget about your body and your mind. Just let the air stir your movements. You no longer have a body and you are only energy. Be playful and don’t be serious. You are not doing anything serious, so keep your body light as the wind. Dance until the trance of your movements latch onto your every thought. Nobody is watching you so go crazy as much as you can. Let your body and mind be receptive and loose. If you happen to feel a bad emotion, use it to your advantage. Absorb it entirely until your bodily energy evaporates it. At the end, when you feel exhausted, celebrate your hard work, determination and courage.

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