When we create a supportive and trusting atmosphere with others, invite our whole self to be present and relax our desire to control, an hour of dance can become a cosmic unfolding. Sacred and meditative dance can be the most powerful and moving spiritual practice of all, shifting us on all levels as we move our bodies. Here are 9 ways in which I have seen it change people – and will change you:
I, like many find it very difficult to sit completely still and meditate. When I discovered Osho’s Dynamic Meditations I felt that ‘finally someone understood me!’ Movement with presence and intention moves and releases stuck and stagnant energies. When I am aware of my body as I move, I find it is easier to see old patterns then shake, slide and wriggle out of them. I can embody a different “I” through movement as well, as in meditative dance, and I find that the pattern “sticks” and begins to affect my daily life.
A classical Indian dancer will always touch the earth, heart and sky before performing. Once on stage they start with ‘namaskar’. This remembering connects and shows respect to the lineage they have come from; honouring their fellow dancers, Guru and their Guru’s Guru’s before they dance. The ‘namaskar’ also helps to bring a one-pointed consciousness, centring the self and allaying any last minute performance nerves. You might not choose to follow this tradition, but consciously expressing connection with what nourishes and supports you through movement will increase your felt sense of support and connection in your daily life.
To become the dance and the dance become you without separation requires absolute surrender. When we dance from a space of ego we disguise and mask our true self. We may have perfect technique and choreography with the latest designer costume yet still be trapped within the ‘I’ framework we have placed and therefore trapped ourselves in. The true essence of the soul is revealed when a dancer has embraced the light and shadows within themselves and dances them equally without shame or need from the audience. When a dancer is entirely connected to her/himself the audience can be transported to other worldly dimensions where time bends and anything is possible!
Our DNA holds every experience we have ever had. It also carries the experiential imprints of all who have come before us in our ancestral line. As vibration through movement, sound and breath resonate through our cells when we engage in meditative dance, we can influence the energetic patterns that our DNA hold, releasing what does not serve our own and our family line’s highest good.
Sacred dance and movement tones muscles, releases endorphins and clears stress chemicals from your body. Your body will feel and perform better, get sick less and become more flexible. The pleasure and increased sense of wellbeing you get from this will contribute to a self-reinforcing cycle that will make it easy to stay healthier and more energetic.
As you discover all the beautiful shapes your body can make your perspective begins to change from judgement to one of acceptance and wonderment at the stories and emotions you can portray from your heart through the physical form. You will probably find your attention shifting away from thinking about how others see you, and start feeling more into the fascinating, delicious litheness and vibrancy you want to embody.
In ancient times we lived shamanically, working and dancing in synchronicity with all the elements surrounding us. Dance was an integral part of life within the community. Used as a form of communication, giving birth, celebration, to mark events and important astrological timings. The more we can live in alignment to the earth the freer and more intuitive we can become. The wordless, ancient depths of connection our ancestors knew are still available to us now, and when you practice sacred and meditative dance, you will start touching into the poetry and magic of nature in your daily life.
We mostly take our breath for granted, breathing without intention and only into our chest. Many of us are breathing incorrectly, keeping ourselves in the stress inducing state of fight or flight. Sacred dance invites us to see each breath we take as a new potential; bringing the chance of a conscious life or conscious death. As we breathe life into our cells, oxygenating every part, we relax, are more able to focus and move our muscles with power which will then support us in our dance movements.
The beauty of sacred and meditative dance is that it requires no words. We can transcend language, cultural and religious divides between the self and others when we unite in movement. Dance is the perfect way to make new friends whilst having fun. As you dance and connect to the intimacy of shared humanity with your fellow dancers, your smile releases endorphins, creating a happiness feedback system to the brain which triggers happy hormones, lowers stress levels and makes it easy to create connections with others. How does it get any better than that?
Katie Holland will lead Awakening the Dancer Within at the Findhorn Foundation, 9 – 16 September, 2017.