Welcome to part three of my series on longevity. I wrote a few articles on this subject ten years ago and felt it was time to revisit it. We’re exposed to way too much doom and gloom media these days. There’s so much GOOD to live for. In fact, my first article focused on the impact of perspective and presence – living for now and loving life make us happier, if not also longer lived. The second article focused on the benefits of working, stretching, and relaxing all parts of ourselves (body and mind). (You can read them on our site.)
I already wrote about exercise, so recommending dance may seem redundant, but I believe dance has unique benefits. Humans have been dancing for fun, for health, for art, and for ceremony since the earliest times. Dance is one of the most basic and primal forms of release and expression.
Formal dance is wonderful, but I specifically mean freeform dance here – giving yourself over to music (or the music in your soul), letting your body move in whatever ways it wants, being unrestrained, uncalculated, and uncensored. Dance is an incredible outlet. It’s also a profound means of inner exploration, healing, and spiritual connection.
As you dance, consider making it a process of inquiry. These are just a few of the questions you might ask:
- What comes up when you let yourself feel without blocking anything out?
- Is there a shape the body wants to make or a form of expression the body is drawn to? Where is it rooted (both in your body and in your past)?
- Is there unfinished business related to it? Where does it take you?
- What does dance give you access to that’s usually hidden?
- In what ways is your movement blocked?
- What old things are stored in your tissues? Can you allow your dance to liberate them or facilitate a conversation with a part of yourself that needs a voice?
- What does the wild part of you want to express through dance?
- What is the force that’s driving this dance? Can you get curious about it, open your connection to it, listen to it, feel it fully?
It’s great when we start scheduling a regular time for dance. It’s even better is when the dance starts spilling out into our life as a whole and we start finding ourselves “dancing through our days.” This may not necessarily look like we’re twirling and leaping from our desk to the copy machine, though it might! Alternatively, it may be more of an internal dance – a new, playful, graceful, fluid way of navigating whatever comes along.
For some people it’s easiest to go deep, to foster self-awareness and healing when dancing alone. For others, a group dynamic is more supportive and inspiring. While I emphasized the personal benefits of dance, it’s also an incredible medium for connecting with others, repairing conflict, learning to listen and be receptive, opening our hearts together, and sharing our light. The challenge with dancing in a group is to not become consumed with what others are doing or how we appear to them. Therefore, I feel the guiding principles for a group dance setting should include freedom, exploration, and non-judgment. If you look into “ecstatic dance” or Gabrielle Roth’s “5Rhythms” format, you can probably find a community that engages in this form of dance in your area.
I have a homework assignment for you: dance in a totally unrestrained way sometime this week. Share with the community: How do you feel about dance? What has it done for you? What’s your favorite music to dance to?