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The Healing and Cathartic Power of Dance

The feeling of grief washed over me like melting wax, hot and crystallizing, encasing my being into near immobility. I felt an anguish and discomfort like never before. The death of my mother still touching and gripping me in pain.

In the same instant, somewhere in my mind I registered the sound of music. Without consious thought, my body started to sway and move to the rhythm. A crack in the shell of dispair. As I continued to flow mindlessly to the rhythm, a feeling of calm and comfort seeped into my heart.

It's true I thought. I can feel intense sadness, be broken hearted while I simultaneously take a breath, appreciate music and yes, even dance, all in the same moment.

And so, with tears of sorrow streaming down my face, I danced.

A cathartic moment, a delightful release. I clearly needed the freedom of movement and personal expression to let go of the tight breath holding feelings I was having. This was not the first time dance lead to self healing. I know from personal experience that dancing lifts the mood.  Letting my body go in total abandon is one of my favourite activities. And for good reason.

Exercise is known to release endorphins, be good for our cardiovascular system and help us to get a better night's sleep. So why not dance? It's a form of exercise; to me way more fun than jogging on the sidewalk inhaling noxious fumes and getting shin splints... but hey, that's a personal choice.

Research suggests that in addition to the cardio exercise we get, dancing releases feel good hormones while reducing stress. Along with the emotional benefits, dance is considered to energize and help with our spatial coordination.  I don't need the research to convince me. Getting my groove on has always put me in a good mood not to mention make me feel alive and vibrant.

Self care needs to be sustainable for it to have effect. Our practices need to be fun, We have already established that music is a de-stressor. Add a dash of dance and there is your individual feel good recipe. If the idea of dancing sounds intimidating, just think of the practice as movement and let your body flow however it feels good. I believe that's the idea behind the line - "Dance like nobody's watching." I'm sure you've heard this quote before.

As I wrote this I wondered who said it first... and my Google search was a bit of a rabbit hole. It doesn't really matter. The point I'd like to make is that as a part of your self nurturing practice, you can choose to dance on your own, with no-one watching, feeling no judgements or fear of what other people may think. You may choose to dance with a partner, family member, friend, child, anyone willing to have some fun and move with you. The interpersonal connection can also do you good.

What I especially like is that dancing doesn't have to be limited to a designated place or time. This self care activity can be combined with doing housework, preparing a meal, even while in the shower. An added bonus is when dancing can become infectious and the feel good therapy rubs off on others around me,

I think I need to get up and boogie right now. It's time for a 5 minute dance break. Why don't you do the same. Enjoy!

Be well and take care of yourself.

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