What is conscious dance?
Conscious dance is a moving mindfulness practice similar in purpose to practices such as yoga, tai chi, and chi gong. At the core of these practices is harnessing the breath to lead to deeper awareness through mindful movement. Uniquely, conscious dance has the potential to seat us more deeply within ourselves, AND the group response to a shared beat connects us more deeply to one another. Dancing together creates a supportive feeling of belonging. Dancing creates tribe.
There are currently over 100 flavors of conscious dance and another will likely be born before I finish this article. The reason there are so many is because each teacher brings forth their unique transmission of awareness through movement. Amidst these many teachers, there have been influential masters of this art that have deeply inspired. Through their lifetime of work, they tapped into universal truths and made them apparent and accessible to beginners and advanced dancers alike. This ability to give access to the deep work through a word, a look, or a ritual is what sets masters apart and creates powerful transmission of awareness from teacher to student. If you’re called, there are living conscious dance teachers that can take you straight to the heart of matters, if you’re ready to go.
So why the dance? Well the truth is, it’s what humans do. We’ve danced forever. Before our hairy ancestors even had words, humans danced to communicate, pray and celebrate. Every single human is a dancer. Put on a beat and watch what a young baby does. They bop. They laugh. Humans in movement have access to ecstasy. I’m not talking about the peak experience kind. That can be sort of confusing for folks. Alan Watts, one of my favorite philosophers, defines ecstasy in a gorgeous way. Ecstasy is the sensation of surrendering to vibrations and sometimes to insights, that take you out your so-called self. In defining it, he contrasts ecstasy to being-uptight. Ecstasy is most simply the opposite of being uptight. What I have found is that there is no faster, more efficient way to get out of my ego-bound head and into the ecstasy of being present in my body than a beat. This is an ongoing practice.
Though there is often laughter, the practice of conscious dance isn’t all gumdrops and kittens. Trauma has the ability to freeze parts of bodies. The body really does remember. Traumatic events can block the flow of our creativity needed for meaningful existence. Conscious dance addresses these “freezes” at both the cellular and musculoskeletal level through movement and then again effecting change at the deeper energetic level through breath. As these parts melt and begin to move, old unresolved emotions will move as well. All of it, is truly welcome. Anger, joy, sadness, fear, frustration…alllllll of it. As we hold compassionate space for ourselves, our ability to be truly compassionate beings in relationship to others grows.
Dance works so well as a healing modality because in movement or the lack of it, we discover the hidden stories. The dance offers us a glance at our unconscious patterns/shadows. In compassionate awareness, deep healing begins as we embrace all that we are. When we truly welcome all of it, we can safely come home. We can live fully embodied.