In my quest to find some relief from a major depressive disorder that by all accounts actually predates my puberty, I decided to search through my memories for those moments of blissful timelessness; those moments when you are so happy, time becomes irrelevant. As I searched my memory, I found that the richest, happiest years of my life had some sort of steady dancing going on. Ballroom dance, dancing in the club, it doesn’t seem to matter the venue or genre, I have discovered I am happiest when I dance.
I love to dance. As a young girl, I used to break dance with all of the boys in the neighborhood. We used an old broken down box in the grass as our stage. I have always loved to dance. In my teenaged years, I loved going to school dances and under 21 clubs. In my young adult years, I danced every weekend, all night long. I was still in my teens when I found ballroom dance where I learned my passion for Latin music, salsa, big band and swing dance. There was also a few years where I could be found two-stepping and line dancing each and every weekend. Dancing eventually took a back seat to work, college, marriage and raising babies. In 2003, at the tail end of my divorce, I found some respite again in the dance. I returned to ballroom dancing and even competed at an amateur level in swing. Over the years, dance has always found its way back into my life in one way or another. While I never studied professionally, it has been a primary hobby in my life.
Life again got in the way and dance became a distant memory in the backdrop of raising three boys alone.
Recently, I found ecstatic dance, rather, it found me, and I cannot ignore the way it arrived smack dab in the middle of my spiritual journey and my search to find peace and prosperity outside of the 9 to 5 rat race. I have been dancing for at least an hour or two daily for a few months now. My excess weight is slowly starting to melt away and I am feeling stronger every day.
Dancing has been in and out of my life like a secret lover. Each time I find myself broken open, dance helps me put the pieces back together. This journey into ecstatic dance however, takes it to a new level altogether. This dance is literally changing my life.
I am not just talking about the physical changes I previously mentioned, I am talking about life altering internal changes. Dance has been a beacon for me, a light guiding me from the darkness.
It is difficult to dispute the benefits of meditation, it is no longer speculation, science has proven the benefits of learning how to turn off the mind. Meditation is difficult for many people, especially cerebral types like myself. Dance, offers us moving meditation, it offers us a way to breathe into our bodies, to ground. When I find a rhythm that speaks to me, it moves me. Through dance I have learned how to listen to my body. I have learned how to pay attention to the subtle stories it tells me, to listen to its wisdom. Dancing as a meditation practice not only gives me a place to “Sweat my Prayers, ” it has also given me a way to find the space between thoughts that allows my inner guidance to sing. Dancing is my runner’s high.
What could be better than a daily practice that burns calories, works all of my muscles, and leaves all of the day’s problems in a puddle of sweat? Nothing!
My life is at a cross-roads and I am not certain of the direction I am headed. I do not know where I will live, or how I will make a living over the next few years as I look forward at a change in career, but one thing is for certain, I do not have any intention of letting this practice slip through my fingers again.
No matter what ails me, no matter what is on my mind, I can find a playlist to suit the occasion and leave it all in the dance. This practice has put my life on a new trajectory, it has given me wings to fly. I am not sure yet where I am headed, but Rumi told me to dance and he also told me that if I just start walking, the road will appear… so, I put my trust in the dance and I will just start dancing… May the dance floor appear in front of me to lead the way!