I used to be really really scared of dancing. As far back as I can remember it has always felt uncomfortable and weird to me. Even as a little boy and then as a teenager I was afraid of being judged by others and by myself. Afraid to look stupid. Afraid to “do it wrong”. It was something I avoided at all cost, something that made me feel stiff and numb inside. Something I dreaded.
Since I started doing improv about six years ago and then a few years later started going to five rythm dancing classes regularily my experience of dancing has changed quite radically. I found out that moving my body and expressing myself can be an incredibly fun thing to do – so far that it now is an indispensible part of my life. Something amazingly beautiful and deep, healing and envigorating, even therapeutic.
I feel like moving your body to music is something wonderful. If you’re just a little bit like I was then you might not really share this opinion. So that’s why I wrote this article. To give some suggestions as to why a little bit of dancing every day is so amazing and then: how to allow yourself to do it. Even though you might be really really scared. So let’s put our old opinions and views aside and try to look at it with a fresh set of eyes.
What does dancing in awareness do for you?
I’ll explain what it does for me, because it will probably do something similar for you.
- Dancing for me makes me feel free, it helps me to relax and open up. It allows me to show my emotions and to feel my vulnerability and also to feel my strength. I’ve had days where the few minutes I was dancing were some of the best moments of that day. Just standing in front of the mirror in a hotel room and dancing to some music I enjoy. Looking silly. Feeling a bit weird – but hilarious and happy! Or sometimes really really sad and mellow. It’s all good.
- Connected with myself and with the music. Expressing myself. Feeling like there’s room for me to be and to show my emotions. Room that I might not have felt on that day.
- Dancing energizes me and makes me joyful. When I move then I feel alive. It’s also challenging – trying not to do the same movements over and over and to stay connected with the music while expressing my own emotions at the same time.
- It’s also moderate exercise – gets me moving and gets some Oxygen pumping through my body and I feel awake afterwards.
- It helps me to clear my mind. If some thoughts are circling through my head and I can’t seem to shake them off – dancing helps. It somehow puts those thoughts back into my body – and then they can flow and change and the dam wall is broken. The water of my experience of life is flowing again.
- It helps me to deal with difficult emotions. For example when I feel sad or depressed dancing can do wonders for me! It’s just amazing how a few minutes of moving to a beat or to a melody can light me up 🙂 Miraculous even…
How to do it?
- Set aside five or ten minutes where you’ll be undisturbed – best on your own if you’re a little shy.
- Finde a nice spot where you have at least some room to walk around and move.
- Put on some music you like (headphones or speakers) and then start moving. It doesn’t matter HOW you move. It’s not a dancing contest. It’s only important that YOU enjoy it.
Now some concrete tips for finding the right movements and expanding your comfort zone. Try experimenting with the following:
- fluid movements/hard movements
- center of gravity
- lots of stepping around/standing in one place only using the upper body
- let one body part lead your dance – like all movements being started and lead by your head for example
The most important thing is to be supportive and nice to yourself. If you notice criticism creeping up – that’s a bad habit. Be like: „Okay I might look stupid, but that’s okay. This is my time for enjoying myself. Who cares?“. Put on a big smile and continue 🙂
It is important to make it clear to yourself that everyhing is okay. All movements are valid. Try to find those that you enjoy the most yet keep experimenting. You will notice your brain getting really active – it’s like giving yourself a mental workout as well when you keep it open and keep changing your movement patterns.
If you have a hard time starting at all then just start very very simple. Just shift from one foot to the other. Bop your head. Then try to really enjoy this simple movement. You don’t have to do complicated stuff. Focus on enjoying those movements even though they might be simple and do them 100%. Play all out. Nobody’s looking (hopefully right? ;). Give it all you got. You will be rewarded with a much deeper and satisfying experience than if you hold back. It might not be easy to fully go into it, on some days you might feel like you’re in the flow – on others not so much. Notice these fluctiations and keep enjoying yourself.
- When you’re done reward yourself. Especially if it was difficult! Encourage yourself and cheer yourself on. Nobody else will do this for you. Take good care of yourself.
Since I made dancing to at least 1 song a day a ritual a little longer than a month ago, I have noticed myself feeling much more alive and vibrant. The biggest advantage is during and after dancing itself. It just feels amazing. Afterwards I’m almost always pumped and I’ve had some of the most productive periods of work after dancing. Overall I feel much more balanced and my body and mine feel synced.
Find out if you would enjoy to dance more often. If so then decide to do it. Set aside 5-10 minutes, find a private spot, put on some cool music and enjoy yourself. Do 1 song for 7 days as a start. What a great reward and what an amazing activity. When you have finished those 7 days look back on what has changed and on how your experience has been. Write me if you want – I’m excited to hear about your experience!