03 Feb Why is Dance a Medicine?
Dance is my first medicine. I started dancing when I was 13, locking myself in the wresting room at my highschool to create dances about war and peace, relationship and spiritual states beyond name and form. It healed me. It made my life make sense. It made life possible.
And, because it is a true medicine, because the dance was my first true teacher and has shown me everything about life and love and community, I created Dancing Freedom. These days, I teach all over the world, and train others to spread this work around the planet for healing, awakening and evolution.
But, I’ll confess…
Every once in a while, I begin to doubt this practice. I look around our world at all the challenges we face, at global warming and species extinction, at clear cutting and factory farming, at injustice and inequities of all kinds, and I think, is this enough? Are we contributing enough to this magical, broken world that so desperately needs healing? Are we giving people the tools and the skills needed to mend the broken hoop? Are WE helping to mend that hoop?
Then I pull my thoughts back into mindful stillness. I pause, take a deep, dissolving breath of clear air, and listen. And, in my way, I pray.
Every time, guaranteed, I get the same answer: the world needs this dance. The world needs this medicine. The world needs people who are alive in this way.
The answer comes not from thinking, but in the quiet spaces in between thoughts – from the space where god makes a home in my body and soul. The answer comes from the whispering trees, from the rushing stream, from the moist soil, from the frogs- all celebrating the way the dance opens my heart and cells more deeply in communion. And it comes almost daily, in email after email, Facebook post after Facebook post, from people like you, telling me that this practice has changed their lives. Often they say things like this, “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this practice is different. It’s special. Thank you. It’s the best thing in my life.”
When I say “medicine” I don’t mean it in the limited way that Western Medicine uses the word, but in the ancient sense, referring to anything and everything that wishes us well, and the deep things in creation that we can align and co-create with in order to live a more full, loving, divine and human life. The word medicine used in this way refers to the animating force within creation that is amplified through our right relationship with specific objects, practices and ways of being. The most basic medicine is love. Other medicines that may be familiar to you include sage, sweetgrass, cedar, tobacco, Grandfather Peyote and Grandmother Ayahuasca.
I was overcome with this truth today as I prayed with water and sage and the slow dancing of rain. I felt all those who are dancing and teaching all over the world. And I knew – we are remembering the old ways and creating new ones as we go.
Dance is an original medicine. The first peoples danced and sang to create the world. They danced and sang to heal, to thank, to align, to sustain, to destroy. They danced with the Ancestors and with the Circle of All Beings to remember and sustain wholeness. They danced to be one with Spirit. This is the essence of Dancing Freedom – freedom to belong fully to life.
We came to this earth with Original Instructions. The instructions we received from those who sent us were simple. We are here to care for and steward the Earth. We are here to tend and propagate the plants. We are here to befriend and support harmony with the animals. We are here to live in alignment with these universal instructions, and to give the unique gifts each of us has been given as a soul. And, we are here to create beauty.
Dancing Freedom, first and foremost, is a creation of beauty, disappearing just as soon as it arises. It is also a space that supports both universal and personal alignment with these instructions. As you dance and pray, the very nature of the practice reminds you of how to harmonize your life and actions in integrity with the Earth and All of Your Relations. At the same time, it is fruitful ground to receive very specific reflection and instructions for your Unique Self and purpose in the world.
Because it can do all of this, it is medicine. And, while it is not a panacea, it helps. So, begin here. Come dance.
The dance, as with all true medicines, will help you take the very next step. And that step is the only step that can possibly set you free.