How is it to dance when we don’t feel like dancing?
I was not in the mood for funk music.
I wanted to shut down. To busy myself with distraction. To avoid. I could feel the mental and emotional fug lowering like a cloak of clouds and my nervous system responding accordingly…smaller and smaller, all feeling tighter as the inner critic and her catastrophising chorus grew louder.
I did not want to dance to the funky track loaded up on my phone.
I had a choice. To stay stuck and fused with all that was moving through the body-mind or, I could press play and invite movement.
I chose to dance as an experiment, to dance with curiosity, to see how it is to dance when one doesn’t feel like dancing.
The rolling beats of the song began, lighter and far more joyful than I felt. Feelings of longing rose in my throat, my mind grasping at ideas of something outside of myself as the prize. Resistance in my body to the extremely catchy rhythm, the damn sassiness of it all, incongruous to the weight and lethargy I was feeling. I could feel the music calling to my hips, but control stepped in and there was no dropping into the pelvis.
I stepped side to side, a shuffle, rolling my shoulders, letting tears fall, feeling energy move as my body gradually loosened. It felt good to shake, shake, shake my fingers and hands. Then came a neck roll, the cervical spine taking on a snake-like form. Bit by bit, body part by body part, an aliveness filling me from within.
My legs began to wake up, my feet lifting, starting to move in communication with the music. I looked down: I was dancing inside the four edges of my yoga mat. My body wanted more freedom. I stretched my foot beyond the confines of my mat and I felt the release of it, like water breaking through a dam. I swept my leg outwards, taking up space and enjoying it.
The thought arose: ‘How often do we confine ourselves to a small space, Covid-19 isolation or not? How often do we stay within a role or situation or take a position that does not serve us, build an identity around it and then live the restrictions of that?’
Dance – whether the physical practice or the dance of life of being – inherently brings growth.
It invites us to step, roll or leap, literally, out of predictable movement patterns, if we listen. Freeform movement opens up to attuning to our needs, our creative expression, to energies moving through us and around us.
As we dance in different ways and to different rhythms, we are embodying and familiarising our psyche and spirit with expressing through form in a variety of ways. Gabrielle Roth, creator of 5 Rhythms Dance, taught on this in great detail. Through dance can more easily see where our edges are, which patterns or frameworks we tend to get overly comfortable or stagnate in.
Movement can show us which rhythms and ways of moving we find challenging at the level of body, heart and mind, or where, developmentally, we became stuck in moving one way or didn’t learn how to express ourselves as fully and freely as we could. Dance is a doorway.
Right now, we’re all in a dance we didn’t necessarily want to be in: confined in spaces, face to face with myriad feelings and multiple practical challenges at the micro and macro levels. Our regular routines and movement patterns are in flux, relationship dynamics are in shift. The music is changing moment to moment and all we can do is listen, surrender and respond.
Well, we can choose to listen, surrender and respond – there’s the invitation. We might not want to settle within and listen, we may feel like running or freezing, we may be in reaction. At the choice point, we can decide to use any tools we may have for soothing our nervous system, for remembering and embodying our resiliency, softening to meet all that is.
“You can do it like it’s a great weight on you. Or you can do it like it’s part of the dance.” Ram Dass
My experience of dancing when I didn’t feel like it, enabled me to feel all that was present in my experience in an embodied way. I became far more present and far less mind-focussed.
I met all my resistance to dancing, I met that as part of the experience, I listened to the subtle calls from my body as it gradually opened. I felt my expansiveness once more, rooted all the while. I did feel better for dancing. I suspected that would be the case, but it wasn’t a goal. I danced giving myself full permission for all to be as it was.
An Invitation: dance when you don’t feel like dancing:
How would it be to move when you feel heavy or in flight, stuck or in resistance to what is, how would it be to dance?
How is it to listen to your body and to respond to the music from that listening?
In your dance, how would it be to let everything be as it is? And how might that dance translate into the dance of your life, at this time?
You can listen/dance to the funk track I danced to: Hand Clapping Song by The Meters. It’s also on my #dancedaily playlist which you can access here.