Chakra Dancing: 5 ways to freedom #bereal
Once upon a time ... there was a woman who hid away from the world. She felt frumpy, fat, unworthy. Clever, funny and kind, her creative genie and inner light was shared only with a few ...
[7 minute read]
That woman was me.
Don't go shaking your head, looking at me like that. It's true.
I've been hiding for years.
It's funny, but I don't remember how Chakra Dancing & Creative Meditation training came into my head. I had taken Level 1 Chakradance but I couldn't get my head around how to do this kind of physical learning in an online format ('tho I'm always happy to be proved wrong!). I like an immersive, practical experience: my body needs to be pushed and new patterns developed, otherwise she will slide back to being lazy, given half a chance. The Chakra Dancing prospectus ticked all the boxes for me: something dynamic, easy to use and - most of all - FUN! Plus - another big bonus - it was fairly local, held in the beautiful Sussex countryside.
Do you know, I used to love dancing. Not ballroom, or anything fancy - just shaking my thang at the local nightclub. But then ... well, there's no point in being coy about it. I got "really fat". Before I knew it, I was far too self-conscious to dance, even while home alone.
That was how I felt for years, until I attended a Nature-based Retreat at the Penny Brohn Cancer Centre in Bristol (Spring 2014). On our last evening, we were invited to take part in a Biodanza class - and it was fan-bloody-tastic! My body responded wildly to the music, happy that we had no complicated steps to learn. All we had to do was listen with our bodies, and our bodies would then move to the beat of their own accord. It was truly enlightening. Exhausted by the end of the class, after leaping around like a possessed creature, I remember feeling so free, so connected to my body after years of detachment. I needed more of that kind of dancing in my life.
Of course, back in London my shyness pulled me up. Again. A gazillion excuses blocked me from attending a central London Biodanza class. "Oh, I can't bear coming back home on the train being all sweaty" was just one of the pitifully-poor excuses.
Fast forward to January this year (2016) and, struggling to cope with the rawness of grief, I found myself signing up for a Chakra Dancing & Creative Meditation teacher-training retreat. I needed a safe space to release all the built-up tension in my body; surely five days of shaking my booty would be good fun and provide a much-needed workout? All shapes and sizes were welcomed: well, that included me - in all my size 26-28 voluptuousness - surely?
So off I trotted, full of beans, much to the amazement of my Beloved who had gently pushed me to try new things but had been met with a resounding NO each time. I was just SO excited about being able to dance again! I had listened to a few tracks on the Chakra Dancing website, and had danced along to the Chakra Dancing I CD. Having no such thing as 'exercise clothes' hiding in my wardrobe, I packed cool, flowing cotton dresses and leggings, and headed off to Brighton for a 'working holiday'. All I wanted to do was dance and hopefully find a way to reconnect with my body, after treating her with such disrespect and disdain for all these years.
Tell me: have you ever been away for a few days, and returned a completely different person?
Weird, isn't it, how we can shift so fast after years of being so stuck?
I learned so many things about myself during the 5-day retreat but here are the 5 biggies that I would very much like to share with you, dear reader.
Dancing (movement to music) is:
- incredibly healing
- very empowering
- unleashes the creative genie from deep within
- for EVERYONE
- completes CreaTEAvity ... and YOU!
1. Dancing is incredibly healing
If you are dancing, you are moving ... and our bodies are designed to move. No need to throw wild shapes; any form of gentle movement is like kissing each and every cell in our body. Research has shown how dance and movement therapy nurtures wellbeing at a psychological and physiological level: what we DO know is that dancing is a wonderful mood-booster, reduces stress, and high-fives our serotonin levels (that feel-good hormone that we get a rush of when we take part in Laughter Yoga). Dancing can also help us to refine our emotional connectivity, our empathic nature. There is also exciting research into how dancing can strengthen neural connections and pathways: think of dancing as a sensual brain food, which seems to also help boost our long-term memory and our reasoning skills (spatial recognition).
Dancing goes beyond the psychological and physiological. Think of the beautiful Sufi dances, where the Whirling Dervishes spin round and round as a form of meditation, of connecting with their divine spiritual essence. During our five-day training retreat, we released lots of healing tears (as well as releasing on a physical level *ahem*) and every single retreat attendee shared healing experiences, in profound and wildly-differing ways. Every single one of us left looking like a different person, too: glowing skin, clear eyes, relaxed body posture, holding ourselves differently as we walked and dance. Chakra Dancing had facilitated a spiritual connection, addressing and healing a lot of issues over those five all-too-brief days.
Dancing is incredibly healing. On every single level.
- Dancing and The Brain (Harvard)
- Research on the efficacy of dance movement therapy is growing (ADTA)
2. Dancing is very empowering
Let's get real here. If you are going to shake your booty in front of complete strangers, it can be a pretty surreal experience the first time you do it. I had turned up to the retreat with so many layers of baggage, it was surprising that I could walk under all that weight (metaphorically and physically). Yet I felt comfortable enough with Lizzie Clifford, the founder of Chakra Dancing, to pretend it was only myself and her in the room when we first started to shake our thang to a lovely, deep tribal beat. What Lizzie had no idea about (until Day 4 of the retreat), was the fact I had struggled with body image issues ALL MY LIFE. I am 45 now: upon reflection, my body image issues began around the age of 3. That is 42 years of loathing my poor beautiful body, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Reading Lindy West's article from The Guardian newspaper, I was struck by the feeling of loneliness, of living a half-lived life because of feeling fat, of being fat. Lindy took herself off into fantasy novels and "places where I could feel safe, assume any personality, fit into any space"; oh yes, me too. Anywhere was better than being stuck in the real-world, a sitting duck for bullies.
In fact, the penny didn't really drop for me until we hit a 5 Rhythms class on Friday evening. I spent most of the 2.5 hours jiggling and wiggling my body, but absolutely petrified of moving outside my comfort zone. I stayed in a tiny space, quite out of proportion to my physical body; terrified as people danced with each other, swooping and jumping around the gym hall, sliding and writhing on the floor. A very different experience to Chakra Dancing, despite being a free-form dance. If anyone there could have read auras, they would have seen 7' long spikes of energy coming off me, declaring loudly 'do NOT come any closer' in neon lights.
Yet in the last 15 minutes of the class, something very peculiar happened. I started to slowly move across the gym floor, with a few twirls and swirls. Aware that most dancers were on the other side of the hall, I felt safe to explore a little. As I moved back towards my 'safe space', I felt a beautiful feminine presence directly behind me. Slightly taller than me, this presence softly, gently folded her arms around me. With her hands resting lightly on my stomach, I felt moved to lean back into her energy and her physicality, drawing nourishment from her closeness. My body softened as I folded slightly back into her; as this unknown stranger cradled the length of my body, I moved my right arm to slowly move down the side of her head in a loving embrace. This lasted for a few seconds only, yet as I slowly moved out of her physical embrace and turned to dance with her, not touching, I realised that I so desperately needed that feeling of being supported, of allowing myself to be supported. Physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
This wonderful 5 Rhythms facilitator (Sophia) had sensed the perfect moment of my awakening, and had positioned herself to be there as I allowed myself to be held and supported. To be my witness as I gave up a lifetime of feeling too big in my physical body to take up any more space, awakening to the fact that my body deserves to take up as much space as she wishes, so that she can be free to dance with my spirit. Reading Lindy's article a few days later, I acknowledged that living in a world where you feel you have to "fold yourself up like origami, you make yourself smaller in other ways, you take up less space with your personality, since you can’t with your body" was a very tough reality for a highly-sensitive person (HSP) to live with. It affects your relationship with your body, your friends, your sexual partners; how you do business, where you go on holiday, whether you can relax while out at dinner. It affects every single facet of your life.
So, YES! Dancing is very empowering. You can reclaim your power, your femininity, your masculinity, your vital essence, your sensuality: just dance!
- Perfect Body Lie by Lindy West (The Guardian)
3. Dancing unleashes the creative genie from deep within
Chakra Dancing is not just about dancing through the chakras, 'tho that is a fascinating and deeply profound process in itself. The simple process is designed to incorporate creative meditation, too. It forms as a naturally organic process from following the music with your body and PING! out pops your creative genie - if you have ever had trouble with creative blocks of any kind, I defy you to still be blocked after taking part in a Chakra Dancing session. Your muse will nudge you awake at 4am the next morning, whispering sweet nothings in your ear, inspiring you to create in your very own, unique way.
Dancing unleashes your creative genie. Forget rubbing a brass lamp and hoping for the best: just move your mind and body, and wake up your creative genie!
4. Dancing is for EVERYONE
Every body can dance. Please PLEASE do not think you need to have a natural rhythm, a flexible-bendy body, a perfect figure, dance shoes, or to learn the quick-step or salsa. You do not need perfect hearing (I'm partially-deafened), or to be able to get up out of your chair; if you can feel the beat in your body, if you can move parts of your body - no matter how little - then you can dance!
Dancing really IS for everyone. I look forward to sharing the experience with you when my Chakra Dancing training facilitator program is complete *yayyyy*
5. Dancing completes CreaTEAvity ... and YOU!
I love CreaTEAvity and all the work we do; I am so proud of the support and inspiration we offer you. I had no idea that anything was amiss ... until I dived into Chakra Dancing, and realised that AHA! if we incorporate free-form dance (movement) into our creative-play playshops and our creative coaching, we're going to see even MORE transformation. Oh my gosh. Chakra Dancing is the perfect accompaniment to Laughter Yoga and all the other wonderful goodies that CreaTEAvity offers! Chakra Dancing completes me.
Dancing completes CreaTEAvity.
More than that, Dancing completes YOU - as an individual!
YAY! Please join me in doing a happy dance ... come on, wiggle it!
ღ Creatively empowering women to express - and be - their best selves, each and every day ヅ