Monthly Archives

March 2015

Awareness of Sensation, Dancing is Healing, Embodiment, Movement, Whole Body

movement practice 1

a couple posts ago i shared the luxurious joy i felt dancing to music that resonates with me…and what it is like to have the opposite experience. we can find the wisdom in both–cultivating self-awareness while moving through ease and delight is a practice i am going to invite you into today. next post, i’ll ask you to move through something stickier to find what messages live in your resistance.

download the worksheet to follow this simple exercise. the worksheet has a little bonus practice, as well.

this practice is for everybody

no need to be a dancer. it’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing…your body does. take it at your own pace, feel your feet and find your breath and go as slow or as shakily as you need…the wisdom is in what you feel, not what you look like. sometimes i have videotaped myself dancing and am surprised to see that it doesn’t even look like i am doing that much. while i am in my experience, i feel so much movement and information happening inside my body, and it feels like so much is happening even if it isn’t visible from the outside. this is not about performance or dancing well. i have not taken dance classes since i dropped out of ballet at age 6. i promise. i did complete the training to teach NIA, a fitness program that incorporates dance moves, but is similarly, for every BODY. music and movement create a potent pathway to tap into our intuition, our wisdom, and to move out of our thoughts into a greater sense of self through somatic awareness.




before you begin to move, clear a space and time where you can be free of interruptions, distractions, and where you can feel totally comfortable to move. wear anything that feels easy and unrestricted to move in. i recommend being barefoot for heightened sensation.

if you have an injury or limited mobility, you can still do this practice by adjusting to your body’s needs. be creative. movement can happen in really small but powerful ways when we bring curiosity to our experience. i have attended workshops where participants have needed to dance while seated or laying on the floor. shoulders, feet, elbows, ankles, eyebrows, cheeks, head, toes and fingers moved while they took care of their individual needs. i invite you to join me in doing the same, whatever your physical reality.

think of a song that brings you total joy when you hear it, a song that makes you feel excited when it comes on the radio or a track you keep coming back to for a mood booster. cue up your song and have it ready to go.

comment below or send a photo of your completed worksheet to i am so curious what happens when you explore sensation and emotions in motion. feel your body from feet to head, from belly to breath, heart to the healing hands of self-touch. notice the places that feel open, closed, and how your body likes to move.


First, check in with yourself and see how you are feeling. You can set an intention for this practice, such as to experience joy or aliveness, to let go of thoughts and get into your body, or simply to stay curious.
Start the song and dance to it. You don’t need to travel around your space a lot or do any special moves. You are just responding to a song that you love with your body, however that looks. What we are most interested in is how it feels.
Sense your feet connected to the earth, even if you don’t move them much. Sense the support of the floor underneath your soles; feel your feet touching the ground and the ground touching your feet. Squish your heels down a few times and then plant your whole feet and sink down into the support to establish that connection and return to that awareness of your feet throughout the song.
As you move to the music, pay attention to how you feel in your body. Try to keep returning your attention to your experience as you are moving. Keep moving until after the song has finished. Slow down your movements in the silence after its end and then make a gesture of completion to step out of this practice. You can bow with prayer hands or physically take a step away from where you are to close out the moving meditation.


For reflection afterwards, respond to the following questions as best as you can. Again, stay curious and non-judgmental. (here are my answers!)

                                                                                  Song artist and title:


  1. Describe in 5-7 emotion words how you felt as you heard the song. Pause to breathe into those feelings. What are you feeling now?one


  1. Where did you feel the music most in your body? How did your body feel? qone
  1. Did you move mostly in one place or did you travel around the room? Why or why not? two1
  1. Where in your body did you feel the most pleasure? What parts of your body did you move the most? Are there any movements that you especially love?


  1. Did you notice any areas of tension or any body parts you didn’t move at all or very much? Head, fingers, hips, feet? Take a moment to say hello to each place you may not have moved as much with breath, touch, and a little wiggle.



and that’s it! why is worth taking the time to move with awareness? check out this article from Psychology Today on the impact of moving with body sense awareness. it’s amazing and important stuff…start small and do it daily for big impact.





Dancing is Healing, Ecstatic, Embodiment, Movement, Soul, Whole Body

the courage that comes before ecstasy


tonight i came across this quotation in a book by Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee:

“Become silent and go by the way of silence towards non-existence. And when you become non-existent you will be all praise and all laud.” Rumi

these words so capture my experience of ecstatic dance.

5 years ago i started searching for a space in my community to create an ecstatic dance practice. except i never really used that language. moving meditation, creative dance, authentic movement, rhythms of renewal, and words i can’t remember now. i never wanted to use the word “ecstatic” in my practice because of what the mind does when it hears that word.  when we hear “ecstatic,” many of us expect (and sometimes force) an ecstatic (fun, enthusiastic, joyful) experience. so much of the ecstatic dance practice, however, is about dancing in the darkness, moving through pain and tension, feeling awkwardness, fear, discomfort, and finding ways to hold that in our bodies, to allow it all to be felt fully, and to be expressed through movement in a safe space. sometimes we get through to lightness and release in one dance. often we don’t. we don’t always experience catharsis in an hour and a half. and we can get addicted to the flow and the bliss of where our dance feels easy and where we feel free to do whatever want (shout, clap, scream, shake, boogie, grind, chicken dance). we can keep things on the surface and play and dance and impulsively follow our wild whims. that’s totally great. it is healing, community-building, and enjoyable. it is not, however, ecstatic dance.

ecstatic dance, as i have known it to be, is completely unrehearsed and unpredictable. we don’t dance with any familiar footwork or formal technique. and yet it is not impulsive either. any sound, expression, movement comes from the deepest truth of that moment being channeled through the body. we might pair off with people with whom we have a relationship off of the dance floor, but only after we’ve reached the point when they are a complete stranger again. now, we see them anew as if for the first time. we have no idea how we will move together because we’ve never moved together before in this moment. we make no conversation–not verbal, and also not non-verbal. not that there is not acknowledgment or recognition. rather, it is that the recognition is happening after the dance drops beneath conversation, beneath the personality, beneath any known relationship, beneath anything we think we understand. we connect at a soul level, through the wisdom of the body, seeing from eyes through eyes, sensing our breaths, our hearts, our feet in motion. having no idea what comes next, we move on an ever-shifting ground. while i feel this happening in ecstatic dance spaces, i often see a whole lots of other stuff happening. without an explicit practice of movement as meditation, varied intentions and levels of attention come to the dance. this is why i am eager to create a space that is for those called to, as Gabrielle Roth describes, “fall into the moment feet first.”

5 Rhythms, the moving meditation practice founded by Gabrielle Roth and the one with which i am most familiar, has workshops that go on for days, even weeks sometimes! it takes a lot of staying with ourselves, going beneath the known, the noise, and the expectations to get to ecstatic. and that isn’t even the goal. the only goal is to keep moving. i admit, it is hard for me. i often want to hide, i want to leave when i am not feeling “good,” or when i feel tired or afraid of a big feeling or of some intense energy on the dance floor, when my introversion says to me “i need to be alone” or when i feel like i just can’t move anymore. this is when we dance that hiding, that wanting to leave, the feeling tired, that fear, that introversion. and that “i just can’t move?” yes, we move it. we drop everything we know about what dance is supposed to look like or feel like in order to show up completely for ourselves and allow what is real to be shared through the body. to witness this expression through someone else is humbling and connecting. without any physical contact, i have felt incredibly close to those i have watched moving in their authentic non-selfness, simply moving their energy and emotions, responding to what their body is asking for moment to moment.

and if, after emerging from private introspective dancing, i find a body–and can stay with my own utterly unique rhythms and pace and experience while moving with someone else in their own utterly unique rhythms and pace and experience, i feel unbelievable beauty, tenderness, and release in our shared exploration. feeling the places where we meet, where we don’t meet, where we flow, where we are stuck, where we look beautiful, where we look totally ridiculous, where we connect, where we cannot connect…staying with it…staying with it. this is the dance of intimacy…wanting what we don’t want because it deepens our intimacy with reality, it deepens our awareness of who we really are and allows us to see and accept all of it. we get bigger–no, we feel how big we really are. so big we are nothing, unbound freedom, ecstasy.