In modern times, we might tend to think of dance as a choreographed, practiced set of moves performed for others to enjoy, or possibly as moves to be performed to music on a dance floor with a partner. But dance as meditation is as ancient as man himself, and free-form sacred dance is present in many cultures and religions.
Among the most commonly known are the Whirling Dervishes of a sect of Islam, and Sufi dancers who rotate to alter their states of consciousness and ecstasy and to connect with God. Indian mystic, guru and spiritual teacher, Osho was quoted as saying, “In whirling, everything turns and moves and whirls, until you find the unmoving center in your body.”
The meditative “unmoving center” is actually the mind-body destination for all forms of Ecstatic Dance.
An interview with Yolessa Lawrinnce, who has experience with both dance and the different modalities of meditation, will help us understand Ecstatic Dance and how dance form is about vibration, first within yourself, then within the music and ultimately within unseen vibrations of the planet as it becomes meditation.
Yolessa comments, “The term Ecstatic Dance is popular and sexy, but in reality every culture owns some version sheathed in different clothing. Osho used the term ‘Dynamic Meditation.’ In Korea it’s called ‘Youngamudo.’
“One could describe it as free movement designed to put us into an ecstatic or blissful state, a deep level of consciousness from which we hit the zero point, can recharge and receive inspiration.
“Since Ecstatic Dance consists essentially of free-form and flowing movements that you discover within yourself,” Yolessa comments further, “Gabrielle Roth created The 5 Rhythms system to explain, teach and popularize what is technically unteachable. Systematizing Ecstatic Dance however does provide people with a context and purpose.”
In Body & Brain, we experience this free-form dance in classes where we are allowed to freely express movement and vibration with music that stimulates the senses. This allows both our body and mind to become free of usual constraints and thoughts as the dance floor becomes a playground for our energies. Whether the dance is experienced as focused within oneself, or is shared at intervals along the way with others in the room, it is freeing, energizing and joyful.
Yolessa adds, “It can become the source of great liberation...because there is no right or wrong way to move in Ecstatic Dance.”
Yolessa K. Lawrinnce is a lawyer and a former professional dancer who has been practicing meditation for more than 10 years.
Related article: Ecstatic Dance: 3 Steps to Discover Your Bliss through Movement (Part 2)