Let’s dance! Ecstatic Dance. It’s “a moving meditation that develops a direct body-spirit connection,” and is not as odd as it sounds, though it does have guidelines. Guidelines for dancing? Yup. Check out the website.
The first time I heard about Ecstatic Dance was two years ago. Suelang and Eden, who operate the vegan café in town, started offering this opportunity on the third Sunday of the month. Where? The Honokaa People’s Theatre, of course!
Unfortunately, the time overlaps with my Mindfulness Meditation group. We do occasionally take fieldtrips, so I raised the possibility of attending Ecstatic Dance, right down the street. We’d have time to do our 25 minutes of seated meditation and the 15 minutes of walking meditation. All we’d have to do is exchange our hour-plus discussion with a mindful dancing meditation. They weren’t buying it. I don’t blame them – this was a bit outside of my comfort zone too.
So I put off going, even though I know the lovely couple who sponsor it. They are the exact opposite of judgmental and they assured me that the whole point of Ecstatic Dance is non-judgment and getting into yourself, not paying attention to other dancer/meditators. That is probably the underpinning of Guideline #2: No talking on the dance floor. It’s a place to meditate, not socialize.
Then the holidays at the end of 2016 cracked open an opportunity. Ecstatic Dance moved to a Monday in December due to a conflict with a special event. Now I had no excuse not to attend.
When I entered, the dance was already underway. The lights were low, with only stage lights changing from red to blue to purple, and a side door opened to cool the space letting in a bit of brightness. Eden is the usual DJ, and he plays world music. As I removed my shoes and found my way to a spot on the dance floor, participants accommodated my presence and gave me space. I tried to avert my eyes from the other dancers, respectfully providing them their bubble of privacy. (Guideline #3: Respect yourself and one another.)
What I vividly remember most from that first time was the feeling of exhilaration that flooded through me. I was DANCING again! With the exception of a nephew’s wedding and a couple of work Holiday Balls, the last time I had gone dancing was on an early date with my husband – in 1988. That’s 29 years ago!
Here I was, dancing as Spirit moved me, wilder (perhaps “non- standard” would be a better descriptor) than ever before in public, eyes closed, attuned to the music, literally feeling the beat in my chest. Elated, joyful, excited, just me and the beat. I played with moving closer to and farther from the giant speakers. When standing in front of them, I felt the floor shake – another dimension to the experience. I was totally hooked.
The music has a structure over the two hours of the event. The DJ designs it to beat faster and louder with time, hitting a peak, and then slowing back down. It’s sort of like an aerobic workout session, but for another purpose, that of connecting with yourself in this physical meditation.
While this is not a social dance, friends acknowledged me with a smile and a nod when our eyes met, and a few people danced together and then separated again. It was so liberating to know that I could do any moves that inspired me. That’s Guideline #1: Move however you wish.
This month, with Ecstatic Dance moving back to its normal Sunday schedule, I decided I must go anyway. So I went to Mindfulness Meditation, stayed for the seated and walking meditation, and then explained that I was headed to the People’s Theatre to dance mindfully. They asked questions, curious about my experience. I told them that people our age were very well represented. Perhaps they are opening to the idea. Maybe one day I can get them to come as a fieldtrip.
If you’re here the third Sunday of the month, 4:30 – 6:30 pm, come dance. It will be the best $7 you’ve spent in a long time. And you can feel good about it because they donate their portion to some worthy community group every month!
(Note, all photos are from the January event. I was given permission to take photos of specific people.)
BTW, Suelang and Eden put out a newsletter covering all the events they sponsor every month. Sign up to get it at : http://eepurl.com/bOg3oX.
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