Dance for Health, Dance for Healing
Dancing has many health benefits, from potentially preventing dementia to improving balance—and of course, it is a form of healthy aerobic exercise. It can even improve mood. Dance for health, by all means. But you might also dance to gain insights and energy for healing so you can write a new story about yourself, your body, and your health.
As I talk about in my book Change the Story of Your Health, dancing can help you get in touch with wisdom hidden in your unconscious. You might try to “dance” your battles with fatigue or with migraine headaches, simply putting on music that makes you want to move your body and intending to learn from your body’s wisdom as you express yourself through dance. Allow your wise inner healer to speak to you as you sway and turn and you might experience certain words coming to mind, or images that are symbols with meanings worth exploring.
Once, I realized that dancing to the music of my youth could somehow help me work differently with the theme of constriction that had been influencing my health and my life for too long. I played some songs from the late 1950s, the kind I heard at parties when I was in high school and college, songs like Jerry Butler’s “Your Precious Love” and Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” that reminded me of love, yearning, and feeling free. I felt slightly awkward at first. Then I told myself, “Just dance. See what happens.”
As I moved, I mentally played with metaphors of constriction, rigidity, and imbalance. I listened to the wisdom of my body and my unconscious and recognized my desire to move toward expansiveness, flexibility, and balance in my body and in my life.
The experience reminded me that we can get locked into old patterns and automatically tell ourselves, “Oh, I can’t do that anymore.” Dancing to music of the past can remind us of who we once were, of forgotten beliefs that we can bring back into our lives today and old ideas we need to discard.
Maybe you need to let yourself be a little awkward and hesitant as you discover how rigidity gets in the way of experiencing your body pleasurably. Maybe your dancing will show you that it is time to reclaim your ability to move with confidence despite any challenges and health issues you might have.
You might begin to dance away stories such as, “I need to be cautious—I can’t trust myself and take risks.” You might discover that balance is something that returns when you let go of your fear of turning quickly to face a new direction. The metaphors suggest themselves when you let go of your mind’s constant need to tell you, “Be afraid” and “Go with what you know” or “Don’t step out of your comfort zone.”
Imagine you were to dance the story of your health and in doing so, recognize that you are the storyteller who can change the narrative. Try it—put on some music and tell yourself that in dancing, you will free up hidden wisdom to arise within you. You might be surprised by what your dancing teaches you.
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.