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Ecstatic dance

Treatment

Kids really know how to dance like nobody’s watching, don’t they? While some adults can feel self-conscious about dancing, kids seem to know instinctually how to move freely and joyfully (even with no music). Many of us seem to grow out of that in adulthood, though, and if you’re dealing with pain and chronic illness, you might feel even more reluctant to make your way to a dance floor. But hold on, because a new therapeutic movement called “ecstatic dance” is trying to change that. Ecstatic dance is a free-form style of dance that encourages people to really feel the music and move their bodies accordingly. From the outside looking in, ecstatic dance looks like people flailing their limbs à la Elaine’s dance moves on Seinfeld (YouTube it—it’s hilarious!). If you attend an ecstatic dance session, the only guidelines are: 1) you should move however you wish, 2) you can’t talk on the dance floor, and 3) you have to show respect for yourself and the people around you. Ultimately, the aim of this therapy is to combine intention, movement, music, and connection…all in the name of healing. Ecstatic dance workshops and studios are popping up all over North America (and the world) as more people are looking for opportunities that combine creative expression and healing. If you attend an ecstatic dance session, here’s what you can expect. The workshop typically starts off with a guided meditation, leading into instructor-facilitated movement to get you warmed up. As the music intensifies, so does the dancing. (You know, kind of like at a wedding, when “Shout” starts playing and people flock to the dance floor, ready to get. into. it.) This is when the true ecstatic dance begins; you let loose, feel the music, and get lost in the communal energy. If you think ecstatic dance isn’t for you because you have physical limitations, that’s completely understandable—but keep an open mind. Remember, you can move any way you want to, and that means you can make modifications based on how your body feels. And though it might seem counterintuitive, dancing might just help you manage the pain and lethargy you’re living with.

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