I recently took part in a 10 day silent meditation – I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to be true to themselves. One of the many things that I gained from this experience was my ability to think more clearly about certain aspects of my life. Over the period of a month or so after leaving, I started to realise that a lot of unravelling took place over these 10 days. It was as though so much was rising with the settling of my thoughts, and because I was meditating for most of the day, I didn’t have the opportunity to explore these bubbles of revelations. It now seems that refraining from analysing the thoughts allowed for deeper, more profound epiphanies. As often happens when we have these, I felt as though I kind of knew all along – but it seemed like meditation allowed some of this useful information to move from my unconscious or subconscious to conscious mind.

I have often had similar revelations when I dance freeform. This got me thinking about the similarities between dance and meditation and question why I find both so illuminating for my spirit and my life. I wondered what they may have in common.

I often feel in a meditative state when I dance – moving fully in the present. When I dance, truly dance, move and flow as the body asks in that moment of dance, when I connect to the subtle movements taking form, I’m taken into a trance like connection with my movements and my body. I am able, or at least better able, to put aside the thoughts that normally arise in my mind – similar to what happens during meditation.

In my experience I have found that dancing trains my brain to ‘dance’ similarly outside of my dancing life. In the same way that meditation brought things to the surface by quietening the mind and sitting still, dancing offers an alternative by quietening the mind and moving. For reasons that we do not fully understand – or necessarily need to understand – the lifelong (and older) wisdom of our unconscious mind is better able to shift to our conscious mind when we simply still it enough and make some space for this wisdom to rise and reach its purpose. Whether you are meditating, dancing, doing yoga, listening to or playing music, a different essence of that wisdom comes through, and in each of these various states these insights have their unique qualities.

I sometimes find myself noticing certain things whilst in my dance, for example I love to dance by myself, and when someone initiates a joining of dance or any contact I am taken away from my connection. I also find myself throughout my dance looking for empty spaces, clear corners of the room, which can sometimes even be the centre of the group where I can hide and dive into my dance.

I ask myself: are these noticings applicable to my day to day life? Hell yeah! Again, it’s not exactly a revelation – like the ‘new insight’ that comes up from time to time with a regular meditation practice, these discoveries also have a feeling of “somewhere inside, I knew all along”. It seems to me that dancing (and yoga, meditation, music, art… etc.) offers an opportunity to open up some space in conscious attention. Sometimes when the part of our self that wants us to be content, at peace, and happy tries to communicate with us – call this your Soul, your Spirit, your ‘true self’, or God – our minds are too occupied and simply not listening. Dancing, meditation, yoga, and other creative arts still and focus our minds enough to observe fragments of the actuality of our lives.

I invite you to explore and to discover your own truth through dance or some other form of meditation.

(Painting above by Emma Winthrop)