The fastest way to still the mind is to move the body and a great way to do this is through Ecstatic Dance. Ecstatic Dance is a non-verbal, heart-opening journey into an altered state of consciousness. A place beyond thought where we can express ourselves freely and connect to our inner spirit and world.
Powerful music will gently guide our bodies into movement. The energy is gradually built until we reach a state where we feel free from our perceived physical and mental limits. From here we can enter a divine state of grace, stillness and peace.
Ecstatic Dance is a free-form dance. Unfortunately, people who are not familiar with this movement automatically assume it is something Woodstock-style full of long-haired hippies jumping around naked with quivering bodies. The beauty of ecstatic dance is that it can be anything we want it to be. The sacred space created here brings all who enter along on a journey of movement, where the veils of illusion have a chance to fall away and the opportunity to understand wholeness, aliveness and connection come into focus. Body, mind and spirit unite as we come back to our true selves to play and pray through the simple act of dancing.
Participants are made up of all walks of life. On the dance floor there is no culture, religion, race, gender, age or sexual preference. Everyone perceives each other as the divine spirit they are. There is no drinking or talking allowed at these events.
In the west we have made dance into a form of entertainment but dancing has existed since ancient times. Stone Age rock paintings in Bhimbekta, India that are more than 9,000 years old show scenes of people dancing. The very first dances may have been used as part of religious rituals, to tell stories, or a combination of both. Look at a baby’s response to music to realize that dancing comes naturally. Dancing and movement therapy are also currently being used by the medical and psychological fields to help with all kinds of emotional problems. It helps boost body image and self-esteem issues while reducing anxiety, isolation and depression.
The goal of Ecstatic dance is to enter into a “trance” state as you free your mind. A ”trance” state can be achieved by anyone who is prepared and willing to dance themselves into this state. Trance described in scientific terms: that our conscious modus operandi is mostly beta, (cognitive, problem-solving) brain waves, but we can tune into our alpha (focused, aware) waves and delta and theta (creative, transcendent) waves.
Gabrielle Roth, the founder of Ecstatic Dance said “Dance is an art form and movement is a life form”. She observed patterns in the way people moved and 5 Rhythms was conceived. The rhythms form a natural wave, building up through gentle “flow”; jagged “staccato” rhythm; peaking in the head-rolling frenzy of “chaos”; and then drawing you deeper into self-expression with “lyrical” beats, and finally meditative “stillness”. The different rhythms allow us to “put the entire psyche into motion. That is to say we need to be physically fluid, emotionally fluid, mentally fluid, and not locked into positions and beliefs and theories”.
This art form can be both surprising and healing, exhilarating as well as deeply restorative. It is in essence, “exercise for the right brain”. We learn to creatively express aggressiveness and vulnerability, emotions and anxieties, edges and ecstasies. It reconnects us to cycles of birth & death and hooks us into humanity and the spirit of all living things. It is worth a try!
Are you curious about ecstatic dance and would like to learn more? Check out the following link for more information about ecstatic dance in Zurich: ecstaticdance.org/zurich