By Carol Webb, Photo by Mike Baird, Flickr Creative Commons
Recently I have experienced a lot of changes in my life.
I grieve with friends who have lost their jobs and much more. I am living with three ever-changing teenagers who are growing up way too fast and I struggle to keep up. I am overcome by the ever-increasing costs of food and gas and many other things. And if that weren't enough, my own body seems to have been snatched in the middle of the night by some opposing forces who rendered me less than what I was in my younger years - and there is nothing I can do to get it back! Or is there? If I let them, all these changes would run me over were it not for the spiritual practices, and one in particular that has given me happiness and balance throughout my life. That practice is dance.
In dance, I am free to be whomever the Divine has created me to be in that moment. I am not concerned with the facts of my day-to-day life, nor do I worry about the fact that I can no longer leap in the air like a ballerina. I am, however, intentionally turning my heart to the Divine and asking the Divine to witness my dance and perhaps to join me as I move freely to the thoughts of being in the intimate presence of my lover, my Lord, my God.
In dance, I allow all that I am feeling to be seen on the outside. My movements, my feelings, my expressions, my heart for the Divine are somehow turned inside out and a sort of energetic, mystical union is being birthed from this spiritual practice of dance. There is no choreography needed here, only the heart turned to the Divine as I move freely to the beat of my heart's desire - as I ask God to be with me, to fill me with the Holy Spirit, and to move me as God chooses in these moments while I surrender to the Divine will. It's a time of intimacy and holiness as I listen and move and embrace the Divine in our movements together through time.
Now lest you think I am insane, let me share with you that in my moments of deepest despair, I have been reminded by the Divine to return to dance as a spiritual practice in order to move through the emotions and to connect with God in a very intimate and creative way. I have danced through the deaths of my parents who unexpectedly died six weeks apart from each other. I have also danced with friends when they have had some blessing in their lives.
And I can tell you that it does not matter where you dance or with whom, but that you dance, that you join the Divine in an intentional way to reaffirm life and celebrate God's goodness and faithfulness and intimacy with you, especially at times when you need God the most. So I encourage you to try dance as a spiritual practice and then journal about what you notice. It may just be the spiritual discipline that you have been looking for.
Here's a way to get started:
- Find a place where you can move freely and there is nothing in your way.
- If the floor is smooth and even, you may want to dance in your bare feet.
- Begin by being still and quiet for a few moments.
- Breathe deeply at least three times, and turn your heart toward the Divine, say a short prayer.
- You may use music or have someone read a sacred text or follow the music of your heartbeat.
- Begin to move slowly at first. If you are a bit shy, try moving only your hands at first; then, as you feel more comfortable with movement, begin to walk slowly or move around the room. Listen to your inner Holy Spirit as you begin to move; let the mind's ideas float like clouds going by; follow the small Holy voice inside you as you move.
- You may move to the music of reading or your heartbeat, but be sure to relax, breathe deeply, and embrace the Holy One as you move.
- Move until it is time to stop...you will know when it's time.
- Take a few moments to be still once more, and thank the Divine for these moments of intimacy.
- Then notice as time passes what other blessings are coming to you as a result. What's bubbling up for you? Keep a spiritual journal. Be sure to thank God for all these revelations, openings, and blessings. Then bless others and help them dance too.
Dr. Carol Webb is the founder of The Spiritual Life in Louisville, KY. Carol accompanies people in their spiritual journey and teaches spiritual practices such as the labyrinth and sacred dance. She has lectured at the World Congress in India and helps congregations and individuals connect to the Divine through dance. Carol may be reached at email@example.com.
7/21/2009 4:00:00 AM