Mention the word meditation and the first thing that comes to mind is sitting quietly and focusing on breath or a candle flame. Expand your thoughts a bit and you may include guided meditation or guided imagery tapes, relaxing music or chanting a mantra. But dance? Can dance be considered meditation?
The idea of meditation is to focus us in the present away from our worries and stresses and to quiet mind chatter that takes us into the past or future. Sometimes the practice of just sitting quietly opens an even greater space for mind noise and it takes great discipline detach from it. Dance movement brings our focus away from the mind to the body.
Don’t confuse meditative dance with ballroom dancing. In ballroom dancing each step is precise, patterned and counted. The idea is to execute the steps correctly, and any deviation from proper form usually engages mind comments. It is possible for ballroom dancers to be come so accomplished that they move beyond the thought process of accomplishing each step in the right way, dancing into a flow and ease that approaches the meditative.
Meditative dance movements vary with the music. The act of listening to music engages the brain in such a way as to stop the mind chatter and the body movement brings the practitioner present in the now.
The music may vary in rhythm. It may be soft and flowing; bold and territorial; patterned and trance like; lyrical or playful or even move into the quiet of stillness while moving from one rhythm to the other. As the body moves form one rhythm to the other the experiences within the meditative state change. Flowing, circling, rounded movements tend to connect one to more emotional experiences while fast repetitive, patterned movements promote a more trance-like state.
Dance as meditation involves listening, feeling, moving all in the present moment, thus bringing the practitioner into a freedom from the cares and worries of the past or future.