Dance Meditation

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What is dance meditation?

It is a type of meditation in which we use the rhythm, attentiveness, and an intuitive state which are typical qualities of many types of meditation and dancing — even dancing which is recreational rather than meditation-al. Any kind of dancing can be meditative, but there is also a classification of “sacred dancing,” which is the use of dance to explore and express our identity as soul.

Dancing is a part of virtually all religions. Religious dancing is common in modern-day “primitive” cultures, and it was surely a part of ancient primitive cultures — guided by shamans who would dance for the purpose of entering a trance. In nature-based societies and religions, the rhythm of dancing was an imitation of the rhythm of nature (including the cycles of seasons); more than mere mimicry, dancing was an attempt to understand and unite oneself with those rhythms. In some cases, religious dancing became secularized and it lost its original sacred meaning, as in the case of the familiar “Maypole” dance, which is now an innocent children’s game but which originally symbolized the plunging of a huge phallus into the earth to fertilize the crops.

  1. Dancing is a means of self-discovery. Particularly in improvised dancing, we delve into our feelings in order to find something to express; in this search, we perceive elements which we did not know previously — different emotions, attitudes, and thoughts. Thus we learn more about our psychological nature, and we probe more deeply into subtle states which are identified as “spiritual” — including states of transcendence, rapture, and union. As our body becomes energized through movement, we discern more clearly the energy of the body and its relation to the energy of the surrounding worlds; the body becomes less of a solid mass and more of a sacred focal-point of spiritual power within the physical world. To explore different aspects of ourselves, we can dance with a variety of musical styles, including jazz, rock, classical, and international music (Middle Eastern, African, etc.).
  2. Dancing is a means of expression. Many mystics have said that words cannot communicate their visions and ecstasies; some of those mystics have used dance to express those inner experiences and their devotion to a deity. A simple hand-gesture can depict a revelation for which there are no words; the gesture might be understood by other people, whereas words might have provoked confusion or disagreement.
  3. In a group, dancing is a means of ego-transcendence. We re-define the separate ego as we merge into the group’s common activity, emotion — and rhythm (as explained in the section on “entertainment” below).
  4. The rhythm induces a different state. Even if we are not specifically meditating on the dance’s rhythm (in our body or in the accompanying music), rhythm affects us in various ways:
    • It influences the cadence of our heartbeat and breathing, which in turn affect our psychological state. (Some yoga practitioners use the breath — in pranayama” exercises — to experience other states of consciousness.)
    • It affects the functioning of our brain; for example, the repetitiveness and non-rationality of shamanic drumming causes the brain’s left hemisphere to diminish its activity due to boredom and lack of meaningful input, thus allowing the right hemisphere to become dominant with its emphasis on emotion and intuition. (We might notice the same shift to the right hemisphere in other repetitive activities as diverse as jogging, or marching, or staring hypnotically at the white lines on a highway, or riding on a horse which establishes a physical rhythm.)
    • It affects us through “entertainment.” Entertainment is a phenomenon described by physicists as the tendency of two or more moving objects in close proximity to adjust themselves to a common rhythm; in group dancing, we gradually conform to a unity of movement which leads to a commonality of emotion and thought (because our thoughts and emotions are part of the general field which is created). In a religious setting, where our thoughts and emotions are aligned toward spirit, our rhythmic dancing reinforces and develops the group’s spiritual orientation. This is a group meditation which uses the robust energy of the physical body to supplement the subtler energies of the mind and emotions in order to create a transcendent state.

5 Types Of Dance Meditation Movement-Minded People Will Love

  • Post Author:Paul Harrison
  • Post published:August 11, 2018
  • Post Category:meditation types

Did you know that dance meditations are one of the best ways to exercise your mind?

You probably already know that dance is one of the most healthy hobbies there is. And of course, conscious movement exercises are excellent for you too.

But if you truly want to do an exercise that will help your mind and body, try dance meditations.

There are so many benefits of dance meditation. And in many ways, it’s better than seated meditation.

Why You Should Try Dance Meditation

In a lot of ways, these dynamic, or active movement, meditations are better than seated meditations.


When you do seated meditation you can develop back pain unless you sit with perfect posture.

Movement meditations, on the other hand, strengthen both the body and the mind (and yes, the “mind-body” too).

Let’s look at the best types of dance meditation, and discuss why movement meditations are often better than seated meditation.

5 Active Movement Meditations Dancers And Exercise Enthusiasts

 1: Meditative Dance

 Dance-Meditation is one of the oldest forms of meditation.

That fact surprises a lot of people.

“Most people think that meditation is limited to mindfulness and focusing on the breath. Actually, meditative dance has been around for thousands of years in many world cultures.”

Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, and Daoists all use various forms of dance-meditations.

Let’s take a look at each of them.

2. Hindu

As with many spiritual practices, dance meditation finds its roots in Hinduism.

Hindus believe that the entire universe is the manifestation of the Supreme Dancer Nataraja (1).

Nataraja performs the Ananada Tandava, the movements through which the universe is created, maintained, and dissolved.

Dancing is so important to Hinduism that all Hindu gods have their own style of dance.

There are 23 celestial Apsaras—beings whose dancing pleases the gods and who express the supreme truths via their movements.

In temples throughout India, and particularly in East and South India, spiritual dance used to be a part of a sacred ritual, where devadasi’s (girls dedicated to worship) worshiped the divine through a complex system of gestures and mimes.

This sacred ritual evolved to become the South Indian Classical Dance which is still practiced today.

3. Christian  

Modern Christianity uses a form of spiritual dance meditation. This is done to bring us closer to God.  

Though some verses of the bible describe dance as a sin, Christians have started using dance more commonly over the past few decades.

Beginning in the latter half of the 20th Century with the modernistic of Christianity, churches have used music and dancing as a means of worship.

Judaism also involves a spiritual dance meditation: the messianic dance or Davidic dance (5) (in reference to King David, who is said to have danced before the Ark of the Covenant).

4. Buddhist Dance Mediation Techniques 

Dance is a very traditional form of meditation in Buddhism [READ: Buddhist Meditation Techniques]

The three main types of Buddhist dance meditation are the butterfly dance, the cymbal dance, and the T’aju (eight-fold path dance).

Butterfly Dance (Nabichum)

The Nabichum, or “butterfly dance”, is a Korean Buddhist dance. It’s called the Butterfly dance because of the costume–a white robes (jamming) with drapes on the arm and a hat (gokkal) that make it look like a butterfly costume. The choreography also looks like the movements of a butterfly.

The Cymbal dance is one of the most important of all Buddhist dances. It is like a carnival festival with drums, gongs and cymbals. The dancers hold the cymbals and use them as part of the dance.

The sound of the cymbals is said to drive away worldly desires.

“In the Dance of the Eight fold Path (Tijuana), an octagonal box with inscriptions on each side—representing the eight fold way of the Buddha— is placed on the ground between two dancers. Each holds a long, thin stick, and gently taps the top of the box as he moves around it.”

5. Other spiritual dance meditations

As well as the religious dance meditations above, there are many countries that have popular dance meditations.  

In Japan, for instance, one very popular type of exercise is Katsugen Undo (regenerating exercise) (7). Katsugen Undo is a wonderful exercise in which you give up your conscious control of your body and allow your body to heal itself.

In China, similar exercises called Zifagong, Re-do and Zi Ran Ongoing are also popular.

Iran and Turkey use similar unconscious movement and spiritual dancing meditation exercises. The Mevlevi Dervish, for instance, is a spontaneous type of movement that, like Katsugen Undo, involves giving up control of the body.

These Sufi movements are said to have been created when Ru-mi was walking through a marketplace one day. He heard the gold beaters hammering rhythmically away and in a state of bliss he spontaneously broke into dance, spinning in a circle.

Helps You To Gain Control Of Your Mind

If you want to gain control of your mind, meditation is the best way to do it. However, most people do not have the patience to sit through a long traditional mediation. If you are like that, you might prefer to take up dance as a form of meditation.

When you approach meditation as a way to gain greater self-control and awareness, you will be able to know what your body is trying to communicate.

If you have struggled with traditional meditation, which involves a lot of sitting still, you should give meditative dance a chance. You will gain all the benefits of meditation without having to sit still in misery when all you want to do is move.

Live In The Moment

If you want to shed the past and live in the present, you should take up dance as a form of meditation.

When you start practicing dance forms such as ballet, your mind will not wander; it will remain in the present as you focus on executing difficult dance moves in the moment. Therefore, it is a good idea to perfect your dance craft.

Dancing correctly will allow you to move into a meditative state so that you experience the present. If you want to feel present in your life, you should consider practicing dance as a form of mediation.

As human beings, we are born to dance, which means that dance is the language of the soul. It allows you to ignore the whispers that your brain records from the external environment.


Dancing is an art form but many people do not realize that it is more than that. If you are an avid dancer in need of ballet dance slippers, you know that ballet is one of the best ways to get in the zone, meditate, and exercise.

Have you been away from the studio in a while? You need to start dancing to experience the physical and mental benefits that this art form provides.

If you have been convinced about the benefits of dancing as a form of meditation, you need to start dancing as soon as possible.

Dance meditation is a moving meditation system incorporating art, somatic s and the mysticism of Sufism.[1] The practice was developed in 1995 by Dun-ya Dianne McPherson after completing 1001 days of Sufi training with Sufi Master Adman Saran.[2] The materials resourced provide doorways and ignition points to embodied spiritual illumination, healing, and growth. Teaching Dance meditation means to come from the embodied practices that have been honed within the practicing Dance meditation community over the past 20 years.

Dance meditation can be done alone, as a personal practice. It is primarily offered in group environments with approximately ​23–​34 of the session engaged in shared, side-by-side solitude with the remaining time devoted to group interaction. “Shared Solitude” can include quiet exercises with eyes closed on one’s mat, to active dancing with eyes closed. Group interactions include partner and small group exercises, entire group improvisation, and circles led by individuals.Dance meditation is occasionally offered in private session according to the teacher’s preference, demographic, and goals. There is an annual Movement Monastery which is a retreat period under the direction of Principal Teacher Dun ya Dianne McPherson.

The official school of Dance meditation is a network of independent, inter-connected teachers who have completed an intensive Certification training with Founder. The training is completed primarily at Movement Monastery which includes time in a secluded setting to focus on practices, body cleansing diet, spiritual discussion, and silence. In order to receive the initial Certificate level, teachers have completed 80 days of dedicated training. Advanced Levels of Teaching Certification with more stringent criteria follow. Teachers offer work in various formats and locations. Many events are public offerings. In addition, Dance meditation teachers work through institutional settings—universities, hospitals, school systems.

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