The Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Benefits of Ecstatic Dance

In our last post we explored the fears some people have about stepping onto the Ecstatic Dance floor.

So now you’ve gone to your first Ecstatic Dance and it was amazing. You had fun, met some cool people, and went home feeling better than when you arrived. Now what?

A lot.

While traveling the country in 2017 for a month on an Ecstatic Dance Bus, I got to talk to people with a lot more dance experience than I had, and they regaled me with stories of its (long) list of benefits.

Physically, people simply felt better after dancing for a couple of hours. Emotionally, dancing served as a catharsis for stuck feelings that often loosened up and dislodged with dance. Artistically, people became far more comfortable with their own self-expression, moving more openly and freely. In fact, the cinematographer for our bus documentary informed me “I started moving my body in totally new ways.”

Yet there was something else I kept hearing from dancers that proved even more profound. Regular dancing helped create space for more self-acceptance and positive self-talk. Time spent on the dance floor – in a shame-free and judgment-free zone – suddenly gave rise to something amazing: people were allowed to be themselves. They overcame insecurities and just liked themselves a whole lot better after dancing. Better yet, this feeling typically carried over into the rest of their lives.

But wait, there’s more!

This feeling of freedom became super sized as dancers connected with other dancers who formed a community that grew larger and bonded tighter over time. Not only did dancers overcome feelings of insecurities to fall in love with themselves, they fell in love with others in the community.

All of this was summarized in two words: The Medicine. It’s a phrase I’d heard often during my dance travels. The Medicine. Dancers become better, stronger, happier, and more content versions of themselves.

When we think of traditional “medicine” we envision stinky liquids or bottles full of pills prescribed by doctors within a system that only benefits pharmaceutical companies while masking the roots of our malaise.

But this medicine – THE Medicine – was the real deal.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the birth of Ecstatic Dance, which was once known as Conscious Dance, and before that The Five Rhythms. A mouthful, right? In truth, the lineage of Ecstatic Dance comes directly from dance as movement therapy intended to help people break through emotional and psychological blockages.

Yes… really.

Until then I’ll leave you with this question:

Have you taken your medicine this month?

Written by Matt Perry.

Photo by Cole Hatcher Photography.