5 Ways Dance Can Help Clear Your Mind & Bring Inner Peace

Written by Tara Nicole Hughes

For many years, I believed dancing was a type of escape: from fear, worry, judgment, tough teenage years.

Especially when I was young, my analyzing and worrying mind was so active and my emotional life was vulnerable, hidden and confusing, yet when I stepped on the dance floor, those worries and uncertainties fell away. Something about the rhythm and the vibration of the music and getting lost in the movement allowed me a gateway to expression. It gave me a voice and ultimately helped me release the my sadness, fear and loneliness.

As I went deeper into the dance, a wellspring of freedom, happiness and calm poured forth. I finally felt I would be okay in this world.

I realize now that dance wasn't an escape, but rather a way of moving closer to myself, to my feelings, needs and dreams. It brought me closer to my inner peace and, by giving over to the movement and music, my soul took care of the rest. I needed a way to quiet my mind and express my emotions.

Through dance, we can honor our emotions.

As an adult, I still use dance (in addition to meditation) to get in touch with that divine yumminess. At some point or another, we've all faced challenges that keep our minds reeling, questioning, spiraling and going. The self-doubt, uncertainty, day-to-day struggles, and the emotional roller coaster of life creates a chaotic mental dance. When you channel it all into physical expression, it can bring great peace and happiness.

You don't have to be a professional dancer to dive in and feel connected to yourself and to that source that fuels us. Whether you're in a dance class or you choose to dim the lights and play your favorite song in your living room, you receive the benefit of the energy that flows and the new information that comes in.

Here are my five simple steps to dancing bliss. I invite you to try it. Who cares what you look like? What matters is how you feel and sometimes, all it takes is the willingness to do something different and be open to what appears. There can be great healing in the dance.

1. Take off your shoes and put on something comfortable. Feeling the wood floor or carpet beneath your bare feet gets you in touch with the support that is there for you always. Allow your body weight, energy, any tension or worry to fall into the ground and melt away.

2. Dim the lights to create an internal experience. You want to be cocooned and safe in your own private world. This isn't about perfect moves or performing outwardly. It's not about judging yourself and deciding whether you're "good" or not. Closing your eyes helps to tune into yourself and your journey.

3. This can be a beautiful journey of discovery, reflection and expression. Set an intention for how you'd like to feel and what you'd like to get out of this dance meditation. Maybe you'd like to let go of something, bring in something new, reframe a difficult situation. Or maybe you just want to feel good. Whatever it is, state it internally or out loud.

4. Put on a song or album you love. Pop music with lyrics can be fun but a soundscape feel that's more about the mood and less about the words can be helpful for soul traveling. Play it on repeat or with a continuous stream so you're not interrupted with an abrupt ending.

5. Let yourself go. Close your eyes, let the music move your body and don't be afraid to release. It's a wonderful practice in surrendering to what IS. Let the energy flow as your body heats up and instinct guides the way, allowing your body to move in different ways, shapes and expressions. Let the anger out. Let the happiness ring. Let the giddiness ride. It's a beautiful thing.

And when you're done, thank yourself for having the courage to explore and express, to go out of your comfort zone. I often go to my journal afterward to write down any inspirations or insight that came forward. Dance is a gift that we all have access to.

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