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Dancing Mindfulness, What is it?

Brianna Lynch, David Hillard and Rana Kokcinar

Dancing Mindfulness is a mindfulness practice developed by Dr Jamie Marich. It can be practiced individually, or in a group or community setting. It uses the practice of dancing to cultivate mindfulness: a state of purposefully paying attention in the present moment without judgement. A sense of ‘bodyfulness’, knowing, feeling and understanding where the body is in space, which muscles are being tightened or stretched, and how this feels, can be cultivated through Dancing Mindfulness. Dancing Mindfulness practices are facilitated in a safe, non-judgemental space where participants are encouraged to express themselves through spontaneous or facilitated expressive movement that feels right for them.

Who is it for? Do I need to be a good dancer to participate?

You don’t need any prior dance, yoga or mindfulness experience to participate in dancing mindfulness. You don’t need to think of yourself as a ‘good dancer’ to participate. Dancing Mindfulness is widely accessible, and can be done from a chair, or through visualisation. Dancing Mindfulness does foster a connection to the physical body that may not feel safe for everyone. Dancing Mindfulness can also create heightened emotional states in which you, or people around you, may feel uncomfortable. Although embracing a level of physical and emotional vulnerability is encouraged, it is important to acknowledge what feels safe for you. All Dancing Mindfulness practices are voluntary, and you can exit the practice at any time. Dancing Mindfulness is a trauma-informed practice, and follow-up with the facilitator is advised for support and to address any difficulties that may have come up for you.

What happens during a Dancing Mindfulness session?

All movement, exercise and expression is facilitated in a way that encourages the participant to feel into what level of movement feels right and what is accessible for them at that time. A Dancing Mindfulness session may begin with some simple breathing and body exercises. The facilitator may also incorporate stretches. Movement is encouraged to be linked to the breath to facilitate a relaxed and mindful state of mind. Participants may be invited to close their eyes if they feel safe doing so. As the class progresses, participants may be invited to more freely express themselves via movement. This may be in a structured way that allows for expression within a designated movement, or the floor may be opened for complete bodily expression in any way the participant feels is right. It is important that participants respect the vulnerability and safety of other participants by engaging in their own solo movement in their own space. The physical exertion required is primarily dictated by the participant themselves at that moment: whatever energy brought to the movement is the participants choice, if it is safe and appropriate for the individual and for the group.
 

* Enhanced non-judgemental attitude
* Relaxation and calmness
* Experience of healing and deeper sense of self
* Encourages spiritual exploration and connection
* Improved overall well


Pizarro, J. J., Basabe, N., Amutio, A., Telletxea, S., Harizmendi, M., & Van Gordon, W. (2020). The mediating role of shared flow and perceived emotional synchrony on compassion for others in a mindful-dancing program. Mindfulness, 11(1), 125-139. doi:10.1007/s12671-019-01200-z

Resources for participants and practitioners

Dancing Mindfulness Website Sample Facilitations with Dr Jamie Marich Introduction to Dancing Mindfulness Video Stop Breathe Let Go Documentary Trailer Dancing Mindfulness Book

Enhances mind-body connection
Cultivates acceptance,
Improved emotional regulation
An empowering experience
Sense of community and ‘shared flow’ of movement
Opportunity for emotional and physical processing
Dancing Mindfulness Benefits
Sense of openness, self- exploration and freedom
Brings oneself into the present moment, limits opportunities for over-thinking and rumination
Image from Brownhill Creek by Rana Kokcinar
Why practice Dancing Mindfulness?

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