January 12, 2018
By Jeannie Dougherty
Why do I dance? 6 years ago, I learned conscious or embodied dance after I had trained in ballet and modern dance. When I moved to a new community where I didn’t really know anyone, attending coed barefoot dance classes seemed like a fun idea. There was a community in place to meet new and fun characters that could keep me laughing.
While practicing two separate dance arts, Biodanza and 5Rhythms, I started to wake-up in my body. I could feel rhythm everywhere!
Biodanza, in my opinion, is a methodology of slowing down, connecting with others, and then transcending into the divine. I see 5Rhythms as a way of connecting to your body and the elements of nature in a wave- like fashion, in order to transcend into the cosmos. They are both amazing and transformative practices and I have made life-long friends in both communities.
But my relationship with dance goes much deeper than that. What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have buried both of my parents because of Alzheimer’s. Not long after I had moved, I learned that my mother had been given this fatal diagnosis. As I saw my mother’s disease begin to take her away from me, I knew I needed to be supported. I also understood, from seeing my father diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and not knowing what this disease could do, that I had to prepare myself and grieve. I went to my remaining family but they were either in denial or were helpless. I went to my friends and co-workers and received the same treatment. I thought perhaps if I could pray more, meditate more, and listen more to spiritual masters, like Priests, Buddhist Monks, Gurus, Rabbis, and Imams, there would be comfort. All I was told was that this suffering had to happen. I could accept that – but what else was there?
I started with a simple question when I danced. When words fail, people fail, and plans fail, the result was life was very, very hard- what’s left?
At first, I came for myself and I felt so much better! Like Shazam better! I realized that being supported without words and through embodied movement, I was finally safe to express my grief. That is what I needed, I thought: to begin again, to be at peace, to forgive those who have harmed me. I learned to be at peace with death and the choices everyone makes.
Photo by Michelle Dubreuil Macek
I am often seen as the person of strength and being vulnerable wasn’t something I ever wanted to feel or experience. I wish I could say I cried once and a fellow dancer held me and I was over it.
My grief, like everyone else’s, can be mysterious and frightening. It can be horrifying to be that raw, numb, and exposed. At that time, I felt that I was defeated and crushed, and I convinced that my life would never make sense again.
This is when my real healing began.
I learned to let go, cast off, or dance my rage and my sadness at burying both of my parents from a fatal disease. I continued to dance to find spaces to breathe relief into my body, to be supportive to others in their lives, and to allow myself to not judge my vulnerability.
After my mother died, I noticed a difference between when I danced and when I didn’t. I desired to feel full again; dancing my grief, the waves of my fears, my sadness, my anger, and my numbness began to lift.
Photo by Sue Green
Photo by Sue Green
I felt even more motivated to continue to dance because I could feel my body calling me to the dance floor. It’s like my wise feet would call me to the cold wood floor. My feet would be gently caressed on all 4 corners while being energized to keep moving.
Once my feet are engaged on the floor, my heart begins to open up. I can now see how my vulnerability opened up my heart. Once my heart is open, nothing is impossible in my life or in my mind. I experience the wisdom that I am not alone: the divine or cosmos is here supporting me and showing me what’s next, even when I have no logical idea. That is why I dance now.
I can often sense folks on the dance floor that are new to an embodied art. They may describe themselves as dancers, meaning they have taken classes or trained in a dance art. Or they just like to dance and they may not want to be conscious of their movements and just let go. What I suggest is that with this practice you dance your steps in your body. This means you will begin to listen to it. Don’t be afraid: we are all here.
It is with the strength of my communities that I feel I have learned to become an integrated leader of mind, body, and spirit. I start with fresh, open eyes and an open heart, and I have energy and motivation to live my life fully!!!
In my opinion, rhythm is everywhere and dance isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Yet, if you desire to feel empowered, integrated, and energized about yourself and your life, why not dance?
Photo by Sue Green
Jeannie Dougherty is an author, speaker, trainer, and counselor with expertise in Integrated Feminine Leadership & Communication. Jeannie teaches her clients how to remove their obstacles of feeling afraid, too busy, and disconnected. She shows her clients how to lessen their constant negative thinking so they can calibrate their minds, bodies, and spirits to their open hearts. She is a dancer, yogi, and an intuitive healer that shows her clients on how to fearlessly love their divine wisdom while they create their inspired and innovative life.