I Hope You Dance and Take Time To Embrace The Wonders of Life

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AFFIRMATION: Life is a dance I fully intend to live.

Don’t miss your chance at life’s dance. Start living your life by embracing all the wonderful opportunities that come you way. You don’t want to look back years from now wishing you had taken more chances. And while you’re at it, how about actually dancing? Release stress and get those feel-good hormones working for you.

One of my favorite activities to generate joy is dancing. It helps bring me into the present, frees my soul, and soars me to new heights of well-being. I can literally bebop my way to bliss.

I love hitting the dance floor with others. Just as with music, dancing connects us, and lets us feel we are part of a group. It also has several benefits, such as providing an opportunity to improve our communication skills, ease shyness or fear of social situations, and overcome inhibitions. By participating in a shared activity, we can make new friends or meet like-minded people who appreciate the same type of movement or music. Paulo Coelho states in Hippie, “To dance is to use a language beyond selfishness and fear.” ¹

Dancing solo also offers advantages. When I feel the urge to release a stuck emotion, such as sadness, dancing provides the perfect solution. Or sometimes I want to physically express a good mood through dance. Either way, it lifts my spirits and brings me to a better place. Dancing helps me to live a better life.

Dance is the hidden language of the soul. — Martha Graham, American dancer, teacher, choreographer

Healthy Benefits

Dancing is good for our health. It strengthens the body, improves mental connections and moods, and builds self-confidence. The New York Times summarized a 2017 report from “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience” which studied brain scans of older adults who performed interval training or social dancing. “The study found that while both activities increased the size of the hippocampus, a region of the brain critical for learning, memory, and equilibrium, only dance improved balance.” ²

There is some promising research that shows dancing may help with reducing the risk of dementia. Richard Powers, a historic and social dance instructor, and Stanford University lecturer, states, “It integrates several brain functions at once—kinesthetic, rational, musical, and emotional—further increasing your neural connectivity.” ³ The New England Journal of Medicine reports on the effects of leisure activities on mental sharpness on the aging. Out of the eleven physical activities they studied, only dancing was associated with a lower risk against dementia. 4

Dancing has many physical benefits. Not only is it great for the cardiovascular system, it helps to strengthen our bones since it is a weight-bearing exercise. And it improves balance, coordination, and flexibility. In the movie, Mary Poppins Returns, we see 91-year-old Dick Van Dyke dancing magnificently and flawlessly on a desk. Director Rob Marshall said he has literally seen Dick dancing down the grocery aisle. 5 He is actually dancing his way through life!

In 2018, Time Magazine’s report on a study of older women states “Women who frequently danced had a 73% lower chance of becoming disabled during the study period, compared to women who did not. None of the other exercises, including calisthenics, walking and yoga, had such a strong association after adjusting for demographic and health factors.” 6 While dancing may not be the cause of better health, it is associated with it. So move your way to a healthier mind, body, and spirit.

Life’s is a Dance

Dancing is used as a metaphor for living life. Both give us the opportunity to experience change. In life, as in dance, sometimes we lead and other times we follow. Occasionally our toes get stepped on, and we need to readjust, get back into the flow, and find our balance again. As the body and mind shift through each movement, we adapt to stay focused and centered.

Every soul experiences pain, sorrow, and heartbreak. There are regrets, unfortunate events, and missed opportunities. We cannot predict how everything will turn out, so we need to roll with the punches, whether they are good, bad, happy, or sad. Dancing helps us to be in the here and now, freeing us from thoughts of a possible future or disappointments of the past.

Participate in The Dance of Life. This means being an active creator, not a bystander. Move off the sideline from watching to doing. Sometimes we should step out of our comfort zones and not take the safe, easy, or comfortable route. Don’t be a spectator on the bench and let life pass by. Engage and be a key player in the game. It is never too late to start.

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking. — Agnes de Mille, American dance, choreographer, director

Finally, share life’s dance with someone. And I am not just talking about romantic love. We are here to connect with others. Friends are vital to living a full life. And we don’t have to go out and start collecting a boatload of friends. One or two close friends will make for a more meaningful, happy existence. Accept the joy, acknowledge the sorrow, and savor the dance.

To truly feel the gift of dance, open up and let go. When you allow the movements to come from your heart, rather than worrying about how they look, you can find great enjoyment. Whether it is a conga line at a wedding, twisting away with friends, or having a solo dance party at home, simply move. Start with the head, then the arms, moving your body all the way down to your feet. Let your soul fly as you feel the rhythm of the music. Don’t worry about what it looks like. Just dance.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I would have danced. Do you? Put on those dancing shoes and move. It is one of life’s amazing gifts. Let the music travel through your body and feel the bliss. I hope you dance.

Photo by Drew Colins on Unsplash

Make Yourself a Priority: 4 Tips on Reclaiming Your Joy
  1. Paulo Coelho, Hippie, (New York: Penguin Random House, 2019), 163.

2. Marilyn Friedman, “Is Dancing The Kale Of Exercise,” New York Times, April 30, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/30/well/move/health- benefits-dancing.html.

3. Richard Powers, “Use It Or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter, Longer,” Stanford University, July 30, 2010, https://socialdance.stanford.edu/syl- labi/smarter.htm.

4. Joe Verghese, M.D. et al., “Leisure Activities And The Risk Of Dementia In The Elderly,” The New England Journal of Medicine, June 19, 2003, https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022252.

5. Bryan Alexander, “How 91-Year-Old Dick Van Dyke Danced Madly On That Desk In ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’” USA Today, December 21, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2018/12/21/dick-van-dyke- angela-lansbury-cameo-mary-poppins-returns/2371100002/.

6. Jamie Ducharme, “Dance Like Your Doctor Is Watching: It’s Great For Your Mind And Body,” Time, December 20, 2018, https://time. com/5484237/dancing-health-benefits/.

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