Dancing For Wellness
Expressive Therapy

By Duanita G. Eleniak, MSW RCSW ATR BCATR RCAT

Dancing can be a fun, easy way to connect with wellness and bring you back to life, especially after losing a loved one, whether through relationship break-up, divorce or death.

There are several factors which often hold people back from taking the first steps toward a dance class and the dance floor:
1. Fear is one of the biggest barriers. It can prevent you from taking the first step and keep you on the sidelines of life. 
2. Low self-esteem and low self-confidence can also plague your ability to experience the joy of connecting to yourself and others through dance.

What can learning ballroom dance do for you?

Reconnection with the Feminine Beauty Mysteries

Ballroom dance can restore, renew and cultivate an interest in the feminine beauty mysteries of make-up, hair styling, and fashion. Self-care on a basic level can often fade with age and/or wounding. Women in particular tend to get into caretaking patterns where everyone else’s needs come before their own.

Dancing can propel you to take care of yourself in basic areas giving you a renewed interest in looking good and in taking really good care of yourself on a physical level.

Regaining Power in Personal Relationships

Dancing can teach you how to hold and own your power again. As you do your abdominal exercises in order to hold your form in the dance, you strengthen your ability to hold your power in personal relationships. On a physical level you work with the chakras that have to do with personal power. Through dance you can began strengthening your power center in your body.

Reconnection with your Sexuality

Dance provides the opportunity to touch people in a safe way…and to be touched. Many dancers say that ballroom dancing is better than sex. In ballroom dance you connect with a partner in a very intimate way. When you find a partner that you really “click” with you can move to a level of connection which has erotic qualities contained within the safe structure of a dance. There is an inherent boundary in the form of the dance that allows for safe expression of sexuality and sexual connection.

This aspect of dancing can be extremely healing. It can allow you to feel sexy again. You can touch another person and they can touch you in a safe way. Dance can allow you to begin to trust others and yourself in the area of sexuality.

On Trusting Yourself

Many people describe ballroom dancing as “addictive”. They find themselves wanting to practice dancing with partners. Their kitchens became too limited as a practice arena very quickly.

If trust is an issue, work with affirmations on the way to the dances. Repeat affirmations to yourself ‘I can trust myself to keep myself safe’. Stepping out of your fear and going out to play with people allows you opportunities to gain trust in yourself and in your ability to take care of yourself.

Dance can allow you the opportunity to get feedback from others which can affirm your “sexiness”. It can give you opportunities to practice setting boundaries. It can allow you 5 minute dates on the dance floor with no attachments.

These encounters can do wonders to help boost self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-care.

On Learning to Establish Boundaries

Often after separation, divorce or death a part of you can be afraid to trust a partner again. Dancing provides the chance to practice establishing emotional and physical boundaries in a safe environment.

When someone asks you to dance you are immediately faced with a boundary issue, do you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? For those of you who have trouble saying ‘no’ and are afraid to hurt other people’s feelings and feel that you always have to be ‘nice’, dancing can give you opportunities to practice being true to your inner intuition about people.

Through dancing you can learn and continue to get an opportunity to practice setting personal boundaries. You can learn about yourself, what you like and do not like in a dancing partner. You learn to trust and honor your likes and dislikes and your ability to say yes and no. You learn to be nice to yourself. You learn to take care of yourself. You learn to listen to yourself and act on your knowing.

When you act on your knowing you feel safe. You can trust yourself to take care of yourself with people. You can say no, honor yourself and keep yourself in a place of dignity doing what feels right for you.

Dancing is a safe place for you to practice setting boundaries.

Spending Money on Yourself

Dancing can help you to begin spending money on yourself. Gradually through your years of marriage it can happen that everyone else’s needs gain priority over your own. Your husband or your child would get the article of clothing before you. You would need to save for something for the family rather than buy that bra for yourself. Going to the hairdresser can feel like a waste of money when you could dye your hair yourself.

When dancing you can begin to want to go to the hairdresser again. You will want to buy new clothes, new make-up, and new shoes. You even began to spend money on entertainment for yourself, making cover charges to dances a regular part of your budget.

The funny thing is that the money is there for everything. You will still be able to buy your children things. It is just that when dancing you know you are valuable and worthy enough to spend money on.

Conclusion

Ballroom dancing can be an excellent path back to your true self. Through ballroom dancing you can walk stronger, taller and with more awareness of your body. You can move through your body with power from your core. You will take time for you. You can learn how to spend money on yourself again. You can have improved relationships as a result of the extra joy you feel. You can reconnect to your sexuality. You can reconnect to the feminine beauty mysteries, hair, make-up, clothes. You can reconnect to valuing yourself, beginning with your physical body. You can take care of yourself again.

Let ballroom dancing be a form of expressive therapy for you, a way of healing and becoming a pathway back to the world of connection with others and yourself.

Therapy Articles By Dr. Duanita

Animal Assisted Therapy
Child Art Therapy, Scribbles And Squiggles
Art Therapy With Children, Visioning Your Practice: An Activity
How Do I Talk To My Children About Going To A Counselor?
Therapy Guidelines, Handling Disclosures Of Child Sexual Abuse, British Columbia, Canada

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