How mindfulness can help dancers

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Fall (Autumn in the UK) is almost officially upon us. That means back to classes, rehearsals, and competition preparations.

No doubt you’re ramping up to slay the season and have a litany of goals and aspirations for yourself as you step back in the studio.

With that in mind, what better time to add mindfulness to your back to dance routine?

While some cultures have incorporated and practiced mindfulness for centuries, it’s just now becoming mainstream. There are apps dedicated to it, businesses are beginning to offer classes, and healthcare programs encourage it. But what, exactly, is mindfulness, and how can it help your dance practice?

Mindfulness, according to the dictionary, is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.”

But more than that, mindfulness includes awareness and acceptance, both of the self, and of our experiences and situations.

As humans, we naturally put things into boxes; our primal systems need to quickly register ‘good’ and ‘bad’ for survival. We also tend to disassociate, that is, put painful experiences in the ‘bad’ category, and push them out of our minds.

So that time that you fell in class and felt embarrassed, you not only push out of your mind because it was painful, but also label it as ‘bad’, and probably emotionally beat yourself up for being clumsy, dumb, ungraceful, etc.

But we can all recognize that learning and growing happens best in a conscious (aka ‘good’) atmosphere, where you feel safe, protected and nurtured.

This is what cultivating a mindfulness practice can do for your dancing. You can have access to an aware state of being, seeing clearly yourself and your efforts without passing judgment or disassociating.

How much better would it feel to be in class, and instead of admonishing yourself for not being on your leg, or having your balance, or whatever, acknowledging your efforts and showing awareness for your efforts and work?

Try these 9 phrases out the next time you’re in class and see what a difference in makes.

See if you can keep your mindfulness practice up for a whole week and notice what changes you see and feel.

It can only help your goals for the fall season, and who knows, you may surprise yourself and find yourself setting even more ambitious goals because (thanks to mindfulness), you blew your old ones out of the water. Happy practicing, and merde!

Mindfulness for dancers