It is an honor to be named the Dancer of the Month for July 2015! Who would have thought that in just two short years this would be happening to me? No one would have - especially not me. I remember teaching my first solo Dancing Mindfulness class and how extremely nervous I was. I have presented in front of audiences of my peers and students many times in my life, so I was not sure about why I was so nervous. Maybe I was nervous because I wanted to be perfect. I wanted the class to be perfect. I wanted everyone to love the class. I wanted everyone to have a positive experience. I think that is because I love the fact that I know there is an opportunity to positively affect someone’s life in each and every Dancing Mindfulness class.
The great thing about Dancing Mindfulness for me is that it has helped me fulfill my lifelong ambition of “helping people to help themselves.” We may not always hear about the ways that Dancing Mindfulness has had an effect on our students’ lives, but when we do, it makes it all worth it! For example here are a few success stories:
From evaluations from the classes I learned that students appreciated the following: the choice of music and inspirational messages; encouragement to be individually expressive/own style; found it relaxing, innovative music, no judgment about physical limitations, and some requested to have some specific steps/routines that can be incorporated. So, as my teaching of Dancing Mindfulness continues, I’ll remember all the good outcomes, add a few choreographed steps as appropriate, and hope that the healing continues for me and for all of the participants in Dancing Mindfulness.
I was asked to write a couple of words of wisdom that have helped me with Dancing Mindfulness. In my attempt to do that I’ve come to the realization that it is not the words of wisdom that have helped me the most. I’ve found the feelings, emotions, actions, reactions, smiles, laughs and tears of both sorrow and joy have been the most inspiring pieces of wisdom that I’ve experienced. I’m not a wordsmith, nor can I recite lines from movies, books, or poems, but I have extreme empathy, emotions, and feelings. I try to understand those during preparation and execution of every Dancing Mindfulness class. It’s like on our tombstones there will be a birth year and a death year and in between them will be a dash. It’s important to understand that it’s not the dates that matter… it’s the dash. Pick your own path, live your own life, (even if it pisses off others), and be proud of yourself! Make the “dash” in your life be exemplary and include a “dash dance” in your next Dancing Mindfulness class! Make it memorable! Be open and learn to trust in your style! You will make a difference in someone’s life … know it in your heart!
Thank you for the opportunity to share what little wisdom I have to offer now as I’m still learning as my dash continues---
I have been dancing my whole life. It was my whole world and I didn’t know any better. So, when I went to college, it made sense that I was going to major in it in college. There was a hint of interest in pursuing social work but it wasn’t enough to throw away my passion for dance. I did try to double major but both programs were so intense and set in their schedules so it wasn’t possible to do. Half way through college, my passion for dance started wilting and my heart began to feel emptier and emptier. I didn’t want that passion to die out but making your passion a career wasn’t as wonderful as I thought it would be. I got injured and had to continue dancing through the pain. After that I got depressed. Being told you weren’t dancing well enough and being graded for something that was supposed to be an interpretation of your soul, it just took its toll. I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was halfway through school so I didn’t want to quit. I didn’t want to turn back, so I pushed through, crawling broken to the finish line. I was a real mess during my senior year, but with the right help, I was able to graduate, cum laude, at the end of the year. The help I received from different social workers was tremendous. I was inspired. I wanted to do the same thing. I applied to the graduate school of social work on a whim. The July after I graduated, I found out I was accepted into the Graduate school of social work. I started that September and have found a new passion, a new love, a new career. After discovering all of this, I also re-found that passion for dance through dancing mindfulness. I learned how much of an outlet dancing can be for my emotions and for others’ emotions, so when I found out about the dancing mindfulness certificate, I jumped at the chance to complete the course. It was a beautiful experience and I am so honored to have participated in it.
My dancing mindfulness work was also immediately put to use in my agency. I work at a counseling center at Rutgers University, but we specifically work with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. Actually, that was one of my supervisor’s favorite parts during my interview, that fact that I danced and that I was going to pursue a certificate in dancing mindfulness.
In any case, my agency held a 24 hour truce. It was based off of Andrea Dworken’s quote “I want one day or respite, one day off, on day in which no bodies are piled up, one day in which no agony is added to the old, and I am asking you to give it to me… I want a 24 hours truce during which there is no rape” (1984). So that’s what we did. We planned 24 hours of programming that talked about bystander intervention, project unbreakable, and had different art projects surrounding the notion of a world without violence. During the 24 hours, I held two dancing mindfulness sessions. The theme for the first session was a world with and without violence. I had about ten participants and they all participated fully and enjoyed their time. I asked them to paint the room with their bodies, showing and portraying what violence looks like. Then I had them wash it all off, cleansing the walls, their bodies, and their souls. They really enjoyed it. The next dancing mindfulness session was at 4:00am so I didn’t have many participants until the end. I played the song “break the chain” which Pink performed and a few of the staff knew the dance that was choreographed to it, so they began passionately dancing. I saw the hope in their eyes and the joy in their hearts. It was a great experience to be a part of.
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity