What Is Dancing Mindfulness?
Photograph by Rebecca Scarpaci
The dancing mindfulness practice is an expressive arts experience open to everyone regardless of previous experience with dance, yoga, music, meditation, or spiritual practice. Originally developed as a community class, the dancing mindfulness practice continues to evolve beyond the class-only format. Dancing Mindfulness is a channel for accessing mindful awareness that can be practiced individually or with a group, in the confines of a space like a yoga studio or treatment center, or in the daily arenas of your life. Dancing mindfulness honors the invitation to “come as you are.” Dancing Mindfulness classes range from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the venue and purpose for the class, and various forms of music are incorporated to create a welcoming, integrated container. In a typical Dancing Mindfulness class, participants will be able to realize the rhythmic qualities of their breathing and heartbeats; to discover the healing, lyrical properties in even the most simple movements; and quite literally, to be able to express their own, personal story through dance. Many practitioners of dancing mindfulness also experience a deepened connection to other outlets of creativity through their practice, including, but not limited to writing, music making, art making, and photography. If you are the kind of person who likes to dance like no one is watching, or at least would like to try, the dancing mindfulness experience is for you! If you live in an area where no live classes are available, consider connecting with the practice through one of our remote channels: reading and working through the 2015 book, watching and dancing the 2013 live video, or linking up with us in our Facebook community forum.
Developed by Dr. Jamie Marich, a clinical counselor and expert in traumatic stress studies and spiritual issues, Dancing Mindfulness strives to honor the safety and integrity of each participant. Marich trained in several dance forms in her youth (Slavic folk, ballet, jazz) and later competed as a figure skater; she is also an accomplished musician with three folk albums to her credit. Having explored the conscious dance scene throughout her career as a clinical counselor, which including taking training intensives at the Kripalu School for Yoga and Health, Marich ultimately created Dancing Mindfulness as her integrated interpretation (as a dancer, musician, counselor, and spiritual practitioner) of mindfulness in motion. Marich truly believes that we all have an inner dancer just waiting to come out, just as we are all capable of mindful awareness. Dancing Mindfulness is a community practice, not a clinical practice, although Marich draws on her expertise as a clinical counselor to help create the safest dance practice possible within community settings.
The Dancing Mindfulness practice officially debuted at two academic conferences during the summer of 2012: the NAADAC National Addiction Professionals Conference in Indianapolis, IN, and the Addiction Studies Institute in Columbus, OH. Since then, Dr. Jamie and others have presented on the practice of dancing mindfulness at conferences throughout the United States. Additionally, a major research study has been published on Dancing Mindfulness with other research projects underway, a doctoral dissertation written by one of our facilitators focused prominently on dancing mindfulness as part of an overall wellness paradigm, and another facilitator developed an upper division college psychology course on Dancing Mindfulness and Depth Psychology, with the 2015 book as a required text. To view a complete listing of these academic milestones, please click HERE.
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All photographs by Rebecca Scarpaci