Losing Myself to Find Myself: My Ecstatic Dance Journey
When we move intuitively, we allow our bodies to guide us toward healing

Have you ever yearned for a movement experience that unleashes your spirit and unlocks your inner authenticity? Look no further than ecstatic dance. It's a freeform dance practice where joy and self-discovery take center stage through uninhibited movement. There are no pre-defined steps, no pressure to perform, just you and the music. This practice comes with a surprising range of benefits, from stress reduction and mood elevation to deeper self-connection and heightened confidence.

A Hawaiian retreat in the hippie haven of Pahoa first sparked my curiosity about ecstatic dance. The word ecstatic caught my ear.  It brought visions of swirling freedom and joyfulness.   So, when I saw that a dance would be held just 10 minutes from home, I was in.  I had no idea what to expect or anyone to tag along with, but I figured, why not!

The venue surprised me. Instead of a pulsating club filled with 20-somethings, it was a dance studio. The atmosphere, however, was anything but ordinary. I was surprised at the variety in age, race, shape, and size. But all united by a shared desire for uninhibited expression.        
The session began with a "Wu Wei" practice, a flowing and almost meditative warm-up to promote ease of movement. We swayed gently, mimicking the motions of the wind and the earth, feeling the ground beneath our bare feet. This led to partner exercises, where I discovered how touch and movement can reveal aspects of another person beyond words. One encounter stands out: a man leaning heavily against me, the weight of his neediness unmistakable. Instead of reacting negatively, I channeled silent healing love energy towards him – a beautiful exchange that left me with positive energy for the evening.

As the DJ took over, the music transitioned to a slow and sultry tempo. I surrendered to the rhythm, my body swaying and my arms flowing to the beat. It was in this movement that the societal expectations I carried, the labels placed upon me, began to surface. With every move, I shed those constraints, my body shaking with a sense of release. Anger welled up, laced with shame and regret, as memories stored deep within my body arose. A body that has been treated as an object, used to please men, to appease, and manipulated to earn love.  I released the anger with instinctive guttural sounds, experiencing a profound sense of freedom and openness.

This dance also awakened a deep love for the generations of women who came before me, their dreams and aspirations squashed down by societal rules and expectations.  I imagined my love flowing back through time as a beautiful glowing purple light, with that love I also shared the message that I would dance freely for them.  A fire ignited within me, I will live my life by my rules, dismissing societal rules imposed on women to control and keep our sexuality locked away.  No more will every part of my body be sexualized according to the opinions of men.  No more will I let media of any type tell me that I’m not enough, I need this mascara, hair like an airbrushed model, or to wear this or that brand of clothing.  I will do everything I can to be the person I was born to be rather than the person that society wants me to be.  

As I went through this liberating healing process, several men approached me, I quickly closed my eyes to make it clear I was there for solo healing.  There was one man who I found intriguing though.  One of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen.  Native American, the most beautiful brown eyes with long eyelashes, high cheekbones, beautiful black silky hair that fell down his back, and the most luscious lips that every woman would be envious of.   His eyes caught mine multiple times, and each time I couldn’t help but smile.  So, when he approached me, I smiled invitingly.  As he danced in front of me, I quickly realized he was no longer wearing pants.  He was wearing leopard print briefs and had a large erection within the briefs.  I’m all for body freedom and wearing what feels good for you, but this now felt a bit awkward.  To his credit, he wasn't aggressive, just a tad happy to see me. He felt the shift in my energy, so we shared a hug (with strategic pelvic placement!), and he gracefully moved on.

Despite the brief awkwardness, the night was transformative. The sheer variety of participants and their uninhibited self-expression were truly inspiring. Sure, the leopard print was a surprise, but hey, erections are a natural part of life, right? Maybe even they deserve a space on the dance floor (as long as they remain appropriately controlled and contained!).

This ecstatic dance exploration was a journey of self-discovery. And I'm already eagerly anticipating my next adventure tomorrow night. Who knows what awaits: deeper healing, deeper self-understanding or maybe another interesting encounter? Only one way to find out! 
I hope my experience with ecstatic dance inspires you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!   I’d love to hear about your experience with ecstatic dance or using movement for healing.  Or a time you tried something new and had an amazing experience or a not-so-amazing experience.  Please share in the comments.


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