Dancing is one of those areas where we can often see how much resistance we have to comfortably expressing ourselves.
If you listened to the previous podcast, then you know what joy is. And that is the experience of being boundless, limitless, of just feeling the free‑flowing spirit. And if that’s what joy is, one of the best ways to express joy is through dancing. And that’s the reason why when people are happy, very often what we do is we dance because it is one of the most beautiful ways that we can express our joy.
I remember seeing a man dancing at one of his children’s weddings. Now, most of the people dancing during the wedding, they were dancing in groups and in circles, holding hands. And this gentleman was dancing completely alone. And we’ve all seen people dance this way. But when I looked at the way he was dancing, it looked very odd. He really was not a good dancer. But he was sort of like skittling across the room, back and forth, and back and forth. And in the first moment that I noticed it, it looked strange. But then I realized that this man is in a state of joy. It made no difference how his footwork was or how his hands were moving, whether he had the moves right or wrong. That style is structure, is limitation, and he was way beyond any zone of limitation. He was just truly experiencing and expressing his joy through dancing. He was oblivious to anyone and everyone around him and he was just expressing it by moving his body in any and every way he knew how. It was beautiful to see and I have to say, I was envious. And since seeing him do that I always fantasize about just being able to go right in the midst of everyone during a wedding and just free flow and dance. And you know how hard that can be.
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to draw people into the circle of dance? To bring people in and say, come, let’s dance. There’s so much resistance that so many of us have to dancing. And the reason why is because it means that we need to let go. We need to permit ourselves to dance. We need to permit ourselves to be free, to be boundless.
When we are in a state of joy, we easily go into a state of dancing. When we’re not in a state of joy, it’s much harder because we are in control.
I remember once doing a workshop where everyone was blindfolded and after everyone was blindfolded they put on very loud music and everyone was instructed to dance. Now, no one was able to see anyone else, everyone was blindfolded so you would think that is the perfect atmosphere to just let it rip, as they say, to just let it go and just dance. And this workshop was so valuable for me because in the moment the music went on, I was able to feel, for some reason the blindfold made it so much clearer to me, as to how much restriction I had within myself to let myself just flow and just dance. And it was so hard for me to dance. And when I started dancing, even the dancing, I felt, was so unnatural, it was so controlled, it was so limited. Because I just wasn’t letting myself go. And when we really dance, we are freely expressing ourselves. And that’s the beauty of the fact that very often we dance in circles. Because when you’re in a circle, there is no leader; there’s no front, there’s no back, there isn’t even a middle. Everyone is equal. There is no definition, no individual in that circle is defined differently than anyone else. And that is really the expression of dancing.
Where there is no definition, we are just expressing joy. And this is the reason why we have ‑‑ there’s a Jewish holiday called Simchat Torah where we celebrate with the Torah, we express our joy in the fact that God gave us this book of his wisdom. And what’s odd is, that even though it’s a book of wisdom, we do not celebrate this book of wisdom through studying it. Even though it’s wisdom. Wisdom is expressed through the mind. But you can’t fully express your joy of having a gift being given to you, even though the gift itself is wisdom, it cannot be fully expressed by your mind. Because the mind is a limiting experience, to the extent of our intellectual ability. What we do is, we dance with the Torah. Because when we can let go and dance, we are expressing our full experience of joy. And when we learn to dance, we learn how to express complete joy.
So test yourself. The next time you’re in an environment, wherever that may be where people are dancing, see if you can dance. Not if you can dance as in style, if you’re a good dancer that people will be impressed by, but can you get yourself to have your body just flow freely with the music and if you can’t feel the restraint, the inner restraint that you have that’s just holding you back. And ask yourself, where is that restraint coming from? What are you scared of? What are the concerns that you have so that you are not willing to let yourself flow freely? And that observation will hopefully help you dance more freely the next time until you can dance like you’ve never danced before. And when you do, so many people standing on the side will look at you with envy because they only wish they would be able to express themselves so freely as well.