The world is beginning to open back up again, and if you are like me, I would assume you are anxious to feel some sense of normalcy again. How many activities that we did on a daily basis, such as going out to dinner, the gym, the movies, or to a friend’s home did we take for granted? For me losing the opportunity to be in the ballet studio was a major loss. Thankfully, a zoom option became available, and for the better part of the last year, I adapted and modified my ballet classes within that forum. Let me tell you, using a dining room chair does not substitute for a real ballet barre; however, it was better than the alternative of no class, so I adjusted.
Soon after the Covid shut down, the studio allowed a limited number of masked dancers to re-enter, but until I was fully vaccinated, due to having asthma, I was not going to consider this option. Adapting to the barre portion of zoom class was interesting on many levels as I had to challenge myself to understand the combinations, sometimes via verbal instruction, as I was not always able to see the teacher’s feet. I am now grateful to be back in the studio, enjoying the experience of being back in person. I love ballet, not because I am a talented ballerina, as I assure you I am not, but it is my therapy and my way of doing a moving mindfulness meditation practice.
The concept of mindfulness in DBT is to help one become in tune with themselves and one with the moment. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to what is happening right now. Many people use visualizations, meditation, yoga, and/or breathwork to quiet their mind and focus on the moment. I find that this type of mindfulness can help me quiet my mind, express my emotions with the movement and music, and focus primarily on what the specifics of my body are doing. For my 90 minute class, I need to be purposefully paying attention to the combinations, moves and music. I find that I am centered after class and am emotionally fed to face my day.
In mindfulness, it is important to not judge yourself, which is challenging both in ballet and life. There is no perfection in dance, or anything else for that matter, and yet it is important to challenge oneself to simply do your best and learn how to move your body and/or feet to illustrate a better line. For me, it’s a balance of doing my best and still challenging myself to learn new ways of doing the same movement by paying attention to what I am feeling physically in my body. I will often remind myself that I am not trying to audition for a professional ballet company, but rather to be in the moment of doing something that I not only love but is also fun.
Some people in my life find that I am a bit of a puzzle and perhaps I am. For instance, I don’t like chocolate and I don’t like the scent of lavender, which are two common things most people really enjoy. Most people enjoy mindfulness in the quiet, but for me, I find that practice frustrating, and at times it has even produced an opposite reaction for me. The moving style of ballet as mindful meditation serves my body in supporting the goal of being in the moment with intentionality and purpose. So if you are someone that has tried mindfulness meditation, and have not found satisfaction, you might find that a moving meditation may be more beneficial for your body. Yoga, tai chi, ballet, dance, playing a musical instrument, singing, etc. are all ways to express yourself in a mindful manner. No matter what you choose, it will no doubt contribute positively to your life and enhance your awareness of who you are in each moment.