It’s certainly feeling a lot like November. After a long, gorgeous autumn the trees have been dropping their leaves and we have turned back our clocks. I know many in Minnesota are still scurrying around outside to finish preparing their yards for winter.

candle surrounded by flowers

I hope that you are also finding ways to prepare your inner life for the return of the light in a few weeks. I just spent Saturday dancing in honor of the ancestors and the day left me feeling hopeful for our ability to heal historical traumas and create a vital future.

At the end of our dancing day one of my newer students make an observation: “These aren’t “just” dances.” I couldn’t agree more. Through my study with Laura Shannon I experience traditional dances as powerful tools for transformation and healing. There are two ways that I find dancing especially transformative. The first aspect is the topic for today’s blog post, and it is the ability of dance to move us from anxiety and scarcity to abundance and hope.  

Abundance and Hope

Thirteen years ago I would sometime wait nervously for my oncologist to come into the room by dancing. During that time I lived constantly on edge, vigilantly fighting cancer while going through the motions of conversation, watching a movie, or eating. Sleep was difficult and I started listening to guided meditations since napping wasn’t possible. Yet sitting quietly was really difficult when I was bursting with worry. The only thing that could break that swirl of anxiety was dancing. It was like hitting a reset button. When I danced I felt joyful, alive, and resilient.

Scientists are beginning to be able to explain the multifaceted reasons why dancing can reorients us to an abundant, hopeful mindset. I believe many answers lead back to how dancing calms the nervous system (the vagus nerve in particular) and increases our capacity to “tend and befriend.”

In this Trumpian era of climate emergency, I think more and more people are feeling like the stressed cancer patient I once was. Worry about our future is on the back of everyone’s mind all the time. We live in a time of polarized public discourse charged with feelings of scarcity and real fears for our survival. In this heated environment I am noticing even groups of people who mostly agree, such as my church, being torn apart by conflict.

Finding ways to collectively return to a feeling of abundance, hope and belonging could not be more relevant – and that includes dancing! As the wise woman observed at the retreat this weekend we are not ‘just’ dancing; we are kindling our resilience.

In part 2 of this blog post I will talk about how dancing doesn’t just make us feel better but also helps us live into reciprocity and sustainability.

With big love,


Can you make a donation towards the healing power of dance into the world?

Wisdom Dances offers three free dances events each year to mark the seasons, bless the water, and build community: the Winter Water blessing, Earth Day Celebration, and Mid-Summer Celebration. These events are gifts to the community and we rely on reciprocal gifts from the community to support us. In addition in 2020 we will be bringing our guiding teacher Laura Shannon to Minnesota for the first time and we need your help to make it possible for her visit to reach as many people as possible. Can you help us raise $4,000 on Give to the Max Day, November 14?