The Benefits of Meditation For Dancers
December 9th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
Benefit #1: Calms nerves
In recent years, many performers have credited meditation’s ability to allow one to remain present in the moment to help alleviate symptoms of stage fright.
According to Brent Anderson, PhD, a Miami-based physical therapist who works with Miami City Ballet, meditation can also benefit dancers by calming down the limbic system of one’s brain. Also known as the sympathetic nervous system, or reptilian brain, slowing down this part of the brain can help relieve the continuous buildup of stress rooted in the many hours of dance training, auditioning and performing. If not addressed, this stress can lead to an excess release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can eventually slow down your metabolism, ultimately heightening the risk of diseases, as well as chronic fatigue.
Benefit #2: Helps avoid injury
Through meditation, dancers are more likely to quickly sense areas of pain. Thus avoiding any further, potentially more serious injury.
Benefit #3: Improves performance
In addition to helping you become more aware of your body, meditation also allows you to mentally practice and rehearse in your head, in slow and fast motion. This meditative practice has been shown to correlate with improved performance on stage.
Benefit #4: Transforms relationship to dance
”[Meditation] gives me a balance when I go into rehearsals or classes. I’m not constantly critiquing myself,“ says Ballet West semi-soloist Chelsea Keefer.
According to her, meditation provides a sense of stability, which, when dancing, gives performers the ability to enter dance roles more objectively.
“It allows you to know your worth,” Keefer says.
What you can do
It’s easy to begin your meditative journey to enhancing yourself and your dancing abilities. You don’t need to sign up for expensive workshops and/or classes. Your only requirements are a willingness to sit still, and the ability to breathe.
To get started, you can meditate simply by closing your eyes, and counting your breaths as you breathe. In addition, there are also thousands of free meditation apps you can download to guide your meditation practices.
For additional meditation exercises, follow the lead of James Gowan, an Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancer. A few mornings a week, Gowan performs simple breathing exercises, during which time he visualizes for 45 minutes. This helps him become more aware of his actions during studio time. It also helps himself become more confident both as a person and his work as a performer. In addition, during rehearsal breaks, Gowan also says he takes five minutes to perform the meditative body scan technique, a visualization tool which can ease one’s mind and spirit.
According to Gowan, commitment is the key to harnessing the benefits of meditation. To get into a routine, he suggests setting a schedule for how you are going to meditate each week. Setting a weekly objective for your meditation allows you to enter in a routine. This will almost certainly benefit yourself, and your dancing, in the longterm.
Genni Abilock is a writer for StarQuest. She loves baby carrots, SpongeBob, and playing Frank Sinatra songs on the ukulele.