From the celestial spatial dance of galaxies, down to the way we rhythmically walk, our heartbeat, our brain waves, and the minute pulsations of trillions of syncopated neurons and biomolecular processes, our entire body and universe undulates endlessly with regular rhythms and good vibrations.
If our biorhythms decline over time, we will surely die. Pleasing music is a direct pathway into the rhythmic realm of human emotional experience and cultural esthetic fulfillment. Music and dance synchronize, harmonize, amplify and enhance our essential biorhythms. They can release happy hormones, slow down processes of aging, extend our life and greatly enrich the quality of every single day of our entire lives.
Modern behavioral psychology and medical science have learned much about the way we react dramatically to our rhythmic environment. We have learned how and why music, dance, laughter, touching hands, and happy social interactions combine in a mystic synergistic way to activate our hormones and neurotransmitters (such as beneficial “beta endorphins”, “enkephalins”, “dynorphins” and “oxytocins” (while reducing the harmful stress-related adrenal steroid hormones like cortisol - hydrocortisone glucocorticoid, which detrimentally disables the human immune system and increases undesirable fat storage around the waist and hips). Stated simply, joyful dancing can reduce stress and depression, and make us feel happy and healthy all over.
The frontal lobe of our brain has more endorphin (“endogenous morphine” - opioid) receptors than any other portion of our body. This area is responsible for human creativity, personality and high-level social / cognitive thought processes. Endorphins, enkephalins and dynorphins are effective “analgesics”, which kill pain and allow us to experience the joy of the moment, which is further enhanced by synchronizing our biorhythms with the music.
The self-generated “feel good” chemicals that dancing releases are amplified by our creative frontal lobe. We begin to feel euphoric joy, new energy and powerful motivation washing all over our entire body. This pleasure drives us to dance, without becoming tired or bored, for longer than most people can do with any other form of sustained healthy exercise. Dancing is ever so much nicer than the “going nowhere” metaphor of a boring treadmill or repetitive exercise machine. Dancing requires active kinesthetic / special thought processes, which develop over time and measurable improve brain function through a process called Mental Aerobics.
The effect of this dancing-induced, mood-and-motivation-altering "biochemical cocktail" is further amplified by positive hormones, adrenaline and powerful brain function neurotransmitters. All of this accelerates our heart rate (which rapidly distributes the life-enhancing biochemicals throughout our entire body), improves balance / strength / muscular efficiency, enhances the effectiveness of other brain chemistry, controls disease-related inflammation, has long-term benefits that clean and condition our cardiovascular system, and thus greatly extends our individual life expectancy, while adding much joy to our lives.
Nature's handiwork in designing our mental and physical response to rhythmic dancing directly and immediately "blocks the blues" and wipes out depression. Endorphins produce a wonderful overall feeling of well being that our entire body is designed to respond to very well. Joyful dancing is extremely addictive, and for thousands of years the religious texts of many cultures have recorded that music and dancing can be very good things.
Adrenalin is an endorphin amplifier and a powerful antidepressant. It is almost impossible to feel lonely, unhappy or depressed while smiling, laughing, holding hands and dancing with a happy partner. Dancing causes sluggish sadness to be replaced by spiritual pleasure, joy, and one of the highest possible echelons of human motivational energy.
The more we dance, the more we want to. It is similar to the principle of human energy – The more energy we expend today, the more energy we will have tomorrow. People who allow themselves to fall into the pit of a sedentary lifestyle soon become sad, depressed, lonely, antisocial, and they have very little energy or joy of life. This mental condition causes the immune system to decline, and ultimately leads to untimely death. See Psychoneuroimmunology
In recent studies, experts say that dancing has many valuable health benefits. Rhythmic movement strengthens bones, builds essential core muscle mass, and boosts mental health. It can significantly lower your risk of many types of dementia, and in some cases reverse previous mental atrophy.
Exercise physiologist Catherine Cram of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting says: "Once someone gets to the point where they're getting their heart rate up, they're actually getting a terrific workout." Dance is a weight-bearing activity, which builds bones. It's also "wonderful" for your upper body, strength and endurance.
(Prospective dancers should consult with their doctors first, especially if they have any known health problems or physical limitations.)
Overweight people may wonder how many calories or carbohydrates are burned while dancing. The answer depends on your body and how vigorously you dance. Benefits increase with the speed and type of dancing, how long and how often you dance.
The USDA’s physical activity guidelines state that most dancing is a "moderate activity" although high-energy dancing can be very vigorous indeed. The 2005 USDA guidelines make it clear that average adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity EVERY DAY. Overweight individuals need at least 50 minutes per day. Consistently maintaining physical activity is much easier if it also is a fun social activity, rather than a boring treadmill.
New ballroom dancers may feel muscles they didn't know they had. That often happens with a new activity, says Ken Richards, spokesman for USA Dance, the national governing body of DanceSport -- the competitive version of ballroom dancing.
Ballroom dancing often means moving backward, especially for women, says Richards, a professional ballroom dancing veteran. "If you're dancing the foxtrot, you're taking long, sweeping steps backwards. That's very different than walking forward on a treadmill or taking a jog around the neighborhood." Ballroom dancing works the backs of the thighs and buttock muscles differently from many other types of exercise. High heels may look elegant, but the health benefits of dancing can be achieved while practicing in comfortable shoes.
The legs and arms often do the flashy dance moves, but dancing also needs strong “body core muscles” (the abdominals and back). Our core is also essential in proven exercise programs like Pilates, says Janice Byer, a lifelong dancer. She is group exercise director of The Courthouse Athletic Club in Oakland, Calif. She and her husband (that she met through dancing) are avid swing dancers. They're now working on the foxtrot, salsa and Argentine tango lessons.
Dance challenges your mind as well as your muscles. Observational studies have documented minds with regular dancing.
One such study appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2003. Joe Verghese, MD, and colleagues studied 469 people who were at least 75 years old and did not have dementia. At the study's start, they answered surveys about mental and physical activities, like doing crossword puzzles and dancing. Five years later, 124 had dementia. Frequent dancers had a reduced risk of dementia compared with those who rarely or never danced. Of the eleven physical activities that we studied, only dancing was tied to a lower dementia risk.
Most dancers did ballroom dancing, says Verghese (neurology professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York).
The Dancing Brain
How might ballroom dancing help the brain? Verghese outlines three possibilities:
Increased blood flow to the brain from the physical exercise
Less stress, depression, and loneliness from dancing's social aspect
Mental challenges (memorizing steps, working with your partner)
"Dance, in many ways, is a complex activity. It's not just purely physical," says Verghese.
Here's some advice for beginners from New York dance therapist Jane Wilson Cathcart, LMSW, ADTR, CMA:
Look for a good teacher who emphasizes what you CAN do, not your limits. Don't be a perfectionist about it. Don't worry about your size. Dance is for everyone. Get into the music, as well as the movement.
"Take in all the good feedback you're getting and give your inner judge a couple of dollars to go to the movies," says Cathcart. "We are usually our own worst critic, … Think of how many other times your critical judge has limited you from doing something."
New skills can bring confidence and break down self-imposed inhibitions. At parties and social events, confident dancers can head toward the dance floor feeling good about themselves, without an unhealthy martini.
"Lay the pathwork of positivity through it," says Cathcart. "The coolest dance begins with one step. The rest will follow." The more you do it, the better you will become. The more energy you invest today, the more you will have tomorrow.
When I first started dancing regularly, I was too tall, too fat, very awkward, and a painfully slow learner. I couldn’t keep up with group dance classes, so I took some private lessons so I wouldn’t fall so far behind. After two years of dancing twice a week, I was confident meeting new dance partners on public dance floors. I was hungry to learn and not satisfied with standard dance patterns. I watched dance competitions (although I did not compete myself).
Soon, I began inventing new dance patterns to go with my unique joyful dance style. I taught myself to lead two dance partners at once that I had never danced with before. It is a fun way to meet two women standing alone. My signature moves often surprise them, and they giggle a lot (which I love).
Other good dancers now ask me to dance and pose for pictures with them. I’ve lost 60 pounds and I have the muscle tone and energy to dance non-stop for three hours several times a week. I never dreamed that any of this would happen to the awkward person I used to be.
For me, dancing is not about finding a romantic partner. I’m not in some adversarial testosterone battle with other men who can’t dance. Social dancing is all about meeting MANY interesting people, having lots of energetic Platonic friends (men and women), laughing, having good clean fun, and being highly motivated to dance aerobically for hours several times a week.
Take the first step and then keep on dancing forever. Joyful Dancing is very addictive for many good reasons. Even a small amount of dancing is progress in a happy, healthy direction.
If you are alone, you need to begin by selecting happy music with a pleasant beat. If you pick familiar music, it can help unlock and energize old memories of the sights, sounds and good feelings when you first enjoyed the melody.
If we listen to interesting, new, unfamiliar, upbeat music (with a positive message), it will help revitalize our mental capacity to form new rhythmic memories.
The “hippocampus” is the most delicate, dynamically-reconfigurable portion of the human brain – responsible for the initial formation of all new short-term memories, and later merging them as incremental refinements of existing long-term categorical perception stereotypical memory patterns.
In old age, the hippocampus atrophies, IF we are not continually exposed to unfamiliar new pleasant experiences. New music and learning new dance steps revitalize the hippocampus capacity. The ability to form new memories and store them so they can be recalled later is a “use it or lose it” intellectual capacity atrophication problem. A mix of familiar “oldies” and interesting new dance music (based on your own preferences) is both entertaining and intellectually healthy. (See Mental Aerobics)
Play your favorite “happy place” music at least half an hour every day, at a time when your energy is normally high. If you cannot walk, then pat your feet, clap your hands, try to snap your fingers and keep time with the tune, with as much energy as you have in you. As you repeat this physical exercise day after day, your metabolism, strength, energy and happiness will surely increase incrementally.
The more intellectual and physical energy you expend, the more you will have later. If you spend your money unwisely, you will have less money, but when you expend energy, you will become stronger, live longer, and ultimately have more energy to expend. If you stop expending energy, you will begin to atrophy within only one day. For those whose muscles and minds have been declining for many years, a small amount of dancing many make you feel initially exhausted, but you must persevere with regular exercise, which increases slowly from day to day. Eventually you will discover a healthier mind and body, with a much higher “average” energy level available when you need it.
If you can walk, then walk around the room to the rhythmic beat, taking small steps at first, always keeping time with the happy music at a pace that you are comfortable with. As you grow stronger day after day, lift your feet higher and put some bounce in your step, maybe even kick up your heels (one at a time - smile) or skip just a bit (with a cane or walker if you need it). Creatively alter the path that you use to walk around. Try slowly rotating and looking up and down, if you can. Later, we will discuss the value of spatial and kinesthetic awareness.
Many people experience a loss of balance as they atrophy toward a sedentary lifestyle. If you have been inactive for a long period of time, it may take a while for you to regain and improve your sense of balance and awareness of things around you as you move about the room. Dancing is highly motivational, but be prudent and do not push yourself too far too fast. Physical, sensory and mental reconditioning may take time – Be pleased with small incremental improvements over a long period of time.
If you experience unusual pain then stop until you understand why. (See No Pain No Gain Is Insane) You may need the advice of a physician before participating in any form of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, particularly if you have difficulty with your heart or any of the above items.
Make sure that you have eaten properly before you dance. (I like to give my food at least two hours to digest before I go high-energy dancing.) If you feel extreme hunger, your increased metabolic rate while dancing may have caused your blood sugar level to drop below normal. Fruit juice may help – Avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated water!
Insulin dependant diabetics often require less insulin when their exercise rate increases. Listen closely to what you body is saying to you if you experience pain or hunger while dancing.
If you are alone without a dance partner, you can watch and imitate a motivating dance video or musical dance exercise tape. You can also look into a large mirror and watch yourself smile and move to the beat, while your biorhythms help you release “feel good” chemicals throughout your body. Imagine that friends or dance partners are looking back at you from the other side of the mirror, and you want to show them how happy you are to be dancing and having such a good time.
There is sound scientific evidence why we should “put on a happy face.” When we smile (and tighten the muscles in our checks beside our nose) the fresh air and blood flow increases through our nasal passages and cools the blood that is pumping into the frontal lobe of our brain. While smiling and dancing, we should breath deeply through our nose (if possible). The brain is a hotbed of non-stop metabolic activity, and it is “happiest” when it is kept cool. Even when we are at rest, the adult brain consumes 30% of our heat-generating metabolic activity. Smiling (when we may not be very happy) causes physiological changes that help us become happy, even if we are merely smiling at a mirror.
Better yet, if you have a friend, caregiver, or life partner near you, then hold their hands and try to synchronize your steps, as you walk or dance together to your favorite music. In addition to the pleasant endorphins, enkephalins, and dynorphins that will be activated, touching your dance partner’s skin releases your own “oxytocins” (pituitary hormones), which are the most powerful of the “interpersonal bonding agents” in our body and brain. In part, the lack of oxytocins is responsible for a general feeling of loneliness. (Loneliness is sometimes conceptually similar to a kind of oxytocin withdrawal symptom.)
Each of us needs to be touched. We all want to be recognized and know that we are wanted. If a newborn kitten is not regularly licked and groomed by its mother, it will die, even though plenty of nutritious food is available to it. In a similar manner, we need simple human contact to slow down the processes of aging and make us happier.
Holding hands and walking or dancing to the rhythm produces wonderful happy hormone-based feelings that are similar to making love or nurturing a baby (when oxytocin is at its absolute peak). This natural-high chemical cocktail is both intoxicating and extremely addictive. Raging hormones have to be controlled in adolescents, but they need to be encouraged and amplified, as we grow older, to make us young forever.
The vital chemistry of life motivates us to want to dance, exercise, hold hands, and continually become healthier and happier than almost anything else that an adult can do (depending on your personality, attitude, and good-or-bad mental conditioning). Dancing is far better than any unnatural psychotropic prescription drug for many kinds of mild mental disorders. The happy biochemical cocktail released by joyful dancers does NOT have the many negative side effects of most prescription (and illegal) drugs (and alcohol).
If you can walk, and you like the joy of music, but you don’t have a nearby friend or life partner, then consider taking group social dance lessons. These classes usually are much less expensive than private dance lessons. Many community-sponsored senior citizen dance classes are subsidized and may cost nothing at all to attend. Often, group dance lessons invite you to rotate partners frequently, so you get to meet, smile, hold hands, and maybe even have a few platonic superficial hugs, from other people who need happy casual friends as much as you do.
Humans are social creatures. Do not sit home alone and moan. Get out and enjoy social life. Meet many potential new friends and dance partners, (who can help you eliminate your own harmful feelings of loneliness, self doubt and destructive depression).
Once you learn a little bit about dancing, you can help others through their awkward first moments. Become a greeter and always wear a happy smile. Even if it is raining outside, others should see the sunshine in your sweet smile. The good feelings generated when we help someone else, improve our own self image and motivate us to live even more of a healthy, happy lifestyle. When we try to help someone else learn how to be happy, we usually discover more about how to do it ourselves.
Einstein said that you don’t really understand something until you can explain it to a six-year-old child. This is very true about happiness and joy. The more we know about our biorhythmic physiology, and the wonderful natural gifts that make everyone around us happy, the more we are able to comprehend God’s love for us and desire for us to be full of joy - right here, right now, on good mother earth.
When we honestly feel such love, we become more loving AND THEREFORE much more lovable and fun to be around. People with strong non-judgmental spiritual convictions tend (on average) to live longer, healthier, happier lives. Belief in a positive, loving, gift-giving God, is MUCH healthier than a wrathful God who throws lighting bolts matched by continual anger, suffering and death.
Our understanding of self-induced joyful attitude, makes us radiate happiness, and be much more interesting to those around us, than someone who lives a solitary sedentary life and spends the entire day complaining about many (self-induced) aches and pains. (See our material on Happiness Is An Attitude, NOT A Situation)
The exciting GOOD NEWS is that Joyful Dancing can be much happier than lonely vegetative mental-and-physical atrophication in front of violent, negative, commercial television.
If we chose to be happy, Joyful Dancing can become an important part of Joyful Aging.
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Music and dance permeated the lifestyles and behavior patterns of the earliest known human cultures. The human brain's majestic aptitude for social language, music and dance differentiate us from lower life forms, although even single-cell life is based on fundamental biorhythms, which can be synchronized and amplified to improve both performance and longevity.
Since the beginning of mankind and ancient pictures on cave walls, music and dance played important roles in tribal ceremonial contexts. They were highly functional and used primarily for communication, social interaction, bonding, religious worship and growth of the local community.
In most cultures throughout history, song, dance and the playing of rhythmic instruments were used to ensure a good harvest, guard against natural disasters, enhance fertility (of the land and the people), synchronize fertility cycles, select a mate, coalesce the culture, heal sickness, improve success in hunting, gathering and cultivating, honor life's important milestones, maintain tradition and provide joyful recreation, praise, worship and celebration. (while unknowingly strengthening happiness and complex systems throughout the entire body).
Early cultures quickly developed a wide variety of complex musical forms beginning with percussion instruments, which include countless sizes, shapes and varieties of drums, rattles, bells, gongs and cymbals. The human heart rate, healthy metabolism and brain waves are directly influenced by skilled use of percussion instruments, which synchronize the society and bond energetic, synergistic cultural coalitions together.
Throughout time, societies worldwide have developed complex rhythms and melodies with orchestras of wind, string and percussion instruments, which were fashioned from local natural resources. Cane was used and clay for flutes, hardwood trees and animal skin for drums, tree limbs with strips of skin for strings (similar to hunting bows and arrows), gourds and seeds for rattles, and spiral seashells for trumpets. The human voice was used for singing, rhythmic chanting and communicating the society's traditional bonding messages through their music, which is then driven into the entire body's "muscle memory" by happy dancing. Sight, sound and motion stimuli combine to reinforce society's strongest cultural messages. It is not new. It has always been true among all humans.
Nature has given us a great many gifts and pleasures like good food, music, dance, and the enduring love between a husband and wife (based on a cocktail of happy “chemistry”)..
Many humans have abused and corrupted nature's wonderful gifts, and created a negative image of things that were originally created to make us happy today. Human corruption caused some organized religions to go so far in the extreme opposite direction as to suggest that all forms of dancing are sinful. There is certainly no basis for this in the Hebrew or Christian Bible. This is as absurd as saying that all forms of food are harmful to our heath. Some are, some aren’t – We must apply God-given wisdom and discernment.
The following material clearly shows that the Bible explicitly endorses the joyful, bonding role that happy music and social dancing has always played among those who love God and deeply appreciate His magnificent majestic plan for our earthly happiness.
Almost every important topic tends to have both positive and negative points of view. If we focus on the dark side of any subject, we will amplify our own unhappiness, depression and hopeless despair.
In stark contrast, those who walk in the spiritual light of God's great joy, amplify the many good things that He has freely given us, which greatly improve the quality of our life. Our acceptance, appreciation and demonstration of God's gifts bares clear witness to all that His Spirit of Peace, Love and Joy dwell deep within us, and influence every fiber of our being and behavior - to the betterment of mankind.
Dancing is a fundamental part of human happiness that is recognized by our innermost God-given soul.
My nickname has long been "Mr. Happy Feet." I DO love to laugh, dance, kick up my heels and be happy. Others see something in me, and often ask to dance with me. I felt the need to research the spiritual foundation of Joyful Dancing. The Bible is a time honored historical resource about many subjects (regardless of what you think about its true origin).
You do not have to be (and I am not) a Bible-thumping “religious fanatic” to make sense of the historical scientific truth embedded in the following Joyful Dancing and Joyful Aging materials. If you are among the vast majority of Americans who believe in some form of God, (even if it is merely the majesty and wonder of nature) then you should appreciate what these verses say, regardless of where or how you worship the creator or evolutionary processes that resulted in your body, soul, and the intricate earthly environment that we all share.
Dancing can have a good effect, or a dark, corrupt, negative side. Some religious groups think that all dancing should be avoided, because of the dark side, but their feelings do not align with the scriptures quoted below. It is up to individuals to interpret what their own spirit says to them about dancing. My spirit makes me very happy when I dance with a smiling partner. Good dance music harmonizes with my soul and makes my Happy Feet want to dance for hours.
Since before the ancient records of the Hebrews, dance has often been associated with good times of great joy, merriment and thanksgiving. From a historical perspective, we might wonder what these early happy dances looked and felt like. Very few ancient dance videos exist today, but ancient words about Joyful Dancing are very abundant:
The Hebrew word "machowl", describes an energetic, whirling, circular dance in verses like: Judges 21:21,23; Psalms 30:11 ("Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing"); Psalms 149:3; Psalms 150:4; Lamentations 5:15; Jeremiah 31:4, ("O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dance's of them that make merry."), Jeremiah 31:13 ("Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy"). Thus, the ancient Hebrew society's common understanding of Joyful Dancing was used as a meaningful metaphor to help explain the prophesied ultimate happiness of the nation.
"Machow" is a rendering of the Hebrew word "raqad", which means to skip, leap, kick or jump for joy, as in 1 Chronicles 15:29, Ecclesiastes 3:4; Job 21:11; Isaiah 13:21, etc. In Psalms 29:6, 114:4-6, "raqad" is used to describe kicking and skipping like young rams, lambs and calves - an effective mental image that is not hard for anyone to imagine.
The meaning of the word "raqad" was refined from animal observations during Spring courtship dances, and from the new life of joyful offspring in the great kingdom of nature. Related Hebrew words include: "Qal" to kick and skip about; "Piel" to leap and dance; "Hiphil" to make to skip.
The transient sorrows of tragedy and death are followed by new life and celebrated by the dances of the thankful - a “circle-of-life principle” that is understood even by God’s earthly animals throughout history.
Joyful Dancing and “kicking up our heels” has always been an ecstatic expression of great happiness (Ecclesiastes 3:4. Psalms 30:11; Matthew 11: 17). The Godly, charismatic spirit within happy thankful people publicly communicates its elation through the energetic motions of the entire body, for the healthy benefit of the dancer and of the entire community. Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…" is one EXTREMELY POWERFUL verse.. Laughter, smiling, dancing and a “merry heart” are often linked wisely together for good reason. Modern clinical studies have clearly explained why what the ancient Hebrews understood intuitively about Joyful Dancing is medically very accurate.
In the Christian New Testament, the Hebrew tradition of merry dancing is translated into different Greek words: "choros" circular dance motion (Luke 15:25); "orcheomai" leaping up and down in concert (Matthew 11:17), or individually (Matthew 14:6). Dancing was performed by individuals and by groups of two or more, often in circles while laughing and holding hands.
Sometimes dance is a performance by adorned females (Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34; comp 5:1, 1 Samuel 18:6, Matthew 14:6). We can only imagine how they expressed their joy with their happy hands and feet, while spinning and jumping up and down to the rhythmic music, voices and instruments of the day. It should not be difficult to conjure up such a mental image, or to imitate the health benefits of such Joyful Dancing today.
Women often danced and played their timbrels and tabrets (tambourines). Hand held harps, stringed instruments, organs, psalteries, cornets, trumpets, wooden instruments, drums and cymbals - all provided a concert of energetic "big-band dance music" that accelerated and synchronized the pace of dancers' happy hearts. Dance is clearly one of the most motivating and effective of all forms of whole-body exercise.
David, the King of Israel, celebrated by gloriously leaping and dancing before the holiest Ark of the Lord with all his might, wearing only a loin cloth (2 Samuel 6:14-20). King David thought not of himself, but even led God’s choir "uncovered." (Perhaps such modern behavior should be confined to the privacy our your own home – smile.)
Too many modern organized religions have lost the great biblical truth about merry dance. It was originally reserved for occasions of sacred religious worship, marriages and festivity. Happy dancing grew to be practiced regularly in common life on many occasions of rejoicing (Jeremiah 31:4).
Jesus' first miracle was performed at a joyful wedding dance, where two individuals were happily joined into one spiritual unit. The blissful wedding dances of many smiling men and women celebrated both spiritual and sexual union, which was intended to create an enduring bond that would produce happy children and ultimately mature into a happy honeymoon FOREVER. Modern society has much to relearn from such ancient wisdom. Scientists understand oxytocin, but many social workers, retirement home activity planners, psychologists, religious-and-marriage councilors lack an understanding of Joyful Dancing.
Let the truth be known by all those who seek peace, love and joy. Merriment, mirth, music and dancing were naturally designed by nature into our minds and bodies, which many feel is the modern temple of the living God. Joyful Dancing is clearly described for us in the Bible for the ageless benefit of all mankind (religious or not). Happy rhythms communicate with our innermost soul and unlock motivation and energy hidden deep within. Glad dancing is not only extremely addictive - it is totally instinctive to ALL higher life forms from lambs to humans, and even to the pulsing of the biorhythms found in the simplest of all single-cell life forms. We are merely responding to the fullness of what we were created (or evolved) to become, and to what our many ancestors happily demonstrated millennia before we were born.
"We didn't start the fire - The fire's been burning since the world was turning." (Billy Joel)
Happy dancing is empowered by the sweet spirit inside those who give thanks for who we really are. We only need to receive the great gift of a life of joyful celebration, as boldly expressed in public with music, singing AND energetic (whirling) dance.
Do not wear sackcloth and ashes. Adorn yourself with the brightest garments of celebration! Dance as though you are divinely thankful for the many gifts you have, and will continue to receive. Celebrate life by singing, clapping, tapping your feet, skipping, spinning and kicking up happy heels, as do joyful young lambs in the Spring.
Ride the pleasurable tide of upbeat music made by many instruments and songs of celebration, which clearly express the rhythms designed into our innermost being, down to our most fundamental brain waves. AND help to correct the abuse of those who would corrupt the happiest gifts that have been freely given to us.
Joyful Music and Dancing are great gifts that can significantly enhance our health, happiness, longevity, and the quality of our entire life.
Here is what the Stanford Cancer Center has to say about the scientific healthy benefits of music and dance therapy:
Dance Therapy uses movement to improve mental and physical well-being. It is a recognized form of complementary therapy used in hospitals and comprehensive clinical cancer centers. Several clinical reports suggest that dance therapy helps people:
The physical benefits of dance therapy as exercise are well documented. Experts have shown that physical activity is known to increase special neurotransmitter substances in the brain (endorphins, enkephalins, oxytocin, etc.), which create a state of happiness and well-being. There are direct neural connections to the lymph nodes, which control the release of disease-fighting white blood cells. Self-image greatly influences our health. (See Psychoneuroimmunology)
The total body movement of dance enhances the functions of our circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, muscular and immune systems. Dance therapy can help us stay physically fit and enjoy the pleasure of creating rhythmic body motions. When combine with pleasant smiles, holding hands, and general merriment, joyful dancing has many measurable health benefits.
Music Therapy uses music to promote healing and enhance quality of life. It is a complementary therapy that is used along with other cancer treatments to help patients cope mentally and physically with their diagnosis. Music therapy may involve listening to music, creating music, singing, and discussing music, in addition to guided imagery with music.
Scientific studies have shown the positive value of music therapy on the body, mind, and spirit of children and adults. Music has been found to decrease the overall intensity of a patient's experience of stressful pain and can result in a reduced dependence on pain medication.
Music can help accomplish the following:
Musical rhythm is beneficial to our bodies. Our muscles, including the heart muscle, synchronize to the beat of pleasant music. Some classical music approximates the rhythm of the resting heart (70 beats per minute). This music can slow a heart that is beating too fast.
Self-expression in music therapy can reveal subconscious thoughts and feelings and be therapeutic in the same way psychotherapy has shown to be therapeutic.
The process of creating art (music, painting, sculpture or dance) can be beneficial. Music therapy can be incorporated into many different environments. People can listen to music alone or in groups, with trained therapists or without. Music therapy can be as simple as someone listening to a CD. Specially selected music can be broadcast into hospital rooms. Music therapy can be augmented with biofeedback brainwave monitors to customize the music to individual needs. Music therapists design music therapy sessions for a wide variety of needs. Some of the ways music is used a therapy include:
In a music therapy session designed to promote self-expression, a therapist may create a musical and emotional environment that encourages the subject to respond by revealing personal experiences or feelings. The session might incorporate speech and drama as well as music. Or, the therapist might use singing and discussions. By playing music with lyrics, a therapist can encourage subjects to make up words that are then formed into a positive, unique, happy song.
When music therapy and dance therapy are combined, they can have a synergistic effect on joy and a general sense of well being.
Multiple Forms Of Human Intelligence
IQ tests and college entrance exams only attempt to measure a tiny portion of human intelligence. Dr. Howard Gardner proposed a Theory Of Multiple Intelligences, based on his observation of The Seven Types Of Intelligence:
1. LINGUISTIC INTELLIGENCE To understand and use words to describe and communicate ideas and convey complex meanings.
2. LOGICAL MATHEMATICAL INTELLIGENCE To classify, order, tally, reason and sequence. This category of intelligence and its value in our culture has exploded during the 20th century.
3. MUSICAL INTELLIGENCE To understand the world and give back information and interpretation through rhythm and melody.
4. KINESTETIC INTELLIGENCE To understand the world through the body, use tools with precision and timing, to express ideas and feelings, and communicate to others physically. Involves the repetitive programming of muscle memory by athletes, dancers, tool users, etc.
5. SPATIAL INTELLIGENCE To understand the world’s three dimensional complexities, make and read contour maps, hit a curve ball, perform an off-the-ground aerial dance move, etc.
6. INTERPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE This involves the ability to understand, perceive and discriminate between peoples moods, feelings, motives and intentions.
7. INTRAPERSONAL INTELLIGENCE To know oneself and have an accurate reading of our own internal nature, motivations and psychological landscape.
Normal human beings posses some degree of all seven types of intelligence. Most people have the ability to develop each type of intelligence to a higher level. The seven intelligences constantly interact with each other in complex ways. There are many ways to be intelligent within each type.
Our public schools focus on only a very small portion of the human intelligence potential, such as linguistics, mathematics, historical facts and formulas. Testing (mandated by recent legislation) documents the fact that most schools with mediocre teachers don’t even do a reasonable job of developing basic reading and math skills. Some schools with restricted budgets have carelessly eliminated their music programs and very few teach much about dancing or healthy social interaction.
Music and dance merge many forms of human intelligence including adding enhanced expression to communications, music creativity and appreciation, balance, precision 3D spatial kinesthetics, interpersonal communication and knowing much more about one's self - who we are and what makes us happy. Teachers force students to sit passively in a boring classroom most of the day. This fact along with poor nutrition has contributed to America’s morbid obesity epidemic.
We should all follow the practice of "lifelong learning in an ever expanding universe of endless possibilities." Our ability to improve any one of our seven types of intelligence is a "use it or use it" proposition.
Delicate learning mechanisms in our brain (the hippocampus, et.al.) and our entire central nervous system come alive when we learn an energetic new dance pattern. This happens in the same way that our mental capacity expands when we are faced with an intriguing intellectual concept. If we fail to exploit our lifetime learning mechanisms, and we confine ourselves to traditional thinking in a familiar environment, our level of intelligence atrophies over time and we reduce our ability to expand any of our seven forms of intelligence.
It is very sad that so many depressed and lonely people have yet to comprehend the joyful magic of getting involved in simple dance classes and casual social dancing with many different smiling dance partners. God's merry children understood this concept, long before the earliest Hebrew culture was described in writing thousands of years ago.
Music and dancing are NOT just for adolescents on a hormone high. Music appreciation and even social dance classes have been given to senior citizens suffering mild-to-moderate neurodegenerative disease and dementia, with very promising results. It can even delay the onset, or reduce the impact, of cancer.
Renewed "mental aerobic" activity seems to enhance many forms of cognitive processes, mood, motivation, and memory - leading to improved mental-and-physical fitness and well being – all of which slow down aging, extend and enrich the quality of our precious life.
At the age of adolescence, and when we fall into romantic love, the music we enjoy influences the neural network "hardwiring" of our brain. It is somewhat sad (and even frightening) that too many of our children are being hardwired by the repetitive rhythmic “music” that comes out of violent television and video games, while they have little or no exposure to social etiquette and happy dance classes.
The music of our youth and early dating days stays with us for as long as our brain's biorhythms continue to control our behavior. If we expose an older person who is suffering from dementia to the happy music that they once loved, those permanently hardwired redundant neural connections can come alive again, and some of the impact of neurodegeneration can be clinically reversed.
A great many older people who cannot remember what they ate an hour ago (due to degeneration of the hippocampus learning mechanism) display renewed brainwave activity when they listen to the popular music of their youth. If this works for depressed demented people, how much more should nature's gifts of music and dance work for more healthy adults, who merely need a bit more joy and motivation in their complicated modern lives?
We must continue to use the great gifts of joyful music and dancing, or they WILL decline over time. If we fail to accept and use God's happiness gifts, we WILL lose them.
I plan to joyfully dance for as long as I can stand on two feet. When (if) I can no longer stand, I plan to tap my feet, clap my hands and try to snap my old fingers to the most upbeat, happy music I can find, some of which will be old and familiar, and some will have similar rhythms but be brand new.
I fully expect to sing, kick up my heels like a new born lamb, and dance my way up the hall that leads to God's bright white light, to the very merry sounds of the Biggest, Happiest, Dance Band Ever, and the angelic voices of God's Heavenly Choir. I will wear a renewed, forever young body and form that I cannot even begin to imagine today. But, until that glorious tomorrow comes for me, I'll just have to settle for a little bit of Heaven on Earth. I will dance daily at home, and go out high-energy dancing several times a week - continually learning and inventing increasingly-complex dance moves and being thankful for the many gifts that I am always receiving from God's Earthly Happiness Plan. At Walt Disney World’s family-oriented Pleasure Island, in Orlando Florida, everyone knows me as the high-energy, always-smiling, happy dancer: “Techno Larry” (in an awesome high-tech electronic light suit) - PleasureIslander@AOL.com
I am totally addicted to joyful peace, love, music and happy dancing – as nature intended us to always be. I chose to be a happy person, regardless of the complicated ups and downs of the chaotic world we now live in. I know that I am a good man, and that I will continue to reap what I sow. People see the Spirit within me, and the happy image that I project, which joyfully draws many new friends to me.
I trust God to provide continued happiness, and I believe that He will fulfill all of the Godly desires that emerge from the Sweet Spirit that He freely gave - to dwell within me on earth and forever, wherever. I am having so much good clean fun that I want to do what I can to live long and continue to be happy for many decades to come. But, when my time eventually comes, I know I will have left behind a legacy of happiness for those who love me, and a gift of many good thoughts and words that I have been empowered to leave behind for countless others to read.
© Copyright 1997-2007 Larry Hartweg JoyfulAging.com
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