Disabled? Dance Anyway!
On a spiritual level, dancing can magically transform even brain damage disabilities into abilities. Dancing breathes new life into a tired soul, makes a spirit soar, unleashes locked-away creativity, unites generations and cultures, inspires new romances or rekindles old ones, triggers long-forgotten memories, and turns sadness into joy, if only during the dance. Dancing can even motivate us to feel thankful.
On a physical level, dancing can give us a great mind-body workout. Brain damage and paralysis makes it impossible to work out like I once did, but physical exercise is still important. Researchers say that regular physical activity in general can help our body, including our brains, remain healthy as we age. Exercise increases the level of brain chemicals that stimulate nerve cell growth. And dancing that requires you to remember dance steps and sequences boosts brain power by improving memory skills.
There actually is a therapy based around dance movement, which helps people with disabilities regain some of the freedoms and spontaneous expression that has been lost through limits set by emotional and/or physical impairments. As you move, emotions that have been hidden can once again be accessed and expressed through dance, opening the conscious mind to the possibilities.
How does it work? According to the Henry Spink Foundation, those with physical disabilities, dancing can help increase awareness of, and improve their relationship with their environment, enabling them to cope better with their disability. For highly articulate people it can be yet another way to express emotions, while for those who have difficulty using words it can offer a new way of self expression.
It doesn’t matter what type of dance it is, jazz, ballroom or ballet, dance can help everyone no matter what their age or physical ability, it can help you physically as well as mentally. People who have severe physical limitations can even dance in their chairs! The treatment can happen in a couple of different ways.
- It can be individual sessions, where participants move together with an instructor, mirroring their movement, they can simply observe or they may engage in dancing alone. When dance time is over, time is allotted to reflect on how dancing made the participant feel.
- Another form of therapy can be in group sessions. Participants interact with one another as the therapist observes.
Dancing can be beneficial for those who have physical or emotional difficulties…more and more doctors are recognizing how beneficial dancing can be. Researchers have focused on the relationship between personality and movement and have documented which movements are characteristic of certain situations.
When should you dance?
I dance whenever I get the opportunity. Brain damaged or paralyzed or whatever, it doesn’t matter. I dance because I like how it makes me feel. Dancing makes me feel good! I promise anyone reading this post that no matter what challenges you are facing, if you dance physically or even mentally as often as possible, you will begin to think and feel more optimistically.
Al Foxx is an Inspirational Humorist and Keynote Speaker.
Contact him for your next event, he will bring humor and inspiration or diversity training to your audience.