Dance and hug for spiritual wellbeing

I’ve just returned from a week at the Unicorn Dance Spirit Camp. I was co-leading sessions called Nourishing the Heart, which were a great experience of how to raise spiritual wellbeing.

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A focus of the whole camp is Dances of Universal Peace: these are akin to circle dances, but the dancers are singing and moving to prayers or devotional phrases, with live music. This may sound strange, but over many years I’ve found that dance of this kind is a powerful way to release your stress and find your joy. It’s also a great inter-faith process, as these dances use prayers from many spiritual traditions.

In recent years I’ve evolved sessions that combine these dances with a range of practices and processes to help people deepen their spiritual wellbeing. Hugs and supportive touch are a powerful part of this: for example, inviting a group to sit back to back in pairs to feel supported in facing their fears.

In one exercise, I invited people to pair up, with one person supporting the other by kneeling behind them and gently holding their shoulders. We used a meditation with sound mantras to help people become more centred amid too much uncertainty. The feedback was that this simple physical touch had helped the process hugely.

These sessions were my first time of exploring Thomas Berry’s teachings with a group, and it was very well received. As one participant said, “you provided a safe, gentle process to face my worries about the state of the world, and find hope.”

The Unicorn camp has provided valuable experience which will shape the Dare to Imagine workshop in October. This will probably include a couple of Dances of Universal Peace, and several hugging opportunities!