Dancing mindfulness from home to University
October 4, 2017
For the past two years, the Women’s Resources Center has been hosting a Dancing Mindfulness event every other week.
Dancing Mindfulness is a dance class that was organized by Holistic Health Educator Theresa Benson, who said the event is for anyone who identifies as a woman as a way to engage students in a process of conscious movement.
It is a part of the “Women On The Move” series, and the program is free for all participants and is coordinated through volunteers.
In an email, Benson said that the program was developed by Jamie Marich, Ph.D., founder of the Mindful Ohio and The Institute of Creative Mindfulness in Ohio.
“I had the good fortune of training with her in the fall of 2014,” Benson said. “And in the fall of 2015, I began offering Dancing Mindfulness at the Women’s Resources Center.”
Benson said that Dancing Mindfulness pulls from the techniques of Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The program combines Kabat-Zinn’s seven attitudes of mindfulness: non-judgment, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go. This is combined with the seven elements of Dancing Mindfulness: breath, sound, body, mind, spirit, story and fusion.
Sylvia Dutka, interim program and volunteer coordinator, said that classes are usually attended by about 10 people.
During the class, Benson offers a presentation to help every participant know more about mindfulness. Then she uses several kinds of music to guide participants through sitting mindfulness and leads participants to engage in self-guided movement, step by step.
“I thought that Dancing Mindfulness could serve as a helpful vehicle for students to integrate their mind-body experience,” Benson said.
Malvika Mishra, a graduate student in Business, previously practiced mindfulness meditation at home once a week and is now planning on joining the class at the Women’s Resource Center.
“Mindfulness meditation has been very helpful to me this past year, helping me deal with pressures of grad life and living without my family,” Mishra said in an email. “Dancing is another activity to which I find a spiritual connection. A combination of the two was fascinating to me and something I felt I should explore.”
Benson has engaged in a regular sitting mindfulness practice since 1999. At first, she said she was seeking a way to deal with the distress in life and work through trauma.
“From my perspective, Dancing Mindfulness provides an opportunity to connect with my body and develop self-awareness of feelings and body sensations that I am experiencing in the moment,” Benson said in an email. “It also provides me an opportunity to explore the feelings that arise with an attitude of acceptance and patience.”