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Health & Wellbeing 5

Health & Wellbeing 5 ways to… Dance yourself happy There is a saying in Islamic mysticism which reads: ‘God respects us when we work, but loves us when we dance.’ Dance is one of the oldest methods of healing used by priests and shamans to tap into the Divine, and with people celebrating World Dance Day on April 29th, why not harness its powerful energy to lift your spirits, banish stagnant emotions and boost your self-esteem? Dance to raise A smile Spring is about lighter days, new beginnings and moving forward. Linked to this month is the tradition of April Fool’s Day, thought to originate in the 16th century, when it was the custom to play good-natured pranks on a ‘fool’. Traditionally, the Fool embodies innate wisdom and encourages us to not take life too seriously. Dancing is fun, allows us to be silly, let off steam and links us to a creative, wise part of ourselves. So, be an April Fool in a playful, spiritual sense and take spring as an opportunity to dance. 2 Dance for insight Humans have danced since the dawn of time to express emotion, entertain, tell stories, honour the gods and perform rituals. It can also be meditative, helping us tap into the subconscious mind. If you’re tired or feeling out of sorts, dance can help you discover what’s behind it. Let your intuition guide you to the type of music that suits you in the moment. Put it on and dance, letting your body and mind move to the rhythm. Close your eyes as you shift and sway – what words and images come to mind? Note down your findings and see what resonates with you. 3 Dance for your future self Feeling stuck? Let music take you into the past to see if there are emotional blocks you need to release, or parts of yourself from a previous life that can be brought into your current one. Find songs that transport you back to a period in your life, positive or negative, for example your teenage years, starting work, or meeting a partner. Move to the music and allow the associated emotions to float into your mind. Did you make any decisions that were right for you then, but that are immobilising you now? Does it bring up good feelings, memories of things you used to enjoy, that you’d like to do again? How could you make these changes? 4 Dance for health and joy As a form of aerobic exercise, dancing is a fun way to keep fit and produces a delicious endorphin rush. It has other perks too, including improving balance and boosting mood, memory and self-esteem. Research by the University of New England found that when a group of people suffering from depression and anxiety were assigned to six weeks of either tango classes or meditation, while both groups became less depressed, only the tango dancers reduced their stress. And a 2014 study found that just five minutes of freestyle dancing increased creativity. 5 Dance to connect with the divine A dance ritual helps strengthen your mind-body connection, putting you in touch with your divine intelligence. Perform your dance regularly and you’ll find your intuition bubbling up to guide you. You can dance before any activity to tap into this part of yourself – a creative project, for example, such as writing, or perhaps a social event. Before you dance, set your intention and put on music – soothing nature sounds, such as rain, work very well. Focusing on your breath, move your limbs loosely, releasing any tightness. Find a word that embodies what you hope to achieve and repeat it to yourself. 60 april 2018

mind, body & spirit Walk off cravings While it’s true that a little of what you fancy does you good, if the voice inside your head won’t let you ignore your cravings then science may have found a simple solution. It’s estimated that 97% of women and 68% of men get food cravings – and they tend to be for sugary foods, rather than the likes of kale. However, a study published in the Public Library of Science journal has found that a 15-minute walk reduced participants’ cravings for high-calorie, sugary snacks. Of the 47 participants, all sugary snack lovers, half spent 15 minutes walking briskly on a treadmill, while the others rested. Then they were all given sweet treats to unwrap and the walkers showed a muchreduced appetite for the treats. So, when your healthy eating self-sabotage gremlin rises, outwit it with an energetic walk! Breathe right for energy Feeling sluggish? Try right nostril breathing to boost your energy. Sit up in a straight but relaxed position, hold your left nostril closed with your left thumb and breathe slowly and rhythmically through the right nostril for a few minutes. De-stress with super synchronicity Those funny coincidences in your life might be trying to tell you something RESEARCHER Robert Perry has come up with a ‘super-synchronicity’ theory of how two strikingly similar events (synchronicities) occurring close together can carry the solution to a problem and help you beat stress. All of us have had events in our lives that seem like coincidences, but Robert believes they might answer a question we’ve been struggling with, or bring new ideas, that can stop your mind racing and bring life back into balance. You can follow Robert’s guidelines to make the most out of synchronicity: IDENTIFY two or more distinct but related events. One will be something that’s happening in your life, or that you’re puzzling over. The other will mirror or symbolise this event. For example, you read in the paper that journaling is good for stopping mind chatter, something that bothers you. That night, you might dream about journaling or the following day overhear someone talking about it. THINK about the two events that are related, make a list of what they have in common and ask yourself if these similarities yield new information, or answer a question. TIMING is important. Your two events must be no more than 12 hours apart. According to Robert’s research if there’s more than 12 hours between events they’re more likely to be coincidences. Sometimes, they can happen simultaneously – you could be reading about journaling while something related to it comes on the radio. The events must also combine to form an outcome – either solve a problem or answer a question. The information must add up to a lesson, warning or guidance, and be addressing an issue. So, next time you’re trying to solve a problem, keep an eye out for super-synchronicities. april 2018 61

Country Walking – the first ever issue, April/May 1987