If you instinctively bristle at the idea of dancing, just stay with me here!
Many of us tense up just thinking about dancing—because we feel self-conscious, because it perhaps feels silly, or because it's just not something we normally do. But sensual dance meditation, as Whitney conceives of it, isn't about performance, skill, or any structure at all really. This type of dancing is actually less about the dancing itself and more about tuning into yourself and your emotions. It's giving those emotions an outlet through which they can be expressed.
"Using dance or some kind of movement to move out that energy, to move out the anxiety, the fear, the lack of self-worth, the lack of self-confidence, is just a great way to connect to ourselves," Whitney tells me. "Emotions want to be moved out. That's why they call it e-motion."
Whitney says her dance meditations are often a mix of both joy and pain. "It's like getting more clear about what is underneath the surface... Allowing ourselves to feel sadness. Allowing ourselves to feel regret."
Dancing—when practiced mindfully and intuitively rather than performatively for others—can essentially be a way to move emotions that are stagnant in the body. You know that feeling of being overwhelmed, like your whole body feels heavy or weighed down by stress? Movement can help to relieve some of that pressure. While taking a walk or exercising shares some similar benefits with dancing, more unstructured movement taps into your intuition. You move the way you want to move, based on how you're feeling. In this way, emotions can be expressed more freely.
"There's something about just allowing our bodies to move the way our bodies want to move, without judgment, without trying to do any choreography," she explains. "When I dance, I give my body permission to do what it wants to do, to show up the way it wants to show up, to feel and emote in a way that it wants to feel and emote."
How to try it.