For hundreds of years certain individuals in the western world have followed this practise.However, it has only entered the consciousness of the general public in the last thirty years or so.
The general practise of dance meditation is even more recent and for children is a new rapidly developing area.
I don’t think it is helpful to try and define “meditation”. It means different things to different people. It’s effects are what matters. The word itself terrifies many people but it seems to me that a lot of people reach meditational states but do not realize this.
I have spoken to many adults from all walks of life who have told me of experiences they have had when they were clearly in a meditative state but were unaware of this fact.
Bored pupils in school seem to have two major strategies for finding relief. Some distract their neighbours by talking etc. and often succeed in disrupting the whole class.
Another group of children (and this included me) remove themselves from the scene by “day dreaming”. I can remember looking out of the classroom window at the blue sky. I was transported to a place which was quiet and peaceful and where I felt I was related to everyone and everything. These sessions always resulted in a sharp call by the teacher which brought me back to the “here” and “now”.
Movement meditation is especially suitable for children. Susan Kramer’s book “Meditation for all Kids” features many moving meditations which she describes simply and in detail. She includes a dance meditation.
However, as always my primary interest is in children with special needs, their parents and what can be achieved at home.Dance Therapy in general can bring joy into children’s lives, calm or stimulate them, be a source of fun, give them confidence and feelings of self-worth. It can also improve children’s posture, co-ordination and general health.There are certain groups of children with whom it will be hard if not impossible to do dance meditations. To this group belong children who are totally immobile and “away in their own world” most of the time. I believe they are already experiencing higher levels of reality and only visit us and their bodies from time to time. It should be possible to do dance meditation with children who are immobile but are focussed on this world. Dance meditation with children can go very much deeper than dance therapy on its own. You know your child and will be aware of which areas you would like to concentrate on in meditation.
The type of dance you initiate will depend on the “key” word for the meditation. If, for example, the word is “peace” then the music, the dance and the tone of voice in which the word “peace” is said must all reflect the meaning of the word. There needs perhaps to be a visibleillustrative point of focus for the child.
For children with conditions such as ADHD “quiet”, “stillness” would be suitable themes for the dance. It may be very difficult to get these children to focus. Perhaps a reward system might be a way of encouraging a child who has special needs in the right direction until they feel the benefits of the dance meditation.
I do believe that dance meditation interspersed with regular sessions of dance therapy can change behaviour and bring benefits both to your child and yourself.