Laugh, sing, dance

20 June 2013
Written by Vanessa Kenny
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Vanessa MacDonald relays a story about the importance of three simple joys in life and takes up the challenge to laugh, sing and dance more freely    

Lately I've found myself sharing with some of my clients content of a filmed interview with a woman who had travelled across the globe visiting indigenous cultures.

She was on a quest to find out what questions the healer or shaman of the tribe asked the sick when they came to them for healing (what I might call a client consultation). She discovered that across cultures the questions were predominantly the same:

  • When did you stop laughing?
  • When did you stop singing?
  • When did you stop dancing?

I recently heard a slightly different version that included 'when did you stop telling stories?', but basically the notion is the same.

For me this was one of those lightbulb moments - of course, I thought, I am/we are all made to do these things and when I am not expressing myself fully e.g. laughing, singing and dancing, then of course I am out of balance.

A few years ago I did a weekend raw food retreat where, during the day, we watched a DVD of African dance. A woman explained some of the dances of her people that are taken from the movement of animals. It was absolutely fascinating and I could see where so many modern dance moves came from, but it hadn’t ever crossed my mind where these tribal moves originated.

We were then instructed to bust some of our own moves (with our own interpretation of course) of the African animals ……woah! what me?…right now? With a bunch of strangers I don’t even know. I thought this was a raw food retreat! Funny how things can quickly turn serious when our mojo is at stake and our, ahem, so called dance credibility is on the line. Wow, my mind works overtime in its perceived stressful moments. I tamed my demons quickly, which I find is always best, and consoled myself with the fact that indeed I did tap-dancing for 10 years as a child. How hard can African be?

I should take this advice from ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who said: “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to to dance better than myself."

Letting go of my inner ‘oh my goodness everyone is going to look at me’ diva, I seem to remember the ostrich being particularly hilarious and what fun we had. I think we certainly covered all three essentials for wellness in that hour, especially the laughing.

I have a lovely client who goes to a dance class every week - she loves it and is a living testament of happy, healthy and fun. Scotland is a great place for dance. When I lived there, Ceilidh’s (traditional country dancing) were common and when everyone is up dancing and spinning and changing partners, laughing and singing becomes part of the experience - there may well have been many a whiskey consumed before the event, especially by the men - liquid amber to loosen the joints! Hopefully the laughing, singing and dancing counteracted the alcohol consumption. 

Nowadays my dancing is in the comfort of my own home, much to the horror of my pre-teen son “MUMMMM stop it!” and the occasional wedding. Note to self; get out and dance more. Luckily laughing and singing are my much-loved companions so my wellness has some strong strands already, phew!

But I believe the indigenous tribes and their when exactly did I stop dancing? 

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
sing like there's nobody listening,
and live like it's heaven on earth.” 
― William W. Purkey




0 #3 Debs 2013-06-21 12:17
I love this Vanessa. And yes much food for thought. In my life it is so easy to get bogged down by the simple act of routine's (working, cleaning, cooking, homework etc) I have forgotten what it is to have fun and laugh and just experience joy and simply just take time to stop. Time to get of the merry go round and go and sing and dance with vacuum cleaner. Thank you. Debs x
0 #2 Jan Hoskin 2013-06-20 09:52
Vanessa, love this - thank you. Talked with friends last night about how people don't seem to laugh now like when we were younger. I remember so many times laughing until I cried with family and friends and even this past weekend my family had reason to laugh with me when I unintentionally said ridiculous things, and repeating them to these friends we all ended up laughing again. It felt so good. Roll on our new world of love, fun, peace and all tthat we truly are. Jan
Love - Jan
0 #1 Sue 2013-06-20 09:18
This is so true i dont dance as much, sing as much as i did when i was younger!

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