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  1. Mindfulness is a simple brain training technique that exercises our ability to pay attention and focus on what is happening around us. Meditation meant to focus the mind away from negative thoughts and dwelling on the past. http://www.quickwill.co

  2. This is interesting, and there are some interesting comments on this research. However I wonder if anyone who has commented on the above article has looked at the original research paper?
    The article above states: “while all participants showed similar emotional responses to the movie clips, the meditators were the ones whose heart rate also responded.” This is incorrect. The original paper states: “To summarize, these analyses indicate that the three groups were equivalent in both variability and reactivity in subjective emotional experience and in cardiac reactivity.” (p.11). The original paper can be accessed here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21058842 If you access this please look at the full paper rather than just the abstract. The full article is interesting and reports on similarities and differences between the three groups (meditation, dance, control).
    I would encourage anybody writing about a research study to include a link to the original research paper so that readers can access the original research. This gives the reader a choice about responding to the original research rather than responding to someone else’s interpretation of the research.

  3. Yes, these results are attractive for those of us who enjoy meditation practice. However, we should not give much credence to a study so lacking in rigor. Amongst other short-comings, it does not take into account the self-selection process before the study began. In other words, there may be significant differences in the ability to experience somatic awareness that lead participants to choose and be able to stick with a meditation practice for at least two years. The researchers assume that the greater ability of meditators to have body awareness is a result of their practice. That might be so but there is no proof of a causal relationship in this study. In addition, all dance is not the same. Some forms, like ballet I would argue, are based on a relationship of dominance or mastery over the body, not one of attunement. The result is track record of abuse to the body. As a yoga therapist I have personally seen the damage and the disconnect from their bodies of ballet dancers. I think a more interesting study would compare meditation to a form of dance like Gabrielle Roth’s four rhythms or contact improvisation both of which evolve out of mind- body connection.

  4. hi,I would love to know where i can read up more on the five rythm dancing approach ,since I work with adolescents and it may be a helpful approach in getting them tuned into their body state.
    thanks Minky

    • Check the Wikipedia entry on Five Rhythms (Thanks for the correction. I couldn’t remember from the one workshop I did whether there were four or five.). You can also go to the creator’s website: GabrielleRoth.com

  5. I agree with Dr. Welsh that this study is inherently flawed. As a dance movement therapist who has studied a number of different dance forms as well as meditation, I would like to add Creative Dance and improvisation as well as West African dance to those forms which I would deem more likely to evoke body and self awareness in people new to these forms.

  6. As a professional dancer and teacher for over 47 years I tend to agree with what Dr.Deborah Welsh said. The body was created to move, but movement of the body doesn’t occur until something within is touched. Then the desire to express that emotion causes the body to move. Music, whether instrumental or vocal, will play a role in stirring up or bringing forth that emotion. It may be a positive or negative emotion that needs expression and when expressed through movement, such as dance, it is released and a sense of overcoming is felt. This releasing of emotion aids in overcoming stress, which is a major cause of illness.
    I have been dancing for 61 years and meditating for over 50 years and I feel the two modalities complement each other. Each help to release stress and enable one to connect with that inner space where one can connect to the Source and experience one’s higher, perfect self and bring it forth into everyday life.

  7. There is some logical inconsistency here that someone may be able to explain to me.
    As I understand from the article all the respondents offered their subjective sense of what their feeling response was to the movie clips and they were all saying similar things eg. if it was sad then they all experienced it as sad etc.
    But at an autonomic level the body is not responding “appropriately” in the dancers and the controls.
    I could understand the relevance of mindfulness in this if the dancers and controls were subjectively offering responses like “untouched” or amused to the “sad” content but their heart rates were saying the response is more like sad.
    However the way the study is being interpreted seems to be suggesting that their unconscious emotional responses don’t fit??
    Surely mindfulness is about learning to read and understand how our bodies have responded to something, not deciding in out minds what our response is and then sending a message to our hearts to beat accordingly??

  8. Dance, when so narrowly defined in comparison to meditation, skews this study enormously. Dance Movement Therapists, practicing various meditative dance techniques, and those participating in such dance experiences as the Five Rhythms, Contact Improvisation, Creative Movement, Authentic Movement, and the like, would test very differently than those only or primarily dancing ballet and modern dance. As someone who dances, practices and teaches yoga and yoga nidra, and has been a sitting Vipasana meditator for years, I suggest that this study is inherently flawed in comparing dance to meditation and the roots of all aboriginal, sacred dance, including the earliest Modern Dancers are meditative. Deborah J. Welsh, Ed.D

  9. I have been teaching the 5 rhythms movement meditation practice in Ireland for the past 16 years. The attunement to the body and mindfulness of movement is paramount in this teaching. Performance and choreographed movement are not part of the practice. Thus students learn a deep awareness of their physical, emotional and intellectual lives through the medium of movement.
    I would certainly love to see this work being studied in the way sitting meditation is these days.

  10. I have been taking dance lessons myself for the last 10 months. I also use meditation on a daily basis. Personally, I find I like both. I have discovered both allow to be be a better therapist. This, I believe allows me to be in touch with my own body.

  11. Interesting, when a study is designed it is often difficult to capture a single measure as there are so many confounds to take into account. With my own training and background I immediately thought about the NLP aspect of modalities creating a confound.
    When I work with clients we build rapport through matching modalities and people who are natural feelers (kinesthetic) drop into trance at a much deeper level than other modalities, people who easily visualise make many more connections! I wondered whether a study to see whether there was a particular skew towards some sense modality might show a link between meditators and visualisers? what do you think?

  12. I also love authentic movement and walking meditation/labyrinth. There are also other movement awareness approaches that use contemplative movement to stimulate or support a deep body-mind connection. The Feldenkrais Method is excellent in this regard and has profound mental and physical effects. Other well-known modalities are Tai Chi, Qigong, and the Alexander Technique. Also Nia is a kind of dance that doesn’t focus so much on performance but rather on creating pleasure and versatility in movement, it’s light and fun, and might be a great stepping stone for some people who are not ready to do a more focused mindfulness practice. Of course, with all of these modalities, as well as Yoga, it’s best to research and find a teacher who will be sensitive to any mental health needs of the students.

  13. As a lifelong modern and improvisational dancer and choreographer,I can share that the intention and foci of most dance technique classes is more gross motor, relational, and external than any kind of introspective practice such as meditation. While most dance and yoga classes may have moments of inward reflection and over time most dancers do gain enhanced proprioceptive abilities it does not necessarily mean that they are learning to refine their body awareness. This, of course, is very much dependent upon the skill of the teacher and how much self-awareness she/he has and their skill in sharing that skill set with their students.
    I highly recommend that a study like this one be done comparing a somatic education practice such as Continuum Movement and Meditation. Unlike any other somatic practice that I have experienced, Continuum is accessible to everyone regardless of background or physical ability. It uses audible breath and slows down all movements so that they can actually be sensed. Continuum is deliciously simple and effortless in its approach so that entry into the world of movement and sensation feels safe and results are instantly perceptible even to the most determined skeptics or the most traumatized among us.

  14. I understand there are many types of walking meditation. I enjoy and teach walking QiGong a long with many other forms of QiGong. QiGong is part of Traditional Chinese Medicin and is a moving meditation form that is very beneficial in many categories. On wwww.qigonginstitute.org you can find many different reasearches on QiGong and its benefits on body, mind and spirit.

  15. I was wondering whether the outcome may have been different if e.g. the Five Rhythms Dancing approach by Gabrielle Roth had been part of the study. 5 Rhythms Dancing is a movement meditation which draws on Gestalt practice, transpersonal psychology, shamanistic and eastern philosophy. It guides you towards setting your body in motion in order to still your mind and allow you to connect to the spiritual.

  16. The Saint Paul nuns (Anglicans/Episcopalians) have painted a full sized labyrinth on the floor of a gym-sized building. It is in downtown Vancouver.Many business people come to spend their silent lunch-hour walking unshod and meditating here. It is free. (Of course there is a voluntary subscription envelope near-by!) Look for one in your town, or build one in your yard….walking meditation, nothing like it for a quiet headspace.

  17. I wonder if the fitness level of the dancer has something to do with a more resilient/consistent heart rate.

  18. yes, most dance training focuses on body awareness for increased technical abilities and for expression in performance. But teachers of dance movement therapy and Authentic Movement focus on how sensation leads to self knowledge and becomes a way of integrating body/mind. There are teachers of dance technique and improvisation that also help their students discover more of their true nature through sensation but it is not necessarily an emphasis in dance classes. glad there is some conversation in this direction.