Every so often I reach a point where I feel it’s time to make a new agreement with myself, a commitment to change something in my daily life in hopes that it will somehow positively impact my life. One of the agreements I find myself trying to keep often (and failing) is to dance every day. I have this idea in my mind that if I dance daily, I’ll not only improve, but I’ll maintain my mobility into old age. I see the signs of aging all around me and I admit that it fills me with fear to be as stiff and immobile as many people I see. When I was a child, my grandmother would say, “be grateful for your health.” I took it for granted then, but I do not now.
So, while I do not have the experience of having danced every day for a very long period of time, I’ve done it for stretches and in hopes that I can reignite my commitment, I want to share with you the ideas I have for dancing every day. The first thing I do when creating a new agreement is that I set a law of minimums. It’s simple. Just set a minimum amount that you have to do for your task to count. One minute of yoga. Five minutes of meditation. Two jazz songs of dance. The only thing that matters is that you are clear when you are dancing and when you are not. Shifting weight on a train platform is not dancing. Watching youtube videos is not dancing. Moving in slow motion is not dancing. These things all help you with your dancing, but you still have to dance.
So… here are some ideas to help you (and me) dance every day:
Make it the first thing you do in the morning. Set a playlist that gets you out of bed and gets you moving right away. Maybe it’s a slow dance, or one that gets your blood moving. Just pick something you want to dance to.
- Make it part of a work break. Whether you work in an office or at home, you need to stop working every couple hours and do something else. Go steal away to an abandoned hallway, a loading dock, a park or your livingroom and dance to a song, maybe two. I usually try for three, because that’s about what it takes me to feel coordinated enough to add a little creativity into the mix.
- Create variety. I often fail at this “dance every day” habit because I get bored after a while. The same playlist, the same moves – I feel, “what’s the point?” if I’m not doing something new. So, change up the music. Or occasionally load up a video of a move you want to learn and study that move for a few minutes a day.
- Document yourself. A photo, a video, a check-mark on your calendar… something that will give you a visible view of your “streak” will help you keep it up on days when you want to bow out. It’s not about the number of hours you spend dancing (you can’t cram 7 songs into one Sunday), it’s about the repetition of doing it every day.
- Involve others in your habit! This is easy to do with dancing. If you go out once or twice a week, you’ve got your “daily dance” nailed. If you have kids or a partner who has always wanted to learn to dance but doesn’t, get them involved.
- Stop reading stuff on the internet and get up and dance instead. Right now. Do it.
- Impersonate an ipod advertisement. All those silhouettes of people with ipods don’t show people hunched over in a subway car texting; they’re rocking the fuck out, hair flying, body in motion. The very least you can do is shake your tukus a little bit as you wait for the train, or jam down a block (perhaps an empty block if you are shy) and make use of your general means of geting somewhere by doing it in style.
- Use dancing to replace a bad habit. For example, obsessive facebook checking, negative thinking, eating bonbons. Everytime you have an urge to do one of these things, get up and dance for 8 or 16 counts or longer. Work on a rhythm you want to master.
- Expand your concept of dancing. You don’t have to move your feet. You can dance in one place. Just move your arms, or your hips. Isolate, simplify, and let go of trying to be good. Just do something. Do something new.
- Up the ante if you need inspiration to keep going. Make it public. I’m sitting in a café on Decatur Street in New Orleans and back at item #6 and again after #7, I got up and danced right here in the café. I was a little embarassed and didn’t look at anyone. On the other hand, this is New Orleans and I am far from the strangest person here. So, dancing in an empty spot in a café on Christmas morning really isn’t such a strange thing to do. The lady at the table next to us said, “That’s cool.” after I sat down. If anything, maybe you’ll add to someone’s day. The idea of dancing in public always makes my heart race a little. So, it’s a good challenge to keep it up.
Benefits of dancing ever day:
- Warming up your body is great for circulation, fat-burning and joint mobility.
- Dancing to slow music for long stretches is like moving meditation. I have some of my best ideas during a dance break.
- You’ll stimulate your brain.
- You’ll add to the scenery.
- You’ll live longer.
- You’ll be sexier.