Conscious dance: perceived benefits and psychological well-being of participants

Laird, Kelsey T. and Vergeer, Ineke ORCID: and Hennelly, Sarah and Siddarth, Prabha (2021) Conscious dance: perceived benefits and psychological well-being of participants. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 44:101440. ISSN 1744-3881

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Background: Meta-analyses suggest that dance has potential to decrease psychological distress, increase trait mindfulness, and enhance quality of life. Conscious dance can be defined as unchoreographed, intentionally nonevaluative mindful movement commonly practiced in a group setting for purposes of authentic self-expression, self-discovery, interpersonal connectedness, and personal healing or growth.

Objective: To assess perceived effects of conscious dance practice (e.g., Ecstatic Dance, 5Rhythms) and examine associations between frequency/duration of practice and psychological well-being among participants.

Methods: Self-identifying adult conscious dancers completed a survey (N = 1003; mean age = 47 years; 52% from the U.S; 78% White; 73% female).

Results: Conscious dancers with ≥5 years of practice had significantly higher trait mindfulness and life satisfaction compared to newer practitioners. More frequent practice (≥once per week) was associated with higher trait mindfulness. A strong majority of participants endorsed experiences consistent with mindfulness (i.e., feeling 'more present in my body'; 99% of the sample) and psychological flow ('I felt like I was ‘in the zone’ or ‘in the flow’ of things'; 93% of the sample) during conscious dance. Among participants endorsing any of five stress-related health conditions, the majority reported therapeutic effects (i.e., that conscious dance 'helped them cope' with the condition). Therapeutic effects were most consistently reported by individuals with depression or anxiety (96% endorsement), followed by those with a trauma history (95%), chronic pain (89%),and history of substance abuse or addiction (88%). For all conditions except addiction, therapeutic effects were associated with greater experiences of psychological flow during dance, and the magnitude of these effects was large (Cohen’s d range: 1.0–2.3).

Conclusion: Individuals who engage in conscious dance report that these practices help them to cope with stress-related health conditions. Participants reporting longer duration or greater frequency of practice scored higher on measures of psychological well-being. The feasibility and efficacy of conscious dance for improving well-being among individuals naïve to these approaches will be important to determine in future research.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health Research (1 Apr 2020 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health Research (1 Apr 2020 -)
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2021 01:11
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2022 06:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: ecstatic dance, 5rhythms, meditation, open floor, movement medicine, soul motion, contact improv, biodanza, journey dance, Azul, Nia, dancing mindfulness, authentic movement, dancing freedom, trance dance, chakradance
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1104 Complementary and Alternative Medicine > 110499 Complementary and Alternative Medicine not elsewhere classified
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170114 Sport and Exercise Psychology
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520399 Clinical and health psychology not elsewhere classified
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520107 Sport and exercise psychology
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4208 Traditional, complementary and integrative medicine > 420899 Traditional, complementary and integrative medicine not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health
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