University of Haifa International School Student Blog
Since I did not do anything particularly exciting this weekend (just hung out, did homework and watched movies), I thought I would share the highlight of my week, which was from one of my classes here! I am currently taking a course called Jewish Spiritual Practices and each week, we dive in and focus on one specific spiritual practice and last week we did dance. We read many texts and sources all about dance in the Jewish tradition, and then as we do every week and as the title of the course suggests, we get to practice it.
I was a little apprehensive at first because although I love dancing for fun, I’m no Julianne Hough. Plus we had to dance in front of the other people in the class as well. But, when our teacher first put on the music, all my worries washed away and I knew it was going to be fun!
At first, I took a meditative approach, and just swayed to the music while seated and just really felt the music. Then, as each song played I got more bold, and so did my dance moves! Eventually I was up on my feet, hopping around the room and just moving in whatever way my body felt the need to move. Once we got a couple of songs in, I didn’t even care if other people saw me dancing and judged my moves (which apparently was happening as people were peering in through our classroom window); I was being free!
At no other time in my life have I ever just danced. Yes, I’ve gone to school dances and I usually bob my head to music while I listen at home, but I’ve never just danced. I’m usually more worried about the content of my dancing, and how stupid or silly I look, but this time for whatever reason, I allowed myself to be present in the moment, and I just danced.
It felt incredibly liberating to be able to express myself in this way, so fully with no regret or worry, and through this expression, be able to feel God’s presence and connect on both a bodily and spiritual level. I think people all to often shy away from incorporating dance or bodily movement to their spiritual lives for the exact fears I mentioned; fear of judgement, fear of ability, fear of mistakes. This will happen sometimes at my student worship back home too; a song will be accompanied by some light dancing or silliness, and I was too embarrassed to fully participate, and just halfheartedly moved around a little. But worship and our spiritual lives are places where we shouldn’t feel this sense of worry and anxiety about how good we are or who is watching, because we know all that matters at this moment is our connection with God, and he loves the way we are, no matter if we can sing or dance perfectly.
All in all, this exercise was enjoyable, freeing, and a way to release all of my stresses! I went into the class that day worried about all this work I had to do with finals and papers and going home soon, but I left with a smile on my face and not a worry in my heart. So, I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone to get up and dance with all you’ve got, at least once in your life! This isn’t Footloose, so drop all your insecurities, clear out the furniture, and just dance! (Not the video game!)
In the 5th grade, my teacher, although I didn’t like her all that much, had this amazing ritual of closing out each week with a sing & dance along to “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. It’s a song about taking advantage of every opportunity you have and living life as fully as possible and yes, it is a country song! Since this post is all about dancing and taking risks, I thought I would end it here, with this song that might inspire a few of you and I hope you dance.