“Words are the language of the mind and music is the language of the soul. When we seek to express or evoke emotion we turn to melody.”
– Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
I’ve found Rabbi Sacks’ statement to be true in my husband Glen’s experience with Alzheimer’s. Even though his mind is clouded and he has lost his words, he still sings. Melodious ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ along with a contented smile testify that his heart is joyful and his soul is at peace.
If music is the language of the soul, then dance, for me, is the language of the body. I dance to express and release my emotions.
Losing my husband to Alzheimer’s gives me much to be sad about, but being sad all the time is not healthy. I have learned that listening to the right music can lift my spirit and that dance can pull me out of depression and into a better place.
I’ve been dancing all my life, and even at 58, I still take dance classes. The Nashville Ballet has very talented pianists who play beautiful classical music throughout our classes and occasionally, if I’m lucky, play my favorite piece during grand allegro – the theme song from “Pirates of the Caribbean!” How can you be sad when you hear this masterpiece by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer?
When the music begins, I take a deep breath and allow myself to get lost in it. The rhythm and the tempo inspire the way I move. The key and chords set the tone for my emotions and expression. Along with the obvious physical benefits of muscle tone, balance, and cardiovascular health, my endorphins kick in and my mood lifts. Dancing helps me escape my sorrow and frustration. When I’m dancing, I don’t think about the past or worry about the future. I am in the present, forsaking the mundane, and entering a sacred place of surrender, thanksgiving and celebration. I sense the Divine and I place my trust in His will. In this respect, my dancing has in some way transcended into prayer and I am at peace.
My choice is ballet, but you can choose any style of dance that you enjoy. Our bodies automatically respond to music when we tap our feet or sway back and forth. As long as you’re moving with the music, you’re dancing!
I encourage you to take time to listen to music each day. Let your body move and stretch. Even sitting in a chair and moving your arms to music can be a dance. Find the music that makes you FEEL GOOD.
We are physical, intellectual and spiritual beings. Don’t neglect to take care of yourself on any of these levels. When it comes to the physical side, find the outlet that works best for you – but I hope you dance!