Teaching children dance meditation is one of the latest therapies to come to prominence in the search for ways to help children cope in our evermore stressful world.

Certain individuals in the Western World - usually in Holy Orders - have practised meditation for hundreds of years. However, it has only entered the consciousness of the general public in the last forty years or so.

The general practise of dance meditation is even more recent and dance meditation for children is a new rapidly developing area.

I do not think it is helpful to try and define "meditation". It means different things to different people. The effects of meditation are what matters. The word "meditation" terrifies many people but a surprising number reach meditational states without realizing it . Many adults from all walks of life have told me of experiences they have had when they were clearly in a meditative state but did not recognize this as such.

Bored pupils in school seem to have two major strategies for finding relief. Some distract their neighbours by talking and often. succeed in disrupting the entire class.

Another group of children, to which I belonged, remove themselves from the confines of the classroom by "day dreaming". I can remember looking out of the classroom window at the blue sky. I was transported to a place which was quiet and peaceful and where I felt I was related to everyone and everything. These sessions always resulted in a sharp call by the teacher which brought me back to the "here" and "now".

Movement meditation is especially suitable for children. My primary interest is in children with special needs, their parents and what can be achieved at home. Dance Therapy in general can bring joy into children's lives, calm or stimulate them, be a source of fun, give them confidence and feelings of self-worth. In addition it can also improve their posture, co-ordination and general health.

There will be parents and carers who are familiar with and practise meditation but who are new to the idea of dance movement. To some both practices will be unfamiliar. But you will know what your child is capable of and not cross the safety boundary. Help is available for those who would like some ides as to how to initiate Dance Movement Therapy with Children who have Special Needs.

There are certain groups of children with whom it will be difficult if not impossible to do dance meditations. To this group belong children who are totally immobile and "away in their own world" most of the time. My feeling is that they are already experiencing higher levels of reality and only visit us and their bodies from time to time. It should be possible to do dance meditations with children who are immobile and in wheelchairs but are focussed on this world.

Dance meditation with children can go very much deeper than dance therapy on its own because it requires a wider and deeper focus from the participants. You know your child and will be aware of which areas you would like to concentrate on in meditation.

The type of dance or movement you initiate will depend on the "key" word for the meditation. If, for example, the word is "peace" then the music, the dance and the tone of voice in which the word "peace" is repeated must all reflect the meaning of the word. There needs perhaps to be a visible illustrative point of focus for the child.

For children with conditions such as ADHD "quiet", "stillness" would be suitable themes for the dance. It may be very difficult to get these children to relax and focus. Perhaps a reward system might be a way of encouraging a child who has special needs in the right direction until they feel the benefits of the dance meditation.

Believe me dance meditation interspersed with regular sessions of dance therapy can change behaviour and bring benefits both to your child and yourself.


Author's Bio: 

Dzagbe Cudjoe is a Dance Movement Therapist and ethnologist with wide experience of Dance in Africa and Europe. As an ethnologist her main field of research was into West African traditional religion. As a Dance Movement Therapist her area of specialization is working with children who have challenging behaviour or severe physical and intellectual Special Needs. Dzagbe is now working on helping the parents of such children to appreciate the healing effects of dance. She is the author of the e-manual "Dance to Health - Help Your Special Needs Child Through Inspirational Dance." For more Information visit Dance to Health