The Mental Dance Class: 5 Tips 4 the Heady Dancer

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Over the past few days I have been listening to a podcast series called “The Overwhelmed Brain” by Paul Colaianni. The episodes consist of interviews that discuss ways in which people develop their minds in order to achieve their definition of success. I found the podcast in a general attempt to find multiple sources that could counter-act the crippling, negative, voices that run through my mind on a daily basis, cuz, ya know, one person can only take but so much after a while before it’s just time to be like, SHUT UP! (If only it were that easy!)

Anyways, as I’ve journeyed through the podcast, this idea of control keeps coming up within the interviews. All of these successful people keep mentioning how we need to control our feelings rather than having our feelings control us. And when they say control, what I think they mean is to control your negative thoughts and beat-them-up with positive ones; therefore, not allowing your negative thoughts to overwhelm what your meant to do, whether that be a daily agenda or your life’s purpose.

So I got to thinking about how, like life, dancers allow themselves to get taken out of a positive class experience because their thoughts just get in the way… I don’t know about y’all, but there are plenty of times when I’m giving that full effort, and then the burden of the world just hits me as I can’t accomplish something the way I want to accomplish it…

Messing up the Hiphop combo, like the very beginning of the combo, like within the first 12-counts, so that for the next minute you’re screwing it ALL up! And then, it’s always perfect when that happens after you just got chosen to be in the select group of 3 cuz you was JUST killin’ it the whole class!

…fail.

For those of us who get wrapped up in the thoughts of our mind a little too much, here are some things that I’ve gathered over the past few days that might help:

1. Prepare

If you know that you’re a person who has a tendency to get down on yourself in class, recognize that fact before you arrive at the door, and then leave it there as you walk in. Whether it’s bumping to your favorite songs, listening to a positive speaker, looking at an inspiring quote, speaking with a friend, or whatever, find your own way to get yourself positive and mentally ready for class before you even enter the space.

2. Talk to Yourself…Out Loud

This sounds kind of weird, but in this dope book called the bible it says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Meaning, the words that come out of your mouth are insanely influential, especially to yourself. Even if you don’t believe in scripture, there are studies (that you can find yourself cuz I don’t feel like looking them up, but there HAS to be studies)…nah there may not be studies, but there are intelligent people (i.e: Tony Robbins in The Edge) who say that speaking out loud an incantation is like listening to the hook of a song– it gets stuck in your brain. So, therefore, all the negativity doesn’t have room to reside in the space between your ears.

3. Smile, Holler, Clap, Support

One of the main things that I have been hearing in the podcast is that your posture and your expressions are indicative of your mood. If you are sulking and look like you ’bout to hit someone cuz you didn’t hit that triple-pirouette for the fourth time in-a-row, then it’s pretty obvious you’re mental state is getting down on yourself. In opposition, smiling, applauding, hollering at someone in support (at least in a Hiphop class, I ain’t ever seen no Ballet class where people are yelling at each other, but by all means try it!) are all conventions that make it hard for negative thoughts to take you down.

4. Go with a Friend

This is probably one of the most obvious, and commonly used, methods to create a positive class experience (until that friend start killin it and you getting all jealous cuz you messing up). But seriously, having someone there who cares about you beyond your abilities in class is probably one of the most powerful tools to foster a positive mindset. We all know that being in a room with plenty of talented people can be intimidating, so having someone you can ask a million questions to, joke with, support, and show love to, can be a crucial remedy to those negative thoughts that ruin the way in which you experience class.

5. Be Thankful
(That you’re not as bad as the person next to you……..I’m playing!)

You can look at this as an internal-external process too, but I’m specifically referring to showing thanks. After each class, go up to the teacher/choreographer and just thank them for their effort, time, and instruction. As humans, we’re all about connecting with one another, and making others feel good simply makes us feel good. So, no matter what kind of class it was for you personally, end it on a good note by being grateful because honestly, it is a blessing to have the money to take class and the health to dance, amongst plenty of other things.

I encourage you to think of plenty other ways to create a positive learning environment for yourself in class, but I hope at least one of these tips prove to be a good starting point for you. Thanks for reading, blessings!

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10 thoughts on “The Mental Dance Class: 5 Tips 4 the Heady Dancer”

  1. I love this! Ive been trying to pluck up the courage to get back into classes since recovering from an injury. I’ll be sure to have a read of this the night before! Dee xxxx

    1. Hey Dee, I actually just had a knee injury myself, and that is one of the inspirations for the blog post. Injuries are so discouraging, but they are also great challenges to make us stronger. I really hope you get to a class soon, I’m sure you wouldn’t regret it! If you do, I want to hear about the experience!

  2. I found this post while doing research for a class. I can see that you are doing great things, and addressing interesting topics through this blog and I look forward to reading and seeing more from you!

    1. I’m taking a psychology of physical activity course right now. So, essentially, my assignment was to create a psychological skills training lesson for a dancer and I chose to focus on self-talk.

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