Beware of New Age Dance Forms

CF writes: “When you have a chance, do you know anything about moving meditation? It seems New Age to me. Is Persian dance a form of moving meditation? Also, what about ecstatic dancing and trance dancing. Is this stuff New Age?”

From what I have seen by perusing a number of Persian dance sites, moving meditation is not necessarily a part of Persian dance, but is a New Age form of dance/exercise in its own right.

Persian dance is an ethnic Iranian dance that is typically very slow-moving and expressive with distinctive hand movements and facial expressions. This dance style involves mostly the upper body –  the face, head, torso, and hands – and requires extreme flexibility and grace. I only found one dance studio online that offered Persian dance with a meditation component included in the class.

Although it’s not very likely, anyone who wants to try Persian dance should be certain that classes don’t include “moving meditation” and/or “ecstatic dance” because they are associated with non-Christian spiritual practices and the New Age.

For some background on moving meditation, this site explains that is “a meditative state – a shift of consciousness – while doing simple movements. It is a way of calming the mind and creating awareness.”

Some examples of moving meditation include yoga, qigong, tai chi and aikido as well as walking a labyrinth and Sufi whirling.

Ecstatic dance is a style of dance that is free-form and open to expression. Dancers “feel” the music and allow themselves to dance until they achieve a trance state and feelings of ecstasy. It’s considered to be a healing practice that unites the mind, body and spirit while promoting spiritual awakenings by raising awareness. Rooted in ancient shamanism, it is often performed to rhythmic drumming which is another vehicle used to bring about an altered state of consciousness.

A modern version of ecstatic dance was introduced by Gabrielle Roth in the 1970s along with her 5Rhythms practice which is very New Age.

Roth also introduced what is known as Sweat Your Prayers which is a form of moving meditation designed to help the dancer enter a state of Divine Awareness. As she writes in her book by the same name, “To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self. Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past. . . . Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna, or the sweatlodge. I do it on the dance floor. The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy.”

Another New Age inspired dance form is called Soul Motion (TM) in which “the language of the dance becomes a Divine dialogue between the individual and the Creative Spirit within.”

Trance dancing is also a form of moving meditation that is designed to “bring about a euphoric state of altered consciousness.” It’s typically done free-style while listening to meditative drum music for about a half our in order to help one achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Tai Chi is perhaps the most prevalent and well-known form of moving meditation and is said to promote the circulation of a non-existent energy form known as chi within the body.

With the exception of Persian dance, Christians should be wary of becoming involved in any of the above dance practices.

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