Dance and Movement to Heal: Transforming Your Life with Jenny Cohen (Episode 152)

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Dance and Movement to Heal: Transforming Your Life with Jenny Cohen (Episode 152)

Dr. Doni Wilson talks with Jenny Cohen about how dance and movement can be healing for our bodies, helping us recover from from stress and trauma.
Recovery activities like exercise, journaling and meditation are essential to heal from stress and trauma. Outside In Recovery Coach Jenny Cohen joins Dr. Doni to talk about how dance and movement can be healing for our minds and bodies.

In today’s episode I interview Jenny Cohen. Jenny is an Outside In Recovery Coach, breast cancer survivor, competitive dancer, yoga instructor, and author. 

Today we talk about how dance and movement can be healing for our bodies. I’m excited to talk with Jenny because I also love to dance and have found it to be so healing for me. She also shares about her healing journey and what she discovered about herself, and wrote in her book, along the way.

Definitely tune in to this episode if you have been dealing with a stress-filled busy life, infertility, cancer, or risk of cancer, and/or a desire to heal from within. 

Jenny is also a multifaceted and award-winning artist known for her award-winning autobiographical fusion performances about universal themes and life challenges. She offers instruction in yoga, Acting for Dancers, Aaliyah Jenny Transcultural Fusion, Rachel Brice’s Datura Style, and Oreet’s Sharqui Workout (Master Instructor). Jenny also launched Dance to Heal Wellness in 2021.

Jenny believes that the secret to dance is that it is this therapeutic modality and even though there’s only recently been more research about it, we actually are instinctively drawn to it because it puts you back into your body. It puts you in the present moment.

Dance as a Form of Meditation

When you’re dancing, you can only be focusing on that. It is hard to focus on anything else if you are really paying attention to your body position and your movement. You are really connecting with each part of your body and how it moves, and it gets you out of your head and into your body, like a movement meditation. We become aware of how life is precious and how we only have the present.

There is such intelligence and brilliance in the specific steps, rhythm, and patterns in various forms of dance. The movement patterns, for example in belly dance, salsa, or even yoga, were determined by people (women) who spent a lot of time using movement throughout their lives and during various forms of stress, including grief, loss and trauma. In this way, as we learn a form of dance, we are also learning the movements that help the human nervous system heal. 

Dance is a form of medicine.

Finding Your Rhythm: Therapeutic Music and Movement

Jenny shares that there is a whole branch of science called the neuroscience of dance. Any type of movement combined with music ignites your entire brain, it’s one of the few activities that can do this. Also, everyone’s perception of music is different because of our cultural and gender differences. And so, there is a movement discovery process in which you follow 3 steps:

  1. Acknowledging with gratitude that you’re here now. Not in the past and not worried about the future.
  2. Being present through tuning into your 5 senses (smell, taste, hearing, sight and touch).
  3. Analyzing which type of sound or melodies does your body instinctively like to move to.

By following these three steps, you will start identifying the music and movement that is going to be most therapeutic for you individually. Everybody is different because everyone’s neurology is a little bit different. For example, there are people who don’t like music at all. Some prefer the sound of birds or sounds from nature.  

You may want to try different types of dancing before you find your rhythm. This will inform you of what you want to learn more and what you want to say no to. It is also important to tailor your own journey with music and movement based on your setting, the stage of your life, and your love language, which can change over time. 

Movement is Essential: The D.I.S.C.O.V.E.R. Oneself Process

Jenny encourages listeners to get started. She sees that we often deny ourselves the healing we need by thinking that we need to make more money first or that we should just be grateful for the way things are. However, if we never give ourselves the support we need to heal, then we’ll never feel well enough to be more productive. 

She reminds us that it is a miracle that we are alive today, and to celebrate each and every day. 

Movement is essential. Everything that is alive moves, cells move, atoms vibrate. And for us to get better beyond the trauma that we are healing, we also need to move.

The D.I.S.C.O.V.E.R. system she describes in her book, “Outside in Recovery: Dancing My Way Back to My Self after Breast Cancer,” is a process you can follow to feel like yourself again and thrive in healing by following the path to self-love.

The acronym stands for:

  • D: Discover Yourself – Acknowledging your pain and trauma and face it to be able to release it.
  • I: I Move You Move – Movement is essential to healing.
  • S: Somatic Intelligence – Acknowledging how our bodies are intelligent systems.
  • C: Can I Self-Love? – Learning to be compassionate with ourselves and our healing process.
  • O: Organic Rage – Releasing the bottled-up anger.
  • V: Venn Diagram of Your Life – Everything overlaps in our lives.
  • E: Elevated Self-Talk – How to overcome your debilitating internal self-imposed boundaries.
  • R: Recover Yourself – How being conscious of our trauma will help us take control of it and heal.

This D.I.S.C.O.V.E.R. process is a way to heal not only from mental issues, but also from physical problems. All health issues originate from the stress and trauma we experience throughout our lives: heart disease, autoimmunity, dementia, HPV, etc. By healing on an emotional and spiritual level we can prevent any of these health issues and live healthier and happier lives.

But it all starts with movement. Movement brings you to the present immediately, so those who are not familiar with movement or are not moving much have to start there. And those who are already practicing movement still need to start there because this will train you not to use movement as a form of escape.

If you are not in the present and in your body, then you will not be able to support yourself and the people around you.

Allowing Our Life Experiences to Transform Us

It’s ok to make choices based on what has happened to us and what our priorities are. If your priority is being able to spend time with family and be there for them, this could be something that inspires you to look closer and really figure out what you are missing and what you can do differently.

There will always be people waiting for us to help them live their lives. We are social creatures, and we have to recognize that we can’t heal in isolation. We heal in community. If you feel that you are alone right now – you are actually not (we are all here together). If you feel alone, that’s a part of your trauma state.

As an animal rescuer, Jenny shares that even pets represent the need of other beings waiting for you to help them live their lives. In caring for pets, you will find that you have to take care of yourself first to be able to take care of them. 

When it comes down to it, we have to be in the present moment, and movement will bring us there. Then dancing will keep us there. Do your D.I.S.C.O.V.E.R. process and you will find your life is going to turn around.

Our Subconscious Creates Our Reality

If we do not pay attention to our subconscious, it will just re-create what we have experienced in the past, because that is what we are used to and what we are familiar with. So, if we want to create something different in our health, our lives or our relationships, then we are going to need to take some actions to shift that state. We are going to need to process what we don’t need anymore, let go of anger, resentment, grief, etc. so then we can choose more intentionally going forward.

We need to recognize that we need to get into a process of knowing ourselves again, to let go of things from the past and then choose more intentionally in the future.

It’s also necessary to be compassionate with ourselves when we set these goals and we are not achieving them. We can ask ourselves: do we have a script for our lives? If you practice the movement, dancing and being present and then ask yourself these questions you may be surprised with some of the answers that you weren’t aware of that your subconscious will answer for you.

You will attract what your subconscious thinks you need but really the Universe is conspiring for everything to work out in your favor, so by recognizing the patterns and taking action like being more in your body with movement and dance you can really change your life.  

If you want to reach out to Jenny and learn how she can help you, please check out her website or her Instagram @jennyccohen. You can also check out her book: Outside in Recovery: Dancing My Way Back to My Self after Breast Cancer.

If you want to learn more about my approach on how you can start taking better care of yourself and apply my SelfC.A.R.E. protocol so that you can get back to feeling your best, you may want to start by reading my book Master Your Stress Reset Your Health

In my book, I also share the quiz I developed to help you identify how stress has affected you specifically by knowing your Stress Type. You can also take this Stress Type Quiz online.


Dr. Doni Stress Quiz

For the most comprehensive support to recover from stress and trauma, even with the most difficult health issues (physical or mental), it is best to meet with me one-on-one, which is available to you no matter where you are in the world (via phone or zoom). You can set up a one-on-one appointment with me here.

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