Talking Spirituality: Ecstasy

by Natalie Grigson on March 19, 2014

What do you think of when you hear the word “ecstatic”? Perhaps that rush that flushes your cheeks and beats your heart you see the person you love? Maybe you think of the feeling when somebody has just given you the best news of your life—Congratulations, Mr. Thomas, it’s a girl, or, depending on your Mr. Thomases, Congratulations, you won some money. You might even think of “ecstasy” as MDMA if you partied a lot in the 80s. Or early 90s… or late 90s. Okay, pretty much anytime since 1982.

My point is this: no matter what you think of with the word, the bar is raised pretty high. I mean, “ecstasy” itself is defined as an “overwhelming feeling of great happiness” or even “an emotional or religious frenzy or trancelike state.” So you can see why when I decided to try “ECSTATIC DANCE,” I wasn’t quite sure how it could live up to my expectations.

And to be honest, it didn’t. It surpassed them.

My evening dancing with ecstasy began around 7:00 at the Mission Dolores Academy—which to those of you who really do dance with ecstasy (as in ecstasy) may seem like an ungodly early hour to party. But this event isn’t some rave for you to stuff substances down your throat and see who you go home with at 3 AM; it is a spiritual cleansing, a bringing together of souls, it is beautiful—and besides, there’s a no drugs, no booze policy. In other words, no crutches allowed.

We started with something called a “contact improv” class. Which, if you have never done before, I can’t recommend enough. The class slowly brings you together with those around you, at first, moving as one at a distance; then getting closer, mirroring each other’s motions; finally, touching, trusting, and coming together. That moment when you look into a stranger’s eyes as your fingers lightly touch, and you can see the universe, Life, and yourself reflected back. There is something so sacred about that.

In fact, the whole night was a spiritual experience. After the contact improv class, the DJ kicked the music up a notch, and more and more people began filtering through the doors. Men and women of every age, race, and sexual orientation all moved around the room, dancing, singing, playing, practicing yoga, and by about 9:00, we were rolling around on the floor like puppies together. Honestly, if you’d looked in, at the flashing lights, the music blaring, and everyone just so in love with one another, it might seem like we were on ecstasy. And I guess we really were. But we didn’t need to take some pill to get us there. It had nothing to do with anything so temporary—getting good news or feeling momentarily satisfied. No, the true ecstasy of Ecstatic Dance comes from within. I have not felt so intimately connected with a group of people, with the present, with Life, in a long time. This is the *ecstasy you seek.

So give it a try.

*Side effects may include: a deep feeling of connection with yourself, with God, and the people around you; laughter; love; sweat; and absolutely no hangover whatsoever.

Is there something out there that you’ve been dying to try, relating to spirituality or religion? Send me a note and let me know—I’ll be the guinea pig and even write up a nice little story for you.

Photo: Flickr user Triratna Photos

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