In the Moment - - Wellbeing -

The word duende de­rives from the Span­ish term for a mis­chievous crea­ture who sneaks into your house at night to cause may­hem. We think we pre­fer Lorca’s ver­sion!

Par­tic­i­pants have de­scribed this act of danc­ing as cathar­tic; a much needed re­lease of pent-up feel­ings. “Emo­tions and thoughts come up while I’m danc­ing, but by putting them into my dance, rather than keep­ing them stuck in my head, they move, change and pass,” says Claire, a Wild Choco­late Club en­thu­si­ast.

Even for those who are painfully shy, who have never pre­vi­ously dreamt of danc­ing in front of other peo­ple, it’s pos­si­ble to nd so­lace in the trans­for­ma­tive power of ec­static dance. “I’ve al­ways been hideously self-con­scious about danc­ing, un­less very drunk, or at home alone,” says an­other par­tic­i­pant, Ruth. “But dur­ing this ex­pe­ri­ence, I had mo­ments of joy, clar­ity and be­ing gen­uinely lost in the mu­sic.”

Danc­ing like no one is watch­ing can cer­tainly be an emo­tional re­lease. And, ac­cord­ing to the man­i­festo of Morn­ing Glo­ryville (www.morn­ing­glo­ – a tour­ing ear­ly­morn­ing rave where you hit the dance oor be­fore you head to work – it also helps us tune into our younger, less in­hib­ited selves: “We be­lieve that bar­ri­ers are cre­ated within the self as soon we for­get to play. We want to help adults con­nect with their in­ner child, to play and en­joy the spec­ta­cle of life.”

Dance psy­chol­o­gist Dr Peter Lo­vatt be­lieves that dance can in­deed be a pow­er­ful tool for break­ing down our self-con­scious bar­ri­ers. “When peo­ple dance in a trance-like state, it is thought that they can ex­pe­ri­ence a loss of self,” he ex­plains. Although this might not sound pos­i­tive, it is ac­tu­ally a step to­wards free­dom from wor­ries: “It helps them stop think­ing about them­selves as oth­ers see them… Peo­ple have told me that danc­ing helps them to switch o their mind,” Dr Lo­vatt con­tin­ues.

So what is it about danc­ing that just feels so good? Dr Lo­vatt’s ex­pla­na­tion is that danc­ing trig­gers a huge re­lease of en­dor­phins that “lift the weight of anx­i­ety from a per­son’s shoul­ders and gives them an in­creased vigour and hap­pi­ness.” This plea­sure surge is sim­i­lar to the

feel­ing we get af­ter a quick jog around the park which, ac­cord­ing to re­cent stud­ies, stim­u­lates the pro­duc­tion of en­do­cannabi­noids in our bod­ies. This sub­stance is al­most chem­i­cally identical to the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents found in mar­i­juana – a nat­u­ral high, no drugs needed!

For fell run­ner Ruth Allen, it’s the com­bi­na­tion of th­ese feel-good hor­mones with the phys­i­cal de­mands of the sport that helps her to nd her

duende. “It gives me that med­i­ta­tive still point be­tween painful phys­i­cal ex­er­tion and deep men­tal peace,” she says of her jaunts around the lofty re­gions of the Peak District. “In that place, I am to­tally present and con­nected to my­self and my wilder na­ture.”

So it seems that peo­ple can nd this bliss­ful soul con­nec­tion and emo­tional re­lease through other phys­i­cal ex­er­cise as well as danc­ing, but can duende also be achieved in ac­tiv­i­ties that are more se­date and less pulse-rac­ing?

Artist and teacher Lisa Pearn nds that an hour or so with her easel, can­vas and wa­ter­colours, par­tic­u­larly af­ter a hard day’s work at school, of­ten takes her mind to other realms. “Paint­ing is an au­ton­o­mous zone. My mind goes com­pletely some­where else where colours, en­ergy and ideas fuse, and that translates into my work. It’s med­i­ta­tion in mo­tion. I feel so happy when I’m in that place – I al­ways re­turn from it re­freshed,” she ex­plains.

For writer Jo Tins­ley, a long, slow walk in the coun­try­side is a tonic for her rac­ing thoughts and in­ner chat­ter. “I’ve got a rest­less and dgety en­ergy. In or­der to nd emo­tional still­ness, I need to wear my­self out and im­merse my­self in na­ture,” she says. “Spend­ing time out­doors works like a pres­sure valve for me. When I’m ram­bling on blus­tery moor­land, there’s one mantra that al­ways nat­u­rally forms in my mind: ‘This is real. Ev­ery­thing else is ir­rel­e­vant.’ It’s re­ally ground­ing.”

Singer and founder of Here­ford Soul Choir, Jenny Frost, nds that ex­act same sense of in­ner joy and calm when singing gospel mu­sic. “Some peo­ple come to re­hearsals feel­ing stressed out or weighed down by things, but af­ter a cou­ple of hours’ singing, they’re el­e­vated,” she says. “When you sing gospel, you don’t just sing it, you feel it. You be­come part of the emo­tion of the song, and the emo­tion be­comes real.” Jenny nds that cer­tain songs can bring her closer to duende than oth­ers: “There’s a song I love to sing – No

More Drama by Mary J Blige. It re­lates to so many things for me. When I sing it, I feel like

I’m not even in the room; it’s that pow­er­ful. It’s al­most like an out of body ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Play­ful­ness. Joy. Let­ting go. Med­i­ta­tion. Con­nec­tion. It may seem like a mixed bag of words, but th­ese all form my un­der­stand­ing of

duende, and con­cisely de­scribe some of its bene ts. And while the creative, spon­ta­neous and spir­i­tual na­ture of danc­ing, par­tic­u­larly danc­ing like no one’s watch­ing, is a sure way to

duende heaven, there are other won­der­ful ways to get your emo­tional x. If you haven’t dis­cov­ered yours yet, get out and try a new ac­tiv­ity or join a club – you never know when you might just stum­ble upon it.

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