Toni Bergins is the founder and creator of JourneyDance. As an artistic alchemist and passionate catalyst, Toni has helped thousands of people break out of their boxes and move into new stories through embodied practice and emotional empowerment. Toni’s humor, wild expressiveness and authenticity make JourneyDance™ accessible to all, and she has trained over 800 JourneyDance™ Teachers internationally.
Early in her life, Toni talks about hating her body. She struggled with an eating disorder and self-esteem issues. Although she was living in NYC and had received various college degrees, she recognized that she wasn’t living her true authenticity. As she says, she was not present in her body. At the same time, she was a total self-help junkie and studied all of the ways to get OUT of her body, when in fact what she really needed was to go INTO the body!
Initially, she was obsessed with physical practices like yoga and working out in the gym, but they weren’t touching her heart or her spirit, and she was doing it for all of the wrong reasons. Things changed when she made her way to the dance floor: “I came to dance to heal.”
Toni talks about the language of the body that gets ignored most of the time. It’s about feeling and staying present with the body. “When we are not in our emotions and we can’t feel anything, that’s when we go up into our heads.” We’ve stopped feeling so we become numb.
Journey Dance is first about embodiment and then emotional expression. She says that if we can’t access these feelings, then we’re not really present and we’re not living a full, vibrant life.
Toni talks about dancing with more than 100,000 people in her classes and workshops. She says many people that have experienced trauma have left their bodies. Dance allows people to return to their bodies. In fact, the practice of going back into the body can allow us to heal by experiencing a wide range of emotions.
Toni encourages people to tell your story to the dance floor. In this way, you use your body to express your story as opposed to telling it verbally, such as in therapy. The dance floor is a giant container, and when you step on the dance floor, you are there to release your story. If you tell the story with your body, you start the process of releasing it. You give yourself permission to release that story: “It’s about processing your stuff in a physical way.” The dance floor is a safe space where you can process this emotionality.
She talks about vulnerability being her greatest challenge as a person. In her early years, she was a perfectionist and she didn’t have a connection to her heart.
If you are feeling stuck, Toni tells people to embody that stuck-ness or whatever you are feeling. Start moving to the music. If you are feeling stuck, the key is to feel stuck. Don’t pretend that it’s not there. As she says, “my mind cannot solve my emotional problems… I have to use my body.”
The mind wants to control things and keep you safe. But it can’t help you with your emotional problems and it can’t help you heal your heart, only the body can do that.
She talks about some of her other grounding practices, such as walking every day, preferably in Nature. Music is also a powerful tool and probably the fastest way to find some inner peace. “The music effects us on a soul cellular level.” Expression is so critical for feeling peaceful and grounded.
Toni points out that “well-being is about being who you are, and not trying to be what people think you should be.” You can certainly be grounded and peaceful, but you should also be creatively inspired, wild and silly and whatever else you want to be.
In the end, she shares this wise advice with her younger self: “You are a gift, just keep going, be yourself and TRUST”
You can learn more about Toni and her work right here: JourneyDance.com
You can also visit her on Instagram here
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