Nothing is more revealing than movement.
Dance in India, like most other cultural aspects of the country, is rich in its diversity, with each state having its own classical or folk form of movement. Though the history of dance in India is long, the idea of using it as a therapeutic technique is only just about gaining popularity. The reason for this is mostly because there has been a lack of awareness about mental illness and issues in the country. Even today, in most parts of the country, mental illness is seen as a reflection of a sin from a previous birth or a curse. There is now a gradual change in the perception of mental illness, at least in the urban areas.
Historically, dance in India has been inspired by religion but was also used for entertainment purposes. Dance forms have been used as means of expression as well as communication (Kashyap, 2005). Not only does dance convey emotions and feelings, but also represents the elements of the world around us, namely, earth, fire, water, air and sky (Ganapathy). Research has shown that dance and movement have healing properties and can also help in increasing general feelings of positivity and well-being. Dilshad Patel used dance and movement with professionals in organizations who expressed that they felt less stressed and were able to connect with their colleagues better.
The present paper aims to add, to the literature in the field, the benefits of using dance and movement in organizations. The sessions took place, at the same time, in several centres of the Thermax Group, which is a INR 5516 crore company that provides a range of engineering solutions to the energy and environment sectors. The objective was to enhance innovation and creativity amongst the participating employees in the organization. The outcome was the creation of original ideas for products conceived of by employees working in small groups to construct models of the same. There was an organization -wide competition to choose the best ideas for products that was judged by the senior management of the company.
The workshops took place in 7 branches of Thermax; in Delhi, Kolkata, Savli and four branches in Pune at the same time. The methodology was standardized and there were two facilitators – one main facilitator and one co-facilitator per centre. The activities that were used in the sessions were done with a view to relax and de-stress the employees, at the same time get them in touch with their creative sides by making them create, using movements and other art forms. There was also a relaxing visualization exercise that was done with all the employees. In the visualization process, there was reference to the five elements (earth, fire, water, air and space) as mentioned by Ganapathy referenced in earlier in the present article. Given the eco-friendly, energy saving philosophy of Thermax, connecting with the five elements of nature was important to establish.
The workshop was met with great appreciation, not only by the participating employees but also by the senior management who were judging the competition. Employees expressed immense joy in taking part in the workshop. They felt stress-free and peaceful after the workshop. Not only did they feel that it was a destressor but also that it helped them connect better with their colleagues. One employee said, “It (the workshop) was stress relieving as well as a learning experience. Working with peers in a different way than the daily routine.”
Additionally, employees also felt that the activities enhanced their creativity and innovation. According to one employee, “The session was one that provoked innovation.” Another participant felt, “Most useful was the audio- visual session which helped me to take a pause and get deep in peace which helped to expertise my ideas in model making.” Other employees felt that the varied activities had something enjoyable for everyone. One participant said, “The session tried to take the best out of everyone.”
Most participants enjoyed the meditative visualization the most and one of them said, “I found the visualization exercise with the five elements most useful and enjoyable.” On a scale of 1 – 5 with 1 being the least positive and 5 being the most positive, all the questions on the feedback form, which were related to how valuable the workshop was, the overall experience of the workshop, effectiveness of facilitator and relief from stress, received a score of 4 on average. This shows that the workshop was extremely effective in making the participants feel positive, stress-free and relaxed. It also made them connect to their creative sides, and as put forth by one participant, “What I liked most was becoming a child like my son and drawing pictures like children.”
Thus, the workshop in Thermax was a success and left all the participants wanting more. As it was aptly put by one participants, “It was a great workshop, but I wish we had more time!”