Dancing, Detox & Dharma

kristina leonardi
6 min readAug 24, 2023
Photo credit: Kristina Leonardi

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to dedicate myself to creating peace and harmony in the world. I never fundamentally understood why people of various backgrounds, religions, races or nationalities couldn’t get along, whether at home or abroad — because at the end of the day we’re all humans. War and all the “isms” never made sense to me, and I committed to using my life however I could to mitigate or even eradicate them.

I wanted to work for the UN, since I thought that was how to do it, and got a degree in International Relations; I quickly realized that wasn’t for me, so now I just live near it. Instead I have curated a career that has promoted and experienced unity through diversity, whether through founding The Women’s Mosaic or coaching diverse men and women from around the globe, all having similar needs, wants and challenges regardless of their location or demographics. (You can read more about my journey in the essay All Roads, Same Place.)

But I have come to the conclusion that it is through another passion of mine that world peace is possible — music and dance. Forget about foreign diplomacy and diversity and inclusion programs, just get everyone out on the dance floor!

I have been dancing and choreographing in one form or another since I could walk, and it is one of the ways, if not THE way, that I feel the most joy. I love many styles of music, but I have been dancing salsa since college and recently got back into it on a more regular basis, thanks to the many free outdoor opportunities offered in NYC during the summer. One of the added joys, besides my own interaction with those infectious rhythms, is my observation of the diversity and energy that particular type of music/dance both attracts and generates. (Check out my “Salsa” highlight reel on Instagram to get an idea of what I’m talking about ;)

The dancing — especially outdoors in the heat and humidity of the NYC summer — makes for a lot of sweat and moves energy through your body and out, which stirs my other passion of personal growth and work/life wellness. This is something I talk about as one of the ways to help relieve any emotional constipation that most of us are walking around with. And no excuses, you can dance pretty much anytime you like for free and in the privacy of your own home if you are shy!

Because e-motions are energy-in-motion, when they’re not felt or moved through, you get a little backed up. In other words, dancing serves double duty as both detox and fun, both releasing and receiving, and it lets a higher, more beneficial energy emerge from within you. It’s a natural high. I talk more about this in a recent Instagram Live, which you can watch the recording of here.

And partner dancing, like salsa, adds yet another beneficial layer: Connection. Connecting on a physical level with another person — usually a complete stranger from the opposite gender who has a very different background, age or life experience from you — and together creating a spontaneous, harmonious interaction in the moment. If that isn’t a formula for world peace, I don’t know what is.

But if you don’t dance, or even if you do, another great way to commune harmoniously with other human beings is through live music. One of the most powerful and miraculous examples of this is the Woodstock festival, which took place 54 years ago this month. When I visited the site of Bethel Woods in 2020 for the first time, I was so impressed with its energy and what it meant that I gave an impassioned extemporaneous speech, which you can watch on YouTube here.

And I recently watched a documentary about The Beastie Boys. Although I never loved their music per se, I always respected their bold originality and irreverent style — there’s never been anyone like them before or since. And I learned how Adam Yauch, according to his band mates Mike D. and Ad-Rock, was the creative force majeure behind the group.

Theirs is a fascinating journey and example of how staying true to yourself, following your bliss, and expressing your ingenuity is always the path of your dharma. As a result of their authentic expression, besides bringing joy to their fans, they became a force for combating and spotlighting injustice here and around the world, like for Tibet. One event, organized by Yauch, was the biggest social-cause concert at the time since Live Aid (the latter of which I experienced firsthand!). These are just two other examples of how, like Woodstock, a shared musical experience can help change the world.

The power of creativity, perseverance and allowing your unique spark to shine no matter what is both noticed and used by the Universe for a greater good, whether or not one is intentional or conscious about it. That is the path of dharma, and it’s no coincidence that Yauch (who died so young in 2012 at 47) was following it, way before he became a practicing Buddhist. Being dedicated to his own expression, like David Bowie, Prince and many others, is what being a true artist is.

But you don’t have to be a rock star or Buddhist. You all have a version inside of you waiting to be expressed when you follow the calling of your own inspiration, intuition and joys of the heart and are open to the muses from higher realms that want to co-create with you in myriad ways.

In these profound and transformative times, ask yourself: What is mine to do? How can I contribute to making the world a better place? Keep in mind, that doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or a formal job or career — just cultivating an inner state of calm as you go throughout your day and into any room; being a little extra kind, smiling at a stranger, picking up trash on the sidewalk that wasn’t yours; sending compassion to the person struggling on the street or on the grocery store line; laughing instead of getting annoyed at someone or something. Dance with joy. Or dance in prayer, sending it out to where it might be needed right now, like Maui.

We have more power than we think we do, and through these seemingly small or frivolous actions and experiences, we are raised up to our better angels — one person, one note, one dance at a time, together as one. This is ultimately how sustainable and profound positive change happens on this planet, not through any government or leader. We are the ones we are waiting for, so what are you waiting for?


Kristina Leonardi is a nationally recognized career and life coach, speaker and author who for over 16 years has empowered individuals to make lasting professional and personal changes aligned with their true passions and talents while fulfilling their role in the world at large. With a holistic and personal growth-oriented approach, she has helped hundreds of men and women over the past decade improve their job performance, enter or re-enter the job force, change careers, better manage their time and stress, and live happier, more meaningful, balanced lives. Her specialty is working with people who feel stuck or are in transition and can help you clarify exactly what you want to do, identify blocks, issues, and patterns in your way, and offer proven ideas, resources, and action steps to get you there.



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kristina leonardi

Speaker,Coach,Writer.Very Tall. Expertise:People. All kinds, what makes 'em tick, how they fit into the world, how they can best connect to themselves + others.