How does LUSCIOUS feel?

how does luscious feel?

I did my first ever Instagram Live yesterday. I had to look up how to do it ; ). The day went kinda south, so I girded myself with the improviser’s axiom, “Don’t Prepare; Just Show Up.” I had this idea of lusciousness, and that’s it.

So here is that IG Live. Skip in about 35 seconds to the actual start (lol, learning curves ; ).

Alia’s First IG Live!

LOTS of tips on feeling/moving Luscious!


Which brings me to…

Luscious

Hub the cat kind of needs a fez. He reminds me here of all those dear guys in Egyptian movies, caught up in the music, gazing affectionately at the dancer.

This is what I’m feeling, anyway. I’m liking where we’ve been going, and I kind of want to stay with that for a while. The last one was BOLD and we did soak on the bold side of things (Sekhmet, anyone?). I like how it was a little bit challenging, gender-bending, pushing our comfort zones a bit. Gave us a taste of a different way to be. 

I’d like Luscious to be transgressive in a different way.

I’ve had a lot of shame around sexuality to unpack on my journey. It took time and patience. We steep in the mixed messages of our social programming. Must not be sexy! NO! Must be sexy–for the other. Must not like sex! Ew, dirty! Must like sex or at least pretend to–for the other. Must not look sexy! Will get in trouble. BAD. Must look sexy! For the other…

And for us as dancers, it’s even more complicated–our costumes, the public side-eye, the even more mixed messages from the countries of origin. It’s tough to pick apart our own feelings, wants, and desires from the layers of shame and blame. 

Folk of the culture maintain that this is a woman’s dance. Everyone dances this dance, yet it’s a woman’s dance. Interesting. Gender binaries aside, to me, this means egg energy as opposed to sperm energy. The sperm goes out. It rushes. It has a goal. Swift, like an arrow! Get out there! Make those calls! Go get ’em! Rah!

The egg…. attracts. It’s magnetic. It’s engaged within and of itself. It doesn’t have to go anywhere, do anything. It doesn’t even have to put on eyeliner. It’s that juicy and… luscious. 

What if we don’t have a female body, or don’t identify as female?

Who cares? 
Sperm energy is generally valorized in Western culture–we’re allll expected to run around like little do-bees, busy busy productive extraverts. All the genders are expected to act like sperm, so why shouldn’t we all act like eggs, too? It might be a bit outside of our comfort zone–true learning is uncomfortable. And learning new skills increases our capacity for learning skills. So that pays off. And we could all benefit from seeing ourselves as luscious–self-love, affection, cherishing, magnetic, fragrant, mmmm…. 

And we could all use an hour on the sofa with with a nice little dish of bonbons. Right? And getting to enjoy those bonbons, as a choice, nibbling them slowly, for the creamy pleasure of it …

Lusciousness, Dala3, playful sensual/sexual confidence, ​is a core component of the cultural dance. It is NOT about the other. It IS about ourselves and our own self-love, affection, cherishing. Soooo…

Announcing!
Alia’s Inspiring FUN Class,

Luscious

What we’ll do
  • Explore and embody lusciousness
  • Translate simple combinations into lusciousness
  • Bring our luscious movement quality to a range of musical styles, tempos, and genres
  • Make space for self-love, affection, cherishing
  • Practice grounded, present, agency

Luscious runs Tuesday at 4pm EDT from August 9 through Sept 13 (no class Sept 6). Each class is recorded (instructor view only). Each recording is available during the session.

Will you please join us? It’s going to be… luscious ; )
Register here https://aliathabit.com/shop/#live/

Love,
Alia



How to Reprogram Your Self Talk (and why it’s worth the effort)

Behavior Creates Emotion

Yep, I’m reading another book. What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmststter, PhD is alll about the power of self talk, both positive and negative. I’m not sure what I think of it, yet (I’m a little more than halfway through). But it has made me think, and you might also find this interesting.

As dancers, what we say to ourselves can make allll the difference between our shows feeling great vs feeling like a hideous disaster.

Background–I used to be very, very unkind to myself. I said things to myself that I would never say to another person. I hated myself and told myself so at every opportunity. (It wasn’t until I found Somatic Experiencing® (SE) that those cruel voices resolved, and stayed that way.) And I am not alone in this!

Perfectionist fault-finding and vicious self-talk is wayyyy common. Something like 50% of folks report feeling like imposters. So, of course I had to read this book (plus self talk is a piece of the puzzle I’m putting together for Create Your Glorious Self…) Anyway…

Create Your Glorious Self

The advice is to first listen to your own self talk.

What are you saying? Is it self-compassionate? “There there honey, we’re doing okay. We’ll get through this!” Or self-empowering? “Wow, you did it! that’s awesome! Woo-hoo!” Or even, “Oops! Hmm. Okay, let’s try that differently next time.

Or is it more along the lines of, you stupid cow, what were you thinking?! Or, I suck at this! Or, this is the worst day of my life!

The toxic rain of negative voices can be so constant we don’t even notice it anymore. But that’s what trips us up when we want to shine. That litany of, I suck, I can’t do this, they are looking at me, they hate me, that’ll never work, who am I to ____, I don’t know what I’m doing… is self-programming, and it is also self-fulfilling. When we think this way, we feel powerless, so we act powerless., so we feel powerless, and on and on, in a miserable feedback loop.

(Side note–I’ve had some serious dental infections in the last few years, and one thing I noticed was a rise of anxious, weepy self talk along the lines of “I don’t know what I’m doing…” So sometimes there are other roots (haha), to the problem.)

Anyway…

Listen.

What are you saying? How often do you say it? What happened just before the cascade of negative? Sometimes there is a trigger. Sometimes it’s just an all day party ; ). How do you see yourself? When you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? Do you have your own back? Or are you busy stabbing it?

Maybe you are lucky and you feel good about yourself! WOO!!! You can sit back right now and have a bonbon! Well done.

If not, take action.

How to Reprogram Your Self Talk

Helmstetter advises us to reverse the things we say to ourselves, in the moment that we hear them. I suck at this, becomes, “I am competent and I can do this!” They hate me, becomes “They don’t know me yet, so here I am!” Today is disaster, I just don’t have it in me, becomes “Today is a great day! I have plenty of energy, today especially!”

I have been playing with this, and sometimes I have to laugh at the ludicrous irony of these upbeat re-framings. So I have also been engaging in “interrogative” self talk, which means questioning my own inner statements. “Is this really the worst day ever?!” Um, well, no. “Do you really not know what you’re doing?” Well, actually, I am pretty competent. That’s been pretty interesting, too. If the affirming piece is tough for you, the interrogative option might be a nice bridge.

On the other hand, I recognize the value of the process, and I do find a lift follows the shift. Saying things out load makes a difference too, as does writing them down and reading them, and reading them aloud. However we get these new things into our heads, they get into our heads.

Next Steps

We can move on from reversal to general good news about ourselves on a regular basis, saying kind words to ourselves, out loud–and saying kind words about ourselves to others! Speaking of the mirror, I love the bathroom mirror to check in with myself, to smile and cheerfully greet myself and say some nice things. I’m in there several times a day, so that’s several times a day I can check in and smile at myself.

Behavior Creates Emotion
Plus there are practical applications….

Say you want to quit something–smoking (or playing solitaire on your phone, or whatever). Helmstetter advises saying something along the lines of, “I never smoke.” or “I no longer enjoy smoking, and I have quit” He suggests we say these things to ourselves, and out loud, and to others–even as we light up and inhale.

Just continue to say the words, as we continue to smoke. We became conditioned to smoking, and we will become conditioned to the idea that we do not smoke. It will take some time, maybe a few weeks or so. One day we will be lighting up, and our now-reprogrammed subconscious mind will say, then what are you doing with that ciggie?! Yuck!

The trick is remembering to do that. Helmstetter explains how much more valuable it is to generate positive self talk ourselves–but he has built an empire on pre-recorded self talk for every conceivable issue. Which is funny, but everyone’s got to make a living, I guess.

Anyway, I’m planning to play with this in the coming week <cough solitaire cough>. I invite you to join me at whatever level. Listening, reversing, questioning, or straight up affirming your wonderfulness.

Know that you are wonderful! You are beautiful and loving, and worthy of love.
I invite you to say so to yourself, every day ❤️

And here’s some music (a sound bath, anyway ; ) for self loving self talk.

Love,
Alia

PS Create Your Glorious Self is coming together beautifully! I’ll be doing some cool events leading up to it, so please stay tuned! (Registration opens at noon EDT on August 7, 2022. There are only 15 seats…)

Five Ways to Increase Willpower

Five Ways to Increase Willpower

I’ve been reading up on willpower for Create Your Glorious Self. The way to change behavior is to actually do it ; ). And that takes a certain amount of effort. New things are hard to remember and easy to blow off. So we have to design habits that are so easy we can do them even when we have zero energy. It’s all in the design.

As I read and thought about this, I took the VIA Character Strengths Survey (it’s free). There are 24 strengths.

My will power came in at #23.

Um.

I thought back to the questions. Many were along the lines of, “I always finish what I start.” Always? No. “I always do what I say I will.” Always? Nope. So, okay, if those are the criteria, I flunk. But something still rankled.

I’m enmeshed in the excellent Optimize Coaching program right now, and they are big on Self-Mastery, aka willpower. They ask, grandly, like this is the big reveal, “Who would you be, if you always did what needed to be done, whether you felt like it or not?”

Finally, it clicked.
A PARENT. That’s who.

I am a parent. I’ve spent decades doing what needed to be done whether I felt like it or not. I got a couple of glorious years off from that, and then I was caring for my own parent. I still have family stuff that requires me to do what needs to be done whether I feel like it or not. And I do not feel like it, at all. But I do it.

The other day, my acupuncturist (without whom I would not be writing this newsletter), said, “Everything you’ve done, you’ve done on will alone.” All my available focus goes to things that need to be done.

And there are consequences.

There’s not so much left over for the things I want to do. Or that aren’t active fires (I now do my creative work first. Everything else can wait. More on this next week).

One of the things about willpower is that using it takes a lot of energy. Studies show that folks who use up a lot of it on one task will often come up empty for the next one. In one study, folks had to do a Hard Thing, and then were offered a snack–ranging from healthy to cake.

Guess what they chose? Cake all the way. Nothing left to say No to cake.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation.
You don’t have enough juice to make yourself do all the stuff. But maybe you’re already doing a lot of Hard Things. And that drains your willpower…

Willpower is like a battery

It needs recharging. Hence cake–quick calories. So….

Five Ways to Increase Willpower

1. Plan in snacks!
When we do Hard Things, we can include snacks to help us along (preferably lower on the glycemic index) for more sustained energy. AND there are things we can do to leverage our available willpower (so we can do some of those things we don’t feel like doing ; ).

2. Leverage willpower with Habits
Last week, we talked about how to create new habits. The idea is to use willpower only to run the habit–the tiny, 30-second behavior that opens the way to the thing you want to get done. You build a routine that eases you from thing to thing, and you only have to push yourself a little bit, because the habit is designed to be ridiculously easy.

Of course some things (like finances, for me), are Hard. Not just to get started, but all the way through. When I hit a snag (there are lots of them) I veer right off into space-out mode, and that’s the end of that. So I have to ask myself, what causes me to “go away,” and how do I get back? And how do I make that a habit?

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to when I “space out” (aka dissociate). I’ve noticed that it happens when I feel overwhelmed. Dissociation is about escaping the present (uncomfortable) moment. You may do this, too. So how do we come back?

Three more options to increase willpower (and “come back” from dissociation)

3. Consciously drop in to the present moment, through orientation to the space and physical sensations.

4. Make a fist, or contract your muscles. Both have been shown to strengthen resolve.

5. Slow your breathing down to 4-6 breaths per minute. That’s 10-15 seconds per breath. Make the exhale twice as long as the inhale, while you’re at it.

Which one sounds best to you? How might that become a habit?
“After I space out, I _____. Then, I celebrate!”

So that’s my practice for this week. I invite you to join me!

With love,
Alia
PS Hopefully next week we can get a peek at the CYGS webpage. I’m still fine tuning ; ). In the meantime, you might like some music to increase your willpower. Try it with Power Pose Flows.

Celebrate Everything!

Celebrate!

I’ve been reading up on Behavioral Design (for Create Your Glorious Self). When crafting new behaviors, we want to automate their implementation. I’m a fan of BJ Fogg, Stanford researcher in behavioral design, and creator of the brilliant tinyhabits.com.

In the Tiny Habits model, there are three parts to new behaviors–the Anchor (something you already do that acts a springboard for the New Thing); the Behavior (the New Thing you want to start doing), and the Celebration! (in which you celebrate having done the New Thing).

Celebrate?
What’s that?

How many of us celebrate our successes?
How many of us celebrate anything?

Hmmm… I thought so.

We trudge through our daily lists, grimly demolishing task after task (or having another bonbon, because who can even look all those tasks in the eye? Not to mention the world crises). We’re running on willpower, maybe taking time to cross one task off the list before trudging up to the next.

Do we even remember what we did at the end of the day? I don’t. I wonder where the time went, and why I haven’t accomplished a damn thing, AGAIN. I do a lot, most days; I just don’t stop to appreciate that I’ve done them.

Fogg says that Celebration element of habit creation is the most vital. That Celebration will someday be understtod to be as powerful for wellbeing as mindfulness or gratitude practices!

Um… WOW. That’s pretty huge.

The celebration releases a hit of dopamine, which is a factor in addiction–dopamine wants MORE. So that celebratory moment (12 seconds is the optimal time, I have been told), helps make the habit completion desirable to the body, because completion gives that sweet little rush. Hence, we are more likely to run the habit to get the treat.

Huh. What else would I like to do more of? Will a celebratory dopamine hit help me get that done, too?

Apparently, yes. And those things can also be turned into habits. Here’s the Tiny Habits algorithm:

After I <anchor>, I <new behavior>. Then, I celebrate!

Tiny Habits is based on the principle that the new habit needs to be stupid easy, so doing it takes minimal effort. Thirty seconds, max.

So the new habit is NOT, for example, After I eat breakfast, I practice for an hour and a half. That’s a high bar. The habit might be, After I eat breakfast, I turn on dance music. That’s pretty easy. Push a button on your phone. Boom.

And for things you’d rather not do, habits you’d like to overdraw with better habits, the more difficult and annoying you can make it to do them, the easier it is to let them go.

So my plan for the coming weeks is to celebrate. A LOT.

After I complete each phase of my day, each task on my list, I celebrate!

It will take practice. I will forget a lot of the time. But I will remember some of the time, too. And over time, I will remember more often. I know how this works. That’s how habits are built. One iteration at a time. So I can be kind to myself as I develop my new skill.

I invite you to join me in this.

And make it REAL!
No half hearted eye roll and a sardonic woo-hoo.

Give 10-15 whole seconds to this.
Chair dance! Or celebrate in the mirror. Make up a little song about it!
I did it!
I did it!
I folded up the handkerchiefs!
I did it!
I did it!
I did it, did it, WOO!!!!

Let’s let that feeling of BOOYAH!!! suffuse us, such that when we move on to the next thing, we still have a smile on our face and a song in our heart.

Let’s see what happens. We’ll check in next week.
Or post below and tell me how it’s going.

Oh! One thing I am celebrating is publication in Fanoos Magazine‘s June 2022 issue!
Check out my “How to Improvise on Finger Cymbals,” and other great articles!

Love,
Alia
PS BOLD started Tuesday. Here’s what folks said after the first class:

Bold felt good and solid!!

CH

Boldness on the inside made me feel stronger for doing more gentle moves on the outside too.

SM

Being present to the music and playing with attitudes brought out a lot spontaneous nuances and qualities in my dance that would be hard to do deliberately. I wasn’t trying to “dance”, the dance just happened as a by-product.

CL

BOLD registration is open through Tuesday, June 21. It is thrilling! The recording of the first class is up now. I would love for you to join us. Learn more and register here: BOLD

How Creative Expression Lifts the Soul

Behavior Creates Emotion

In times of trouble, dismay, and despair, it becomes ever more important for us to regulate our nervous systems so we are not at the mercy of the news, which is grimmer and more tragic every day.

Creative expression helps.

My life is not all unrelenting joy–I’m guessing yours isn’t either. And the world situation is harrowing. Though it seems disloyal not to suffer alongside the grieving, keening world, and we don’t want to make champagne toasts over the wreckage, unrelenting high levels of stress are harmful to our bodies and minds.

We aren’t doing anyone (including ourselves) any favors by being overwhelmed by suffering. Remembering what is good is vitally important. Taking time to feel good, grounded, safe, is vitally important. Letting ourselves settle into the present moment. Noticing what is around us. Feeling gratitude for even the smallest goodness helps.

So please consider the following a little vacation, and the tools within some things that might help.

Crisis resources can be found here: https://traumahealing.org/scope/


Some of the videos I posted last week did not come through on the email. My apologies!

See the RakSultana dancers’ Alf Leila and Rachel Bond’s Emperor videos here.

Each of these dancers had to discover what they they felt from the music, what they wanted to say about that, and then how to say it with their bodies. This goes way beyond steps–way beyond pantomime. Modern science has demonstrated that Behavior Creates Emotion. So when we behave as if we feel a certain way, we create that feeling in ourselves.

Think about it.

We move and hold our bodies and faces in very specific ways when we are in our various emotional states. When we celebrate a victory, our movement and affect is entirely different from when we feel defeated. It seems like it’s the context (experiencing victory or defeat), that creates the state, but it also works it the other way around. When we act as if we are victorious, we create the feeling of victory within ourselves (and vice versa).

The first time I tried this out, I was walking out of the grocery store, feeling grumpy, sore, tired–you know, #@^&%$#! So I thought, well, what if you act as if you are cheerful? My pace picked up, my head came up, a bounce appeared in my step, and I was humming a tune by the time I got to my car.

Whoa!

I started playing with these ideas in the FUN Classes

And people responded!

That was fun!
I felt so relaxed!
It really is powerful to just work with qualities, taking my time, owning the space, and not having to actually “dance.”I feel more confident about performing
It reinforced the the value of trusting myself
Feeling my individual dancing spirit free to shine through!💗
Going more into your own pleasure and then bringing it out/sharing it with audience.

We will explore these models deeply in the next FUN Class, BOLD: Archetypes and Attitudes for Oriental Dance, and in our upcoming, brand-new 10-week coaching immersion, Create Your Glorious Self. More information about these in the next week or so (I am SO excited!).

You can start right now!

How do you want to feel? ACT THAT WAY. Not pretend. For real. Immerse yourself in how that feels in your body, how your body and face show that state.

See what happens.

Alternatively, you can take how you feel now and show that in movement. Consider moving very slowly while breathing in time to the music. Slow movement gives stuck nervous systems an opportunity to reset.

Either way, let me know how it goes!

I feel so strongly about the power of this approach that I added it to Make a Dance in Five Days. The Templates and these somatic energy states fit so perfectly in with Day 4 that I updated all the information to reflect that. It felt really good. It feels really good to bring these simple tools to help us improvise more effortlessly–AND to improve our everyday lives! (Sneak Peek: Day 5 will soon expand into a complete month-long class all by itself!)

Speaking of which…

MD5 enrollment is open through Sunday, May 29.

Live coaching is available through June 5, so there is plenty of time to make your dance, with plenty of support–plus powerful new content!

Plus it’s fun to do creative things in good company ; )

Why not try it? If you decide it isn’t for you, ask for a refund. Easy peasy. 

More info is here: https://alia.teachable.com/p/make-a-dance-in-five-days.

With all my love!
Alia



Your Holiday Gift!

She raises her hands and brings the return of the light

2021 was a big year for me in many ways. My Mom became very ill on Jan 28. I stopped everything to be everything to be with her. She passed away April 17, and was buried, which was her choice, April 28. Fortunately, a dear friend moved to Vermont just in time to help me though. But it was much harder than I ever imagined it would be, and I only did what could not be put off.

The rest of the year feels like one long lost weekend. I did what I had to do and nothing more.

But I did get some things done. And, to my amazement, they came out rather well.

The Promise

The FUN Class

We ran SEVEN Fun Class Deep Dives, each with it’s own special topic!

  • Open Heart: Improvisational belly dance infused with Dancemeditation and Somatic Experiencing®.
  • BEDROCK I : Re-patterning our foundation movement vocabulary
  • BEDROCK II: Improvisation with Transitions and Combinations
  • BEDROCK III: Improvisational Musicality
  • Entrancing: How to Improvise to Entrance Music
  • Visionary Veil–Beyond Tricks: How to improvise with the veil
  • Bobby Style!: Exploring Bobby’s class format from the 70s, small combinations, different every time.
    (Our next FUN Class will be Bobby Style II: With Zils on!)

SIX new classes!

  • SPARK*
  • Feeling Resistant to Creating?
  • How to Dance or Speak for the Camera
  • How to Write a Great Blog Post
  • How to Map Your Music from Fact to Fantasy
  • How to Make a Dance in FIVE Days

I’m amazed to have put out all this content. Plus the newsletter!

FORTY-TWO newsletters!

Most of them written this year. Which is pretty darn good.

I also had the good fortune to undertake

Scads of Professional Development

  • Dandash’s fabulous class series for Zara’s Zouk
  • Joe Williams’ monthly Delsarte workshops
  • Kathy Kain’s yearlong Touch Skill Training for Trauma Therapists
  • Ariel Giarreto’s brilliant Healing Sexual Trauma
  • The Transformative Power of Eros w/ Dr. Peter Levine & Kimberly Johnson
  • Eric Maisel’s yearlong Creativity Coach Support Group
  • Lisa Zahiya’s Make More Online (which I am just beginning)
  • Peter Levine’s Covid, Post ICU, and Ventilator Trauma
  • Plus half a dozen excellent trauma skill webinars produced by Somatic Experiencing International
  • A year of Dunya’s Dancemeditation classes on Zoom (heaven!)
  • Mary Bond’s superb body reading classes
  • And a bunch of other things I can’t remember right now ; )

On the personal fulfillment side, I bought a deck of Tarot cards.
I drew ninety-five pictures on my phone (including the one above)
I read over a hundred twenty-five books.

That’s a lotta stuff.

Especially for a year that felt like I wandered through in a fog. While navigating the bizarre cocktail of stressful grief-stricken scary weird shit with which we are all coping. And avoiding Covid.

So here’s to 2022!

Let’s make it the best year we possibly can.

I want to get better at self-care. Regain my health. Nurture my spirit mystic side. Come into my power. Integrate my interests into a full-featured rich resource to help us THRIVE.

What about you?

Where have you been? Where are you going? How will you get there?
Let me know…
Below↓


AND

I have a gift for you.

Well, two.

The first gift is SPARK* FREE

I’m giving this because it is about relaxing, rebooting, and nervous system regulation through movement. It’s about feeling better and trusting our bodies. You will find that here, and it will be available all year: https://aliathabit.com/2021-gift/

The second is an invite to a party!

Omicron crashed our local First Night.
We usually draw thousands of folks to our little corner of the middle of nowhere.

So the event hosts are making it free, live, and online.
Dec 21: LIVE streaming performances all evening.
Artists and schedule here: www.firstnightnorth.org

We gotta have fun and enjoy what we can!
Hugs and Love for 2022,
Alia

On Being a Fluffy Bunny

predator or prey?

A thought came to me the other day.

I’m tired of being the bunny.

I’ve been noticing ways in which I stay small. Keep my income down. Keep my voice down. Swallow my irritation. Deflect compliments. Endure.

I’m tired of being the bunny. Of hiding. Deferring to everyone else. Coming last in my own life.

In the Spark* class a while back, we played with expressing our inner predator. It made us uncomfortable. Because red in tooth and claw and all  that. Eat or be eaten. Nasty, brutish, and short.

Which raises the question…

Predator or Prey? Eat or be Eaten?

Are we not beyond that? Are we not better than that?

Or is it a matter of definition?

We tend to conflate predator with malicious intent. Viciousness.

Power corrupts, right? Absolutely.

And we all know women are relentlessly socialized to be the bunny. To stay small and not draw attention, because… I don’t have to spell this out. While males are socialized to be the wolf. Go get it.

Eating others does not appeal to me. I’m not a confrontational person. If I had to kill my own meat, I’d probably be a vegetarian.

But neither does being eaten.

Does power always mean power over? Can we come into our own power, hold our own space, become our own ally?

What if we just reject this false binary?

Why is it an either/or? Would you rather be smart or beautiful? BOTH, thank you. We’re humans. We have both kinds of teeth. We’re not bound one way or the other. There is a spectrum. We can choose.

Instead of eat or be eaten, what about…

Cooperation?

Instead of fear or savagery, what about

Confidence?

Competence?

Poise?

I prefer cooperative, confident, competent poise.

I believe that our dance does, too.

With its focus on agency, expression and improvisation? You bet it does.

And if it’s been stereotyped into sexy, cutesy, winsome bunnies?

Enough of that.

The other day, someone said,
Warriors protect the sacred.

I can get behind that.

In Spark*, we shifted to inner warrior. It sat much more gracefully.

I’m looking forward to stepping into my personal power, my inner warrior in the coming year.

Our dance, our creative expression, our power and beauty, our true selves, our collective joy–these are sacred to me.

I want to be ME: clear-eyed, real, true.

I don’t know what this will look like or how it will evolve.

I do know Somatic Experiencing® (SE) will be my friend in this, as that’s what’s gotten me to this point.

I’ve been waiting my whole life.
For my turn.

It’s my turn.

Maybe it’s yours, too?

Let’s do this.

Love,
Alia

Oh AND!!!

This Saturday, 12/11/21, 11am PST / 2pm EST / 7PM GMT
I’ll be chatting with Roxxanne Shelaby, creator of the marvelous Fez Documentary!
Will you please join us?
It’s streaming via Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/MENAHTDancersCollective.
Please do share!

PS

Wonderland is here! 
Special bonus and Trust the Chef pricing ; ) 
https://aliathabit.com/wonderland


35% off all our Teachable classes through Dec 31:
ALIA-LOVES-ME-BF21
Check out our Teachable Ultimate Improv Bundle!
https://alia.teachable.com/

Three Ways to Become a More Confident Dancer

confident confidence!

We dancers take a lot of risks.

Performers, for example. Getting out in front of other people, interacting, being glorious, larger-than-life goddesses takes some chutzpah.

When we dance at parties or at home, it takes courage to open ourselves to the music, to move with authority, to feel our sensuality, even joy.

These are things we often can’t enjoy in our everyday lives. At work, for example, or walking down the street. Plus we have all our past influences, telling us to keep our heads down, don’t draw attention, the ghosts of icky unwanted touch, comments, gazes. It’s a tough world.

And then there are the little voices

You know the ones I mean. The snide ones, the toxic drip of perfectionism that says we are never good enough, our dance is never good enough, everything about us is beneath contempt.

When we feel confident, we embody our ideal self, head high, engaged, on a special plane of flow, awareness, and connection. Yes!

And when that confidence goes south? That sinking feeling. Those toxic inner voices. The brain-freeze, the tunnel vision, the panic. The jerky, stilted movement, the hip drop hell, as our brains refuse to supply any moves at all.

So we could use some opportunities to walk that walk of our most confident embodied self.

How do we increase our confidence?

Lots of things help. Some things that have helped me include Dancemeditation, Chinese Medicine, and Trauma Resolution

Dancemeditation
This is how we learn to let our bodies move as they wish, to move with confidence and authority, to hone our interoception, trust our bodies again, and connect physically with the music through breath. This is what we do in the 90 Days–20 minutes a day of unstructured improv. It is miraculous and easy. You can start today!

Dancemeditation comes from the Shattari Sufi lineage. More about that here. More about the 90 Days here. You can access our 90 Days Quickstart guide here.

Chinese Medicine & Homeopathy
Acupuncture, herbs, and homeopathy made a huge difference for me. I was fortunate to find excellent practitioners. That made a big difference. So did small changes in my diet, such as preferring warm, well-cooked food, and avoiding cold and damp foods. This stopped those little voices. Seriously. Of course if I ate cold food, they came back. Finally I discovered…

Trauma Resolution
Somatic Experiencing® (SE), has had the biggest, most lasting impact of anything I have ever done. So much so, that I took their three-year training, am in the middle of a yearlong post-advanced training, and volunteer as a teaching assistant for other folks’ trainings. It really is that magical. SE connects brilliantly with oriental dance, and it is the one thing that has banished those little voices and given me a level of relaxed, competent confidence that I simply did not have at any other time in my life. It is all that. More about SE is here.

When I ask dancers about their biggest problem, the overwhelming answer is FEAR. Dancers are terrified of getting it wrong, being boring, getting stuck on stage. Fear keeps us from committing to our movement, dancing with joy and authority, even from living our lives in deep and satisfying ways.

What is the antidote to fear? CONFIDENCE. Sooo, I am putting together a program to help.

Announcing

Reclaim Your Confidence!

How to Embrace your True Self

It’s coming. A bunch of things are coming! Wonderland, Map Your Music, and some of the Fun Class recordings. We’ll also be talking more about the usefulness, simplicity, and generally pleasant ambiance of Somatic Experiencing.

I’m doing some website and shop updates while those things incubate. So look out for lots of cool stuff a little later this fall!

Right now, we have How to Write a Blog Post! Maybe you dance confidence is fine, but writing is a bit more of an ordeal. This 90-minute will be a fun, productive exploration for writers of all abilities.

AND we have the Bundle InstaGram Challenge! The BellyDance Bundle’s #21daysofbellydance is, well, 21 days of nifty exercises, practice prompts, and drills (plus an UnDrill from yours truly ;). This year’s podcasts episodes will be revealed as well. More on this in a bit, but for now, I invite you to check out the Challenge!

With LOTS AND LOTS OF LOVE!!!
Alia
And here’s some music for that 20 mins of free improv! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vvXBbVVoyA&list=RD7vvXBbVVoyA&start_radio=1

When the Brakes Go On–but don’t come off…

Lift, release, resolve, let go

I’ve been collecting all this cool stuff to help folks feel more grounded, to regulate the nervous system (so we can recover from the constant HIGH ALERT or Freeze states so many of us have been pushed into over the last—year? Decade? Lifetime? Generations? I’ve been developing windows into creativity and lowering my own bar, recovering from lifelong perfectionism.

It makes me so happy that belly dance fits so well into this perspective. Belly dance is such a perfect venue for grounding and creative expression! Improvisation, curiosity, and playfulness are heart elements of the cultural dance. They are also heart elements of a happy, creative life. So it gives me great pleasure to be connecting all these dots in Spark*.

Spark* is NOT a class, though it’s full of useful practices. It is NOT about hard work, effort, goals, or accomplishments.

Spark* IS about coming into balance. It’s about feeling good. Relaxed. Alive. Real. Grounded. It’s about curiosity, playfulness, and improvisation ; ).

We’ll use exercises from Somatic Experiencing® to help bring the nervous system back into the here and now.

For example, let your fingers touch your hair. Very gently, slowly, notice the sensation of the hair on the fingers, the strands, the texture, the length.

Then gently move your attention to your hair, and how it feels the fingers touching it.

Maybe now touching the scalp, the feeling of the scalp, of the fingers on the scalp.

Maybe the face comes next, maybe the hair is enough.

You get to choose.

Take your time. Enjoy. This sensual enjoyment connects to the dance as we become curious about our sensations, as we slow down, as we enjoy the movement of the body to music.

We’ve been holding ourselves in for a long time. It’s scary to let go. But it’s time.

Spark* is a space to gently expand into wholeness. Take a breath. Come back into our bodies. Celebrate our bodies for connecting us to ourselves, our creativity, our self-expression, our joy.

Spark* FREE. Today, live, 5-6 pm edt. Or later, via recording. Yes, there will be a recording.

We’ll take some time afterward to share and debrief and connect. That won’t be recorded ; )

Come for yourself. Invite a friend. Bring your kids, family, whoever.

All are welcome.

Register here.
https://alia-thabit.ck.page/sparkfree

If you’d like more, a six-week immersion starts next week. Pandemic pricing is in effect.

I look forward to dancing with you!

Love,
Alia

How to Gather Nectar

bees gather nectar pollen biological mandate

Bees pollinate flowers, right? So so some moths, and a few other insects. The flowers get to reproduce, and the bees get food. 

Symbiosis! 

Symbiosis is a process in which all parties to the arrangement benefit. Unlike its opposite, parasitism, in which one party benefits at the expense of another, symbiosis is the original win-win. 

Bees have it easy. They don’t wonder about the ethical ramifications of their floral relationships. They don’t agonize at night about whether it is fair to drink the flowers’ nectar, to fly off with there pollen. They don’t have existential doubts. They have a biological mandate. 

We, on the other hand, have a bit more of a puzzle to solve. 

Where is our Biological Mandate?

We wonder about a lot of things–we can’t sleep for the constant questions. Is it okay for me to do X fun thing? Do my words or actions detract from or harm others? Who am I to think my needs are so important? These are important questions. So…

All any soul-nurturing stuff, which, our culture tells us, is selfish frivolity, may demand some soul-searching. And sometimes our discoveries aren’t pretty. For example, when our interests collide with someone else’s.

One such conflict of interest is when we give priority to doing things for other people and don’t make any time for ourselves. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but I find that all I have to do is plan something for myself (or even have a deadline), and the phone starts ringing, or someone needs help.

Women tend to be socialized to help everyone else first.

But you know what they say on every airplane? Please secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. It’s great that we care about our friends and family, and it can be hard to carve out a little space for ourselves without feeling guilty. But the fact is, everyone else gets better service when our own creativity is fed and cared for.

Another conflict is when a loved one has issues with our dance interests. Some of us step back at that point, often for very good reasons. Some of us go forward, for equally good reasons. For myself, I went forward. Those issues were the last straw in a difficult relationship, and I had already compromised myself nearly out of existence. Another friend stepped back. She found other creative outlets that worked for her. Both of these responses were valid, and both took courage.

And sometimes the conflict of interests is with ourselves. Our own doubts and fears can keep us from nurturing ourselves and our creative side. We wonder so hard if we are doing the right thing that we can talk ourselves out of the self-care that dance gives us. We put so much pressure on ourselves. Who are we to dance? We’re not very good. We’re not even “doing anything” with our dance. Well, so what?

Just dancing for fun is plenty. Fun is important! Feeling good is important to our physical and emotional well-being. If we don’t fill our own well, no one else is going to come along and do it for us, nice as that would be.

It’s on us to gather our own nectar.

Yes, sometimes it’s very, very hard to give ourselves that love and care, to give ourselves time to rest, to enjoy things, to dance, whatever it is we need to thrive. Nature abhors a vacuum, they say, and our time tends to fill up fast.

Many of us have been subject to all three of the above scenarios—most of us probably have done at least two out of three. So what helps?

Put yourself first.

I have to learn this lesson over and over. Other things take a LOT more time than doing a little art. And they are never done. So finishing everything else first is a very bad idea. Take 20 minutes to do some fun art stuff first and you are set for the day—you get that little cookie of satisfaction that lasts all day long.

Accountability.

Put yourself fin a position where you have to do it. Courses and intentions are a good choice for that. Marking off the days you dance on a calendar helps to establish a streak. It’s fun to keep the streak going. Having a friend do it with you, so you can check in with each other. I created SPARK* mostly to help myself take care of myself.

Embrace your biological mandate.

Just say YES. Humans have made art since they figured out that charcoal makes marks on rocks. You have the right to make art. To do something enjoyable. Step forward with your unique vision. Give it the nurturing it needs to blossom and grow. No one else in all the world can do what you can. Trust yourself. Let it out. It’s time.

Love,

Alia

PS Want some help?

SPARK* is here for you.

For all of us feeling burned out, angry, anxious, alone, lost, sad, or searching, SPARK* can help rekindle our heart, our life, our joy.

I’m collecting alllll my skills and tools for this one. Oriental dance, Dancemeditation, Creativity, and Somatic Experiencing. I like things that are magic, and these are all magical in their practice and their effects. Soothing, enlivening, grounding, energizing! SPARK works on so many levels to bring us back into our bodies, to ourselves, to our balance and comfort in the world. Just tune in and enjoy. I’ll be your flower ; ) Symbiosis!

When is the last time we had actual fun? Enjoyment is a biological mandate, too. We are made for pleasure. Nectar!

Spark FREE is a one-shot reprieve from the daily wtf. August 6 at 5pm edt. YES, there will be a recording. It’s FREE and everyone is welcome. More info is here.
https://alia-thabit.ck.page/sparkfree


SPARK* A 6-week soul vacation is a deeper immersion into soul healing, release, and joy. SPARK* runs Fridays, 5:30-6:30pm edt, August 13 through Friday, Sept 24 (no class Friday, August 27). YES, there is a recording! 

Registration is now open. Seating is limited. There’s a special treat for early signups (but it’s a secret. Hint: It will come in the mail). https://aliathabit.com/shop/#trust

Here’s some lovely music…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjPhXjmrTPE&list=PLqgbyDNJ3NvWoIyjZf0BnSzLP1yzMvf43