Two Videos (and more!)

Delighted to present this interview on belly dance and trauma resolution, recorded at Neskaya in New Hampshire for the UK website, DanceWise!


In addition, here is a tiny, tiny dance video from class this week..

This was the final week of BOLD, which was a roaring success–dancers expressed specific attributes and found that they were more relaxed about what to do when they had someone to be.

Our next FUN class starts August 2. What would you love to do? What outcome would you like to have? Let me know. I’m planning now ; ).


If you haven’t yet read Midnight at the Crossroads: has belly dance sold its soul? you might enjoy the first chapter. It is an overview of the book as a whole. Sign up here (use the email this newsletter came to to avoid being signed up twice), and get a free download of the chapter.


I’ve also set up the free Mix and Match demo as an ongoing free class. If you missed it, it came out pretty nicely, and the first half includes a taste of the work we did in BOLD, and will do more deeply in Create Your Glorious Self. Access is for a week, and you can always re-enroll. Register here (again, use your newsletter email)


Finally, Joe Williams’ ongoing Delsarte workshops are back! The next one will be Expression of Arms and Hands. There is no recording–this is a live-only class. I treasure these classes. If you can swing the time, it will be worth your while. Sunday, July 24Th, From 10:00 am – 12:30 pm (Central Time) Register here.

Summer hugs and 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…)

How to be BOLD (or any other way you want)

Oooh, a picture is here!

I’ve been doing some arts work in Headstarts, schools, and now daycares for my local arts org (yay, Catamount!). The model for this upcoming mini-residency is that I will come do my thing (I have a slate of pre-school activities), while the daycare teachers observe. The following visit, we will do the thing together, and the next one, the daycare teachers will do the the thing themselves while I observe.

This is a great model, except that I’ve been doing my thing for decades, and the teachers can’t do what I do after watching once (usually while herding cats—er, kids, the whole time). So I use my stuff as a template for theirs. They can’t do belly dance, but they can have movement that uses upbeat, rhythmic, then smooth and flowing music. I have a regular cool down they can do, and they can tell a story of their own.

That’s how templates work.

There is a palette or sequence of categories into which you can slot different yet similar options. Like the classic wedding template: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Anything in each category will do.

However, in my template, there is ONE thing I want to keep the same: My cool down. So I give that specific element to the teachers. Why this cool down? All the anti-trauma, nervous system regulation I’m building into it.

I’ve noticed over the course of this work that even pre-school kids are pretty freaked out these days. Freaked out kids often grow up into freaked out teens, adults and so forth. Nervous systems do ideally regulate themselves, but our modern lives of constant, chronic stress can screw up that feature. So it’s no wonder even 4-year-old kids are barely able to keep it together and others have simply given up.

I can’t fix their lives. But I can give them some respite. And, ideally, I can teach the daycare teachers how to build that respite into their daily routine, so kids can get that little daily taste of settling. Over time, maybe they will internalize this series of actions to use on their own. Each drop in the pool ripples outward.

Reducing stress, resolving trauma, these things bring the potential for joy back into our lives. Joy is one of the (many!) reasons I love belly dance.

Belly dance is anti-trauma

Everything about the cultural dance soothes and nurtures the nervous system. Every time we dance, it’s like a lovely shower for the soul. Sure, we have managed to shove a bunch of anxiety, rigidity, and perfectionism onto it, but…!

At its heart is joy.

All my work is to bring joy back into our hearts. It has become my central mission.

All of the fear, rage, and self-loathing we have accumulated gets in the way of our joy. Focusing on nit-picky details doesn’t help. Yelling at ourselves, blaming ourselves, rigidly controlling our bodies, doesn’t help.

If beating yourself up worked, you'd be rich, thin, and happy
The lovely Amity Alize!
“If beating yourself up worked, you’d be rich, thin, and happy”

Letting ourselves relax, move in self-loving ways, letting our bodies express what they have been holding on to in a gentle, titrated way, these things help us return to joy.

Hence the upcoming classes.

Coming in July:

Create Your Glorious Self!

Here’s a sneak peek at the page. More in the next few weeks ; )

Aka CYGS. I love the acronym, as baby swans are called cygnets. We may have felt like the ugly duckling for a while, but..!

In our hearts are glorious, confident creatures, bursting to unveil themselves, to stride out into the light of day, to come alive!

Doesn’t that feel grand? I’m so excited!

The course is built upon cutting-edge behavioral design strategies, along with intensive nervous system regulation, monthly check in meetings and practice sessions, PLUS daily accountability and progress reports–which we have made sooo quick and easy, they are–dare I say it? Kinda fun! The daily effort for this course is less than 20 minutes, maybe even less than 10.

It’s AMAZING!


AND while we await CYGS, here is…

BOLD!

Archetypes and Attitudes for Oriental Dance
BOLD!

BOLD dips its toes in the CYGS material, continuing our Fun Class focus on templates–in this case, templates of attitude and personality (along with movement options).

Want to be BOLD?
Act as if you are bold.

Wait, what does that even mean?!

Well, what does BOLD look like? How does someone who is bold act? How do they hold themselves, walk, talk? What expression is on their face?

If you were bold, how would you look? How would you hold yourself? What expression would you have on your face? Start there. Look in the mirror. Look at yourself–boldly! Look right into your own eyes, with a bold smile on your face and a glint in your eye. Let the feeling arise from the action. Take a minute or so to just feel that in your body, on your face. What changes?

Behavior creates emotion.

How would you walk? Shuffle along? Or would you STRIDE? Stride around boldly, hands on hips in the classic Wonder Woman Power Pose. Toss your head, boldly! Laugh boldly! Speak boldly! DANCE boldly!

Here’s some music for a bold dance! (or any way of being you would like to explore)

Bold not your jam? What is? Try that one on and see how you feel. We’ll explore LOTS of options in the class.

Here’s more about the BOLD Fun Class: https://aliathabit.com/shop/#live

And remember to CELEBRATE your test drives! Heck, celebrate everything ; )
Love,
Alia

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



Announcing! THRIVE with Alia!

Thrive with Alia

For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been envisioning a new web presence that highlights my unique skillset. Finally, I have made that vision a reality!

I invite you to check out my NEW home,

THRIVE with Alia!

Thrive with Alia

It’s got clear portals to the services I provide, updated pages, a simplified nav, and general ease of use. Our new domain, ThriveWithAlia.com will soon be live (aliathabit.com still works, and still goes to the same place. I just like this option ; )

In celebration, I’ll be rolling out some special new events and classes over the next several months. Our Free FUN Class last week was the first of these. Look for more coming up in the next week or so!

THANK YOU for being part of my life–and evolution!
Love,
Alia

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

How to Dance on this Ball of Confusion?

dance, arise, resilience,

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get out of bed in the morning.

Worldwide conflagrations. Insane people doing insane things. Jaw-dropping lies being paraded around as truth. Pandemics. Violence. Hell. The suffering of the world has never been more raw and visceral.

It’s a lot.

Human beings are not built for long-term high alert

I am fortunate. I am not in the middle of a war zone at this precise moment. But I also know lots of people struggling with deeply challenging situations–and many others stuck in war zones inside their heads, all the time. Few of us are in actual firefights right now. But past and present struggles may be ever-present in our bodies. The alarm bells just keep on ringing.

Those alarm bells can get stuck in the ON position. Even when we are in a safe place, we may still be activated. Sometimes we shut down, dissociate. Sometimes we get angry, lashing out at others, or in, at ourselves. Sometimes we can barely function (raises hand). Everything from wired to wiped, and none of it is happy.

Lots of things can trigger this. The disastrous news cycle. Personal life challenges. Oppression. Family stuff. Lots of things can push us into 24/7 crisis mode. And that’s a problem. It’s immensely destructive to health and well being. Look at the ACES Study. Chronic stress is deadly.

Yet we feel guilty for looking away–from our own problems, or the world’s. We feel we must at least witness the horror. But witnessing horror is traumatic in and of itself. It’s a bitter, destructive feedback loop. I’ve been there. And I’ve seen what it does to people.

So what can we do?

This is what I have devoted myself to over the last decade. Turning off the alarm bells. These are the most effective things I have found.

dance, arise, resilience,
caption for image

Belly dance, a great venue for decompression. Improvised, embodied dance is especially so. Being in the present moment, in a flow state, letting go of everyday thoughts, fears, and irritations, is profoundly healing for the nervous system. In general, 20 minutes is a great time period. Breathing with the music, letting the body move as it wishes, invites a playful state of joy. This is why the bulk of my offerings involve improvisation, usually grounded in Dancemeditation. It’s such great medicine. Plus we get to dress up. And it’s FUN.

Creative expression, a doorway to another world. Improvised belly dance is a creative expression. So are many other things, from writing to drawing, to woodworking, to sculpture. All kinds of art-making have the potential to draw us out of our everyday grind. I’ve been enjoying drawing the colorful abstract designs (which grace this blog), since the outset of covid. I didn’t have the energy for meaning, so I just let whatever come out of my hand, and then colored it in. Any creative enterprise can help us into a zone where we can let go of stress and feel fulfilled.

Anyone can do any of these things on their own and get a lot of benefit. But it can be hard to dance or make art when we are really stressed out. I’ve certainly found that. Soooo hard to do the things that I knew would help me feel better. Sooo frustrating. I needed help. And then I found…

Somatic Experiencing® (SE), direct soul-healing. SE has been the most dramatic help in surviving the last 10 years, and recovering from the decades before. Having an SE coach helped me navigate enormous challenges. Helped me come back to feeling creative. Helped me in my quest to become my true self. Am I perfect? No. Am I a helluva lot better? YES. And it is from this perspective that I integrate all of the above to create programs that help other folks feel better, too.

Please secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.

Feeling better does NOT mean turning a blind eye to the injustice and horror of the world.

This DOES mean developing a healthy nervous system that recognizes when we are in genuine danger and when we are not. So we can survive. So we can live our lives. So we can have the bandwidth to actually do something helpful. So we can THRIVE.

Thrive

Belly Dance, Creativity Coaching, and Somatic Experiencing. Three things that can make a difference as we navigate this ball of confusion.

With love,
Alia

PS Don’t want to go it alone?
SPARK* integrates all three elements to bring relief, re-engagement, and resilience. SPARK* starts Friday the 13th. More info is here: https://aliathabit.com/shop/#trust

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

One Surprise Reason to Embrace Taqsim

Surprise!
Life is full of surprises, right? Just look at 2020 0.o
Fortunately, this taqsim surprise is more pleasant ; )

I was surprised back in 2011 when I started looking into trauma resolution by its many connections to Oriental dance (in particular the cultural, improvised, personal form of it). The whole letting go, letting the body express itself, the inner focus, the joy–I knew I was on the right path, and I have sought to heighten those connections ever since.

But my second big surprise was a few years later, when DaVid mentioned that aHsas, the Arabic word for feeling (as in “feel the music,” as in “the Most Important Thing is the Feeling“), meant not only emotional feeling, but also physical feeling–the physical sensations that arise from the music and the movements.

What? No belly dance teacher I ever had mentioned physical feelings before.

This is exactly what Somatic Experiencing® (SE) tracks and attends to. In particular, we notice and enjoy the pleasant sensations of goodness that come into the body. I had already found this to be a vital quality of Oriental dance, but the clarity of aHsas brought home to the the cultural rightness of this practice. And aligned it even more firmly with the resolution of trauma, those harmful events of the past to which we have all been subjected.

Surprise!

This relates to the vacation aspect of the dance I spoke of a few weeks ago. With all the crap going on in the world, it’s difficult to avoid the chronic stress (fear, rage, shutdown, or combinations thereof), that many of us experience on the daily. Yet chronic stress is known to be highly destructive, resulting in a myriad of apparently unrelated mental and physical health issues, including all manner of syndromes (IBS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue), and serious medical conditions such as addiction, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. So do we need a vacation from all this? OH YEAH, WE DO.

In general Oriental dance is a great vacation–how many times have we gone into class feeling crappy and come out feeling good? And I find that the unstructured improvisational Oriental dance (for example, a Dancemeditation session), magnifies this effect immensely. So I have been infusing this into all that I teach, because all of us have crap from the past and everyday life to wash away.

The secret is focusing the attention on the inside of the body.

We usually look at the outside of our body–in the mirror. What do we look like? It’s a very pointed gaze, as we are usually looking for flaws to fix. So it is a big shift to go inside, to be curious, to wonder, what does this feel like?

How do we do that?

Close the eyes. Do your own dance. Let the body move as it wishes.

As you move, notice the feeling of the bones, muscles, joints, blood, energy in the body. Feel what you’re doing. Breathe with the music and the movement. We normally think of stringing moves together. Let your body react however it wants to the music. Go more slowly and let surprising new shapes emerge. When you notice yourself thinking or worrying, notice instead your breath and the sensations of your moving body. Relax. Slow down. Enjoy the movement.

This goes for all Oriental dance–and it goes double for taqsim.

Taqsim is allll about slowing down, relaxing, going inside, savoring the body. It is luscious, meditative, and deeply soothing. This is what we need, right now. That’s why I made taqsim my contribution to the Bellydance Bundle. That why I put so much taqsim juiciness in Open Heart (starts Oct 27).

Taqsim is the icing on the improvisational cake.

And here’s another nice surprise!

Please join me for a free belly dance vacation courtesy of the Bellydance Bundle‘s Live Party!

The party starts at 11AM EDT on October 25. LOTS of great offerings, classes, panel discussions, performances, and more. All FREE. It looks like I’ll be on around 4:30-5pm EDT. More about this soon—it’s so new it doesn’t even have a web link yet.

I look forward to dancing with you!
Love,
Alia