Without a doubt, I know that we can live much bigger and brighter than what we are accustomed to. Also I know that our life experiences, when integrated and embraced in a bigger context, become the fertile soil for a garden of embodied delight. The garden that sprung up for me is nothing short of miraculous and I feel compelled to share this story with you, might you and the essence within All be empowered to hear it.
I’ve had a bumpy path, as many of have. I had some very traumatic experiences when I was a little one that really messed me up. Fortunately with all the knocks and bruises, I was also blessed with resilience, curiosity, plenty of guides and teachers as well as many wondrous mystical experiences that gave me the little cookie crumbs to keep me hanging in there.
When I stumbled into bellydance, I got a whole cookie! My first experience of bellydance moved me to my core and initiated both an artistic career and a wild spiritual-healing magic carpet ride. I was swept into a world within a world- one of vibrational relatedness with an energy that is wise beyond words, Mysterious and wild. There are many names for this energy. Some call it life force or Kundalini Shakti. By the awakening powers inherent in bellydance, I went from a walking zombie to a vibrant and zestful embodied woman.
Before bellydance, I was depressed, disheartened, numb and actually pretty dumb. I was so easily triggered into a trauma response that made normal daily life feel like hell. I was unhealthy in all aspects of health. Socially I was incapable of talking to one person authentically. I was so lost and my world was seen through glasses that perceived everything as gray, dull and mean. Actually more than mean…. Life was plain dangerous.
After I witnessed my first bellydancer, I was compelled to learn this dance form. I took a number of classes from many teachers and practiced at home, 4 hours a day. Every single day for one year, I would stand in front of the mirror in my makeshift studio with my belly exposed, barefoot and shy.
And every single day, I’d be slammed with a brick wall of vicious thoughts.
“Who do you think you are? What the hell are you doing spending this much time dancing? You have a university degree! And bellydancing? You are a feminist!”
Along with all these thoughts were also physical pains as my body grew accustomed to both the muscular and the more subtle energy awakening through me.
One time early on in this yearlong experiment, I was completely fed up. I spat out a disgusted, “Fuck it!” and collapsed on the floor. I just bawled. After a soggy and pitiful 15 minutes I started to feel better. I got up and started practicing. By some miracle my movements were fantastically sensitive, joyful and deeply connected. This sensitivity, joy and inner connection seemed to then bring up more “stuff” and so the next day I flopped on the floor again and surrendered. Again I experienced my body, mind and spirit lighten. It felt like I was integrating, actually digesting, my own life story, as well as some other rigidly held cultural stories, with a steely alignment with something bigger and higher that came through the pleasurable movements of the dance.
Flop, Feel and Steel time became part of my daily rehearsals. I’d lie on the floor and surrender myself to the tyranny of limiting beliefs, to be tossed and turned and pummeled. Sometimes I’d cry or rage or giggle. Often I’d just watch and witness whatever was there. Visions, colors and energetic tendrils would dance through my mind’s eye and pulse through my body. Eventually and inevitably something would lift me up off the floor and I was left more fresh and available for my dance practice.
The openings I experienced on the dance floor didn’t stay on the dance floor. My life was instantly affected. I started to eat better, sleep better and be more friendly. I was less in fight or flight mode. I got more and more sensitive to what I call my “Spidey Senses” or what many call a gut feeling or body intelligence. This inner voice started to guide me and I started to trust it more. I learnt bellydance really fast and after a year of bellydance boot camp, one of my teachers asked me to perform.
Before I went on stage that night, I said to myself the mantra that has become mill and grist for my life. “As a vessel for the love and light of the Goddess may I illuminate others as I am illuminated to my highest self.”
It was the first performance of a long international bellydance career that brought me to India, Thailand, Malaysia and Hawaii.
There’s many more ups, downs, twists and turns to unpack in the bigger story of my bellydance path, and I don’t share this as a PSA for you to become a bellydance performer, as performing is a beast of a career.
I share this story because I want to illuminate how this dance sparked and supported healing through spiritual embodiment.
There are many paths to explore in life and juicy embodied spirituality is one that I am particularly attracted to. If you feel drawn to bellydance as a spiritual path, I would be honored and delighted to be at your service.
Whether you are a seasoned bellydancer, other dance artist or a complete newbie to movement, there are infinite opportunities to explore this path at every level. One opportunity coming up in NYC is Be the Temple.
On July 2, I will have my first NYC Sensual Embodied Awakening Bellydance event called Be the Temple. It is limited to 12 women, with no to pro dance/bellydance experience, to both introduce you to the deeper possibilities of bellydance and also be a monthly feminine power recharge for busy NYC warrioresses. For more info and to register you can find out more here Be the Temple.
In my next posts I will share more insights about the inner mystical structures of bellydance and some thoughts as to how this dance empowers and the conditions that create the space for the truly miraculous to appear, as well as the shamanic roots of ritual, performance and group healing.