Studies continue to indicate the essential role of exercise in attaining and maintaining health and most regimes offer satisfying rewards in return for our effort and discipline. Additionally, individual and team sports programs hold worldwide appeal. With countless fitness plans, coaches and sports vying to shape us up and work us out, what more could we attain? With 30 years of experiential research and thousands of women reporting results, I highly prescribe Bellydance!
In addition to physical exercise, it initiates a natural fine-tuning for creative expression in general, with a multitude of beneficial side-effects like enhanced vitality, beauty and balance, coordination and stamina, heightened body awareness, serenity, confidence and imagination. Buffering mental and physical lows is an ongoing bonus that also supports empowerment. All of these effects add depth and quality to our experiences, enabling us to deal, relate and enjoy more.
Music triggers healing in varying manners from calming and soothing, to stimulation, catharsis and endorphin releasing benefits, including deep realization and/or lucid visions. It is unparalleled as the ideal vehicle to deliver endless impressions and sensations according to it's tones, rhythms and how the modulations affect us. Music has moved me to dance when I thought all my energy was spent. It has released emotional strife and recharged me when needed. Sound waves, especially from the pulse of drumming, resonate and refresh our internal rhythms.
It's as if the beats are capable of disintegrating and/or driving out imbalance. The vibratory resonance is a palpable experience in the more sensitive areas of our bodies. Whether acoustic, amplified or electronic, musical instruments catalyze a variety of definite sensations that work subtly through us, like the way massage decongests a buildup of bodily toxins. Simultaneously, a stream of images, impressions, thoughts and feelings may be released from obscurity and processed in the light of awareness.
Fabulously articulate in its motion, Bellydance inspires us to be the instrument of expression with every moving part. The muscles contract and expand with precision, control and timing, a kinetic action which flushes the lymphatic system, increases circulation and respiration, and aids elimination of waste and impurities. As the largest organ of elimination, our skin is a direct beneficiary of both exercise and stress release. Dance not only enhances the beauty of skin, muscle tone and body contour, studies show that perspiring thickens our skin, which slows aging effects.
Fitness = Prevention?
Flexibility = Longevity
Psychological benefits abound for dancers! Beyond the influence of music, the movements effectively defuse stress, and promote grounding and centering, just like the effect of "walking off steam" when upset. New students often feel enabled confidence in moving forward, as body-control nourishes a sense of security. Because dance is not classified as therapy, it has the healing power of Fun, as an individual finds that he or she need not be a victim or the passive recipient of a practitioner. In fact, the statement of one's presence in a class or dance circle is a commitment of responsibility for taking and making action.
As we dance, valuable information can be located and deciphered. The bio-feedback we get from the body may be depicting a block. For example, the difficulty or ease in learning hipwork, or armwork or step combinations, is reflective of our own unique "kinetic history". Our motor skill foundation base has been forming since our first little kicks in Mother's womb. So, what's the connection? Why this particular challenge in a specific area? How could certain types of movement be so easy and others so elusive?
As we start to question, mysteries unravel. Perhaps some abuse in early life let in a gang of fearful, insecure, self-slamming thought barriers. For example, posturing reveals apparent attitude of body and/or mind, whether it's temporary, like locking up of the shoulders, or chronic, like a sinking down of the chest. Unconscious patterns clip the wings of even the most creative spirits, when the body is yelling, "Look, here! Attention! Work here! Get me out of this block! I want to MOVE!"
Generally, as we perceive the body/mind information, we can utilize our new awareness to take the opportunity to reclaim self, shed the past, and transform limiting physical and mental attitudes. The direct experience of gaining balance, posture, coordination, flexibility, strength, stamina and essentially CONTROL, literally moves us ahead. Instead of sitting while passively thinking or discussing, progress and positive changes are in motion when we dance. Kinetically speaking, we make the enabling, entitling "I can" statement to our nervous system and psyche with every new and deliberate movement and gesture through doing...... and being ....... in that action. Like the saying, "Actions speak louder than words", it is truly satisfying, liberating and healing.
Here's a moving meditation/exercise I call "Rx: DANCE". I see it as the holistic embodiment of freewill creating optimum balance. Use the wording you prefer, or the following example, which is one of my favorites. Speak it aloud before you dance, hold it as your intention while belly dancing, and speak it aloud at the end.
"I generate health, vitality and clarity in my whole being, in my relationships and for the optimum benefit of all, while releasing that which is useless or negative in the heat of my Dance".
Envision your immune system being impenetrable, your perfect organ systems metabolizing with ease and efficiency, all tissues and cells thriving and radiant. Add resiliency, openness and flexibility at all levels. We're at liberty to cast out doubt, limitation, obstacles, fragmentation and to draw in courage, trust, inner peace, wholeness and Love.
I dance until I feel the rise in body heat. I visualize how my amplified electro-magnetic and auric fields are affected by the accelerated cardio-vascular action. Prana, or life force, is measurably increased, putting higher voltage behind each conscious choice. I tune and balance until my cup is full and overflows. As it spills over, it expands globally. The belly dancing blessings, prayers, benedictions for animals, forests, rivers, the Earth in its entirety, with mercy for all who suffer, may bring a rich, warm wave of heartfelt gratitude to sweep through us with atonement and well-being.
I'm always impressed how the better the moves feel, the better they look. Remember this if the mind steps in to judge our composition while belly dancing in a group or performing. The less we move from intellect, and delight in the quality of the moves with the music and the dance itself in all its aspects, the more inspired and connected to the moment our composition becomes.
Socially, dance teachers and students generally share a caring, supportive bond made of encouragement and constructive feedback, as the mutual learning process is appreciated and acknowledged. Lifelong friendships are often formed in classes between students as we move together. Kinetic languages comment on the mysterious, invisible, intangible essences of our basic human nature. We respond, change and flow from moment to moment. Spirit thrives in a nurturing environment, stimulating creativity, imagination and the peace of oneness.
If the work of medicine and healers is to tend to human suffering, the work of dance is to actively mobilize life force and mend breaks in the Creative Spirit, a human birthright, like Freedom of Movement. Dance can bridge the visible and invisible forces of creation to form a focal point so powerful, it can heal a wounded spirit. The power to shape a moving experience is so directly personal and physical, it can nourish and encourage the deepening of self-worth, allowing creative expression to manifest results and fulfillment in our lives. I highly prescribe it!
Dancing at the Speed of Delight!