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Discovering and Developing Your Spirit of Adventure

Being Brave in Belly Dance

by Anthea Kawakib Poole
(ZAGHAREET! (Mar/Apr. 2006)

“Take a chance - belly dance!”

Have you ever seen that bumper sticker? What good advice! You “took a chance” when you signed up for belly dance class–do you remember feeling that you were stepping into an adventure when you first set foot in the studio? That’s not hyperbole - belly dance IS an adventure!

I think about 95% of new students sign up for class sight unseen–without really knowing what class will be like–and roughly the same percentage come alone too. Sometimes someone will ask to observe a class first, or will sign up with a friend or family member, but most take the plunge “solo”. Isn’t that brave? Keep that “spirit of adventure” alive on this journey–don’t retreat backwards into the shell of your ‘old self’.

Remember this “spirit of adventure” when you feel like you’re getting out of your comfort zone. Invoke it when you try something new in class, or are invited to dance for others in a recital or class hafla.

Find a teacher you trust, and then let him or her lead you on this quest. They’ve been in your shoes and remember what it’s like–they didn’t hatch fully-formed from a “belly dancer egg”--once upon a time your teacher was the new and inexperienced student in class, just like you. And good teachers know they must balance the reassuringly familiar format of class with the lure of adventure to stimulate your growth.

Remember this “spirit of adventure” when you’re at home too. Notice when the thought comes into your head to go to a private spot in your house to practice what you did in class. It will happen sooner or later–be ready to follow this gentle nudge from your blossoming inner self. You don’t have to justify or rationalize it; and if anyone asks what you’re doing say the teacher gave you “homework”.

“Even when the air currents are ascending, no bird can soar except by outstretched wings.” (Urantia Book, 91:8.9)

Isn’t it funny how most growth, changes, or transformations happen so slowly that we hardly notice? There’s something about witnessing an act of change as it’s occurring that is not only magical, but uncomfortable as well. It almost seems like there’s something about “change” itself that wants to take place in private and unobserved. Have you ever witnessed the change a living creature goes through at birth? Ever seen a baby take it’s first breath? Or a newborn colt stand for the first time? If so, you were aware that this “happening” was awkward and strange, and definitely momentous. If we could see all changes so easily, maybe we’d be in a perpetual state of awe.

Maybe we only notice as much change as we can handle...because even when we’re not aware of it, change is always happening..

Wouldn’t it be “awesome” if we WERE more conscious of our own growth? If we could notice–maybe even direct–the subtle shifting of the course we’re on?  Imagine connecting to the same intense, momentous, “awake” awareness each day of our lives!

Two Belly Dance Movements That Awaken Your Inner Awareness

You can begin developing this new level of awareness as you dance: two movements I recommend are the “waves” or undulations (both up and down) going from front to back, and from side to side. That gives you four separate, discrete movements to do (undulating from front to back from the feet up, then from the head down; and from side to side from the feet up, and from the head down). Notice how moving starts to feel very pleasurable and healing... as you take deep breaths, focus on your body and arms moving through space. Your muscles begin to feel energized and soothed at the same time...experience this pleasure and enjoy this awareness.

See that every joint, segment and section of your body participates in these movements, and notice if any parts or sections seem stiff or try to block the movements. Try them with feet together, then feet apart (parallel or one in front and one in back). Take deep breaths!

Soon, as the season turns, we’ll witness the weather change, growth begin, plants and trees blossom. Let this remind you of your own inner growth as you study belly dance–and if you do practice at home, you’ll soon show an outer transformation, a “blossoming”, as well.

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