Physical growth is easy to see & measure, as is intellectual progress. But what about our spirit? If we are growing spiritually, what's the evidence?That would be our attitude: our responses to the challenges of class, or our dance community, or the world at large. Yes, our responses to other people and their actions.
So look at how you handle the extra ego-energy dancing generates. Are you using it for growth or is it “making you crazy?” (We’ll see what the “yang mind” is in a moment.) Are you stuck whirling around in your emotional and mental conflicts, or evolving and adjusting to new perceptions of reality? You can’t dance well if you’re off-balance.What creates this sense of imbalance is an inner denial of reality--persistent belief in 'non-reality'–it can even result in madness.
issue we mentioned “ego as interpreter”, a form of
self-deception. Gerald May defines this as "spiritual
narcissism": when the ego takes pride in
instigating or achieving spiritual growth. As he puts
it, "It is a subtle turnabout in which ego manages
to identify self-image with 'trying to become holy'
or--worse yet--with actually having become
holy, thus making the spiritual quest a
self-aggrandizing process rather than a journey of
Speaking of a similar physical discipline, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming says, the "proper amount of practice will maintain your health . . . and too much practice will make your body too Yang . . . "(10). He also says a Yang mind is "emotional, scattered, and excited". Maybe you feel this way, or know someone who does? Those eastern folks have been at this a long time - I think they may be on to something! Besides the active physical disciplines, eastern teachers not only bring the mind into the physical practice; they also advocate the mental discipline of sitting in meditation.Remember in “yang energy” we are talking about physical techniques divorced from inner meaning and awareness, for the purpose of public ego-strokes. Belly dance should be much more than that - more than just the body, the physical image. Complete the picture: get regular spirit and mind exercise to keep up with the body.
Gupta (A Yoga of Indian Classical Dance; Inner
Traditions, 2000) explains this three-fold aspect as it
pertains to yoga: "While for discussion's sake we
can separate out the physical, the psychic, and the
spiritual objectives and techniques of yoga, in
reality there is no such separation: the three levels
overlap and interpenetrate one another. Our experience
of their disunity is in direct proportion to the
extent to which we are all living unbalanced lives."
interest contrast, Western religions have long advocated
the practice of prayer and meditation to renew spiritual
energy; and just recently, some are finally exploring
“Liturgical Dance”--although it’s usually done by a
select group within the congregation. But it’s a start -
at least dance now has “a foot in the door”!