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 within 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.
Stumbling into bellydance
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, despite all the knocks and bruises, I was 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. My world was seen through glasses that perceived everything as gray, dull and mean. More than mean…. Life was plain dangerous.
A yearlong experiment
After I witnessed my first belly dancer, I felt compelled to learn this dance form. I took a number of classes from many teachers, as well as 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, or more like digesting, my own life story. It also felt like I was processing some other, rigidly held cultural stories. I developed a steely alignment with something bigger than me, and of a higher vibration, that came through the pleasurable movements of the dance.
Flop, Feel and Steel
‘Flop, Feel and Steel’ time became part of my daily rehearsals. I’d lie on the floor to surrender myself to the tyranny of limiting beliefs, to be tossed, 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.
Sharing the joys of bellydance
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,” what many call a gut feeling or body intelligence. This inner voice started to guide me and I started to trust it more. I learned bellydance quite quickly. 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 my healing through spiritual embodiment.
Want to try bellydancing?
Whether you are a seasoned bellydancer, other dance artist, or a complete newbie to movement, there are infinite opportunities to explore this at every level. Check out online classes, dvd’s, classes at dance studios, or join a local meetup to try with others.
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.
Post note from Stacey
I met Tara briefly through a women’s empowerment weekend recently. Tara graciously offered special video-chat room belly dance classes to this amazing sisterhood. After a few months of connecting this way, we decided to meet up in person. She has an electric energy that makes you feel at once at home as well as connected to something deeper. She does not practice the Shakira kind of belly dance. It feels more like something connected to the Divine Feminine. After meeting her, I knew I wanted to share her story with you, my reader, as an insight how taking the risk of trying something new can shift you some (for me, it helped my body image) or for Tara, took her on an inner healing journey.
Here’s the link to her original blog https://tarastardancer.com/bellydance-spiritual-healing-path/ Please reach out to her if you’d love to learn more.