Creating Inner Peace With Belly Dance
Today, many people are seeking out the calmness and serenity of ancient Eastern philosophies and practices to help themselves rise above the stress and tensions of life in our modern era. Belly dancing (i.e. Oriental dance) is but one of many Eastern forms that has recently become a popular antidote to our competitive and hectic world.
Some of the earliest known civilizations, which flourished in the East, also yielded such arts as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, and tai chi, as well as belly dance.
Each of these forms, and others like them, has at its heart the understanding of holism; that is, the understanding that the balancing and integration of mind, body, and spirit is of utmost importance in being healthy, happy, and at one with God.
Since it is difficult, if not impossible, to create peace of mind and at-one-ment while doing something to the body that is harsh, painful, or unnatural, most Eastern forms emphasize the development of that which is enjoyable and healthy for the total being.
Belly dancing moves work with the body, not against it. In a most effective manner, the movements exercise and refine the entire physical body and its functions. The rolling and undulating moves gently work the muscles and joints in a full range of motion, at the same time, the movements massage away tensions.
Vibrations, shimmies, and more energetic moves aid in eliminating excess energy and stress while aerobically working the system. Movement has long been used in the East to facilitate a communion with the Divine.
Trance dances and dances of exorcism are still practiced by various cultures and communities. Modern dancers still preserve elements of some of these traditions in their belly dances.
For example, in slow taxim (tak-seem), a solo instrument improvises a hypnotic melody. The belly dancer responds with circular, undulating, and soft movements of the torso, hips, arms, and head. These pleasurable motions harmonizes the central nervous system, sending life-energy and mood enhancing hormones throughout the body. The mind becomes relaxed and centered. Through improvisation of movement, the belly dancer focuses on his or her creative response to the music. This focusing allows the belly dancer to be "in the moment." Altered states of consciousness can occur, leaving the belly dancer refreshed and recharged when the dance is over.
If stress in an individual is particularly great, certain energetic movements from zar rituals (dances of exorcism) can be used to force the negativity out of the body and relieve the stress. Special and powerful drum rhythms are used. The repetitiveness of the beat, the focusing of the mind on the music, and the energy of the movements work together. Once the individual is exhausted, the "demons" of negative energy have been released and peace and healing are enhanced.
Belly dancing reveres the body as the Temple of the Soul. Thus, it seeks to create a healthy body through the proper use of movement and interaction with music. It harmonizes the emotions through the belly dancer's creative expression and also develops the ability to quiet the mind so that inspiration may flow from the higher self. The belly dancer becomes the channel through which divine light illuminates physical reality. The power of this art form is great, for despite the constant ebb and flow of civilizations and changing social standards, it has endured for thousands of years.
Those who practice belly dancing find a healing oasis in the turmoil of our times. Creating peace within ourselves is the first step to creating peace around us.
If you liked this article, read other belly dancing articles by Atea. Her artice “What is Belly Dance and What Should We Really Call It” discusses origins of belly dance. Another article “The Phenomenon American Belly Dance” is about American Belly Dance development and impact of belly dancing in America and it's influence worldwide. If you liked this article, read other belly dancing articles by Atéa. Learn what music is appropriate for belly dancing in "Choosing Belly Dance Music for Practice or Performance". To learn how to get a belly dancing costume, read "Your First Belly Dance Costume".
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