Monday, June 29, 2015

The Healing Power of Belly Dance

I'm a firm believer that art-in whatever form-can be a powerful healing agent. Have you ever read a poem that simultaneously destroyed you and put you back together?  Gazed at a painting and felt like your soul was comforted in a way it never would have been otherwise?  Heard a song that made you cry because it was like the composer wrote it just for you?  Watched a movie with a character or scene that just nailed how you were feeling?  I think we've all been there.  And I think dance can do that as well.

I have been moved to tears while watching ballet and modern dance performances.  And whenever I watch belly dancing I usually have a huge, stupid grin on my face because it just brings me so much joy. And that in itself is pretty amazing.  But I've noticed something even more meaningful in belly dance.  Beyond the way it makes me feel better about myself and allows me artistic expression.  It is healing me.  It is healing me in a way that I don't think anything else could have because of the unique femininity of belly dance.  

You all know I'm pagan, so I'm going to wax a little spiritual here.  My spiritual beliefs place a great importance on the power of the feminine.  Women, sisterhood, the life cycle. Belly dance by its very nature fosters these things.  And it's empowering.  In paganism, there is no idea of the female body being sinful or wicked.  The female body is celebrated.  Part of my conversion to Paganism has invovled learning how to love my body.  This is a tricky thing for most women raised in a cultural and religious environment like mine. I have another challenge to overcome in trying to love my body.  Sadly, it's a challenge that is all too common.  In the United States, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.  I am a sexual assault survivor.  It's not something I talk about much.  Almost never, in fact. But there have been recent circumstances that have reminded me I have something to share that might help someone else. 

In allowing myself to experience belly dance, I've learned to love my body again.  This body that has felt so guilty about what was done-I'm reclaiming it in a way that is very physical.  And while the counseling and prayer and intellectual reasoning have all helped-those are all very intangible things. Belly dance is happening with a combination of body and soul.  These feminine based movements are bringing me back to everything that is truly me.  No guilt.  No violation.  No shame.  It can never change what was done to me.  But it eases the pain in a way that nothing else has.  I didn't expect that.  I'm surprised by it.  And I'm thankful for it.  I'm curious if anyone else has experienced that as well.  I wonder if it is something we should try to bring to crisis centers that serve women who have survived similar violations in the hope it might help somehow.  I feel strongly that it would.  Yes, we sruvived.  But we deserve to thrive!  

And because this song kept shuffling into my mix while I was writing, I'll share it here: