Friday, April 24, 2015

Healing The Hater, Part I

Why do people hate?

Sometimes hate is born of a grudge or past transgression -and serves as a form of protection (though doubly barbed inside and out) - but most of the time hatred is rooted in misunderstanding, fear, and insecurity.  Hate tends to be something we learn from someone else - hearing what family or friends say as we're growing up, what we hear down the line from peers as adults, etc.

As human beings, we are given to fearing or mistrusting that which we find unfamiliar or different from ourselves.  There's an underlying drive to feel part of a group, to feel accepted and familiar. Then there's a point in our development of self and personality where we can find excitement in the unfamiliar and embrace the different - or absolutely abhor it.  Perhaps it's a vestige of a survival instinct or really a matter of personality (nature vs. nurture) - but in modern-day society, the sense of difference tends to pare down to "does that make them better or lesser than me?"  If one is fully secure in one's own self, that question never even comes to the surface. But that's not such an easy state to get to either.

I want you to think about someone you extremely dislike or disliked in your life.  Think about how it makes/made you feel to be around them, to have to interact with them, or hear someone mention their name/talk about them. You most likely felt a mix of anger and anxiety - a bad feeling from your chest to your gut - and perhaps panic as well.  Not a nice way to feel, is it?  But at least it would tend to go away after the experience was over, for the time being, though it probably left you feeling a bit dirty.  Like that feeling corrupted your peace of mind and body, and left a residue. Not very healthy is it? Hate is essentially raging an energy war that flares up every time that you run into that person.

Now imagine if those same feelings and energy weren't directed at another person, but instead at yourself.  And not just you as a person, but a particular part of your body.  Perhaps that body part doesn't fit within society's so-called standards of "beauty", or maybe it doesn't function as well as it used to. Maybe you were fine with it until somebody made you feel ashamed about it.  Whatever the reason, it falls into this category of being "Other" - something that is a part of you that makes you devalue yourself.

It's a part of you, and it's not easily going away.  Which means you have declared war on yourself - on some level, you are constantly throwing that negative energy at YOUR OWN SELF. Which isn't a healthy state to exist in emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually.

In the many years I have been teaching dance and traveling all over the world, I have found no shortage of dancers who hate something about themselves, especially while they are comparing themselves to other dancers.  I have heard "well, I can't dance until I....(fill in the blank with some sort of body-related issue)" - which often means, they're not dancing at all.  Or they're constantly going through cycles where they are dancing/not dancing - and often fighting more health issues along the way. Further compounded by our healthcare system that tends to treat the symptoms, but not the source.

Right now you may be saying, "Oh Tempest, sure I get it - now you're just saying if I throw 'love and light' at myself, all of my problems will go away...NOT."

Nope. I'm not saying that, and those who actually know me, know I'm not all "love and light and fluffy bunnies."  Well, I'm all about fluffy bunnies.  Because bunnies! But I don't believe throwing glitter at problems makes them go away - that's pretty much the treat the symptom, not the cause all over again.

What I'm talking about is taking some time with yourself and examine the root of your self-hate. Stress often manifests itself in a variety of very physical issues - affecting your digestion, your skin/hair, your weight, etc.  And if you're throwing hate at those parts, it's not going to make them get better. That's like trying to get a plant to flower while giving it acid instead of water, darkness instead of sunlight, and a smaller pot versus ample room to grow. Instead, the cycle will continue to spiral downward, and take you with it.

If you find that stress is at the root of your issues, I very much know that it's not easy to simply remove stress from your life, but there are always ways to change/improve the situation - if you really truly want change.  Sometimes it requires serious, big change - but if that's what makes you healthy and happy, then it'll be worth it. (Personal example - from about 2009-2011, I was losing my hair, or at least the hair on my scalp, and the doctors had no clue why.  They just had shampoos, tonics, lotions, and talk of biopsies to offer me.  I realized I was deeply unhappy and in a relationship that was unhealthy for me that I couldn't make any better. It took a great deal of pain and change to start a new life...but within weeks of that, my hair started growing back, skin issues cleared up, etc. That was the start of a new journey, a new me...)

But maybe it's a learned behavior that's the problem.  A feeling that your body or part of your body is too big, or too small or doesn't look "right." Someone made fun of you, someone said you weren't pretty/beautiful, that you were fat or flat-chested. First, why are you letting someone else's opinion (rooted in their own insecurity) determine YOU? Secondly, compared to whom?? How you are put together is what makes you, YOU.  Celebrate those parts that make you up while focusing more of what makes you special.  Every person has a feature that someone else wants, EVERYONE.

So for this, I'm going to propose something you may find silly, but trust me on this.  I want you to make a little altar or shrine to you (or to that body part/system), and start to be NICE to it. Every day. You can put affirmations in a jar, buy flowers, have a pep talk - anything that is positive.  True, it may feel silly, but consider where you have been - this is essentially the opposite.  This is the fresh water, sunlight, and space you were denying yourself.  This will change your war to a truce...and possibly get you on the road to being friends again with you. And that's where everything good begins.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Temptress's Coffeepot: 10 Secrets of How To Achieve Bellydance Fame & Success...*

Looking for the fast track? Here it is!*

1) Haven't studied dance for very long? It's ok - you can mix a whole bunch of unrelated things together and call it fusion! Nobody will ever be the wiser, and you'll look super cool.

2) Still worried that your moves aren't up to snuff? Make sure to wear a bra that doesn't fit properly - whether it gives you sideboob, the cups aren't big enough, or the straps are too long, nothing will take the audience's attention away from poor technique like boobs that may burst out at any moment.  (For guys, this means wearing costuming that may reveal your prince at any moment, and/or which religion you could be.)

3) You know what else the audience loves to see? Your crotch and various shaving habits.  Nothing makes an evening of dance quite like a good shot of your crotch sans underwear. Woohoo! Or is that hoo-ha?  Bonus Tip: be sure all of your backbends are done with your crotch aimed at the audience.

4) Practicing with your prop is overrated. Props are just things to distract the audience anyway and keep them occupied. Bonus points if you have never even picked it up prior to going on stage before.

5) The height of theatrical proficiency is dropping your veil in the smack center of the stage...and then trampling over it several times during the course of your performance.  Exert your dominance over that veil!  And then be sure to bend over to pick it up with your butt to the audience for that final view of you.

6) You don't actually NEED to study any other forms of dance you are thinking of fusing into your performances or costuming.  A half-hour of  watching Youtube videos should cover it. Who really wants to learn about appreciating culture and history? In fact, you can learn everything you need to know about bellydance from 6 weeks of classes...and then start teaching it!

7) Don't ever undercut for a performance - unless it's for exposure, then that is totally OK. Similarly, it's totally OK to bitch about people undercutting you for performing meanwhile supporting businesses that knock-off small community designers/artisans, and/or promote sweatshop work.  Also, don't forget to try and bargain down the services of photographers, musicians, and costumers - don't they KNOW who you ARE?

8) On that note....Want to be seen as a big-name?  Treat everyone else around you like peons - they will assume you have greater abilities and load reverence and respect upon you.  Because of course all the big-names must be divas.  Disrespecting everyone else is how you get up in the world.

9) ) When you get into the dressing room or green room, spread your stuff over EVERYTHING.  Yeah, there's 20 other folks who need to get in there too, but you got there first, and everyone will respect you for claiming your territory so gloriously. Obviously you are VERY important!

10) Lastly, whether you have already performed or are waiting to go on, do NOT pay attention to whomever is on stage.  Be sure to be extra loud in talking to your friends, extra snarky, especially near any video camera.  This dance is all about you anyway.

(*complete title is: "10 Secrets of How To Achieve Bellydance Fame & Success In All The Wrong Ways" - Happy April!)