|Thank you for volunteering to take part in my experiment. The most difficult thing about this experiment is finding uninterrupted time to 1) do this a few times and then 2) write me about your experiences and feelings in regard to the process. I really appreciate the feedback and I hope you will enjoy doing this little mind dance. I plan to send everyone a letter summing up what I glean from the responses I receive. Not right away, though.
This exercise is inspired by a similar one called "Imaginary Doctor" from "The Well Body Book," by Mike Samuels, M.D. and Hal Bennett, written in the 80s and now out of print. You may want to write a script around this exercise and record the verbal directions on audio tape with your own voice (or a friends) to use as a guided meditation for practice, as was suggested for the Imaginary Doctor exercise in The Well Body Book. You may do this in silence, but later try it to your favorite music.
I think the best way to approach this exercise is with another bellydancer, or even two, and take turns. Let one person read it live and control the music selections while the others venture in their minds. Then share their experiences with each other if they choose.
- Either sit in a comfortable chair or lay down and relax. Focus on your breathing for a of couple minutes. Make sure your legs, arms, and hands are uncrossed. Close your eyes.
- Begin by focusing your attention on your feet. Inhale as you tense your feet up nice and tight; hold for the count of 5. Then exhale and let go. Release all the tension and visualize an image of butter melting into toast.
- Use this technique for all the consecutive parts of your body, one at a time: calves, thighs, buttocks, pelvis, belly, ribs, breasts, shoulders, upper arms, forearms, hands, neck, face, throat, tongue, eyes, cheeks, ears, scalp -- and anything I missed! It should take from 5 to 8 minutes to complete this exercise.
- Then "mind scan" your body and repeat this technique. Were there any areas that still feel tense or left out or need further relaxation?
Are all body parts deeply relaxed?
You are now ready to meet your Imaginary Bellydance Instructor. Know that this is in no way a threat or endangerment to your psyche. You are, of course, free to open your eyes and bring yourself back to everyday consciousness at any moment. For easy re-entry just count to 3 and open your eyes. It is in this deeply relaxed state that we quiet our minds and meet other facets of ourselves that may not normally have the opportunity to communicate with our conscious minds directly.
- Imagine a spacious and divine Dance Sanctuary! Imagine it anywhere in the universe you want. Imagine how it looks and where it is situated in the land formations. Marvel at its grandeur!
- Take yourself up to the doors. Allow the doors to open and look in the grand foyer. As you enter, notice the details inside -- the floor, the walls, the ceiling and the lighting. Notice the colors, the smells, the temperature and listen for any sounds or music.
- Somewhere in the dance sanctuary is your own private dance studio. Go to this space; open the door. Enter your personal dance sanctuary. See what is within it.
- On the far wall are windows to your private garden. Imagine the kinds of foliage it contains. On another wall are mirrors. On the third wall are photographs, posters, and drawings you have chosen to display. On the last wall is a closet filled with your favorite clothes and dance costumes.
- Select a garment that allows you to feel comfortable, beautiful, and free to move. Put it on and look in the mirror.
- Now imagine a comfortable chair in which to sit and make yourself cozy. Imagine that adjoining this room is another space where your Imaginary Bellydance Instructor resides and dances.
- Soon there will be a knock at the door. It will be your Imaginary Bellydance Instructor (we are going to call her/him IBDI for short). Before you mentally call out, Come In, hold a piece of paper up, and close to your face. When you invite your IBDI into your studio, your IBDI will open the door and stand in the threshold. Slowly, you will lower the piece of paper so as to gradually reveal the features of your imaginary IBDI. Your IBDI may be male, female, child, or something else. Imagine their traits: wise, knowing, caring, gentle, humorous and kind. They are endlessly patient, willing to explain and demonstrate a movement over and over; tireless and always available. In short, a true friend and confidant.
Are you ready to meet your IBDI?
- In your mind, hold up your piece of paper.
"Knock, knock, knock!"
You say, "Come in!"
Slowly, you begin to lower the piece of paper in front of you. First, only to reveal brows and top of head and hair. Study the details: arrangement and color of hair, texture, size, shape, crown, hat, or ribbons. . .?
- Next, lower the paper to the upper lip level. Notice the detail in the eyes, the cheeks and hair.
- Then lower the sheet to the throat and study the entire face. See the color, the texture, shape, expression in the eyes. Lower the sheet of paper so you can see the three realms
- Upper body - shoulders breasts and arms
- Middle torso - solar plexus and heart
- Lower body - hips belly pelvis, hands
- Notice what your IBDI is wearing, the size, the shape of their body, any ornamentation, make-up, tattoos, jewelry, details and colors.
- Lower the page more to reveal the lower limbs. Study the way your IBDI is standing. Note their posture, height, clothing, shoes, stockings. Visually scan your entire IBDI. Note their age, background, family history. Notice their sense of grace and ease of movement.
- Does your IBDI have anything else with them such as a purse, drum, book, veil, flower, finger cymbals, tambourine, sword, cane, etc.?
- Greet your IBDI, perhaps with a warm embrace or a hello from afar. Invite them to enter your dance space.
- Ask your Imaginary Bellydance Instructors name. Your IBDI may communicate to you in different ways. Often without spoken words. Isadora Duncan said "If I could tell you what I mean, I wouldnt need to dance." The medium of dance is nonverbal and telepathic in its own right. Watch for movements, facial expressions, symbols and signs your IBDI may magically employ at any time. Use your powers of creativity and metaphoric association to interpret. Trust your intuition.
Youve created your IBDI. Now what? Music Please. . .
- Your IBDI is your friend and is at your service and command. This first session, may be just a chance to meet and interview your Imaginary Bellydance Instructor. See if you want to commit to a duration of tutelage with your IBDI. You can determine the contract and terminate it at any time you wish, but it is good to set goals. Communication and honesty are important. You may or may not hear music from time to time so dont be concerned one way or the other.
- You may ask your IBDI to dance for you!
- She may ask you to dance for her!
- Upon this meeting or perhaps the next meeting, address a dance concern, any curiosities about which you might want to ask your IBDI for help. Allow your IBDI to answer by any means available. Be open; watch, feel and listen carefully.
Your IBDI can function for you as dance instructor/trainer, therapist, oracle, priestess or as simple entertainment for the mind and body. Be good to your IBDI and your IBDI will be good to you! Learn and grow together. Be creative and dance with, and for one another.
- How do you do an effortless shimmy?
- How can I lose my self-consciousness?
- How should my arms and hands move when I...?
- How can I gain better balance?
- What is that rhythm she always uses in class?
- How can I feel and express the dance more?
- What comes after the 3-step turns in the choreography?
You could ask your IBDI non-dance questions and get dance answers. Examples:
- What color should I paint my bedroom?
- What should I do about my boyfriend problem?
- How should I ask for a pay raise?
- Why am I feeling so blue?
- How do I strengthen my thighs?
- What should my next costume be like?
- What are todays lottery numbers?!
I want to hear from you! Send stories and responses to your experience with your Imaginary Bellydance Instructor to: