Does Belly Dance Give You Physical Pleasure? (It Should!)

Building the Case for Pleasure – the Number One Reason Why We Study Belly Dance

How much pleasure do you feel when you play with belly dance?

Belly dancer with veil expresses the joy of dance.
Belly dancer with veil expresses the joy of dance. Photo courtesy National Geographic Travel.

Do you sense an energy surge coming up your spine when you do a figure-eight followed by an upwards draw?

When you bang out a series of percussive moves, do you get the same exuberant release that you had when you banged on pots and pans as a two-year-old?

Do you get a deep feeling that all is right with your body (and with your world) when you anchor in on one hip, and do a series of hip circles and figure eights with the other?

Hidden within each technique and within each micro-choreography – that setting of move to music, rhythm, and feeling – should be an intense, visceral source of pleasure. It might come as a jolt, or as a gentle swell. But somehow, every time that we do a belly dance move right, our bodies should respond with a deep sigh of satisfaction.

This is what we’re seeking as we dance.

Not to impress an audience. Not to turn on our husband, boyfriend, or any number of people – all to prove to ourselves how sexy and exciting we are.

And not even – although this is harder for some of us to understand – to get that feeling of a skill mastered, and a job well done.


What We Really Want Is More Subtle Than We Think (Metaphysics 101: A Fast Review)

We’re after something much deeper, much more subtle, and much more intrinsic to our divine sense of overall well-being; our sense that “all is right with the world” – because all is right within ourselves.

We already know that we are each a co-creator of our own reality. We’ve gotten to that level of basic metaphysical understanding. (If this idea still seems strange or foreign to you, please go read some Abraham-Hicks material, and I’ll be adding appropriate resources to this website as time goes on.)

So let’s take this just one step more.

We also already know (because we’ve taken Metaphysics 101), that “the outer reflects the inner.”

So how do we get our outer world to line up with our desires; with our intentions?

Simple. We get our inner world to line up first.

Of course, you already know that our first step in this is to work with our thoughts; we place our intentions on that which we desire. We see something that we like, and we’d like more of it in our lives. Then we put even more of our attention on that which we desire already showing up even more in our lives.

And because “like attracts like,” we get more of that which we desire showing up.

This is an exercise – a discipline – not because it’s hard (it isn’t), but because we need to keep our minds continuously focused – we can’t drift off, or allow ourselves to focus on that which we do not want. We have to keep our focus on that which we desire.

Then we notice it more, appreciate it more, put even more attention on it – and it starts showing up more and more and more.

Very basic, all of this. And I’m mentioning this to give both a high-points review and a context.

Now here’s the next step. Bear with me, and follow carefully, please.

That which we experience in our bodies is very close to our inner reality.

Our bodies are outer, yes.

We are not our bodies.

We know this, at least intellectually. And to get this understanding takes a bit of study and practice; several lifetimes at least for most of us. But right now, we get the general idea. We are not our bodies.

However, our first and most immediate sense of our external reality begins with our bodies. So if we want to change any aspect of our external reality, we begin by changing the experience that we have in our bodies.

A real important point, so let me state this again.

We don’t change our bodies, per se. We change the experience that we are having with being in our bodies.

Very specifically: If we want a better quality of experience in our lives, we start with having a better quality of experience of being in our bodies.

We can do this lots of ways, because there are many things that we can do to have an immediate feel-better sense. We can smile, we can laugh, we can eat a perfectly ripe fig with full attention.

We can do belly dance.

And we can do belly dance with the singular expectation and focus of simply feeling better in ourselves.

This will lead to many good things, not the least of which is simply having a better day.

A Simple Example for Changing Our Reality through Changing Our Physical State

You probably already know the prevailing social wisdom that smiling makes you happier.

Metaphysics 101: We create our realities through how we direct our attention.
Metaphysics 101: We create our realities through how we direct our attention.

Need some scientific support? Check out the Scientific American article on smiling, frowning, and corresponding emotional effect. Or, if you’re facing a truly stressful day, check out this Atlantic Monthly article on how smiling can reduce stress during multitasking.

Taking this just one step further, let’s recall another basic metaphysical principle; the one of acting-as-if to reinforce a desired reality creation. In The Power, by Rhonda Byrnes (author of The Secret), Rhonda tells the story of how a woman wanted a new job. Not just any job, but a very specific kind of job.

This woman created her own powerful “act-as-if” campaign. Every day, she got up in time to “go to the office,” even though the job (much less the office) had not appeared in her life just yet. She showered and dressed as if she were going to the office. She even noted meetings in her day planner; just as she would if she already had the job.

Of course, this paid off. Within a very short time, she had the job, the office, and the meetings.

Now these are two examples of projecting a desire for a better-feeling state (feeling happier, or having a new and much-desired job) into our reality-stream, and triggering these desired states with some physical action (smiling, putting on office-worthy clothes).

We’re going to take the same attitude and approach into dance.

Every time we dance – whether we’re in dance class, or just playing with a move while the water heats up for morning coffee or tea – we attend to how it makes us feel.

We find a little something that feels good. We pursue that further.

Our singular quest is for pleasure in the simple act of doing the movement, because we’re going to connect with our bodies’ intrinsic desire to do certain things and to move in certain ways.

Belly dance goes back a long way. It’s development coincides with the evolution of humanity; it is part of our signature of being human.

When you do belly dance, you’re connecting with your divine and intrinsic right to experience pleasure in your body.

Play with this; throughout your dance, throughout your day.

Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Much love and joy to you, dear one, as you cultivate your life through the art of dance!

Yours in dance –

Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

P.S. Learning about an authentic women’s pathway was important in my own breakthroughs.

Maria Strova has written a delightful and insightful book on this subject; The Secret Language of Belly Dancing. This book along with her newly-released Salome: the myth, the Dance of the Seven Veils, is available through Amazon. Maria Strova’s belly dance website provides a means to order the corresponding Salome DVD, and has links to some beautiful and expressive dances, certainly worth watching!



Maria Strova, Author of The Secret Language of Belly Dancing as well as the newly-released Salome: the myth, the Dance of the Seven Veils, on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What does Maria Strova, author of The Secret Language of Belly Dancing as well as author, dancer and producer of the newly-released Salome: the myth, and the Dance of Seven Veils, have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

From Maria Strova’s Amazon review of Unveiling:

Alay’nya’s book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey, is a lot more than a belly dance book. Her work on addresses self-image issues for women, healthy sexuality, and self respect. This work can take the reader by his or her hand through bad days and lack of inspiration, and into the realm of high art and joy. A great companion; a book to keep at hand’s reach.

Read this and more reviews of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.





Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

Geek to Goddess: 7 Steps, 60 Seconds, Total Transformation

Geek to Goddess: How to Transform Your Total Presence in Just 60 Seconds

The following are excerpts from two articles published by Alay’nya in The Gilded Serpent – as a prelude to the video which will be placed here shortly!

Gilded Serpent presents…
How Quickly Can We Become Better? – 3 Tips to Improve Your Dance: Corporate Amazon transforms to Hathor, the Goddess of Love and Pleasure

by Alay’nya (Alianna J. Maren, Ph.D.)
Posted June 11, 2012

Corporate Amazon transforms to Hathor, goddess of love and pleasure, using these three tips.
Corporate Amazon transforms to Hathor, goddess of love and pleasure, using these three tips, posted in Gilded Serpent.

All of us want our dance to be beautiful and captivating. Yet often, especially when we are new, we see a great distance between our own movements and the expressive power of our teachers or the favorites whom we watch on YouTube clips and DVDs. Is there a way to accelerate the process of becoming better? If so, what are the secrets?

We typically impose limiting expectations on ourselves. We may think that we’re at a disadvantage, compared to those whom we admire, because frequently, we have begun dance training as mature adults, and often hold full-time day jobs and other commitments. The truth is, though, that Oriental dance is a perfect realm in which we can experience “breakthroughs”. Indeed, we can develop that mesmerizing quality that inspired us to take up the study of dance!

As adults, even as beginners in our art, we can become powerful and alluring. The secrets? They are threefold: (Continue reading at: How Quickly Can We Become Better?.) Copyright (c) Gilded Serpent, LLC.

Gilded Serpent presents…

Gilded Serpent presents…
Fabulous Hip Drops in 30 Seconds or Less!

Author Alay’nya
by Alay’nya (Alianna J. Maren, Ph.D.)
posted January 18, 2013

Martial Arts Principles and Relevance to Oriental Dance

Alay'nya with veil
Alay’nya with veil: Veils frame us and give greater expressiveness in dance

… Dancers and martial artists both use principles in mastering their art. For example, Martha Graham, one of the most important American modern dancers and choreographers of the last century, built a number of movements based on what she called principles of “expansion and contraction”.

… A principle is a single unifying and guiding idea that when we apply it to our alignment or movement, helps us move more effectively. An advantage of using a principles-based approach to dance or martial arts mastery is that it lets us use a single visualization or body sense to achieve a desired result, instead of having to remember lots of little details.

There are several important principles that can be applied to dance. For the purpose of this dance discussion, the single principle that can transform your hip drops, and in fact all of your dance, is that of anchoring.

(Continue reading at: Fabulous Hip Drops in 30 Seconds or Less!.) Copyright (c) Gilded Serpent, LLC.

How Belly Dance Healed My Life – By Alay’nya

How Belly Dance Healed My Life – By Alay’nya

I’d just had some major accomplishments.

I should have been relaxed, happy, and proud.

Instead, I was confused and disoriented.

With a sinking sense, I realized – I didn’t know who I was!

My “Untold Story”

For years, I’d hidden behind a “masculine mindset.”

My newly-minted Ph.D., in one of the toughest subjects around (theoretical physical chemistry), had gotten me a new job with the research division of an international company. Getting this degree was a tribute to my ability to stay goal-focused, no matter what.

I was newly divorced. (How wonderful!) Newly out of a love affair. (How awful!)

But, with my emotional landscape clearing out, and with the challenge of using every minute for dissertation-writing no longer taking up my time, I realized: I didn’t know who I was.

Not Knowing Ourselves – Not Amnesia, But Close

No, of course I wasn’t having some sort of Jason Bourne-like amnesia.

Yes, of course I had a public “identity.” I had a driver’s license, credit cards, a steady job, and that all-important new degree hanging on my wall.

What I didn’t have, though, was a sense of who I was as a human being.

More importantly, I didn’t know myself as a woman.

DVD – Movie

All That I Knew Was My “Cover Story”

Everything that I had – everything that defined “who I was” – was really part of a cover story.

Oh, yes. Everything was valid enough.

My Ph.D. was very real. So were my job, monthly car payments, and everything else that made up my “day-to-day life.”

What wasn’t real, though, was the story that I’d been telling myself – and everyone else (for years and years) – about who I really was.

The reason?

I simply didn’t know myself. So of course, my “story” could not be completely true.

My Early Schism

When I was twelve years old, I made an unconscious – but very real – life-decision.

Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human rationalist from the long-running Star Trek TV series.
Mr. Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human rationalist from the TV series Star Trek, is famed for starting his advice with ‘Logic would indicate, Captain, …’.

Somehow, I internalized a very unsettling new belief.

I believed that it wasn’t safe – and certainly wasn’t happy – and very definitely was not advantageous – for me to inhabit my “feminine identity.”

Emotions and feelings? Dangerous. Very dangerous. Best not to go there.

Instead, I attempted to model myself on Mr. Spock, from the Star Trek TV series.

Of course, this didn’t work. Not at all. If anything, I became more socially awkward.

And I responded to these feelings of pain and awkwardness by withdrawing further into the one world where I knew I had supremacy – my intellect.

And so I studied very challenging, difficult subjects. And I did very well.

And at the end of this, I knew (or thought that I knew – a different story altogether) such arcane subjects as quantum mechanics, statistical thermodynamics, and neural network computing.

A Strategy That Didn’t Work, At All

The hours that I spent learning these subjects let me avoid learning about myself.

Mother Henna writes about her experience of seeing her "pain body" as separate from her "light body."
Mother Henna writes about her experience of seeing her “pain body” as separate from her “light body.”

Of course, this “pour-myself-into-the-books” strategy didn’t work.

My taking up other male-identified pursuits, such as karate, didn’t help either.

Over time, I realized that I was living a “split identity.”

I was on the verge of a major life crisis.

Everything that I had done – up to this point – dealt with building up my “masculine aspect,” and divorcing myself from my own “inner feminine.”

The reason?

I still thought that being in my feminine mode simply wasn’t safe.

That belief was about to be shaken.

A Chance Discussion – A New Beginning

I tell the story of my turning point in my book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

“My chiropractor friend David said, “The most powerful woman that I know is a woman named Medea, and she teaches belly dance.” I was in her next class.

“Medea, a protégé of the internationally-known Cassandra, had begun teaching a more energy-based approach to dance. What I got out of even my first class with Medea carried me through many years and many other dance teachers, not all of whom understood teh energy aspects ofthis dance. Without her unique insights, I would have passed this off as a simply physical art. [p. 402]

Learning Oriental dance (belly dance) gave me a new physical path for body/mind integration. Over time (and this took a few years), I phased out my martial arts study (even the more gentle and fluid T’ai Ch’i Chuan), and focused exclusively on dance.

This wasn’t the entire answer, of course.

Belly Dance is for Women What a Martial Art is for Men

I had loved the intensity and focus of the martial arts. I loved that it was a true “body art” – requiring awareness of every aspect of stance, motion, space, timing, and even breathing and energy patterns.

However, the martial arts were the arts of Mars, the god of war. They were all essentially masculine.

The martial arts had always served as a pathway by which a young man comes to know himself and cultivate his masculinity. But by now, my “masculinity” was way over-cultivated. I needed to access my feminine core.

Logically, I reasoned (with my Mr. Spock hat fully on), there had to be a Venusian art, a quintessentially feminine art. This art form would do for women what the martial arts have traditionally done for men.

I’d found my Venusian art form in Oriental dance (belly dance).

However, something was still missing.

The Practicum

I’d discovered the “laboratory course,” or practicum.

I still needed the lecture course, or the theory.

I started on an earnest quest for something like a feminine path.

I’d read Dan Millman’s The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In the classic tradition of the young hero being mentored by a sage martial artist, Daniel was tutored by the elusive and enigmatic Socrates. Socrates played the role of a Master Teacher; of an Obi-wan Kenobi or Yoda.

I wanted the same for myself – except in a feminine version!



The Theory

I found the theory – or at least the starting point – in Toni Grant’s book, Being a Woman, which was based on a pamphlet written in 1956 by Antonia Wolff, then Carl Jung’s lover. This pamphlet, The Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche, was the beginning – but certainly not the ending of my quest!

Read the rest of the story in Unveiling: The Inner Journey using Amazon’s Look Inside feature: read the Introduction.



Completing My Quest

Pulling together these two aspects – the “theory” and the “practicum” – or the understanding of feminine psychology together with a means of embodying it through dance – has been my quest for over thirty years.

No quest – especially one of this magnitude – is ever “complete.” However, I pulled together all that I understood – up to that time – in my book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey.

This blog continues sharing the ongoing quest with you.

And of course, I practice and teach the time-honored art of Oriental dance – which has become the pathway for feminine unfolding for which I was seeking over thirty years ago!

Wishing you much joy in your own fulfillment!

Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) to bring youthful vitality, movement, and expressiveness into your life!

Yours in dance –

Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

P.S. “Water therapy” helps emotional healing through belly dance – see how Alay’nya uses belly dance in water to release neck, shoulder, and back tension, minimize carpal-tunnel-like stress in the wrists, and create beautiful snake arm movements!

P.P.S. Learning about an authentic women’s pathway was important in my own breakthroughs.

Valerie Frankel has written several books on this subject; I’ve discovered them since writing my own book.

Check out Valerie’s works:

  • Did you grow up with Buffy? Is a sister, niece, or favorite student a Buffy fanatic? Help her learn how Buffy defines the Heroines’ Journey – and so much more! Read and give Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey: Vampire Slayer as Feminine Chosen One.
  • Ever wished that there was a book like Campbell’s “The Man with a Thousand Faces” – written for you? Your own heroine’s archetypal journey! What do myths, legends, fairy tales, and folklore from around the world have to say about you and your own journey? Valerie Frankel’s From Girl to Goddess is applicable at all stages of our lives.
  • Game of Thrones devotee? Valerie has other great books out. Check out Valerie’s Game of Thrones e-book on Amazon!



Valerie Frankel, Author of From Girl to Goddess, on Unveiling: The Inner Journey

What does Valerie Frankel, author of books such as From Girl to Goddess and Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey: Vampire Slayer as Feminine Chosen One, have to say about Unveiling: The Inner Journey?

Ms. Frankel notes:

“Unveiling the Inner Journey is a delightful exploration of the mystical side of dance. Through exploration of archetypes, of tarot cards, of the heroine’s journey in myth and literature, Alay’nya shows the spiritual side of physicality.

“She approaches her topic with devotion but also practicality and a deep intuition of human relationships, explaining though personal experience as well as intense research how the archetypes work and how a woman can channel the lover, mother, amazon and mystic to be all she is meant to become. Teachings of Jung, Murdock, Starhawk, and more appear, from ancient myth to modern culture.

“This is not the hero’s journey but one specific to the woman, or rather, many women on many different stages of journeying.

“This book offers a pathway for transcendence through dance as well as in everyday life. All dancers, physical or spiritual, should get this book–it shows what dance is really about. As the author of one of the few books on the heroine’s journey, I heartily endorse this book–we need more like it!”

Read this and more reviews of Unveiling: The Inner Journey.





Copyright (c) 2013, Alay’nya. All rights reserved.

Related Posts: Creating a Youthful Presence Through Belly Dance

I’ll Admit – I Cheated!

Cheating Our Way to Spring Body Fitness

I was down in the Diva Den (the dance studio+classroom+raw-foods kitchen) just now. After two days of being focused on the big Pathways event, and two follow-up R&R days, it was time to get back to the “spring body fitness regime.”

So I was downstairs early – perhaps 15 minutes early. I usually do my yoga/core/resistance/etc. while watching “Big Cats.” Nothing like having feline power and grace as inspiration, right?

Northern Chinese Leopard - photo courtesy Dan Wu

Northern Chinese Leopard – photo courtesy Dan Wei

This time, though, there were 15 minutes extra before the show started.

I scrolled through the options. Nothing interesting — but then there was the “Dancer Body” infomercial with something called the “Fluidity Bar.”

Now, I LOVE these fitness infomercials! From Zumba(TM) to “Insanity” to everything else, up to and including the “Fluidity.” I feel as though I can simply do what they’re doing in the infomercial, and get about the same benefit as having the DVD (and for zero cost).

This “Fluidity Bar” thing is one of my favs, though. And really, all that it is – is a portable, single-person-sized ballet barre. I mean, REALLY.

And do you know what?

Most of those “Fluidity” exercises? They can be done using the back of a chair for balance. No “ballet barre” (or “Fluidity Bar”) needed!

The back of a chair makes a good "ballet barre."

The back of a chair makes a good “ballet barre.”

So yeah, I cheated.

I got almost a complete “Fluidity” workout using the back of a thrift-store chair as my “barre.” No whipping out a credit card. (That’s one exercise I was happy to skip!)

And since I have a set of those chairs – and this really did feel effective and fun – I’m going to incorporate “barre” (“chair back”) exercises into our stretch/warm-up/technique-building routines. Starting with the Open House the Sunday after this one, Sunday, April 7th!

Alay'nya - author of "Unveiling: The Inner Journey"
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) as part of your own “spring training”!

Yours in dance –

Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey
You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

Founder and Artistic Director, The Alay’nya Studio
Bellydance a courtesan would envy!

Check out Alay’nya’s YouTube Channel
Connect with Alay’nya on Facebook
Follow Unveiling: The Inner Journey on Facebook

"Energy Dance" Deserves Its Own Respect

“Energy Dance” – Oriental Dance Combined with Energy Work – Requires Special Handling, Care, and Respect

This last Sunday (just five days ago), I resumed regular “dance class.” It was “class with myself” – doing all the things that I usually do (and teach) when holding regular classes: warm-ups, technique drills, choreographies. At the end of two fairly intense practice sessions, I was tired. In fact, my muscles were stiff and sore for the next couple of days. This isn’t unusual when getting back into Oriental dance (belly dance); we use large muscle groups, and the workout is not necessarily more intense, but it’s often deeper.

Yesterday, after morning chores and during morning journaling, a piece of music kept coming to mind; “Dark Fire” by Light Rain, on the <a href=”″>Dark Rain</a> CD. I followed a strong intuition that I should start working with this music. Several hours later (of very intermittent efforts), I had a bit of choreographic overview, some intense practicums (lasting only a few minutes, but still intense), some small sections of more specific choreography, together with costume ideas. I’d even selected my veils – two 4-yard pieces of subtly patterned and deeply toned silk chiffon.

In addition to playing with the physical aspects of this dance, though, I did something else: I started working with the energy aspects. This was entirely different from Sunday’s “classes.” This was a deliberate, intentional effort to infuse energy (ch’i) collection and direction with the dance movements.

And then, being somewhat tuckered out, I went to bed. I didn’t fall asleep right away, and so started listening to a book on CD. And that’s where I made the mistake. In fact, my intuition (or “guidance”) was telling me not to listen to that book, and I did an override – I wanted the story, and so I indulged.

I awoke a couple of hours later from a nightmare. For me, any form of nightmare is really unusual. My dreams are usually interesting “adventure stories.” Maybe not always fun (and usually strong on the “adventure” aspects), but almost never unpleasant or scary. In this dream, though, characters similar to the book’s villains showed up – people who were being hurtful, cruel, or simply very mixed-up.

This experience brought me back to recognizing that energy work – even when just practicing or developing something (that is, not being done with full-out magical intention) is still very powerful. I’m likening it to being in a fast-flowing, full stream of water.

Most of the time, we have an “energy flow” inside ourselves, but it is relatively low-level. This is like walking through a stream that is just trickling around our ankles, and isn’t moving very fast. When we deliberately start ramping up the “energy work” aspect of our practice, then it is like being in a stream of water that is much higher – imagine thigh or waist-deep – and is swirling and moving with some vigor. This kind of stream can easily pick up and move around stray, random things such as tree branches and any loose debris.

The difference between the energy flow (ch’i) that we create and move through our bodies during intentional practice and being in a stream of water is that when we do the energy work, the “stream” is really inside us – and when we ramp it up, it is also outside us a bit as well.

When a big rainstorm causes a stream of water to swell, it not only moves faster, but also rises in volume – picking up all sorts of stream-bank debris. This extra debris, along with dirt washed into the stream, make it full of extra “stuff.” Similarly, when we expand our personal energy, we not only attract more thought-forms from our vicinity, we “swirl them up” with extra energy. We give them more “oomph” and power in our lives.

Usually, this extra “stuff” doesn’t do any damage; the waters subside and the “stuff” gets left along the streambank once again. But if part of our intention and goal is to actively work with our internal energy, then it makes sense to keep our energy-stream as pure as possible, doesn’t it? Simply put, why add unnecessary junk?

There’s a notion called “magical chastity.” While it technically refers to a time of sexual abstinence unless using sex for magical purposes, this is actually a more broad-reaching concept. The idea is that when we are focused on creating something, we keep our attention and energy pure and focused solely on that desired creation. I’ve done this a lot when getting insights for a new invention, or when seeking clarity on a writing project. Athletes will often do this as they approach a significant competition or game. It’s all about focus.

The lesson here is that even relatively low-key energy work is still energy work, and deserves respect. It’s like shifting from using a couple of batteries to a full-scale generator. The higher the voltage (or more accurately, stored energy content – thus creating “potential”), the more we should be careful with our thoughts. Our thoughts function much like “connection wires” – they guide where the energy goes. And if we allow our thoughts to be randomly corroded with material from books, TV, or movies – just as we’re ramping up our energy store – then we’ll sometimes get a bit of “energy leak-over” as the energy that we’ve built up combines with the thought-forms that have caught our attention.

Usually, there’s no real damage. In my case, having an unpleasant dream is not a severely damaging experience. But the more proficient we become with energy work, the more important it is to be careful. Especially, we need to be careful with our thoughts. If we must read for entertainment, it’s important to choose something uplifting. I’m right now in the midst of my first pass through A Course in Miracles, which emphasizes love and forgiveness. These are better thoughts to have in my head than the actions of some villain in a novel!

One final thought: when we’re in a ramped-up energy state, it is much easier for us to influence “reality.” This is a good time to bring to mind those people, events, and organizations that are on our prayer list. Is there a person or group of people for whom you have kind intentions, but cannot give the time or money or attention that this person or group would like? Give them your loving thoughts while in a heightened energy state, and let the cosmos “do its thing.” Remember the foremost adage of basic New Age thinking, “That which is like unto itself is drawn.” (See the works of Abraham-Hicks for expositions.) When we are in a heightened energy state, and create a thought-form of love, respect, good-will, and appreciation for someone or something, and then (with gentle intention) send that thought-form to that person, then – because this thought-form has been created both with clarity and an extra energy-oomph, it will attach to the object to which it was sent. That is, it will attach if it is in synchrony with the energy-essence of the person or group. So then, it will cause other similar thought-forms to attach – resulting in good things happening! (A simple form of creating reality through intention.)

Best wishes, much love, and see you in dance class!

The "Latest Greatest" from Julie ("America’s Mindset Mechanic") – Worth the Read!

Julie Rahm, “America’s Mindset Mechanic,” on “Dead Languages”

A couple of weeks ago my dear friend Julie posted an insightful dead languages on her blogsite. These “dead languages” were not “dead” in the sense of Latin or Sumerian, but “dead” in terms of the energy-impact that it had on both the speaker and the hearer.

Now you’ve heard me mention Julie before. She’s in Unveiling: The Inner Journey (see the tail end of Chapter 21, “Dressing the Part.” You may have followed my link to her post two years ago, when she described her “mindset tools,” particularly the “plumb bob.” (Great analogies, by the way; you might even want to re-read.)

Her blogs are always good. This recent one, though, on how (at least in some parts of our country) we use “dead language” really got my attention. Words like “no problem” (and what they convey emotionally) are an example of “dead language.” They lack vitality, life-force, and connection.

If you haven’t been tracking her blog, add it to your feed. In particular, read this post.

And think about how “dead language” terms have crept into our vocabulary.

Or even worse – how some people may say things like “Shut up!” or “Get outta here!” when what they REALLY mean is “How fantastic! I am so thrilled and happy for you!”

When we’re happy for someone, let’s say it.

And by all means, when someone has good news to share, let us NOT tell them to “Shut up” or to “Get out”! Especially when what we really want to say to them is, “Fabulous, tell me more!”

Let’s do the “golden rule” and speak to others the way we’d like to be spoken to.

"Sound Barriers" and Personal Breakthroughs

Pushing Through the “Sonic Wall” – Not Easy, But Doable (with Patience, Persistence, Fortitude, and Time)

Have you ever broken through the sound barrier? I haven’t; not in an aircraft at least. But in personal life, in terms of processing – working through “stuff” – I certainly have.

Picture of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 breaking the sound barrier. The white halo formed by condensed water droplets is thought to result from a drop in air pressure around the aircraft at transonic speeds, from Wikipedia Commmons entry on Sound Barrier

The Sanskrit term for penetrating the personal “sound barrier” – taken into the personal realm – is kriya. These kriyas are not only known, but usual and expected.

As a yoga students starts “processing” – both by doing physical yoga poses and the meditations – they start to have their “stuff” come out. This can be physical; jerks and spasms while doing yoga postures. It can also be emotional; huge “waves” of feeling come over and through a person during these times.

I first learned the term kriya from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way:

As we notice which friends bore us, which situations leave us stifled, we are often rocked by waves of sorrow. We may want our illusions back! … And thanks to the morning pages we learn what we want and ultimately become willing to make the changes needed to get it. But not without a tantrum. And not without a kriya, a Sanskrit word meaning a spiritual emergency or surrender. (I always think of kriyas as spiritual seizures. Perhaps they should be spelled crias becasue they are cries of the soul as it is wrung through changes.)

We all know what a kriya looks like: it is the bad case of the flu right after you’ve broken up with your lover. It’s the rotten head cold and bronchial cough that announces you’ve abused your health to meet an unreachable work deadline. That asthma attack out of nowhere when you’ve just done a round of caretaking your alcoholic sibling? That’s a kriya, too.

Always significant, frequently psychosomatic, kriyas are the final insult our psyche adds to our injuries. “Get it”? a kriya asks you.

[The Artist’s Way, pp. 81-82]

The term kriya, though, actually means so much more. Translated from the Sanskrit, kriya really means a “completed action.” There is, in fact, a whole yoga practice built around kriyas; it entails the physical postures (asanas), energy work, specialized breathing (pranayama) and visualization. In short, kriya yoga is exactly what we are doing in dance form. (Look for more about kriya yoga over these next few years, as I learn more and infuse what I learn into what we are doing.)

Whether yoga or dance, this is all a part of our pathworking. And the important thing about a kriya being a “completed action”? It means that a person has broken through a personal “sound barrier.” They’ve managed to get to the other side of a huge wall of personal resistance.

Not without cries and tumult. Not without tears in the night. Not without wondering if we’re just crazy, or if our lives have been a total loss.

The early attempts to penetrate the “physical” sound barrier all met with resounding failure. The planes simply bucked and shuddered, and couldn’t get through. It took many passes, many redesigns, and many different efforts over many years, before the first breakthroughs occurred.

Are you going through a kriya? (I was, over the last two months.) If so, the following from the Wikipedia entry on the sound barrier may interest you:

On page 13 of the “Me 262 A-1 Pilot’s Handbook” issued by Headquarters Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio as Report No. F-SU-1111-ND on January 10, 1946:

Speeds of 950 km/h (590 mph) are reported to have been attained in a shallow dive 20° to 30° from the horizontal. No vertical dives were made. At speeds of 950 to 1,000 km/h (590 to 620 mph) the air flow around the aircraft reaches the speed of sound, and it is reported that the control surfaces no longer affect the direction of flight. The results vary with different airplanes: some wing over and dive while others dive gradually. It is also reported that once the speed of sound is exceeded, this condition disappears and normal control is restored.

The comments about restoration of flight control and cessation of buffeting above Mach 1 are very significant in a 1946 document.

In case you didn’t get it, let me restate: “… the control surfaces no longer affect the direction of flight.”

That means, while we’re going through a kriya, our lives go all to hell. Our usual means of “controlling” what goes on – in and around our lives – just don’t work anymore. (Sound familiar to anyone? It describes my last two months to a “T.”)

The relief is that “once the speed of sound is exceeded, this condition disappears and normal control is restored.” In short, once we’ve passed through the kriya (the crisis, or spiritual emergence), we get some control again.

For those of us going through such crises – now, in the past, or to come – understanding this process and knowing that we regain “normal control” on the other side is most reassuring. Not to mention that we’ll have pierced our own personal “sound barrier.” We’ll be flying in a totally different realm.

Exciting, hmm?

It’s OK If This Is Becoming a Bit Compulsive …

Housecleaning – Inside and Out

Housecleaning can become a bit compulsive.

And this is really ok.

It’s especially ok if the house really needs to be cleaned, as mine has.

Last year, between March 21st (Vernal Equinox) and April 1st, I took stock.

I realized that my energy was low. (“I can’t even spell ‘marketing plan’,” I wrote in my journal.) Unveiling was close to launch date – not yet quite there, but I could really, realistically see it coming. (And at that, it still took another three months before I held the first physical Unveiling copies.) But as the launch-hour approached, life (and my overall energy) seemed to be slowing down.

This sense of how much more difficult it is to complete a major life transition is not unusual at all. There is even an analogy to how things work out in nature: physicists know the phenomenon called “critical slowing down” – the fact that just before a system changes state (water to steam, for example), we can put in a whole lot of “energy” and still not see much difference. It just becomes harder and harder to gain a single degree of temperature. Any woman who has borne children knows that the last few months – and weeks and days and hours – are the most difficult. There’s a time (so I’m told) when you just want that baby born, no matter what. And for those of us who’ve taken on any project, we know that the early “blocking out” stages can happen quickly – from building a house to painting a picture to changing our body shape. It’s filling in the details that takes so much time.

Add to this one more important factor: when we’re getting close to the “finish line” for any big life project, we can’t let go. It might be completing a book, a degree, a renovation project. And simultaneously, the “project” – whatever it is – consumes our life. There really is no time left for anything else.

The point is: We do transform our lives. We do take on what are truly heroic quests and challenges. And while we are doing these – and going through the last very difficult stages – the rest of our lives unravel. The house gets dirty. Important relationships are not maintained. (At least, not with the diligence that we usually muster.) This would be the year that the vegetable garden gets sparse and weedy, and we don’t even think about putting up vegetables that summer.

Balance is lovely. Balance feels good, and so does a clean house, a set of well-maintained friendships, and a beautiful, thriving vegetable garden. But when we are doing a Heroic Quest, we forsake balance.

Balance is something that we recapture later. And it may take time. In my case, it’s taken me a year – that’s right, a full year – to get the house and grounds cleaned up. And I’ve really, truly been working pretty hard at it. Most especially, over this month of February.

So you haven’t heard much from me this last month. I love you just as much as ever. And I’ve been thinking about you while cleaning out the storage room. (And when I swept mouse dung and dust off the high utility shelves – and got whif-fuls of it, and came down with allergy-induced headaches later – well, lesson learned for next time.)

Cleaning, de-gunking, and organizing – restoring balance, harmony, and joy – takes time. This is a transition. Not quite a Quest, but a post-Quest mop-up.

So if we have been Questing lately – we need to recognize that post-Quest, it takes a little time to get life back in order.

And have you been Questing? Do you want to know more about a Heroine’s Quest (versus the classic Hero’s)? Learn more: online radio talk show on the Heroic Quest with moderator Dennis Tardan.

"Pathworking" Involves Cleaning – At All Levels

Pathworking – Starting the New Year, Cleaning Out Our Lives

The “new year,” effectively, begins right about now. Really, it started last week – February 2nd. This was the Feast of Candlemas (the Festival of Lights). It was Imholc (in the older traditions), and Groundhog Day (in the newer ones). In Druidic times, this was the true start of the “new year.” Other cultures, notably the Chinese, start their new year with a celebration around this time of year. Truly, our juices don’t begin to flow – we don’t begin to shake off some of winter’s hibernation – until we start to get more light in the sky, beginning in early February.

Now on a simple girlfriend-to-girlfriend level, I’ll let you know: January was hard. I didn’t get out, and didn’t party. Instead, I focused down and worked my way through that month. And the results are in; they’re good, and I’m really pleased to have put in all that effort.

There’s another thing that I started – right after Christmas (right during the “Twelve Days of Solstice,” in fact). I got started on paperwork clean-ups. And as you probably know, this is a long chore. There’s probably not a one of us who can burn through our entire paperwork stack in just one evening, or even a weekend.

For me, it’s been multiple rounds of wrestling with the “Paper Tiger”; the piles, bags, and boxes of papers that have accrued over the months (and even prior years). Frankly, I feel that basement and garage clean-outs are easier.

Which brings me to: Basement and garage clean-outs. Specifically (because our garages are still pretty cold right now) to basement clean-outs. And I’ve been cleaning out mine (with the help of a sturdy and dedicated housemate). We’ve put in three “sessions,” and have made a dent. Not done, but a good strong dent. We feel encouraged. We feel that progress has been made, and that if we stay with this, we’ll even be done. (Some day.)

The point is: Basement cleaning – and paperwork cleaning – and life-cleaning of all sorts – is the kind of thing that we start right around now. And it’s part of our Unveiling process. It’s an integral part of pathworking.

In Chapter 19 of Unveiling, “A Sacred Time, A Sacred Space,” I write:

After we find and designate our sacred space, we cleanse. We cleanse thoroughly. This is important.

This is the actual physical cleaning of any aspect of our lives; our basements, our closets, our stacks of paperwork or sets of unanswered emails. It can be physical; if we are into body “cleanses,” this is often the time that we take on a little bit of a juice fast or introduce some tonics into our lives. (Even without that degree of rigor, we show more interest in fresh salads, and less of a need for chocolate cream-cheese brownies. Well, that depends on the weather.)

At the same time, whenever we take on some cleansing process in our physical worlds, or even in our bodies, we are allowing the same process to take place inside our minds. We begin our “inner house-cleaning” – as I described in Chapter 28, “Going Deeper.” During one of my own Inanna-descents, I found that cleaning out my “inner basement” led to cleaning out deeper and deeper levels – none of which were pretty! (In fact, it felt like excavating sub-basements filled with swamp-mold and muck!)

Yet this is one of the most important things we can do. In fact, we have an archetype whose purpose is to help us with just this! This is our inner Hestia. Hestia was the ancient Greek goddess of “hearth and home.” She was not into the relational aspects; she was not so much about the great love. Instead, she was more one for keeping the garden tended, pickling the vegetables, and cleaning the kitchen afterwards.

Hestia doesn’t get a lot of attention. Yet our Hestia mode is one of the most useful things that we have going for us. She keeps the underpinnings of our lives together – the day-to-day things that lets our Amazon conquer new worlds, our Isis/Empress have her nurturing time with children and friends, our High Priestess to have contemplation, and our Hathor to have time for sensuality and for play.

Did I mention that our Hestia doesn’t get a lot of respect? More to the point, she doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition. I didn’t even mention her in Unveiling!

That’s because I didn’t understand her until after the book was nearly done. In the ensueing months, though, I’ve had a better understanding. And I wrote about her recently as a core archetype in the Unveiling blog; see Hestia and also – for a birds-eye view of our complete archetype set, The Unveiling Archetypes and the Jungian Dimensions. (Look for Hestia in the top right quadrant of the figure; she’s in between the High Priestess and Empress/Isis.)

Cultivating our inner Hestia is an important part of our pathworking; our day-to-day journey. When we do the practical things on the outer, our minds free up to do the inner work. “Wax on, wax off,” Mr. Miyagi advised young Dan in the original Karate Kid movie.

And a special point: The deeper our “internal cleaning,” the deeper we go into the back corners and stored piles of “stuff” in our everyday, practical lives. The inner and the outer aspects reflect each other. Before we are fully empowered to glow in our newly-polished Hathor mode, or before we reach the true nuggets of wisdom that we gain from our High Priestess, we spend hours cleaning and scrubbing the pantry, digging out the basement, and taking carloads of things to Goodwill. The path to beauty, peace, freedom, and joy begins with cleaning up stacks of old bills and emails!

One final word: The time to do this is now. I hate it for you, dear one, and I hate it for me as well. But the best time to get this “housecleaning” done – inside and out – is before the robins arrive, before the trees are green, and before we are so in love with the love that’s going on around us!

To your joyous unfolding and the sturdy progress of your own pathworking

With much love – Alay’nya

Recharging Our Eating Plan with Healthy Foods (And Welcoming in the New Year!)

How to Kick-Start a Healthy Eating Plan for the New Year

Can I just say this straight?

Diets don’t work.

Diets, or any sense of deprivation – any sense of “I can’t have this” or “I can’t have as much of this as I’d like” – just doesn’t work as a way to live our lives.

May I also say: this is still early February. We are just coming out of hibernation. And like good old bears, we still want to “carb up.”

To make things worse, we’re being bombarded with magazines showing us images of barely post-pubescent young women; those who have the ultra-firm flat tummies, the carefully sculpted bottoms, and scarcely a half-ounce of extra body fat.

Nuts to that, I say! (In fact, nuts are a really good idea – protein, carbs, fiber … but okay, that’s a different post.)

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Pistachios; Bon Appetit, February, 2008. Recipe by Dan Barber. Photograph by Lisa Hubbard

Right now, we’re barely getting out of our caves.

We’re a few days post Imholc/Candlemas/Groundhog Day. (Pick your holiday of choice.) There’s no question; we are starting to feel a bit better. There’s more light in the sky now. The days are just a bit longer. And we’re having an early spring. The daffodils are up; the trees show signs of early budding.

But it’s still February.

So the big question is: How to recharge our diets and exercise patterns?

The answer is: Gravitate towards that which makes us feel good. So instead of forcing ourselves towards anything – especially anything that is a little stringent or unnatural – we instead invite ourselves – gently and lovingly and with the greatest nurturance and care possible – to do those things that will help us feel better.

This often means cooking our own food, from scratch. Using the best possible natural ingredients that we can find – especially healthy fresh vegetables.

But if you’re like me, then breaking off whatever you’re doing sometimes just seems like too much work. And cooking up anything when getting home from work seems like way too much effort.

So here’s what I’m doing to get myself going; you might want to do the same:

  • Put up good-foods pictures where you’ll see them. Right now, I’m looking at a picture of brussels sprouts. Yes, brussels sprouts – with pistachios and lemon. And I’m about to pull this picture out of the magazine, trim the edges neatly, put it into a plastic sleeve holder, and tape that to one of my kitchen cupboards. And I’ll do the same with a picture of a fresh salad of mixed greens (when I find one). And similarly with one or two more really invigorating and inspiring recipes. Why? Because we’re visual creatures. We respond to stimulation. And at this time of the year, in particular, we crave visual, tactile, and olfactory stimulus. So – we provide ourselves with stimulus and inspiration, and action follows.
  • Pre-process your raw veggies as soon as you get home What can you say to a raw cauliflower? Not much, really. So as I’m unpacking the bags of raw veggies, I try to do what I can to get them ready for later cooking. I take the leaves off the cauliflower, and core out the bottom end. And I try to do other things that make it possible to get meals together just a bit more easily later in the week. The biggest drawback to eating more healthily – that means, more veggies (both cooked and raw) – is that they take more prep time. A whole lot of washing and cutting and fussing. The other thing that seems to work is to take the veggies, a cutting board, and necessary knives and bowls in to watch some TV. This is a sort of “low-energy” task – something to do when a little too tired to do anything really energetic or creative, but not quite completely zoned out. It’s a good way to prep veggies for salads, stir-fries, soups, and other uses.
  • Prioritize veggie-intensive food preps for early in the day, when there’s still some energy. I try to plan and prep whatever my meals will be as early in the day as possible. At this time of year, this often means a soup or a slow-cooked meal. If I can get this started early – before getting into the other tasks and priorities – then the food is ready later on, when I’m hungry. I may even pre-prep a salad, and put it in the fridge with a cover over the dish. And also even make a little mustard/honey/olive-or-grapeseed oil/balsamic dressing. Always tastes better than the store-bought. I’ll make this up and store in the fridge, and this minimizes reaching for the store-bought back-up dressing. (Think about this: You’re more likely to purchase quality ingredients when you make your own dressing. And you’re more likely to add in little extra heath-giving “extras” when you make it yourself.)

That’s it, really. Focus on the feel-good foods; especially the veggies. And make the cream-cheese brownies when you need them; if you have enough in the way of brussels sprouts and salads, everything else takes care of itself.

One final thing: With warmer days, it’s time to get outside once again. I’m looking forward to a lengthy walk today; a couple of miles at least. As soon as the sidewalks or streets are ice-free, and the wind is not so chill, it’s time to get some fresh air and exercise. And being outside is so much more fun and invigorating than being on a treadmill in a gym!

To your health, happiness, and an overall glorious New Year! – yours – Alay’nya