Autumn Lesson 4: Breaking Through Emotional Resistance

Autumn Lesson 4 in The Season of Cups: Moving Out of Stuck Situations

The primary focus of this ten-week series (from the Ace through the Ten of Cups) is on cultivating our internal energy and bringing it up our spines. The final stage of this series is actually the Ace of Cups, when we (supposedly) learn to “fountain” our energy around ourselves.

This is an important goal, both because being able to “fountain” our energy (actually, to do anything at all with our internal energy) is good, but also because this ability is a crucial predecessor to the really important energy exercises:

We will be doing the first two of these practices (Micro-Cosmic Orbit and Middle Pillar) over the winter, and the final one (Circulating the Body of Light) in the summer.

What we are doing now, though, is a structured energy practice that will lead us steadily to some of these more advanced exercises.

In the previous three weeks, we introduced the Season of Cups and basic exercises for this autumn quarter:

In this Autumn Week 4, we encounter emotional blocks that keep us from fully doing our energy work.

The Tarot Minor Arcana "Four of Cups" card describes the emotional process of opening up to new life experiences.
The Tarot Minor Arcana “Four of Cups” card describes the emotional process of opening up to new life experiences.

Learn more about the Tarot’s Minor Arcana Four of Cups.

The Four of Cups is a moment of stasis; we are so locked up in our present thoughts and conditions that we can’t open up to new “good energy” that is being offered to us.

 
 
 

http://bubbewisdom.com/2016/02/24/ida-and-pingala/
Three channels through which vital ch’i energy flow up the spine, the ida, pingala, and susuhmna, with their six “nadi” crossings.

When we studied the Two of Cups, we realized that we were being directed to examine the Ida/Pingala energy streams at the root of our spine. At the Three of Cups, we included the Sushumna primary energy column in our attention, and did the first “interweaving” or “crossing over” of the Ida/Pingala streams. We did this at an energy nexus point on our spines that connects directly to the second chakra in front.

(Recall our energy anatomy: there are six “nexus points” on the spine, each of which connects via nerve bundles to one of each of six nerve ganglia on our fronts. Each of these physical nerve ganglia bundles corresponds to a chakra area.)

Now, at the Four of Cups, we’re at the second crossing of the Ida/Pingala streams, which corresponds to the third nerve bundle on the spine and the third nerve ganglia grouping and chakra center on our fronts.

This third chakra occurs at our solar plexus. This is right where our upper diaphragm (the one separating our heart and our lungs from our abdominal organs) occurs.

When we are energetically and emotionally blocked or “stuck,” then our diaphragm is tight, and we have a rigid hold on the muscles in our upper abdominal area as well as our sternums. The result is that we have a tight and rigid dance.

In Unveiling: The Inner Journey, I describe how one of my master teachers, Anahid Sofian, corrected me and another leading dancer on precisely this matter.

Across the crowded floor, a series of young women swayed like seaweed in the ocean. Their eyes on the diminutive teacher, they followed Anahid Sofian in her graceful yet precise movements…

“Leah,” she called out to a dancer, “you need to release – right here.” She gestured to her own sternum. We were practicing upper body undulations, one of the most beautiful and sensual moves in Oriental dance. “And Alay’nya,” she turned, scrutinizing me, “you need to do the same.”

Both Leah and I were well beyond the beginner’s level. … Here we were, getting the same correction on one of the most basic moves. “What,” I wondered, “is going on with us?”

Suddenly it hit me; one of those “Aha!” moments. Leah and I both epitomized the “young-woman-on-her-own-in-the-world.” Having to make it on our own in essentially a man’s world, we had taken on the masculine attributes of body armor by using our muscles and ligaments! By stiffening our muscles, and holding them tightly, we created an impenetrable shield; we were “armored” against the world. What we were doing in our bodies reflected more the influence of Athena, Goddess of Intellect (as well as war; she is the ultimate Amazon), than Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. We were fully in our Amazon mode!

Releasing the muscles in our sternum took conscious attention from each of us. It did then, and it still does. The old tension patterns die hard. [from Unveiling: The Inner Journey, Chapter 14, “Locking Our Minds Out of Our Bodies,” pp. 189-190]

For many of us, as we go into the autumnal Season of Cups, our attention is not just on practicing technique. Rather, it becomes a quest to release those tensions and blockage patterns that keep the movement from flowing freely.

Here’s to your own “inner un-blocking”!

Very best wishes as you use Oriental dance (belly dance) for personal growth and healing!

Yours in dance –

Alay'nya - author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Unveiling-The-Inner-Journey-Alaynya/dp/0982901305/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368123419&sr=8-1&keywords=unveiling+the+inner+journey">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Alay’nya
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
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P.S. Getting Your Own Copy of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Do you want to continue reading Chapter 14, from which the beginning was excerpted above? You can have your print copy of Unveiling overnight from Amazon, or a Kindle version within minutes.

 

Alay’nya, Unveiling: The Inner Journey

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P.P.S. More Unveiling

A very important related section is in Chapter 9, “The Essence of Stillness.” I have a nice long extract posted on the Unveiling website. Go to the Resources page, and look for the extract about Esther. Also, you’ll have a chance to sign up for the Unveiling e-newsletter, and be given early information on:

  • Workshops: Whether my own, or those that I highly recommend (and will likely attend), be the among the first to know your options for putting your Unveiling studies into practice – topics will range from archetypal to dance to the “Fountain of Youth,”
  • Best-of-the-Best links and “insider info, which I custom-select, carefully edit, and share just with the Unveiling Community (free, but you must Opt-In using the Opt-In form on the website’s first page) and
  • Weekly updates – so that you won’t miss a thing!

Alay'nya - author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Unveiling-The-Inner-Journey-Alaynya/dp/0982901305/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368123419&sr=8-1&keywords=unveiling+the+inner+journey">Unveiling: The Inner Journey</a>
Alay’nya – author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

Very best wishes to you make your dances more fluid and expressive as you add “water play” to your practice!

Yours in dance –

Alay’nya
Author of Unveiling: The Inner Journey

You are the Jewel in the Heart of the Lotus. Become the Jewel!

From Dr. Nicole Cutts’ Amazon review of “Unveiling: The Inner Journey”: “I love, love, love this book! It is like the g*ddess mother, mentor I never had and always needed. Finally a book that just tells it like it is for women. It is well written, intelligent and enlightening. For any woman who wants to live a life of adventure,joy and love. It is rich with so much wisdom and grounded in thorough research, which I love! I can’t say enough about it. All I can say is read it if you are looking for something new to take you to the next level of womanhood.”

Filling Our "Energy Well" Using Oriental Dance

Filling Our “Energy Well” Using Circular, Rolling, and Snake Movements with the Chifti Telli Rhythm in Esoteric Belly Dance

Julia Cameron, in her book The Vein of Gold, talks about “filling the well.” She writes, “As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing.” (p. 21)

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Vein of Gold

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Walking in the World

Water: The Energy of the Season of Cups

As we move into Autumn, the Season of Cups, we shift both our dance and our life-focus. Summer was the Season of Rods, and dealt with fire energy. If we had progressed in our energy cultivation path well over the previous year, we had plenty of “energy to burn” by summer time – and that’s exactly what we did!

Now, though, with the heat of the summer waning, we are ready for something different. Our bodies – and our psyches – seek replenishment.

Energetic Anatomy

Because we are doing esoteric belly dance, or Oriental dance (belly dance) with an energy component, the idea of replenishment has very specific and practical meaning for us. We focus on drawing energy into our “energy reserve centers,” and to building and strengthening this energy.







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As a first step, we look at one aspect of our energy anatomy – the various energy channels that come up our spine.

In many of our energy exercises, we draw energy up our spine. Very often, we bring energy straight up our spinal column.

However, in this lesson, we pay attention to the fact that the energy currents up our spine are more complex.

Energy channels going up tNada, ida, pingala, & sushmna energy channels
Energy channels going up the spine: nada, ida, pingala, & sushmna

There are really three channels, or nadis (a Sanskrit term), as recognized in the yogic tradition. These are:

  • Pingala: The nadi carrying the “active” aspect or prana (this is our vital life-force, or ch’i)
  • Ida: The nadi carrying the “passive” aspect or apana
  • Sushumna: The nadi carrying the Kundalini energy

These energy channels have been recognized in our own Western medical tradition – in a very subliminal manner – for thousands of years. Specifically, the cadeceus – our emblem for the healing arts – is a stylized depiction of these energy channels.

The tantric tradition of kundalini yoga has been to awaken the energy flow through these nadis, culminating in a fully awakened and energy-vitalized state.

Relating Energetic Anatomy to Western Esoteric Tradition

In our studies, we use this time of year to “fill our well” energetically. In fact, we opened this quarter by giving attention to energy dancing with a water feeling.

Now that we’ve introduced our theme, we move from the overall feeling of water energy (the Ace of Cups) to the lesson in the Two of Cups. Margaret Wells, who has developed interpretations for the various Tarot cards, describes the Two of Cups as bringing forth “a moment of shared feeling.”

"Two of Cups," by Melvis
“Two of Cups,” by Melvis

Look closely at the imagery in this card, designed especially by Melvis, in a project organized by Margaret. See how the two cups are blending together? And they’re both receiving droplets of water.

This is what we’re doing. We’re bringing “droplets of energy” to both our prana (Pingala) and apana (Ida) origination and storage points at the base of our spine. This is the starting point for our exercise.

Practicum: Second Week of Autumn

Pingala/Ida Nadi Tracing

We will return in this week’s class to the Cabbalistic Cross exercise that we began last week, using the music Anahat (by Kairo by Night, on the Zaman CD).

We are going to use the opening phrases of this music (about a minute or so, before the “melodic line” kicks in) to trace the Pingala and Ida circulation lines up our spines. This acts as a reminder to ourselves that these two nadis play a role. Even though many of our other energy exercises will bring the energy straight up our spines, we acknowledge the different “currents” or nadis as we begin our practice.

Please note: The Cabbalistic Cross is not an “energy-building” or “energy circulation” exercise. Rather, it is the first step in aligning ourselves with certain “realms of consciousness” (Sephiroth in the Kabbalistic tradition), and is a preliminary to an “energy boundary” exercise, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. We are inserting the Pingala/Ida here – because it works – and we’ll insert it into other exercises/etudes as well. Keep in mind the distinction; energy-building or cultivation vs. energy circulation vs. protection/boundary-creation.

Other exercises for the Second Week of Autumn

  • Diaphragm stretches: We’ll begin paying more attention to each of our three diaphragms, allowing them to release, so we can bring in more air. This is an important precursor to learning undulations, both upper and lower body.
  • Circular Movements: Hip circles and rib cage circles help us to “feel out” the fullness of the energy basin that rests in our pelvic girdle.
  • Snake Arms: We’ll introduce some exercises that will help you move your arms and hands gracefully. These are necessary precursors to candle dancing, which is an optional study for Winter Solstice.

As always, we’ll do veil work – both in place, and moving across the floor.

Music/Rhythms

We will listen to and move with various chifti telli pieces, which are the focal rhythms for this quarter.

Principles

  • Lotus Flower: This is a Static Principle, and is the second one that we learn in our sequence. It is the natural corollary to the Anchoring Principle that we studied last week.
  • Expansion/Contraction: This is a Dynamic Principle that we’ll study in greater depth over time. We use the Expansion/Contraction method, combined with breathing (even a little pranayama) to fill our energy cauldron (the “basin” in our hip girdle, where we build and store intrinsic energy, or ch’i). This is a natural accompaniment to – and adds to the energetic value of – movements such as hip circles.

Using Unveiling: The Inner Journey as a Study Guide for Autumn Dance Classes

Textbook References

The following chapters in Unveiling are relevant to this week’s study:

  • Chapter 25, “Sex Secrets of Belly Dancers”: All you need to know (and more) about our various diaphragms. Also a write-up on why we do those horrible abdominal exercises during our warm-ups. (Strengthens our internal and external obliques.)
  • Chapter 22, “Looking Like a Dancer (Even If You’re Not)”: Includes a very brief description of the Anchoring Principle, which I learned from martial arts master Peter Ralston, along with a brief mention of the Lotus Flower Principle (which I simply call “reaching up” in the text).

Related Personal Pathworking Steps:

At the beginning of this post, I referenced author Julia Cameron, who talks about using images to feed our artistic souls. I build on her ideas in my recent book, Unveiling: The Inner Journey. (Look at the Personal Pathworking at the end of Chapter 3, “Bedtime Stories for Grown-Up Girls.”)

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Studying with Alay’nya

It is still possible to join us in the Alay’nya Studio in McLean, VA. Beginners meet on Sundays from 11:30 to 1PM. Learn about the Beginner’s Dance Package, and email me for an invitation to join us for a complimentary introductory class: alaynya (at) alaynya (dot) com.

Related Posts for Using Water Energy in Dance

"Return to the Goddess" by Suzanna del Vecchio – The "Challenge Dance" for Autumn 2012

Return to the Goddess (a Chifti Telli) by Suzanna del Vecchio – The “Challenge Dance” for Alay’nya Studio Members; Autumn, 2012

Challenge Dance for Alay’nya Studio Members: Autumn, 2012

Every quarter we select a different challenge dance: one that is sure to push us to our limits, both technically and artistically. Each challenge dance is one done by a world-class dancer, and available for all to watch via a YouTube clip or other (free) web-based source.

For the Autumn, 2012 quarter, we’re selecting Suzanna del Vecchio’s beautifully-rendered
Return to the Goddess from her DVD, Dances From the Heart. This is set to a beautiful chifti telli by Alan Bachman (Desert Wind).

The music for this dance is the Isis Chiftitelli, on Alan Bachman’s Kali Ma, and is one of the most-loved songs in the Oriental dance community.

Members of the Alay’nya Studio should begin by studying the portion of Suzanna’s dance that they can watch online, and practicing the first minute with her. (This would be up to the point where she starts circling the floor while doing a rib circle.

Be very careful about easing into your backbend. In our class, we’ll modify that aspect of choreography and defer it (for each student) until she can safely and confidently and comfortably do a backbend facing away from the audience (so that when she moves into the backbend itself, she’s looking “back” to see the audience and they can see her face.)

Alay’nya doing a backbend during Red Phoenix. Photo by Crystal Barnes. Used with permission.