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Illan Riviere
Leyla Najma
Leyla Najma
The Belly Dance Survivalist, Leyla Najma. | Photo: Leyla-najma.net | Link | Leyla Najma, Bellydance, Dancer, Bored, Survival, Injury, Workout, Rest, Thought, Cross, Crucifix,

What happens when you can't dance for awhile?

Sometimes the dance comes to a complete halt. Maybe you had an injury, a car accident, or a life change that temporarily causes the candle to flicker out. Hopefully it can be lit again.

I've known several dancers who have experienced this, myself included, and many, like phoenix rising from the ashes, have resurrected themselves back into the dance. But what happens when the practices and performances of your beloved Belly Dance comes to a standstill?

You may experience a great sense of loss, you miss your adrenalin fix, part of your identity is gone for a time. You're not a dancer at the moment.

Studies have shown that when dance/exercise stops abruptly, a chemical withdrawal takes place. Research indicates that regular exercise reduces depression and enhances psychological well-being. Endorphins, the happy hormones, increase and creative positive feelings. Dance also increases the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. These chemicals send messages form one brain cell to another to keep your mood calm. So when you are forced to stop dancing, it can affect your entire body-mind.

Dancing can make you happy within five minutes; offering immediate reward. It is an innate mood enhancement. Some researchers say it is a natural antidepressant. Experts think moving actually toughens your attitude for the fight-or-fight situations. You get to move when you are stressed, and this offers relief. All in all, missing out on your most wonderful aphrodisiac is quite a challenge.

You notice flaccid muscle where toned muscles used to live. You lose your grace temporarily as you limp toward restoring your health The soaring freedom of dance is missing. After shock, anger, grief and further emotions set in, there comes the stage where you finally find enormous gratitude for the gift of dance that you have been given. Here you develop deep compassion for others. You think about people limited by disability, illness, or even old age. Those who can only dance in the mind. You notice the blessing bestowed upon you for having danced at all.

As the healing continues gratitude leads to perspective. You are not just a dancer. You are a soul who has been given the endowment of dance. It is not you who creates this gift, but it is you who can share it! Ego steps aside for a moment and you realize you have been blessed.

Furthermore, you get to access how much or how little you have been doing to create the life you want. What have you noticed? What haven't you noticed? Do you need to do more, or do you have to slow down? What does your body really want? Perhaps more rest is required. Taking time out can offer reflection and introspection.

As healing progresses from the physical, to the emotional, to the spiritual, each stage overlaps and offers up its own profound wisdom. What does Belly Dance mean to you? Is it only a place to play, a physical workout, self-expression, or a chance to discover deeper yearnings and new evolving stages of this wisdom?

When all comes to a halt, and you see is a big red Stop Sign; a hidden opportunity arises. You are able to stop and observe. You can heighten your awareness. You can heal. Assessment uncovers an intense gratitude. Gratitude for the talent you have and for your questing and perseverance. You realize that you are grateful for life as well as dance.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 1:50 PM EDT | More details

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