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Empower the Feminine Part 3 

How Belly Dance Empowers Your Feminine Spirit
Practical tips to help you balance out your relationship to gender

Belly Dancing is in its essence a channeling of pure Feminine. Done with spirit and intention, Belly Dance channels feminine beauty out into the world from deep within a woman’s soul.

Within its ancient movements and practices, Belly Dance offers us portals into the Feminine on many levels. It can be a window into the mystery and luscious beauty of truth, love and wisdom. In one moment, a dancer who is dancing with intention can transport herself and the viewer to a deep ocean of feeling, a moment of forgetting oneself. Through her dancing, she can help us spend time out of our minds and experience just being.

“Belly Dance is a valid prescription for the ailments that result from a loss of the Feminine”.

The practice of Belly Dance on an ongoing basis for the student is intensely empowering to the Feminine in the individual’s make-up. Belly Dance is a valid prescription for the ailments that result from a loss of the Feminine.

If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series of articles called What is the Feminine? here is a simplified table to illustrate the Feminine and Masculine principles in life:

The Masculine                           The Feminine
Mind                                        Heart
Thinking and mental activity         Feeling & emotion
Taking action                            Inaction
Being in the world                      Stillness & resting
Giving                                      Receiving
Reason                                    Imagination
Logical & linear thinking              Creativity
Structure                                 Formlessness
Knowing & certainty                   Intuition & the unknown
Must “make sense”                     Innocence “in no sense”
Orientating                                Nurturing
What you think you need             What you truly love
Living to survive                         Living for joy
Reality                                      Vision
Must achieve to be valid              Just being is valid
Will                                          Beauty

In terms of Belly Dance movements, the Masculine is hard, sharp edged, and fast as in modern Cabaret styles and drum solo. The Feminine is embodied in soft, flowing and slow movements such as Taqsim and features highly in Improvisation.

If you see the Feminine and Masculine principles on a scale with each at opposing poles, and somewhere in the middle is the point where both have an equal presence in your life and both share equal space in your attention, where would you sit on this scale? Use a pen, and without thinking too much, place a cross on the scale to signify where you think the balance of the gender of things sits currently for you.

        x ------------------------------- X ------------------------------- x

Extreme Feminine                                 Balance                                          Extreme Masculine

You can move your cross sign closer to the middle by training in Belly Dance. One of Belly Dance’s many alchemical affects is its ability to balance out your relationship to the Feminine and Masculine principles in life. By doing this Belly Dance empowers your ability to create; and in this I don’t mean artistic creation. I mean the creation of anything; a meaningful job, a loving partner, a sense of joy, money, peace of mind; anything. The most powerful state for any entity is when its Feminine and Masculine principles are in balance. Follow-up reading on this subject is in the article How the Principle of Gender Affects Your Ability to Create Anything.

How Belly Dance Uncovers Your Relationship to Energetic Gender
Difficulty of movement in a part of your body can correspond to the energetic properties of that part. When beginner students start coming to class, they will encounter some difficulty due to areas that are “congested”; areas of the body that are ignored or do not have a flow of energy in them. Areas that have shut down over time. Each part of your body corresponds to your energetic and emotional self as well, and each Belly Dance movement will mirror back to you your current state of health in the area that movement utilises.

For instance, difficulty in moving the chest in a circle or up and down can come from a block around the heart area. The heart represents what one loves in life, the emotional centre, the realm of the Feminine . If a woman is shut down emotionally, or denies what she loves on an ongoing basis, she may not have much feeling or movement to start with in the chest area. After a while of Belly Dancing, she can start to sense that warm all compassionate feeling that exists in the centre of every chest.

On the other hand, stiff hips and pelvic movements can remind us of a rift between us and our sexuality, our connection to the earth, our ability to use our will, and our relationship to survival, money and reality; our relationship to the Masculine.

“Belly Dancing never lies; it is always feeding back to us an honest stream of information about where we are at physically, emotionally and mentally at any given time.”

Wether you are a Belly Dancing teacher, student or performer, listen to what the dance is trying to tell you! Belly Dancing never lies; it is always feeding back to us an honest stream of information about where we are at physically, emotionally and mentally at any given time. Physical difficulty and stiffness around moving a particular part of the body is not the only way Belly Dance gives us a message. Fear of moving that part of the body is a very telling messenger as well. Invite it in, and ask it questions! Breathe through the fear, and try to do the movement anyway. Over time, something will open up.

At the time of writing this article, I have been in professional Belly Dance training for eight years. It has seriously taken me up to last year to conquer my fear of the shimmy. Now I can actually have a smooth and balanced out shimmy for longer, and I have the ability to flick the switch in my head that had stopped me from enjoying a free shimmy for such a long time. It only took seven years! My hips were so locked, and my pelvis carried so much shame. With Belly Dance, I found a holistic way of opening up the Masculine in me.

By practicing the moves of Belly Dance for each area, that area loosens up physically and opens up energetically. Through the healing powers of Belly Dance, you can start feeling more love and compassion (Fem), and become more centred, grounded and alive (Masc). Belly Dance opens a flower in the heart, and lights a fire in the belly. The freedom works from the outside in, using our body to free our energy and our spirits. As the Sufi proverb goes “Dysfunction is the window to the soul”.

How Belly Dance Empowers the Feminine Principle
In the West, there is an epidemic empowerment of the Masculine principle at the expense of the Feminine. The Feminine has been degraded over thousands of years, and our society’s big picture is a landscape devoid of the nurturance and warm heart of the Feminine. Women individually feel this on a personal level as our environment and community always affects our upbringing. To find out more about this please read Part 2 of this series What Happened to the Feminine? There you will find a self-investigation that will help you get acquainted with the Feminine in you.

If you are skewed more to the Masculine pole on the scale above, and want to empower the Feminine in you, Belly Dance can help bring you back to balance.

“Belly Dancing is in its essence a channeling of pure Feminine. Done with spirit and intention, Belly Dancing channels feminine beauty out into the world from deep within a woman’s soul.”

Here are some ways Belly Dancing trains us in empowering the Feminine:

  • Learning how to feel the moment, not just think it. Having a sensual experience of our moments instead of a limited mental life experience.
  • A return to experiencing every part of our Feminine body.
  • Connects us to our emotions, giving us a deeper more whole experience of life, and a better grasp on reality. A fine antidote to living a life out of the projections of our minds, very similar to meditation and yoga practices.
  • Has a unique ability to connect us to our inherent beauty, at every stage of life. Belly Dancing is truly a multi-generational dance allowing a female to travel gracefully and joyously from girl to grandmother.
  • The movements of Belly Dance open up the Heart. Classical Arabic music has a set of melodies each called a “maqam”. Certain maqams have a specific healing quality for the Heart and Feminine spirit.
  • Our dance lights a fire in the belly, the creative centre of every woman, reigniting passion and a hunger for life and the creation of what she truly cares for.
  • Taqsim and improvisation train us in facing our fear of the unknown, empowering our ability to create in life.

“Once you drop into your body through Belly Dance you start letting go of your belly, allowing it to breathe and nourish you with its warm smoldering embers.”

Seven Things You Can Do in Belly Dance Class to Empower Your Feminine
Remember, if you have trouble experiencing the Feminine, you may encounter fear and resistance when you first start empowering it in your life. Breathe through the fear when trying to following these tips in your Belly Dance training:

1. Learn Improvisation
It trains the mind and body to push through the fear of the unknown (the fear of the Feminine). It trains you to sink into the moment and experience it fully, a real-time experience of life. You’ll need to find a good improvisation teacher for this. Read the article series “Secrets of Improvisation” for more info.

2. Lose yourself in Taqsim
It trains in a full emotional experience of the music, and hence the moment. The slow emotive movements of Taqsim; mainly Figure 8’s, Circles and Undulations train us is dancing from our core, dancing introvertly, feeling our centre when dancing, as opposed to the more Masculine movements that are more extroverted and entertaining. For more info on Taqsim go to “Secrets of Improvisation P2”.

3. Feel your feet, feel your belly
Connect to Mother Earth, draw up her energy. Feel your belly when you breathe, dance on the spot or travel. Be present with your feet and belly throughout the class or performance. The belly is the creative centre and has a powerful energy once ignited. Most bellies are held in when the body and mind live in a fearful state. Once you drop into your body through Belly Dance you start letting go of your belly, allowing it to breathe and nourish you with its warm smoldering embers.

4. Breath and posture
Right breathing and posture are a staple of any good Belly Dance training, and through them you learn to open up physically and energetically to the world, and with that your energy and hunger for life come flowing through you. You will find details of breathing techniques that empower the Feminine component of your Belly Dancing in the article “Secrets of Improvisation P2”.

5. Slow it all down
Slow down and listen to the music BEFORE moving. In this magical moment a relationship between music, mind, body and spirit takes place, giving the dancer a sensual experience of the moment.

6. Beauty through the face
Feminine beauty comes out through the face when one is relaxed and feeling good about themselves. In the moment of dance and expressing emotion, we are trained to give of ourselves through a beautiful expressive face. Lips part sensually, eyes flash with all the fire flowing through a woman’s veins, and spirit comes rising up to greet the world.

7. Left side of the body
If you are disconnected from your Feminine you probably find it harder to do movements on the left side of your body. The right side of the brain, which deals with the Feminine side of life, controls the left side of the body. In your Belly Dance training and performing use the weaker side of the body to strengthen it not only physically, but also on the level of energetic gender. This training of the weaker side of the body will not feel nice, but it will be very empowering to your dancing and the way you relate to the Feminine in general.

This is the tip of the iceberg for how the ancient practice of Belly Dance awakens, nourishes, stimulates, fortifies and empowers women in their Feminine spirit. So if you feel the Feminine is low for you in your current state of being, start some good Belly Dance lessons with a wise teacher and you will be on the road to reconnecting with your beautiful, luscious, treasure-filled Feminine self.

How Belly Dance Empowers the Masculine Principle
You may be thinking what has this got to do with the empowerment of the Feminine? The true empowerment of one gender never involves the disempowerment of the other. To truly empower your Feminine spirit you need to appreciate the innate beauty and power of the Masculine. Belly Dancing, yet again, delivers!

Here are some ways in which Belly Dance can alchemies your relationship to the Masculine:

  • Belly Dance can unlock your will, a corner-stone of the Masculine domain.
  • Through choreography it trains the mind and body in using planning, form, and structure.
  • It trains us in using geometry and mathematical interpretations of the music and rhythms.
  • It is a training ground for courage and conquering fear and doubt.
  • Belly Dance trains the mind in clarity and presence, sharp thinking on your feet.
  • It trains in goal setting and achieving.
  • It brings a woman who is too much in her head or too airy, and places her feet softly on the ground. It reconnects us to earth and reality.
  • Awakens sexuality and our sexual nature.

Five Things You Can Do in Belly Dance Class to Empower Your Masculine
Remember, if you have trouble experiencing the Masculine, you may encounter fear and resistance when you first start empowering it in your life. Breathe through the fear when trying to following these tips in your Belly Dance training:

1. Will and courage
When you come to do a movement that scares you; e.g. shaking your bottom in a shimmy or expressing emotion through your face, working through the discomfort of it takes will. In this moment you pick up your sword and slay a dragon. You push through the fear. This is the work of a woman in her power.

“Fear is a great messenger; it points out the dragons we need to slay in order to find your true selves.”

2. Choreography and routines
If you are an improvisational dancer by nature (you feel comfortable in the Feminine), learning choreographies would be a very powerful way to balance your dance out, and hence improve your relationship to the Masculine. Mental interpretations of movement with music, including thought in your dance/life, consciously locking yourself into a pre-determined form and working with structure will add power to the performance, and give you an experience of the beauty and power of the Masculine.

3. Rhythm, geometry, time and space
Pre-planning some of your performance, deciding the geometry of how you will cover the floor space or how you will interpret the music, thinking about which shapes fit best to channel the music, all these help in building a structure upon which your self-expressional can exist. This all engages your mental power and the Masculine in your dance, which will spill onto your life.

4. Right side of the body
If you are low on the Masculine you probably find it harder to do movements on the right side of your body. The left side of the brain, which deals with the Masculine side of life, controls the right side of the body. In your training and performing use the less used side of the body to strengthen it not only physically, but also on the level of energetic gender. It will not feel nice at first, but it will be empowering.

5. Cabaret, Drum Solo and Masculine movements
The sharp flicks, drops and lifts, twists and big hard shimmies are more in the Masculine side of movement and are more extroverted. Modern Cabaret and Drum Solos epitomise this. Practice them extensively especially if they are problem areas for you and/or they scare you. Fear is a great messenger as it points out the dragons we need to slay in order to find your true selves.

As in Dance, so in Life
What you do on the dance floor starts changing you for life. So if you empower the Feminine through your dancing, next time you face a moment where your Feminine spirit is challenged in your daily life, your dance class training will kick in as you have strengthened your Feminine muscle. The nature of the gender of things is that the Feminine is the Feminine is the Feminine. If you work through your fear of improvisation in class, you empower your ability to improvise life, to fly free when you need to and take steps that scare you towards something you love, and to receive – a core component of living a joyful life.

“What you do on the dance floor starts changing you for life.”

So the dance class becomes a healing session and a training ground that empowers the rest of your life. It is widely said by Belly Dance teachers the world over that they start seeing changes in their students such as more softness and femininity, slowing down, more grace, more poise, more power and self-esteem. An opening up of a flower. Students take these gifts with them out of the classroom and into their daily life arena.

In our heavily Masculine skewed world it seems that the empowerment of the Feminine is what is missing from having a powerful life and world experience. We all need the Feminine to rise up and take her rightful place side-by-side with the Masculine, engaging a powerful creative process on a personal level in our daily lives, and in a new world order.

We all need the rulers of money and power to reconnect to their inherent conscience, the one that exists in every heart. We all need politicians to nurture their people and focus on hope and creating what we would all love in life instead of focusing on the negative and creating wars against every demon that exists and doesn’t exists. We all need corporations and industry to validate the importance of families and the hearts of its workers, and provide more options for working parents. We all need these same corporations to build up communities and environments instead of raping our earth, water and sky and every other resource under the sun.

As in life, so in dance; the most moving belly dancers strike a balance in their performances. They successfully marry precise technique, structure and form (Masc) with overflowing emotion, expression and spirit (Fem).

When we live our daily lives with the Feminine and Masculine in equal presence, we engage our true power and ability to bring balance and a sense of beauty back to ourselves, our families, communities and indeed Mother Earth - the greatest Feminine of all, and the one planet we have to live on.

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Follow-up reading to this series is the article How the Principle of Gender Affects Your Ability to Create Anything. It investigates the importance of discovering your relationship to the Feminine and Masculine in relation to your power and ability to create a life you truly love.