“Move your legs a bit closer together,” she said. I did as I was instructed and the choppy movement as I did a large circle with my hips smoothed out into a flowing movement. I felt my weight shift to my left leg, then feeling my heels plant into the floor as I bent discreetly forward as my hips and butt continued,. I swiveled to the right, weight on the side of my foot. Then I felt my toes grip the floor as I pushed my hips forward and around, upper body somewhat gracefully tilting back. There was something powerful in allowing my hips and pelvic area to swirl forward and around. This is a woman’s sacred area; coveted, desired, hidden, hated, and loved by men and women through the centuries.
You cannot dance without being aware of every part of your body. This is what I love about bellydance: body awareness. You can’t avoid being present and in the moment. As a woman that has struggled with my weight for most of my life, I have often been disconnected to my body. When I’m overweight, there is avoidance. I already knew I was fat, why did I need to bother looking in the mirror?
When I’m thin, I would pick out the flaws of my hour glass figure. But when I dance, that avoidance can’t happen. I’ve realized even with the critical eye and negative feelings, I am fully present and aware of being in my body. This awareness has allowed me to start loving and accepting it. As the days and weeks have passed I have seen the progress of my movements and changes in my form as I move closer to becoming a dancer. Seeing that flow in my body has allowed me to be less critical and more accepting of how it right now. As much as I hated the idea of looking at myself in the mirror, I recognize now that seeing myself has allowed me to start accepting my body, but more importantly being present in my body more often.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Being present. So as part of my learning about accepting my own body, a few days ago, I asked posted a question on Facebook;
When you look at your body in the mirror,
Are you “critical” or “I’ve got it goin’ on”?
It was cool to see the responses because both men and women answered my question. Most of the responses were “got it goin’ on” and they shared what they felt about their body. But one woman’s response resonated with me in particular. She said, “I’m more like, ‘Thank you for all you’ve done for me, almost without complaint, for 63+ years.’ I look at my body with gratitude.”
I thought, I still have more than a few pounds to lose, but I am beginning to see the grace and sensuality of my feminine and overweight body. I’m finding a way to love it as it is. Something inside of me is saying this is part of the key to loving myself and my body for when I am thin. I know from personal experience that thin does not make you happy. All the feelings and thoughts I had about myself while am fat are all still there when I’m thin. They just morph into different types of self-judgment and criticism. Sometimes with my clients, as they become thin, they will still see themselves as fat (which we also work on clearing).
So I’ve decided it’s time to be kinder and gentler. I want to try and continue to grow in my awareness. I also want to be like my friend who talked about being grateful for her body. When I think about it, that’s exactly where I want to end up. I want to be grateful for it. To recognize that my body has carried me through illness, heartache, loss, happiness, love almost without complaint. And I know it will carry me back to reclaiming my free spirit.