Think an Amazing Thought

Last night at my belly dancing class I couldn’t get out of my own head:

Idon’tknowwhatI’mdoing.I’vebeenawayandIhaven’thadanytimetopractice.HowthehelldoIdothefastundulationwithareverserightafterPeoplearegoingtolookatmeandthinkthatI’mnotasgoodastherestofmyclass.Idon’tfeelconfidentinwhatI’mdoingshimmyshimmyshimmyfigure8whatthehellcomesnext?Ohmygodthisisgoingtosuck

Um. Yea.

Friday is our belly dance recital and our class is perfoming. I knew going into Annie that I was going to miss 2 rehearsals, because our class falls on Wednesday, which is typically a show night. Then I had to miss a third one because I was stuck at work until 6:30, when my class started a 6:00 the week before Annie started – bummer. SANY1374
Last Tuesday my beautiful friend Krystle came over and practiced with me for over an hour. She showed me the ending of our routine and gave me the music so I could listen to it and practice before our class this week. I got bogged down with Annie and was unable to practice due to various commitments, so the first time I was really able to think about the choreography again was last night at 5:20 on the streetcar on my way to class.
Around 5:35, I called Joey, nearly in tears because I had convinced myself that I shouldn’t do the recital because I didn’t know the choreography, wasn’t prepared and was going to look terrible.

Isn’t it amazing what we can convince ourselves of?

I’ve been reading Byron Katie’s A Thousand Names for Joy lately, and she talks a lot about this concept of getting so caught up in believing our thoughts, that we create stress for ourselves.

Last night I convinced myself that I would fail, even before the class began. By believing that I wasn’t capable or confident, I set myself up for failure. Does this ever happen to you in life?

For over an hour in class we ran the choreography repeatedly. Our teacher gave us some helpful feedback (mostly on poise and ensuring that we were smiling), but allowed us to run it over and over again. In the midst of our rehearsal she told us about one of her teachers. The teacher constantly reminded her students to always be amazed at what they were able to do: an undulation, shimmy, or even a simple hand gesture. By projecting this sense of wonder and amazement, the teacher advised her students that the audience would feel the same sense of amazement – almost like telepathy – and be truly captivated by the performance.

Thinking the thought “I don’t know the choreography” made me believe that I didn’t know the choreography, regardless of the fact that I had learned 90% of the choreography in class and had been able to practice it with everyone for a few weeks. There was nothing to be amazed at. It threw me off my game and caused me a lot of stress and tears. Without the thought, I am free to enjoy myself. I feel more confident. I smile more and I dance better.

This idea of amazement rings true in all aspects of our lives, not just dance or performance. We cause ourselves stress when we start to believe our negative thoughts (or project the negative thoughts of others). We could accomplish so much more if we just stopped believing our own thoughts and let ourselves be free and amazed, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

This week I will be amazing. Tonight I will drill the choreography in anticipation of Friday’s recital. I will be proud of how far I’ve come; 18 months ago, I couldn’t shimmy, let alone walk and shimmy at the same time. Belly dance is the first type of dance that I’ve ever really felt good at, and on Friday I will share that with my audience. Because of my new schedule in January, I probably won’t be able to take class again until the spring, so I will enjoy every minutes of this performance with my beautiful classmates and teacher.

I will smile and I will be amazed.

What negative thought will you rid yourself of today?
How do you feel without that thought?
What amazing thought will you have instead?

8 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Ahh, the power of the mind - I will tell myself that I WILL get through this semester, since I always do :) No stressing allowed!

GF Gidget said...

My life is NOT a disappointment to other people! Besides, why should I care what they think! As long as I am happy and healthy, I am doing alright!

FatFitnessFood said...

Oh gosh, we sure are on the same page today. I literally just posted about how my negative thoughts are taking over everything!

Positive thinking...positive thinking...positive thinking...

Linz said...

And I will be there watching, with nothing but positive thoughts projecting right back at you... as long as you do the same for me ;)

Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot said...

I think as long as you smile people will be so dazzled by that they won't care if you get the dance routine a bit mixed up here and there.

It's perfectly normal to worry before a performance but I know when it's all over and done with you'll be looking back with pride and happiness because you did it, you participated.

I'd love to see a video of you doing the show:)

Ash said...

My bellydance teacher just posted the sweetest, most genuine comment on the facebook version of this post:

Ashley you bring tears to my eyes!! The name of that amazing teacher is Aziza and she's a gorgeous famous bellydancer and most inspiring and generous teacher; her words made a big impression on me and changed the ways in which I approached my own self-criticism...

This was accompanied by Hannan's own teachings and advice: probably one of the most valuable lessons I learned from her was to: yes take my dance seriously but NOT take myself too seriously at all... meaning: you practice and practice and practice, and that's great and that brings you to do and achieve new horizons on your dance but only if you don't get in the way of your own growth with constant unhealthy negative thinking. We're our own worst enemies most of times, and it is paramount to cut the crap of self-bashing... all this dialogue that goes in our minds sometimes...

Dear Ashley, I noticed you were not feeling very good and I could 'see' those thoughts crossing through your mind at points during rehearsal, and I'm sorry I didn't approach you after class to tell you how impressed I was with your dancing, with your memory and with your gorgeous performance presence. You irradiate joy and beauty when you perform which only adds to your hard practice that is resulting into quite solid technique; and believe me you could melt the heart of your audience... I am happy to see that now you're willing to allow yourself to 'melt your own heart' as well -so-to-speak-.... See More
Be amazed and you'll amaze yourself and everybody else!!
Much love!

Alex said...

That is so exciting! I bet you're going to be amazing. And it's so true about your own attitude reflecting on how you look.

Think of two different images:
a) One girl who is nervous and awkward but is doing a perfect technical choreography
b) One girl who is uncoordinated and a bit off-beat, but is committing to it with her whole heart, smiling and having fun

Which one would look better?

Yeah, I thought so.

Break a leg!
Alex

Pure2Raw Twins said...

Great post! I love reading your blog it always helps make me feel better! I am trying to stop saying that I am not beautiful and learn to be grateful for the life I have and that I have beauty on the inside!!!