The Abstract in Thoughts

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As a dancer and modern woman, it has occurred to me that I have taken on many roles and to a certain extent, became my nemesis because I became opposite of who I am. This eventually led to an alter ego developing that dealt with dance communities. I hid behind a façade that in the end wasn’t able to deal with community politics any better then the real me.

Eventually my individual self who in her silent and pensive state of mind, stood before life and faced not only her mortality but the truth of her real self. I emerged from hiding behind my doppelganger and realized that the real me is the authentic blue print of a very unique design.

Hearing stories from some of my students regarding their home lives, relationships, family and friends, I realized that the all encompassing tangled web of conflict and peace rages on with a timeless effort. People are people no matter what century they are in and life changes only according to how people self medicate or deal with issues. Today, thanks to big pharma and technology at our fingertips, we have pills for just about everything.

But what if I am my symptom…what is my cure?

This dance has given me the dark and light perspective of myself. I have begrudgingly developed an unfortunate ability to keep my mouth shut when all I want to do is state my true feelings at opportune times. I learned at an early age that adult’s dysfunctional way of communicating can lead youngsters on a life path of clouded aspirations and unstable decisions. Generations don’t necessarily showcase the achievements of their times because it’s in the character of human beings to make the younger generations guinea pigs for unresolved problems. I finally had to take a second look at the dysfunctional way regarding my families thinking that children were seen and not heard. This ill-timed recollection became a dark unintentional motto that was hidden in a place that I never seemed to venture to.  The dark and isolated place within myself with time became a haunted film clip that played itself over and over again with residual punctuality. How can we heal from the past when the past plays itself over and over again taking up present day space? Sometimes it can feel like we haunt ourselves.

My voice was stunted from an early age and when I finally found it, I tripped over myself more than I was able to get out an intelligible sentence. As time passed, my voice became a steady and sometimes blaring recompense for a voice lost in past silence. Adulthood can resolve issues that many of us load up and carry around for years. Our upbringing doesn’t have to define our self image and even though our self confidence might take a beating, we can evolve victorious and heal our wounds.

What happens to the older belly dancer who has spent her whole life performing, traveling in essence enacting her craft for a living? It’s funny with age how we actually look through the same eyes of our younger selves and see the world entirely different. The hard earned experiences that I learned from, turned into a wisdom that has defined how I view myself  today. Good, bad or ugly, I am the accumulation of all that I have experienced but at the same time, I will not allow myself to be defined by any of it. I want to reinvent myself every day that I wake up. Being a new me everyday has it’s advantages because I wake up with a clean slate of possibilities. True healing takes place only when we give up our haunted past.

I’ll be honest here, I am not saying I haven’t and to this day still don’t, harbor certain experiences that impacted my life years ago. There are dark memories that I try to brighten with my present state of mind because I don’t want to wallow in stressful and uncomfortable memories without the ability to move on. Yet there are a few that linger and come out of nowhere so I’m still dealing with the occasional memory that grabs hold like an unyielding zombie.

If I look at some of my memories of meeting people in this business, it seems natural for my emotions to automatically become uncomfortable and dark. It’s as if certain words spoken from the past come shooting down like a flying star and explode in front of me with the same impact of when I heard them for the first time.  Nothing changes at that moment because I become stuck in a murky psychosis of  that particular experience. I’m sure this has happened to everyone in this business because we are positioned by human nature to either disappoint or please the people we come in contact with. I wonder about past students who at one time so identified with my philosophy of dance and then with a change of view, disappeared into the ethos of their convictions. I like mixed views on life and it is strange to me to think that some of my past students felt their ideas and mine couldn’t mesh. Philosophy is the one aspect of my life that grows, matures with a metamorphosis speed and my dance becomes the expression of my understanding of what life is about.

Dancers are different because each transformation we go through is similar to a butterfly flying away from its cocoon. It’s in our nature to take a leap of faith. We dance because we know we can, the butterfly flies because it knows it can.

Since beta waves (which come from our brains) are what we use in our waking state, I was wondering what level of frequency we use when we dance. If we hear music in a heightened state of awareness, isn’t that apart of the growth process, the human conditioning of the divine self. Maybe I’m out of the ballpark when I speak of philosophy in dance. I see the human condition more so then not…that fragile bartering of self confidence that starts the spiraling path of comparison and competition. I have 3 friends in dance who have stuck with me through it all, Barbara Sayre Harmon, Selena Kareena and Sakti Rinek. I have gone through 3 different journeys with each of them and the most amazing thing about each one of us is our ability to laugh at ourselves. The gift of humor takes the sharp edge of arrogance to a dull point but the difference here is there is no laughter at another’s expense. We get our downfalls but we don’t wallow in them.  The best part of the human condition is understanding that outside of self confidence, the comedian in us has to take over.  Humor is the grounding force that creates an equal stage or in other words a commonality that showcases our human connection to each other.

Maybe this is a blog post of a mishmash of thoughts but sometimes the most abstract way of writing gets across the intensity of each word without the filter of normal dialogue. With my wings spread and free…my view has a broader perspective that in a way gives me fresh eyes. The writer in me has changed from a hermit to the inquisitive explorer. I may have a broken arm at the moment but that hasn’t stopped my fingers from typing. I’m the one armed bandit that is starting to venture beyond my Hobbit home…a journey this way comes.

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About Leyla Najma
Lifelong professional Belly Dancer dedicated to providing "Belly Dance Instruction That Is Easy To Understand And Learn That Connects The Dots"


4 Responses to “The Abstract in Thoughts”
  1. Allison says:

    Fantastic article!!! Gets you thinking! In general in today’s modern world and being the women we are we take on so many different roles. The world in general demands so much more from women being mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, wives or significant other. We are leaders, bosses, and can pretty much hold our own most of the time. Then add to the mix a artist and dancer puts everything in a whole new game. I know for myself that at one time or another all of these roles intermix with one another. I sometimes get confused to who am I really because there are certain traits and things that I do as a dancer that I would not do in other areas of my life…..does this mean when I dance I am hiding behind Najla the dancer or is it really just a part of me and when I am not Najla I get scared to do things that she would? Dancing has given me strength to do something’s in regular life that I would probably have not done because the dance has given me more confidence and made me stronger, but that does not mean I don’t fall apart when life throws me a gutter ball and I have been getting to many gutter balls later!!! I pick up the pieces and try to move on, sometimes the memories stay with me, is this how I cope? Or do they stay with me so if a similar situation happens again I will handle it better?

    I think those things that have really impacted us we hold onto unconsciously and I think those experiences help us in standing and speaking up for not only ourselves but the truth. The path and experiences we encounter take us to a new beginning and not everything comes easy and when I see a mountain ahead, yes I want to close my eyes and hide but instead I push through that mountain and see on the other side there is something better waiting for me.

    I am a mother, wife, friend, leader, artist and dancer and even though I carry different traits with each one or handle things a little differently I believe they are still all apart of me. As you say Leyla it is my blue print of the real me.

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Allison,

      Abstract thoughts and the emotional rollercoaster of life together are the key elements that make the blueprint of our lives exciting and a bit like dealing with morse code. We are never separate from ourselves but always the same person,and even with name changes we are always the same person, we by personal choice separate ourselves into different parts. The problems arise when we forget our dance names are only that, just a name. I am really Rainbow (my name given to me by a medicine man, Taos Pueblo) and so many friends have no idea I also go by Leyla. I am the same no matter what my name is. Enjoy all your names, Allison, Najla, Mom, wife but remember they are all one in the same. Thanks as always for commenting in.


  2. Well where to begin… So much being said here and what stuck for me was the notion of going to events and wanting to speak but you know to just not say whats on your mind due to the conditioning of either causing disapproval or praise. Thanks for such honest writing. Definitely really gave some great moments of self reflection

    • Leyla Najma says:

      Hello Jennifer,

      Funny how this blog was started many weeks ago and I ended up changing the title 3xs. It wasn’t until after I got my cast on my arm that I saw it was more a sharing of thoughts blog. Thank you for commenting in…I really appreciate it.