The Art of turning obstacles into OPPORTUNITIES (a NEW YEAR´s peculiar Message)

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The Art of turning obstacles into OPPORTUNITIES is not new to me; every student, fan, follower and reader who´s been in contact with my work knows how familiar this ground is.

Would I wish to live in a world that always runs smoothly, an obstacle-free universe where everything goes exactly how I want them to go, a life covered in unblemished sugar and candy? Probably. Maybe not. Who knows?

I know enough, by now, to recognize Life has a way of making us grow – both professionally and personally – through adversity. And, in the sake of truth, let me say it like it is: obstacles aren´t nice; difficulties, loss, injustice, pain, setbacks, failure, adversity in all its shapes and colors aren´t cool. I can´t stand the voices who glamourize these dark patches trying to make them what they´re not: something we should (almost) wish for. I´d like to have all the roads opened wide for me – effortlessly, lovingly, populated with kind, honest, generous folks who wished me the best.

But, I have to admit, it´s through the dark tunnels we evolve. We must face them, cross them, light them up with our ability to turn the night into a new day.

I´ve lost count of the obstacles I met along the way – they were so many, and some of them so great, I started calling them “opportunities”, first as a strategy to cope with them and survive, then as a realization.

This year, I received loads of blessings and I went through some of the hardest moments, including a big earthquake with a tsunami threat in a distant island, disease, instabilities of different sorts, a face to face meeting with my deepest fears and a fire. If I didn´t have a heart attack these past months, I will never have it.

There are huge TRANSFORMATIONS happening inside me and in my work, including at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.

I´d been thinking about creating a better platform for the school – I´d been wishing for it and dreaming of it forever but life had to slap me on the face, once more, to push me into forward action. The platform – Powhow – where the school operated announced its closure in the space of one month. No warning, no pre-announcement, no preparation: the courses I´d been building in the platform would be gone, forever, after all the love and investment I´d put in them.

At first, it felt like a betrayal, a punch in the stomach. God knows how much work went into the school, how much time, money, skills, patience, care. Yet, my feelings weren´t taken in consideration. As it happens, most of the time, the world doesn´t care if we´re feeling down or outraged. As the jazz song says, “we gotta dust ourselves off and start all over again”. And so I did.

A lot of work is ahead – mistakes, trials, discoveries, surprises, evolution. There´s no shortcut to success or to love or to LIFE. We gotta dig in, dive deep, take chances, wrap our sleeves up and show up for our own survival and thriving.

tumblr_ntvrutKOqi1r9qv2bo1_500.jpgThe medicine may be bitter but it may heal us so let´s open the bottle and swallow the magic liquid, shall we?

1. In the NEW year that´s approaching, I hope you take a deep breath, close your eyes, and give thanks. Say THANK YOU for all you are and have right now (even the unpleasant stuff).

2. Take stake of the “negative” experiences you´ve lived in the past three months and check how you´ve lived them and if you managed to make the best of them. Bring the lessons from past experiences to the present and to the future. 

3. Feel the pain/loss, whenever you suffer/lose; take a step backwards, have a good night sleep, breathe deeply and “start all over again”. Going through the tunnel doesn´t mean we must remain in the tunnel – we cross it to, eventually, get out of it.

4. Wonder how you can turn a “bad situation” into an opportunity for growth. You may not be able to erase sadness or bring a lost treasure back but you can create something beautiful out of it – it won´t eliminate the dark tunnel but it´ll give it meaning.

5. Understand there´s no EVOLUTION without pain. We have to struggle to get out of our comfort zone; we must die a little in order to be reborn.

What I wish for this NEW YEAR is this: the lucidity and courage to cross the dark tunnels life throws at us with our eyes on the prize – what can I learn from this, how can I turn this shitty hard situation into something worthwhile?

You know the deal: nobody said it´d be easy, only that it would be worth it.

Meanwhile, it wouldn´t hurt if we asked Santa for world peace and, yeah!, a few open-wide roads. No rocks or frogs, no traps, no dragons with evil intentions, no losses.

We deserve a break and rewards for the seeds planted ❤

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A NEW, upgraded, Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School is about to be born.

On the Gifts of Imperfection

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On the Gifts of Imperfection
As an Egyptian Dance teacher, who knows teaching dance is also teaching selfawareness and love, I’ve witnessed signs of evolution, setbacks, moments of despair, hopelessness, boredom, strength and weakness, fear and courage, one step ahead and three steps back; trying, giving up, trying again; winning and losing and everything in between.
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In Dance, as in Life, growth doesn’t happen in a straight line – it’s made of ups and downs, falling and rising, making mistakes and miracles; meetings, face to face, with our own darkness and with our own light.
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Although we’re taught to celebrate the (false) idea of perfection – which really, and I mean really*, doesn’t exist -, the truth is we’re works in progress – always undone, thriving for a better version of ourselves, always building new houses upon an ancient house (our soul) which has long forgotten universal truths.
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When we think we understood the rules of this Dance, Life takes the carpet off our feet and BAM 💣💥💢, we’re thrown into the beginner’s classroom, once more.
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I say “Celebrate imperfection! Celebrate not knowing, the failure, the darkest meetings with ourselves and with others – there’s always a possibility of a flight after a fall.” Being human is, after all, the adventure of walking in unknown roads where we will, make no mistake, fall and bleed, hit rocks, rise and shine.
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As long as we keep living, and learning from our mishaps, we’re perfect. We may move slowly as long as we keep moving forward.
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The Power of Challenges by Joana Saahirah

This was the first, and only, video I´ve shot since I moved to Bali. As everything I do, it reflects Life as I experience it.

Living and sharing what I learn from living has been one core pillars of my career and one of my biggest pleasures. I hope this video inspires you towards a more interesting dance and, more importantly, life ❤

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On Sensuality (being Alive)

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A brand NEW Online CourseSensuality in Baladi (out of the box, crazy and fabulous, as usual) – is coming to Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School and with it come a set of subjects I hold dear to my heart.

Sensuality, as freedom, love, creativity, courage, inner strength, passion, and integrity are some of the subjects at the core of my work.

The first, a highly polemic and misunderstood topic, return to our school with a bang.

What is Sensuality and why is it so important in Egyptian Dance and, let´s not forget, in life?

For me, Sensuality is about BEING ALIVE and in APPRECIATION of every gift life´s offering us.

For me, Sensuality is about BEING ALIVE and in APPRECIATION of every gift life´s offering us.

Sensuality is about putting our phones, computers, and other machines aside and actually take a sip of this blessing which is being here, alive and thriving.

Most of us ignore the pleasures our bodies, and lives, provide – the feeling of drinking fresh water on a Summer day, resting after a long journey, waking up with air in our functioning lungs, touching a loved one or/and being touched, a sunset, the sun falling upon our skin, and so forth.

We ignore Nature, ourselves, other people; the simple (big) things in life.

Most of us live inside gadgets, not inside ourselves, present in our lives.

Being ALIVE means BEING in LIFE – your life. Body, mind, heart, and soul. That presence, more than anything else, is the definition of Sensuality.

Ask yourself:

HOW PRESENT AM I IN MY LIFE? Am I letting life slip away?

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❤ Follow the link for more information on our NEW Online Course

“Sensuality in Baladi – Posture, Technique, & Choreography”:

https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/07/21/17443/

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The Ballroom (Shall We Dance?)

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A new morning, fresh and generously damp, is upon Bali. Another big celebration is keeping the streets empty and the temples beaming with colors, life, rituals performed for so long time itself has forgotten when they´ve started.

I´ve arrived two days ago, after traveling for two days, and I haven´t stopped a second. Not physically, not mentally, certainly not emotionally. Much less spirituality.

Part of me is scared – our brains don´t like insecurity, we don´t like insecurity, the world tells us we shouldn´t like insecurity. Not knowing. Stepping on foreign ground – truly foreign, wild. Why would someone put her/himself through that?

They wouldn´t (most people don´t), unless they´re aware Life´s too short for small minds, small dreams, small hearts.

This is perhaps what it feels to be alive – out of the comfort zone, raw & open, our chest courageously open towards the wilderness: a mix of adrenaline, fear, excitement, moments of “why do I keep putting myself in these pickles?!” with moments of “Oh, God! I love myself and my life so much. I´m proud of myself for growing continuously”.

Moving to a faraway, exotic, country isn´t new to me. I´ve lived, and worked, in Spain, Lebanon, and Egypt. I´ve also traveled the world, consistently, for work in the last 5 years, dealing with people from varied cultures, educational backgrounds, perspectives.

None of that protects me from being human. Each adventure is new – the 40th leap of faith is as scary as the 1st. The risk of getting disappointed, hurt, open to failure and success; the possibility of not being able to adapt, love, engage; the possibilities for disaster and bliss are there, fresh out of the oven, as they were the first time we went out of our comfortable zone. 

I don´t think everybody should follow their dreams, the same way I don´t think everybody should avoid television, meat, gossip, self-hatred; a wide set of stuff I dislike.

I don´t even think everybody should live their fullest, brightest, life.

I do think everybody´s free to CHOOSE what they wish to do. Or not to do. Even if that means they´ll choose apathy, cowardice, fear, laziness, remaining in their comfort zone, not going for what they love, not fulfilling their purpose.

This is our biggest blessing and/or our doom: FREE WILL. WE GET TO CHOOSE who we want to be and how our lives are going to unfold. 

At our pioneering Online Course “Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love”, I taught a module on Co-creation. In that module, I called Life our biggest, and most faithful, “Dance Partner”. And that´s how I see it: 

We´re all in a ballroom. Our lives are handing their hand to us, inviting us to dance. We check the dance floor – wet, slippery, dangerous; with holes that lead God knows where, weird corners, dark spots we cannot see in detail. 

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Most of us will bow our head and decline Life´s Invitation:

-Nah! I´ll pass. My feet are hurting.

Some, perhaps the crazy ones, will say yes with shaking legs; they´ll allow Life to take them to the dance floor. They´ll be lead and they´ll lead.

That´s the thing about accepting Life´s invitation: WE GET TO LEAD AS MUCH AS WE ARE LEAD.

The ones who stay on the sideways, complaining about their feet, are not lead and are certainly not leading. They´re stuck to the ballroom walls, watching Life go by, whirling-whirling-whirling with the ones who don´t mind falling, or breaking a leg thanks to the slippery floor. They´ll criticize them for falling, for making mistakes, for daring:

-Ah, how do they dare!

They´ll probably not know despair, the fear of the unknown, the risks; they´ll also not know what it means to be alive. Fully, unsafely, passionately alive.

Sooner than later, they´ll watch as their feet get stuck to the floor, their muscles become frozen, and their brains dead before time.

Yes, it´s a choice. Living or dying before time. Watching life go by or DANCING WITH IT – ALLOWING IT TO LEAD YOU WHILE LEADING IT YOURSELF. Wherever you end up, in this case, will be a good place. The Dance always takes you where you´re supposed to be.

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One of the many religious celebrations that parade in the streets of Bali on a practically daily basis.

 

“I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.
The great affair is to move.”
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

NEW VIDEO “Do you believe in Magic?” by Joana Saahirah

Enjoy this video “Do You Believe in Magic?”, a part of the original bonus material offered with Joana Saahirah´s Online Course “Enta Omri, a Journey of Soulful Egyptian Dance & Self-Love” available, fully recorded, at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.

This is the course I wish someone had created when I first started to learn Egyptian Dance!
Much more than an Egyptian Dance course – an opportunity for personal, dance, & life TRANSFORMATION.

***Follow the link for more information: https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/05/03/enta-omri-a-journey-of-soulful-egyptian-dance-self-love/

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The loss of Soul in Egyptian Dance by Joana Saahirah

Here´s a video related with the recent article I´ve written recently wrote in my blog: The Invisible Dance – what makes Egyptian Dance a truly MAGICAL art form.

The loss of Soul in Egyptian Dance, a tabu subject, which is also (not surprisingly) the loss of soul in our lives.

Feel welcome to WATCH, SHARE, & LEAVE your COMMENT.

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What is The Invisible Dance?

products-energy-webinar.jpgIt all started before I moved to Egypt to start my career.

I was a very young, curious, dancer who traveled to the Land of the Pyramids, first with Shokry Mohamed, my first Egyptian Dance teacher, and then by myself, to rediscover the Sacred Art of “Raks Sharki”.

As I´ve researched, took classes, attended shows – from the cheapest to the 5 star nightclubs -, participated in family celebrations, and observed, I realized Egyptian Dance was more about what WE CANNOT SEE, BUT FEEL, THAN THE MATERIAL, PALPABLE, VISIBLE MOVEMENT.

At first, the prominence of the soul over the physical stroke me as odd. I´d been educated, as a Classical Dancer, to believe Dance was essentially a physical activity and, therefore, to be oriented by its visual aspect.

The focus was on what the eyes could see – how each movement is executed, the beauty of the lines, the drawing of patterns, the physical tricks, and the technical details.

My first trips to Egypt showed me there is another side of Dance, the Invisible Realm, where The Magic resides.

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I was reintroduced to an whole other concept of Dance and Life.

Instead of asking:

How does it look? (Focus on the external/skills´exhibition)

I started asking:

How does it feel? (Focus on the internal/feeling)

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Yes, the visual side of the dance is important; yes, physical fitness, the correct execution of movements, what I call “clarity of speech”, are important and my students will confirm how demanding I am on that level. But what I call “The Invisible Dance” – a term I introduced in my book “The Secrets of Egypt – Dance, Life & Beyond” – is the most important side of Egyptian Dance.

More often than not, the best Oriental Dancers aren´t the ones who have the best technique, the sharper movements, or the most intricate choreographies. The best Oriental Dancers are the ones who are emotionally moved and are able to move the audience. They know about feeling, energy, aura, the “Duende” Flamenco dancers know so well; that which can only be perceived with the heart, beyond rational understanding. Those dancers move from their soul and, therefore, reach the soul of their audience.

They are Sacred Mirrors, Bridges, the offspring of Hermes Trismegistus,  the Messenger who runs between the sky and the earth, delivering messages from humans to the Gods and vice-versa.

We live in a material world, ruled by competition, appearances, power, and money. In this world, the Invisible is a joke, a myth, something only crazy people believe in.

What authentic Egyptian Dance brings is the opposite of what we witness, nowadays. It´s Ancient Wisdom – eternal and more urgent than ever.

Soon, I´ll share a NEW VIDEO about The Invisible Dance at Joana Saahirah´s Youtube Channel. For now, I challenge you to stop for a minute and think about the following questions:

What is ENERGY?

What is LOVE?

How does THE INVISIBLE manifest itself in your dance and in your life?

Are you aware of your SOUL?

Do you dance from you SOUL?

What is more important: do you LIVE from your SOUL?

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The Fear of Ridiculous & The Happy Monkey by Joana Saahirah

 

The Fear of Ridiculous & The Happy Monkey Exercise by Joana Saahirah.

Video dedicated to my students at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School; part of the bonus material offered with “Tabla Solo Discovery Journey – Level 1” Online, Recorded, Training available at Joana Saahirah´s Online Dance School.
Follow the link for more information: https://joanasaahirahworld.com/2018/02/08/new-tabla-solo-creative-discovery-series-joana-saahirahs-online-dance-school/

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Believe you deserve to be happy

Art by Anna Kapustenko.jpg“The more I observe myself, and others, the more I find universal patterns, wounds and dreams. We are unique in many ways – we´re also astonishingly similar.

One of our common wounds is the sense of UNWORTHINESS. We believe we´re not worthy of happiness.

We don´t actually say it: I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. Nope. That would be easy to identify – we would notice the nonsense, the suicidal impulse and our ego would lose the battle.

We don´t say out loud – we just believe in it, and act accordingly, which is more than enough to screw us up.

Have you caught yourself feeling guilty when you´re happy? I have.

“Too happy for my own good”, I´ll whisper, fearful of what will come.

We set a Happiness Limit, seasoned with needless obstacles and drama, and we´re terrified of going beyond it. It´s a ceiling we build for ourselves – one we refuse to surpass. As if by doing it we would be defying the Gods and they would punish us as a consequence.zeus.gif

-I´m feeling too happy. Should I be worried?

Worried about what, exactly? That´s the golden question.

In grew up with amazing, yet pessimistic, parents who believe life is hard. If you ask me how I define life, in one word, I´ll answer “Adventure” without blinking. If you ask my parents, they won´t blink – we have than in common-, but they´ll start describing my concept of hell. Are you ready? Take a deep breath and dive.

Life is:

A burden;

Obligations;

Sacrifice and pain;

Hard work;

Routine;

A series of unfortunate events nobody can, or will want to, avoid.

Their parents carried it too – the pessimistic, unworthiness, self-sabotaging bug. It gets into your genes  – it´s heritage passed on from generation to generation like blue eyes, high cholesterol or crooked noses.

Believing we don´t deserve to be happy – not beyond a comfortable, usually mediocre,  level we have set for ourselves – is an invisible trap most of us fall into. We´d rather be unhappy – remain on familiar ground, even if that ground is a mud pond infested with alligators and foul smelling frogs – than risking punishment for being happy beyond our measure. Our measure – take that in.

In theory, we want it. We may say we deserve it, write in notebooks, sing and preach. But, when we check under the carpet, we find the (ugly) truth: we fear our own greatness; we avoid annoying the gods with our arrogance, our ambition, our childish belief that the garden of heaven can exist here, right now, on the palm of our hands.

I´ve learned it the hard way: we cannot be happy if we keep feeding the belief we´re unworthy of it.  We have to grow up, literally, by paying a visit to the monster under the bed. It may be an imaginary monster but we act as it is real.

Imaginary monsters rule our lives.

Dare to go into the dark room, the one your father warned you against, and look under the bed. Don´t think too much. Just do it. Get on your knees, look.

The only thing you´ll find down there is dust. Dust, my friend. Bloody, fucking, ridiculous dust. Grab it and put it where it belongs (you know where).

You – we – deserve to be happy. It´s not a crime to experience life at its fullest.

If we´re able to receive unconceivable amounts of pain, and disappointment, we´re also able to receive unlimited happiness and pleasant surprises.

We were born to reJOYce, not to be punished.”

Excerpt from chapter of a book I´m currently writing.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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