One night, years ago, I'm on stage belly dancing in a Greek restaurant with an incredible group of musicians. It's my second show of the evening, and it's past midnight. The place is packed, full of smoke and laughter. I'm enjoying the music when I feel myself go somewhere else. It wasn't an out-of-body experience, more of a meditative state. I felt timeless, relaxed, and peaceful. I was inside the music, and when it stopped, I was snapped back into reality. I stood in the center of the dance floor, striking a pose as the audience applauded. All I could think was, I hope I was dancing this whole time and not staring into space.
That surreal moment stayed with me. It was the first time I could honestly say I was in the present. I wasn't worried about how my costume was fitting or how my hair looked. I let all of it go. I've been chasing that sense of freedom ever since. I've been close with meditation, but my thoughts still wander. I easily go from dwelling on the past or get anxious about the future. It's fun.
I'm sure you're asking yourself, "Well, if dancing can put you in a meditative state, even in front of an audience, why aren't you doing that all the time?" Great question! I don't know. I think I look at dancing as a luxury that I can only do when I've got other more important work done, which is crazy. I don't have a boss. I'm the boss. Granted, running your own business takes time and effort, but that doesn't mean I'll get fired if I take some time for myself. When I was working for a company, I made sure I gave myself some downtime. I still performed in nightclubs every once in a while.
When I decided to become an entrepreneur, my mindset changed to a do-or-die one. There was to be no playing until I've answered every email, phone call, or text. Articles need to be written, interviews need to be set up, and presentations have to be ready. In other words, there was always something more urgent to do. It dawned on me that I have to give myself permission to step away from the computer and turn on music.
When I dance, I don't think about anything else. The best part, when I sit back down to work, my energy level is up. My creativity gets a much-needed boost, and I can get into a new type of zone. The present moment is filled with hope, and my stress level goes way down. I believe the body-mind connection helps give me a renewed sense of productivity.
Everyone should make time for any activity that will take you out of your head and be creative. I give you all permission to walk outside or get on your bike. Finish that painting you started or write in your journal. We can't take ourselves for granted. Being in the present, away from everyday worries, is a vacation we can go on anytime. It gives us a break in the day to focus on our breathing and find our center. You may be surprised by slowing down; you'll find inspiration where you least expected.
Of course, if you're dancing on stage for a large group of people, and you find yourself floating away, relax and enjoy the ride. It turns out you'll still get paid.