Saahira Ruhi

Saahira Ruhi
by Lee Corkett

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dancing thru the Dark Times

So many things have passed since the last time I beginnings: of my studio, BodyTempleRiverside and my heart-centered service project, FibroFlow®...the end of my 20 year career in mental health and of my 9 year marriage...and physical challenges due to my chronic illness and recent car accident. Love, anger, beauty, joy, resentment, fear...sometimes all at once.

But thru it all, the one thing that has kept me grounded, embodied and dance.

The figure eights that constantly remind me that life is full of infinite possibilities. The circles that show me that in every perceived ending is a new beginning. The shimmies that shake loose the emotions that cling and try to become embedded in my being. And my center that can drop so low that it roots deep within the Earth and can rise so high that it bridges me to the heavens. Even the glitter reminds me of the light that always shines within me...reflecting that light and radiating it out into the world.

Music is my super highway, my body is my vehicle, passion is what drives me and the Arms of the Beloved keep pulling me forward into the Light.

I'll be back writing again soon...
Until then...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Welcome Winter...those were the first words of my Sacred Dance Ritual that my troupe and friends presented for Winter Solstice. The performance was exceptional.Of course there were technical challenges, I had to forgo the video portion of the show just so we could continue on with the presentation, but none of that seemed to matter. So briefly, from the beginning...I was inspired by some music, some fabric and glitter and from the season, to write a sacred dance drama. At the time it kept swirling around in my head, but I had no place to perform it. I had asked a couple of groups if they were interested, but to no avail. I asked my soul sister if it was crazy to write, choreograph and design a piece that had no where to go...and she encouraged me to just go ahead and do it. 
The images, words, and everything just flowed from me. I was so delighted being a channel for the Beloved's creativity. I asked one more group if they were interested and they said, "YES!" Now we had a place, date and time. We were to perform for the CUUPS group at the local UU Church for their Winter Solstice. I learned how to do voice-overs, edit music, export to other programs and add vidoe backgrounds. I had so much fun. I chose to include my dancers spouses in the drama and they were more than willing to perform. We had our Holly King, the Spirit of Fire, the Spirit of Frost, the Summer Queen, our live percussionist and I was the Winter Queen. We had very limited time to rehearse all together, but I didn't let that stop me. I really had to put aside ego and perfectionism and just trust that my dancers would be able to receive my vision and do their parts to make it come to fruition. What a wonderful gift I was receiving.
We purchased props and fabric...a torch, flameless candles, a holly head wreath(made by yours truly), sparkly swathing, stars, a giant yellow balloon, and the list goes on...
The evening of the performance, I went and had my make-up done. I find that this helps me to get into character...designing the look with a pro...and then watching as I am transformed from my mundane self to my sacred self. As we added glitter, shimmer and jewels...I felt myself becoming icy, cold, still, silent, and introspective like the winter itself.
I went home and started putting on my, white and silver. It made me think of the North East where I grew up. The gray-blue of the cold winter sky, the silvery shiny lake all frozen over, and the pure white blanket of snow you could see when arising at dawn. 
We arrived at the church one by one. Slowly adding to the excitement. Some of us decorated the stage with glittering fabric, snowflakes and stars. Others just decorated each other. 
We took our places at the back of the sanctuary as our guest where welcomed in and seated as most of the lights were off. As the music began and the words "Welcome Winter" were spoken, I felt all of our energies joining as one. 
Jenn was center stage with drum, feathers, sage...purifying and casting the sacred space in which we were to dance. We processed up the aisles and took the stage. As soon as my foot touched the stage I was transported out of time and space. Beauty, joy, and inspiration flowed. There was poetry, music, song and dance. I can't say what happened next. We were just purely in the our gifts. It was magical to be a part of it. Later, many people from the audience said it had been so magical for them, that they had felt transformed, transported, that it had been an experience. I really felt as though my gift and vision had been fully received.

Through this process I learned to let go of expectations, to create just for the joy of creating, to trust that the opportunity to share my gifts would come and to become vulnerable with my vision and trust my dancers' abilities to co-create with me.
May you become aware of the gifts and opportunities that are present and may you share them with yourself and others during this Season of Light.

Blessings of Beauty, Joy, Loving, Light and Compassion,
Saahira Ruhi

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Blanket Lady and the Re-emergence of Hope

First of all, let me say, not everything all the time is about belly dance. Whew, strange words coming from my lips.Of course having said that, I'm sure dance will show up somewhere in this story.

So, this morning on my way to work, I saw her...or at least I thought it was her. The Blanket Lady, wrapped from head to feet in a white blanket, standing on the corner waiting to cross the street. I started to cry. I remembered when I first saw her, over 30 years ago, when I moved to California. She was usually walking, often barefoot, through the streets of Riverside. I asked my new friends who she was and all they would say is, "she's the blanket lady." No one knew who she was, how long she'd been around, or where she came from.

One day, she was sitting in the Quad of RCC, where I was going to college. I sat down near here and looked into her face. I said hello. She often had a 'crazy' look on her face, perhaps a woman's only protection when living on the streets. I looked past this and into her eyes. She softened in my gaze. I asked her how she was doing and she said okay. I shook my head and said, me too. I said goodbye and walked away not wanting to overstay my welcome. This went on for several weeks, everyday staying a little longer, talking about the weather or any other 'safe' topic. One day, I don't know what came over me, I looked deep into her eyes and touched her hand. Again she softened and trembled slightly. Again I asked how she was doing. This time she answered more fully. She told me about her losses, people, places and things. She told me she liked 'be-ing' in Riverside because the weather was good and nobody really bothered her. She said that sometimes the people were nice and gave her things. She had had several pairs of shoes over the years and sometimes received a new blanket. She seemed grateful for life and the few possessions that she had. And for having someone that wanted to listen to her. Perhaps she recognized that when I looked into her eyes and our gazes met, I knew that I was looking into the eyes of Spirit. 

I don't remember if it was that year or the next that I changed my major from Art to Psychology. I know that my life got pretty busy around then, working and going to school full-time. The next year I would get pregnant, lose my job and even have my own experience of brief (2 1/2 months) homelessness.

I graduated University with a BA in Psychology and began my career working with the Severely and Persistently Mentally Ill. I worked in a clinic setting doing groups in a day treatment program. I loved my clients and was always impressed with their flexibility and presence. Sometimes I would become discouraged when I would look for progress and it seemed so microscopic. I wondered if I was even making a difference. Then one day I realized that my client, who for the first 3 years that I worked there, only came in the building for 'coffee time', was coming in and staying. One day, I decided to have the clients play some music and dance with my during 'coffee time'. I handed out bells, drums, triangles, whatever we had on hand. And I asked this particular client to dance with me. He rocked back and forth to the rhythm, relaxing into it. We made no physical contact, but connected through our gaze. Once again, I recognized tat I was in the presence of Spirit. It was Divine. Everyday, for the next 2 years, he would come in and ask me to 'baile', motioning with his two fingers 'dancing' on the open palm of his other hand. No longer was he spending his day standing outside at the corner of the building, eating from the dumpster. He was a part of something greater. Music and dance can save the world! 

Even though I was working out of Riverside, I would still drive through town sometimes and think of the Blanket Lady. By then I had already discovered the gifts of belly dance and had been dancing for a few years. It helped me deal with stress, open myself to new levels of self loving, and heal my own wounds. 

In early 2000 I danced in a dance drama with Kahena's troupe, Banaat Al Qamar. It used some imagery from the group Women in Black and I brought the ideas of that group into my own community. We started a weekly silent vigil, all dressed in black, on the front steps of our public library. We held signs and gave out information on the plight of women ad children during times of war. It just so happened to be at the same day and time that the church across the street served dinner to the homeless. On several occasions, we would be joined by a few of the local homeless women who seemed proud to be a part of something that illuminated the suffering of women and children during the times of war. It reminded me of the talks I had once had with the Blanket Lady and how just being willing to listen with my heart could bring peace to another human being. It also reminded me of how engaging people in a meaningful way can elevate someones consciousness from the endless thoughts of daily survival to being part of something greater than oneself, to becoming an agent of social change. It's powerful thing to witness.

So today, as I was driving to work, thinking of how it was already December 1st and all the things I needed to accomplish, I had my miracle. From out of nowhere, a ghost from the past appeared, and the Blanket Lady was standing on that corner. I was overcome with gratitude for the life that I have been given, the lessons of infinite unbearable compassion that I have learned, and the opportunities that are present in every day for sharing Loving and Light with the world.

The next time that you snuggle up in a soft, warm blanket...think of the Blanket Lady and of her Blessings of Hope, Gratitude and Transformation.

Peace and Loving,
Saahira Ruhi

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seven Days of Gratitude

This is something that just 'came to me' in one of those 'inspired moments' and I've learned to just let it happen. These are my posts from the past seven days on FB. I was so joyous when other friends seemed to take to the idea and ran with it. I feel even more deeply connected to my own gratitude and the to the deep levels of gratitiude experienced and shared by the loving beings I call my friends. Enjoy...

Seven days of Gratitude, Day 1. Today I am grateful for be a spiritual being having a human experience. I am so grateful for all of the learning and the loving. I am grateful for being embodied so that I can dance, sing, bear children, hug friends, help others and serve Spirit. What a blessing this life is!! What are you grateful for?

Seven Days of Gratitude, Day 2. Today I am grateful for the awareness that my emotions are just fleeting and that if I don't attach thoughts or meaning to them, I can just allow them to wash over me, accept that they are part of me, allow myself to fully feel them without judgment and then release them. What a blessing!! Bye, bye blue mood, thanks for stopping by:)!

Seven Days of Gratitude, Day 3. Today I am grateful that I can use my gifts (dancing, connection, community building, loving) to be of service in the world. Tonight I have the opportunity to dance at an event to raise $$ for a wonderful woman that I so love and admire. See gives so much to our community and now we get to give back to her. It's a complete circle of giving that we get to experience! My intention is to not only raise $$, but to connect with Spirit in co-creating the energy of healing and loving. Blessings to All.
Seven days of gratitude, day 4. I am so grateful for my eyes, ears and heart that allow me to bear witness to this wonderful life. Last night I got to bear witness to a room filled with Light and Loving. I am still glowing from the experience! And it's not just residual glitter! The more Light you radiate, the more Light you see! Blessings
Seven days of gratitude, day 5. Today I am grateful for autumn. With this season comes the promise of change. Also the knowing that winter is fast approaching and darkness will embrace making us even more aware of our own inner Light! Today I enjoy the smells, sights and sounds of Autumn...knowing the crisp and crackling leaves will soon give way to the silence of winter solstice. Traveling inward I delve into introspection and recognize the bright Light glowing within! Peace.
Seven days of gratitude, day 6. So grateful for choosing Loving and for allowing every experience to open my heart more fully. It is a choice. When I think of every experience (whether I perceived it as positive or negative at the time) and the choices I made related to it, I am grateful that I am now aware that I can choose the effect it will have on me. I've learned to rewrite and release my old... stories. I am so grateful for this awareness. When I think of my family and friends, old, new, passed on, and future, and recognize them for the Divine beings that they are...I am both humbled and grateful. What a spectacular gift from Spirit. And when I think of you Beloved, my heart opens even more...
Seven Days of Gratitude, Day 7. Today I am grateful for Be-ing. I am a Divine Being that is so grateful for having this human experience. I am grateful for my thoughts, emotions, experiences, joys, passions, beauty, peace, loving, pain, my embodiment, suffering, inner knowing, family, friends, dance, music, voice, poetry, art, Light, silence, softness, vulnerability, strength, wisdom, curiosity, harmony, compassion, and for my ability to reflect yours back to you. I am grateful to be able to share my gifts of Spirit with myself and the world and for my open heartedness to receiving. May this symbiotic relationship with ALL continue to flow in the coming year. Blessings ♥ ♥ ♥
Stay tuned for the Twelve Days of Giving...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Healing Hips

Photograph taken at Dia de los Muertos LA 10/11.

I can still remember her words as they cut like a knife though my young soul.  "You're my best dancer but you'll never be a professional ballerina. You won't have the right body for it." I was crushed. How could Miss Shirley, the mother of my dance, say such a thing? I think I was around twelve and had been dancing since I was six, two years on point. I had loved going to class at Phil Gracia's Dance studio in New Jersey. It was the one place that I felt beautiful, lovable and complete. Miss Shirley was a goddess, hour glass figure, always in black tights and leotard, long black nails...the Morticia Addams of dance. Se had always encouraged me, pushed me, made me strive to be the best that I could be. So why now was she taking my dreams and pulling them out from under me?  I had her up on a pedestal and I knew that she must be right and that there was something deeply and innately wrong with me. And the battle was begun.

Maybe my body was trying to betray me, but I couldn't let it win. 'Don't think you can try to rob me of my dreams and I won't put up a fight.' With the same strength and tenacity that I put into my classes and practicing, I was now using those same traits to wage a war on my body that I was determined to win.

At first I just started eating less. 'Take that you hips and breasts. I'll make you wish you never showed up.' Then I started to obsess over any morsel that I put into my mouth. Since my mother started to notice that I wasn't eating much, I tried to eat 'normal' amounts of food and then throw it up after.  Sometimes when it seemed like I was losing the battle I would gorge myself on copious amount of junk food and then immediately throw it up. This went on for several years causing some serious health issues. At the end, before I was hospitalized, I was eating a baby carrot and three saltines and was down to 106 pounds. My period had stopped the year before and I was quite frail and certainly unable to dance. I was diagnosed with a myriad of illnesses including some damage to my heart. My physical world reality was certainly mirroring my inner world reality at this point. My heart was damaged. It took years of building healthy habits along with counseling to overcome this period in my life. Once in a while I can still hear those old tapes starting to play in my head. Now I am able to silence them.

Flash forward fourteen years. My love of dance never died and I tried different dance forms through my college days but never found something that resonated with my soul until I was nearly 30 years old. I had been going to this event called the Long Beach Woman Spirit Solstice Fair twice yearly for a few years when I was drawn to a performance of belly dance. The main dancer was more mature and certainly much rounder than I was, but when she danced she was the most lovely, sensual, radiant being I had ever seen. I couldn't take my eyes off her. Each movement was like poetry to my aching soul. I fell immediately in love with the dance. I started driving out to Orange County one night a week for classes. Sometimes the drive could be up to 2 hours each way with traffic. I didn't care. I used the time to listen to soul stirring Arabic music and to practice the choreography in my head. I made new friends. and learned to love my body in a whole new way. I was amazed at what my body could do. I had respect for my hips as they moved through space. Through them I felt connected to all women throughout time and space. I was experienced myself as connecting to Spirit and the Divine Feminine through the movements of my wonderful body. I was awakened. The music was like a balm. It got into my being and moved me, not only physically, but emotionally. I allowed it to transform me. Through the marriage of music and movement, I was channeling the Divine. What a gift this was. And I wanted to share it with the world.

I began performing and teaching after the first few years.  In performance I experienced myself as not only an entertainer but as a healer and guide to realms of deeper acceptance and self compassion. As a teacher my biggest joy is recognizing that moment in my student when I see her consciousness shift from doing the steps into becoming a dancer. The awareness can be subtle but miraculous. I've watched my students use dance as a way to recover from divorce as they feel empowered to experience joy. I've witnessed them recover from sexual abuse as they take dominion over their own sexuality. And I've mirrored their own radiance back to them when they've been unable to recognize it in themselves. What a blessing. Dance is my souls journey to self acceptance, self love and self realization.

I am so grateful for these hips that have cradled and brought forth life, entertained and brought joy to many and have helped me to birth my own Self into authentic being. These hips, that I once damned for betraying me and my dreams, have been the source of my rebirth.

Blessings of self compassion,
Saahira Ruhi

Monday, November 14, 2011

Inspired by the MECDA Professional Dance Conference and Retreat

MECDA PDC&R Monthly Progress Report

Well, the first day of the conference I had challenges even going…”Who was I to be going to this? Am I good enough? Do I deserve this? What am I thinking? Would someone find I out that I just an imposter?” “Will I be the fattest, oldest, (fill in the blankest) one there? Well the answers all showed up during that weekend.

I even injured myself at work that day as I was reading my office to leave. Geez, I’m good at manifesting roadblocks to my dreams. Had to go to urgent care on my way out of town and couldn’t move my left arm for the first day of the event. “Would I let this deter me?” Hell no!
When I arrived, I was given an amazing welcome gift basket that was fit for a queen. “Did they confuse me with someone else?...had to check the name badge, no it was me!!
Went to my room, lovely, spacious, no roommate…I fell onto the bed exhausted. It can be grueling fighting with your ego!!

Went to the mixer, it was fun meeting some of the other participants/instructors. I began to relax. Maybe I was one of them. Spent the night..till 2 am, hanging with Princess Farhana, Devilla, Zahra and Angelika in the bar. OMG, I had such a fun time just talking about dance, life, hopes, dreams, etc..
The next morning I got up for 7am yoga. It was the only day I made it to that class but I felt so accomplished by 8am! I loved Lori’s style and I was able to get some movement out of my left shoulder. So worth getting up for. I found that this set the tone for my experience for the rest of the conference. Pushing my self to get out of my ‘comfort zone’ and the rewards keep on coming.
The other classes were amazing. And the times outside of classes were truly life changing and inspirational!
Flash forward to ‘graduation’. The end of the conference was really emotional, saying goodbye was lovely and bittersweet. I experienced such a shift my consciousness. I really experienced the union of my authentic self and my dancer self…a true powerhouse team that just keeps on going even a month later.
So here’s what’s happened this past month…
First week back agreed to dance at Bedouin Bazaar then next week with my first instructor. 3 rehearsals=1 interesting performanceJ…but I did it…saying YES!! to opportunities!

Next week…Had an awesome rehearsal with my girls, got to hear about their first performance without me (they danced while I was at the conference!), I was in total gratitude! Told then they have to attend next year. Went to a conference for work but ‘changed my hat’ half way through and used my perspective as a dancer to make 3 contacts that would promote one of the purposes I discovered for myself at the retreat. That night I married my dancer self with my activist self and some of my troupe and I danced the revolution at Occupy Riverside as ‘corporate’ dancers who cast a spell over the 99%! Then we changed and went to our favorite coffee house and danced for Love your Body Day and ‘occupied our bodies’. What fun we had! That weekend, my partner and I went to an amazing Dia de los Muertos celebration in Hollywood and then went to catch Her Royal Highness’ show. We had a blast and talked for a really long time about a common goal that we have and decided to get together in November to start putting our ideas into action. We also discovered that we must be sisters separated at birth! The next day I danced with my troupe at a cultural festival doing a 30 minute spot with Khaleegi (with live drumming), cane, veil, etc. It was so much fun!!

The next week was prepping for a weekend with 2 Halloween inspired shows! My favorite time of the year!! They were both so much fun and my older daughter danced in one of them, it was a blast! We did two short sets in each show and got great feedback.

The forth week, I said yes to a talk/demo/mini-lesson for that Tuesday evening and delivered it! I spoke about the importance of self nurturing to caregivers at the Inland Regional Center for a moms supporting moms group. Those women came in so down and by the time we were up and moving, they were smiling, laughing, breathing…They even taped it and put it on Youtube. My marketing guru, Julie, told me to get testimonials and I’ve requested themJ! That week we also danced at Occupy Riverside again this time taking the ‘bankers’ into the fire-y depths of Hell!! We posted this on Youtube also. Then on Sunday we danced at another Haflaween show and had such fun, again.
So, to sum it up, more performances, more creative ways to use dancing in other areas of my life, more FUN!!

I also got on twitter, hoot suite, booked 3 other shows, sold a copy of my first poetry book, and planning a workshop and concert for January, set the date for my women’s conference (March 24, 2012), made some incredible friends, am a happier mommy and partner, have helped others increase their businesses with what I learned, started to work on my website, and many other things I cannot even put into words…and that’s just the first month!

”Who was I to be going to this?... I am an amazing dancer and woman with a unique voice and vision. I am a healer and activist, a woman of passion. Am I good enough?.. Of course I am! Do I deserve this?.. Yes, and so much more. What am I thinking..? I am thinking that everyone has a dream, the difference is that I am taking action. Would someone find I out that I just an imposter?..” They couldn’t because I am authentically me! “Will I be the fattest, oldest, (fill in the blankest) one there?... Does it even matter? I am releasing those excuses as I am discovering the fountain of youth and health thru dancing my dreams!

I am in such gratitude to everyone there, teacher, attendee, volunteer…b/c each person brought their own gifts and shared them generously with all who were there. Perfection!

BTW, I've never blogged before so be gentle with me!

Nancy aka Saahira Ruhi