Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thought Supression in Belly Dance

Have you ever had trouble with a dance move, and noticed that the more you think about it, the less likely you're able to do it? Or have you ever been practicing something you've been trying all week to get down, but all the practice in the world doesn't seem to be helping? You'll even see this happen just before a performance, or sometimes even when everyone else in the class seems to have mastered a move and you're still trying to figure it out.

This is called 'thought suppression', or the 'white bear' effect. It's named so because of a study where a group of participants were asked not to think of a white bear for 5 minutes, and had to ring a bell every time they thought of one. Members of the group ended up ringing the bell twice as often as the control group, who were asked to try to think of a white bear. So how does this relate to your dance practice? Well, if you're trying to master a move and keep thinking things like "I'll never get this choreography"), you'll have a harder time trying to master it.

Thought suppression can affect your dance practice negatively by producing negative thoughts. All of us can have negative thoughts, and it's easy to see the rest of your class move on without you and think that you're a terrible dancer, or to tell yourself you'll never be ready in time for the show. However, if you're still trying to practice, and banish those negative thoughts from your head, they can keep coming up, making it harder for you to practice, or to even want to practice. If you aren't careful, they might make you quit dancing all together.

Don't despair, though, if you've had trouble suppressing negative thoughts about your dancing. There are some things you can do to help you ignore or replace those thoughts:

  • Tell yourself to think about those negative thoughts--much like trying to make yourself hiccup when you have the hiccups. By trying to think of something negative, you'll find it harder to come up with something, and soon you'll forget what it was you were thinking about. 
  • Distract yourself. Rather than work on something you're having trouble with, work on something you excel at, and try to make it better. When you return the original dance move or choreography, you'll be less likely to think of those negative thoughts. 
  • Learn to meditate. Now, meditation won't banish negative thoughts immediately, but as you learn to empty your mind and dismiss thoughts as they come to you, you'll have an easier time ignoring negative thoughts during dance practice--definitely something you want to hold on to for the future!

Why Thought Suppression is Counter-Productive
Thought Suppression

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