Monday, April 30, 2012

A rose by any other name would do more

At a company photo shoot, my dance director had me to try on a black, straight wig. She loved it on me. "This can be your alter ego. You need a name... Maya!"
I was surprised. "That's the name my dad wanted for me," I told her. My parents agreed on my mom's choice, though.  My real first name means Helper or Defender of Man (Greek, alexo) and my last name is rabbity. Hmm...

But back to Maya. I'd deleted my original facebook before moving to NY (and it felt amazing!) but needed to create an account for promo and communication purposes. A lot of the NY belly dancers that do gigs like us have handles like Sarah Bellydance. I had another name on there for a while but it was kinda tedious for a stage name so I wanted to change it. Maya Alexis spoke to me after the photo shoot. 

A few weeks after changing it, I was reading my Sync Book and discovered how syncy Maya is. The Maya people and their culture, the Mother of Buddha, Illusion, Goddess of Dreams. That's heavy. Dad's into studying Eastern religions/philosophies so it makes sense.

Queen Maya and Buddha

 In the 10th grade I wrote a paper about how in Dead Poet's Society the characters used alternate names which allowed them to do bolder things than normal. In some mythologies to know/speak a deity's name invokes magic power over them. Isis & Ra.
Why do we use stage/pen names when we don't really have to? Yes, there are creepers and haters and sensitive family members. But, we should believe in what we're doing enough to be proud of it as ourselves.

Renaming gets rid of some of our ego stuff. The baggage. It's still there, but it's also not. In other words, it gives us a perception of distance from all our social identity traits like race, education, job, and all the history of our past.  The stories we tell ourselves about our Self.
Psychological experiments show that when you decrease sense of personal identity (ex by wearing a uniform), we are more likely to behave immorally (ex stealing candy, soldiers torturing). When you increase self-identity (wearing a name tag, your own clothes, being in front of a mirror), we are more likely to behave in socially-approved ways.  But this isn't about good and evil. It's just about getting to that space where freedom from judgement exists within your mind. It promotes divergent thinking aka creativity.

One of the hot topics in psychology these days is flow (wiki - flow). Basically, it's where, under certain conditions, You get lost in your work. All you are concentrating on is what you're doing, not how it will make you look. If you can get here while creating or problem-solving, you're golden. It gets you through that phase where you're viewing your painting thinking "This is CRAP!" and want to throw it across the room. No. You gotta keep goin'! Changing your name, even if temporarily or jokingly, can facilitate this process.

So, who are you when you meditate or have a Jill Bolte Taylor stroke experience or use substances or get lost in your work or change your name or discover syncs? When you get back from your la-la land, what do you do to improve humanity? The answer's a work in progress, for all of us, until we die. Make it good!

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