“Unveiling – the Inner Journey” by Alay’nya (Alianna J. Maren)

This is a review I wrote about a friend’s book that I highly recommend:

“Unveiling – the Inner Journey” by Alay’nya” is about the Dance of Life and it’s not just for dancers!

I often say: “Never assume – it makes an ass of you and me.” To my chagrin, *I* did and it delayed me in starting this valuable book because I saw the title and the Oriental dance pose on the front cover and assumed it was yet another book on “how to unleash your inner harem queen”.

Fortunately, I found Alay’nya’s intelligence and wit on the phone so irresistible, I opened “Unveiling” and started reading. I was very wrong in my original assumption and how thrilled I am to be able to admit that. “Unveiling – the Inner Journey” by Alay’nya” (Alianna J. Maren, PhD.) is an important book that I wish had been written much sooner. It’s not just for dancers, but a book that mothers and aunts should give to the young women in their families before they go forth to forge their own lives and one I recommend others read to determine how close they are to “getting it.”

“Unveiling” is extremely interesting and very well-written, but it is neither a book on how to do Oriental dance nor really a book about Oriental dance per se – in fact, Alay’nya uses dance sparingly and even states early on “Many women who study Oriental dance are drawn by the allure of an exotic ‘alter-reality,’ taken more from fantasy than from any existing culture.” It is, however, very much about the Dance of Life.

She is a very observant, intelligent, witty, articulate woman, a scientist, inventor and academic in other aspects of her life. Her conclusions are well-founded. Since she is a dancer, most of her insights and outlook are related with a dancer’s heart and her approach is therapeutic, with a hint of spirituality and can be helpful to those from many walks of life.

All the aspects of this book are extremely well-researched, supporting its conclusions with the findings of many other authorities in the areas referenced. In addition to Oriental dance, Alay’nya also utilizes some of the martial arts, herstorians, myths, the real meanings of the original Tarot cards, psychology, chemisty, science and important truths and revelatory examples from her own life and teachers – as compatible tools and examples of helping to find one’s own real inner self and strength. It has extensive footnotes and bibliography and is chock-full of valid wisdom and advice.

Another statement that totally rang true from what I noticed myself and what many of my students told me so often over the years: “Have you ever studied with a great teacher, and heard them say the same thing time and time again, and yet not heard them? All of a suddent you ‘hear’ what that teacher is saying on a particular topic. And then you realize that they’ve been saying the same words for years, but up until that moment you simply weren’t ready to hear what they had to say”.

I was tempted to call her every few pages just to discuss what was in there and how I’d come to very similar conclusions via often very dissimilar paths though my life’s experiences. Since it was either very late at night or on my way somewhere on a plane, train or bus, that was impossible. However, it was very comforting to me to read what she had done and learned and that she actually took the time and did the gut-wrenching work of writing this book to share with others – to assure us that we are not alone out there. When needed, it could help some find their strong yet “feminine” side that might have needed to be “veiled” in the other parts of their lives and work – ergo the title.

“Unveiling” is not a book to breeze through in one sitting – there is way too much in there. It should be read in sections, thought about, “filed” within for future reference and returned to as needed. In fact, she has a list of tasks – personal pathworking – to do at the end of each chapter to help do just that.

A dancer friend to whom I recommended the book early on also liked it, recommended it to others and found it interesting that Alay’nya, who started out in science and martial arts ultimately found her way to Oriental dance. She didn’t know that I also started out in the academic world and got into Raqs Sharqi quite by accident. We all found this dance form to be extremely healing for ourselves and our students.

Read it, learn from it and enjoy!
Alay’nya (Alianna J. Maren, Ph.D.) is the author of “Unveiling: The Inner Journey” (www.theunveilingjourney.com, from Amazon, alaynya@alaynya.com), depicting Oriental dance as an authentic women’s mind/body/psyche/energy integration pathway.