Yep. I love to spend time scrolling through Facebook. Like most people, my Facebook Friends come from all areas of my life: family from Massachusetts to Minnesota, Nia teachers and students from all over, friends from college and high school, people I know in Charlottesville, and people who work at the fitness center where I teach. I distinctly remember when I came across this quote on a personal trainer friend’s status:
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” – Fred Devito, quoted on a Friend’s facebook page
I stopped immediately. Yeah, I thought. If I keep doing what I always do, I’ll stay where I am. The body always does its best to find homeostasis. The force for stability in the body and mind is strong. I get it. And I like it. Then right on the heels of that came: there’s nothing wrong with me. I am perfectly, utterly happy just as I am.
FITNESS “FIXING” FOLKS
One quarrel I have with the fitness industry is that it often perpetuates the myth that there is something wrong with us. Something is wrong with us that an exercise class, or a personal trainer, or a stair stepper will change. The gym will save you from that thing you are and change you into what you want to (or think you should) be. Oh, it can be couched in terms of getting healthier, or getting “results,” but at its core, a lot of fitness culture is about “fixing” what’s wrong with people.
I don’t buy into it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of fitness and of the possibility for change and transformation. I think it is important for everybody to move and learn and grow. I love challenging myself — body and mind – to see what I can do and be and become. Part of what makes us beautifully human, is that we are self-aware, and can make choices about our behavior and where we put our energy. Very cool.
Not so cool is thinking that the external change will make me happy. In the most stuck parts of my life, my problem was that I didn’t want to be where I was. I didn’t find the good in my body or my job or my relationship or my life. So I set about changing the situation into one I thought would MAKE me happy.
Lose weight. Quit my job. Get a divorce.
So I made those choices and those changes. On the surface, those were fine choices. The problem was that I was sure that I would be happy once they happened. And I wasn’t. The truth is (as Sylvia Boorstein says) that happiness is an inside job. Nothing outside of me, not a house, a car, a job, a baby, a partner, not losing 20 pounds, not a new pair of UGGs is going to make me happy for very long. Nothing outside of me. Happiness is about appreciating my body and my life and myself, right now, exactly as it is, with no changes.
Leo Babauta, in his great zenhabits blog wrote recently about the tragedy of waiting. We wait for things to be how we want them and we think that THEN we’ll be happy. Babauta writes: “What if we stopped waiting, stopped trying to make dreams and goals come true, stopped wishing and anticipating? What if that good life is already here, and the only way to live it is to stop looking forward and notice what we already have?”
So how do I reconcile my belief in living my potential with my desire to be perfectly happy where I am right now? It’s all a matter of intention and inquiry! Make a conscious choice for change from a place of happiness and appreciation, rather than choosing change SO you will be happy.
If I approach change as the SOURCE of my happiness, then I am overlooking the goodness of right now and I won’t find lasting happiness once the change happens. If I approach change with gratitude and appreciation for what I have, then I can be present for and genuinely enjoy the process of change and I will be happy when the change happens (just as I was before the change happened).
CHANGE IN NIA?
In Nia, people often ask me questions like, “Will I lose weight doing Nia?” and “Can I get more of a workout doing Nia?” The short answers are, NO, if you think you need the change to make you happy and you want to keep doing things are you are now. And, YES, if you start with gratitude and appreciation and if you are open to change. Approaching change as a necessity, a punishment or a penance, will leave me with my teeth gritted and muscles tense. Starting with appreciation and a willingness to change, leaves me open and free to see where the process takes me.
It’s true that to increase your fitness and change your body or your life, you’ve got to be willing to do things differently than you’re doing them now: physically, mentally and emotionally. This can be a tall order. Nia Principle 7: The 3 Planes of Movement and the 3 Levels of Intensity (click here to go to the complete description of the principle) invites us to play with moving closer and further away from the floor and to change our range of motion to vary intensity.
Principle 7 allows us to dramatically increase the cardiovascular and muscular challenge of any movement. But bigger isn’t better. Harder isn’t better. Level 3 is NOT better than Level 1. Being exactly where you are is better. The Body’s Way is the way in.
The Body’s Way is to be responsive to the body’s needs on a moment-to-moment basis. The Body’s Way is to be aware of sensation and to use just the right amount of energy necessary – no more, no less. The Body’s Way is to be where you are right now, to love and take care of your Self and body as it is right now – with no changes. Paradoxically, it is from there that lasting change – and happiness — happens.
So maybe this is what I should post on my Facebook page:
Be Grateful and Happy Now.
Choose to Change.
Be Present for the Process.
Be Grateful and Happy after Change.