Years ago, Debbie Rosas, one of The Nia Technique co-founders, said that all Nia teachers were healers. I remember squirming at the idea. Yes, Nia helped me heal a variety of injuries, both physical and emotional. I saw myself as a movement instructor, a fitness guide, a coach, but a healer? Not so much.
For me, Nia is about SELF-healing. Nia offers practices for SELF-care. So maybe, I’m a Self-Healing Encourager. As I see it, my role is to create an environment (in Nia class and on this blog) that leads to self-discovery, to noticing and mindfulness, to freedom and fun. By encouraging awareness, I am encouraging self-healing.
The Mystery of Healing
Healing can seem mysterious and complicated. A person’s genetics, family history, life style, and current state of wellness all contribute to their ability to heal. And there are so many healing modalities! A western doctor might well prescribe antibiotics for something for which an acupuncturist would suggest herbs. There are thousands and thousands of approaches to healing. What is a person to do?
First, remember that the human body is constantly healing itself. Your body is always doing its best to move toward health and well-being – and your body is always giving you information about what it needs. What we can do is pay attention and make choices based on what we notice.
Awareness: Nia Principle 5
Awareness is Principle 5 of the Nia Technique. Self-healing arises out of awareness. (Click here for Debbie Rosas’s article and questionnaire about Awareness.) By paying attention to body sensations, we initiate the healing process. As the Nia White Belt manual says, “[Self-healing] requires patience, attention, time, energy, love, and trust. The beginning of a healing cycle is the moment you choose a different way of doing things.”
In Nia, self-healing is actually pretty simple*: pay attention, make a choice and notice if it feels better. First, notice the sensations in your body. As I type this, I notice that my middle back is tight. Our cultural habit is to ignore it, power through, and hope it goes away. If it feels unignorable, take some ibuprofen! Nia invites us instead to notice the sensation and then make a choice: roll the shoulders, twist a little, stand up and stretch. Then observe, see what happens. “Is this stimulation making me feel better?” Any time I can say, “Yes, that feels better” – that’s self-healing. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Small changes for the better are still self-healing.
Humor a Self-Healing Encourager
Do it right now. Wherever you are, scan your body for anything that feels not-so-good. Sore hands, a headache or tender knees. Now really pay attention. Take some time to sense it fully: is it slight, moderate or acute? Is it hot, tight, numb, tingly or something else? Is your range of motion limited? Then stimulate whatever it is with movement. (NOTE: that stimulation might be “logical” such as rolling your shoulders for a sore shoulder, or it might be surprising like moving your hips to ease your knees, or shaking your whole body to soothe a head ache.) Then ask yourself, “Is this stimulation making me feel better?” If it feels better, even a little better, that’s self-healing! If not, experiment with another stimulation (see note above about the non-logical).
An Ongoing Practice
In this way, self-healing isn’t a big mysterious, woo-woo thing, but a practice that we can be doing all the time. As you stand at the kitchen sink, what needs healing? Notice, move and see if it feels better. As you drive to work, what needs healing? Notice, move and then does it feel better? If you go to a healer for help, stay connected to the process. Rather than simply following instructions, follow sensation (including intuition) and make choices from there.
Your ability to self-heal is directly related to your willingness to be with and care for yourself. This week, practice your own self-healing. Slow down and connect to what you are experiencing and make choices that allow you to say, “Yes, that feels better!” Help me be a Self-Healing Encourager and write a comment below or on the Focus Pocus Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FocusPocusNow?fref=ts (and “Like” it while you’re there!) about what you experience!
* Disclaimer footnote: I’m not a doctor or as I mentioned above a healer. I’m a self-healing encourager. Healing and self-healing is an enormous and complicated topic. I realize that I’m offering a simple, daily practice. That’s my intention. I’m not curing cancer here, not offering a panacea for all health issues, and I’m not suggesting that any treatments (including ones that can feel not-so-good upon administration, like applying an antiseptic to a wound, deep tissue massage, or chemotherapy) aren’t sometimes very good ideas. What I’m suggesting is that we can be aware of sensations and attend to them. Whether we are generally healthy and have just been sitting at the computer too long, or if we are dealing with a major health issue, awareness is the first step toward healing.