Sweet Sixteen

sweet sixteen 052816

“The space between where you are and where you want to be can be a struggle or it can be an inspiration.” ~ Kelly Stine, Yoga Super Shero

“The space between where you were and where you are can be a struggle or it can be an inspiration.” ~ My riff on Kelly

Graduations and reunions are times of looking back. At this time of year, we are often gazing into the past with nostalgia, perhaps longing, and almost always with skewed lenses.

Our boy graduated from college last weekend. It’s easy now to look at this tall, handsome, accomplished young man and sigh and say, “Time flies! It feels like yesterday that you were six.” But when he was six and he wouldn’t put on his shoes and he was screaming and flailing as Frank carried him through the neighborhood to school? Yeah, time was not going so fast that day.

We can look forward and be daunted by the work it will take to do what we want to do.

We can look back and forget the work that it took to get to where we are now.

Since January, I’ve been taking my Nia classes one-by-one through the sixteen routines I’ve created during sixteen years of teaching. And while I hope it has been a fun and interesting journey for my students, I suspect I’ve gotten more out of the exercise than they have.

When I started the retrospective in January, I did it with intention. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go next in my work. Not sure where I wanted to focus my attention or what I wanted to create now. I figured I’d start with the body of work I had and see what happened.

As we made our way through each routine, I thought about what was happening in my life at the time, where I was in my training, where I was teaching. I remembered the struggles, the doubts, the excitements, the disappointments, the inspiration. I was aware of the space between then and now. I could see each one as a stepping stone to the next.

In a recent interview, reporter and writer, Neil Strauss said he couldn’t remember how many books he’s written. He said he is always focusing on what he’s doing now, not what he’s done before. While I agree that little can be gained from the proverbial laurel rest, when I’m stuck and unsure what to do next, looking back can be a helpful thing to do.

As long as I do it with clear eyes.

Looking back has the potential of being a big longing wallow ~ wishing to be younger, wishing for how things used to be (or how I think they used to be) ~ which is only a source of suffering. Alternatively, looking back can be a way of learning from yourself. Looking back with clear eyes can show us how far we’ve come …and what still needs to be done.

This week, we will dance the last of the sixteen routines: Inspired. And this week, I begin work on the next routine, the next workshop, and the next retreat. I’m standing on this stone but the fog has cleared and I can see the next ones I want to step to.

Where are you stepping next, my friends? If you’re not sure, looking back is a way to figure it out. Whatever’s happening, share in the comments below about looking back and its relationship to moving forward or email me at sjmnia@gmail.com and let me know what’s up. I look forward to connecting.

  1. Looking back as a college athlete, football gave me my identity. There was something exciting about the clashing of bodies, shows of strength and force intermingled with grace and precision. I longed for the practice field and making contact again in our drills of precise movement leading to a collision of bodies. I was more fortunate then some to have never suffered major injury. I enjoyed being a football player. However, I can only look back and remember now as my body would never withstand those activities today. So looking forward and to the present, I am thrilled to have found the forms of exercise one would call mind-body especially NIA. There is an exhilaration and production of endorphins or something that finds me leaving class with a similar type of high to that I experienced after a tough practice on the football field. I hope to find more of this as I continue my quest for more of these experiences.

    • Thank you for this, Pete. A beautiful recapitulation of your experience. I’m also so glad you were never hurt and that you found that it’s also possible to train, condition AND heal!

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