Nia Principle 5: Awareness
Awareness is our birthright. Awareness is literally defined as “paying attention.” Awareness is coded into the body: we simply need to pay attention to, or become aware of what is happening in this moment.
Awareness is a practical and powerful tool. It may take extra focus to begin exercising our awareness, but soon it will be integrated into the self. Awareness can only occur in the present moment. You can be aware of your breath as you read, but you can only remember what you were breathing like yesterday. Awareness arises from a direct relationship with the present moment and since the present moment is always changing, always in flux, awareness is also constantly in flux.
In Nia, we begin with awareness of the physical body. Often, this is the last thing people are aware of unless they are in pain. But in Nia, that is exactly where we begin and return time and again. Body states tell you more about your present state than do thoughts because you can only be aware of sensations in the present moment, and those sensations are directly linked to feeling states, providing you a direct line to what is actually happening right now.
Grounding in the body through awareness keeps us in the present moment and discourages us from attaching to fabricated stories about who we think we are. It creates safety and efficiency from the inside out. It provides direct access to information needed to make choices and self-heal. It helps us find balance, improve alignment, stay grounded and centered, and feel peaceful. When we are aware, we can consciously and safely navigate through life, making healthy choices and decisions that bring about pleasurable results.
Whenever you feel pain, adjust what you are doing. Sensory awareness tells you a struggle is occurring and makes you aware that you need to find a new way. Go slowly but keep moving. Be gentle with yourself. Observe and witness yourself without judgment and strive to compassionately gather information about yourself. Remember, you are exactly where you need to be. All acts, all experiences have been valuable, even the painful and uncomfortable ones. Awaken your awareness to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages your body sends you. As you pay attention and respond to the little aches and pains, imbalances and struggles, you can heal and avoid injury and enjoy more pleasure in every moment.