The Alchemy of Awareness

15 years ago, while still teaching ‘traditional’ fitness, I began to be plagued by hip pain. It would be misdiagnosed at least twice, the pain would become chronic and would become so intense I could only crawl out of the studio after classes. I was afraid I would have to stop dancing.

Nine years later, I would be teaching Nia. I had made several adjustments not only in how I moved my body but also how I perceived my body. My Nia dance and my personal dance had become more systemic; my body moving more like an integrated machine. My hip pain had become merely intermittent. Then I found myself in the middle of a flare up. The pain had become so severe this time that there were positions in which it hurt to breath.

A visit to my general practitioner and I finally had a proper diagnosis. Tendonitis. This time I really did have to stop dancing and meet with a physical therapist.

Working with a combination of strength, stability and flexibility, after 6 weeks, I returned to teaching and my own dance. I had been paying attention, but I hadn’t been respectful. I had felt the pain, but I was accustomed to working through pain – I had been doing it all my life. I took it for granted that while I have experienced aches and pains, nothing ever stopped me – in a way I felt unbreakable.

As I walked back into class, I walked in with a sense of my own fragility. I didn’t like that.

Since that time, I no longer feel fragile, but neither do I take my body nor my wellness for granted.

My life, my body and my wellness are gifts in nature. For me to have finally healed my hip, I had to remember that. I had to move like that. I have to remember that to care for my body and respect its design is also a way to care for the natural world, our Earth. I realized that I can only care for the Earth if I care for my body and my life. It’s not enough to be aware of what’s wrong, I have to act on that knowing.

Am I pain free all the time? No. After 40 years of dancing, a variety of traffic accidents, playing sports as though I will never die – no. I don’t have the pain I did 3 years ago, though. When I noticed my body’s warning, I shift gears. I adjust my movement, I shift my position, I move around if I’ve been still. I take a break. I explore level 1. In this place with the willingness to give my body what it wants and needs, I have access to the Joy of movement in a new way. The sensation of Joy in my body.

Considering my body and life as deeply a part of nature as birds, lions, fish, trees and mountains has created a sense of wonder, humility and pleasure. This enhanced awareness has given me the ability to immerse myself in each experience – no longer taken for granted.

Through time the alchemists searched for ways to turn plain metal into gold.

I found my way to turn awareness into healing.


(Wanna know how I did it? Come to class. Attend Labs and Workshops.Sign up for Sole Practice sessions.)

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