As Stephaney’s voice beckoned repeatedly, “Reach for the heavens with your right hand, now touch your left knee, and next, connect with the earth,” tears streamed down my face. Emotion and resistance were moving from deep inside outward into the air that surrounded my soaked face. The release was all at once shocking, scary, but also immensely powerful and essential to my continued wellness. I was having an integrated experience of MY BODY connecting with my spirit, emotions and beliefs. My body WAS here between heaven and earth. In one instant, I experienced a dramatic shift into a more holistic commitment to my life and living it as fully as possible.
For my first 22 years, dancer was a defining role. Dance strengthened my physicality and discipline, developed my creativity, helped me learn about relationships and assisted in self expression. In college, I attended the American Dance Festival’s summer program at Duke University, and I was a few credits short of a double major in dance. I loved to dance because I entered into a state of flow where my mind was silent and I experienced oneness with the energy within, other dancers, and the music. It was fun. I felt so free and limitless. But I began to tell myself lies and allowed my head to lead my body somewhere else.
I gave up the opportunity to attend graduate school at Hahnemann University’s dance therapy program due to fear. I chose instead to live with a head/mind perspective while in a Master’s program in Rehabilitation Counseling. I loved learning and education, but this abrupt cessation of movement and shift in energy contributed to a greater experience of stress, anger, and less self care. Four years later, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and in another 6 years, I underwent a traumatic surgical experience.
Finally, I began to move again...first walking then running my way back to health. After completing my first marathon, I decided to try Nia in November 2012 with Marybeth Grinnan. I remember such joy in finding a way to dance again. After 3 months of classes, I committed to the White Belt training because intuitively, I knew that so many healing things were happening to me in this practice. In addition, I knew that these principles could benefit the clients in my own mind/body wellness practice.
Now, as a Nia White Belt Teacher, I am incredibly amazed with the complexity and dimension of the Nia practice. I thank Debbie and Carlos for giving birth to this concept and developing it with grit, passion, love, for 30 years. It is a process of constant learning for me as a dancer, energetic being, and sensation scientist. Each routine, song, and focus opens me to new ways of experiencing my life and unlimited possibilities. Nia has given me greater flexibility, agility, mobility, strength, and stability in my body as well as in my thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. Dancing with my Nia community has opened me further to love of myself and others. I now welcome joy into my movement and my life. I am compelled to teach and share with others as I firmly believe Nia’s adage, “Through movement we find health.”
I recollect upon my White Belt graduation ceremony, my trainer and sacred athlete, Stephaney Abilon, spoke directly to me saying, “People are going to LOVE to dance with you.” I am honored that she envisions me leading classes that are inspiring because Nia and my teachers have been life affirming and have helped me to infuse my life and dance with wonder, grace, beauty and peace. I believe this gift is to be shared...shall we dance?