Maria Skinner

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Archive for December, 2010

Creating Space For This

The first thing we do at a Nia Intensive, after going though the 4 Energy Allies, is learn how to Create Space.  Although this seems like such a simple gesture and such a humble way to begin an endeavor, the repercussions of this as the beginning of the practice are monumentuous.  Here is the why of both the Energy Allies (aka. The 4 Agreements) and Creating Space: To get rid of distractions. Wow. Think about it for just one moment, how many things do you have to distract you around you at this very moment? Reading this blog might be a distraction even (though I hope it is a worthy one.) Life in so full of potential distractions and I have not even gotten to the best distraction of them all and the one I struggle with the most, my mind. My unruly mind.

My teacher, Carlos Rosas, gave me that term, “the unruly mind”. And the “unruly realms”, since my physical body, my emotions and my daydreaming spirit can also do some good distracting.  I love that term, unruly. It makes me realize that I can tame them. That once again I have a choice about whether to let them rule the use of my energy and my life force or to guide these to help me thrive.

The practice of Creating Space is the practice of  Stillness.  Creating stillness is each of those realms: the body in stillness. In the mind: No inner dialogue. Emotional body: neutral. Spirit: Present. Stillness. Creating Space. It’s a beautiful thing and just one of the practices of Nia that makes Nia my shamanic path.

I have been sick since Thanksgiving. A cold that came in while my dear friend and fellow Nia Trainer in Training was staying with us and c0-teaching the holiday classes with me. There was definitely a cold going around, I’ll give you that. However, I feel that susceptability has to be there as well, and seeing Allison back at the studio with me brought up some of the unfelt grief around a best friend no longer within hugs reach. We taught some great classes. She left, back to Portland , OR. I started feeling better.

Yet, this Monday I had a phone call that brought to me a deeper layer of grief and right after I got off the phone, I felt my sinuses filling up again! Relapse. Now, I know myself and I know why and when I get sick and this was not from being run down. What I have been keenly aware of is this: This week is the week of the last Nia training that Carlos Rosas will be teaching. Ever. Carlos is retiring as of today, I believe. After his last Friday evening class, he is gone. The Belt that is happening this week is Black Belt, which is about going into the unknown and going back to the basics. I feel both of these pulsing in me and this moment feels like a death and a birth and this is the reason I have been brought to my knees.

Here’s how this cold has been helping me to create space. (Did I not realize I would need to create space for this?) I have been up at night many days in a row with my head stuffed like a cabbage. And this has given my mind lots of time to ruminate and cajole my emotional body into feeling the deep grief at losing one of the most important teachers of my life. Rationally, my mind says, “You are not losing him. What he has given you will always be with you.” ” Carlos is moving on and that is a great thing.” I can feel this so clearly and in my heart, I am thrilled that he is able to jump into his own unknown. Although I know all this to be true, it is also my mind distracting me from the place in me that feels abandoned and bereft and maybe even angry.

So in the past few nights, I have been honing the art of creating space. Stillness. Still Body. Still Mind. Spirit Present. All these to create space for my emotions to rage.

When I first heard that Carlos was leaving I had two typical of me optimistic reactions. One was “WOW, Carlos is moving on, how amazing for him!” The second was, “Oh, Boy, I’d better really get on these practices cause if I am not going to have him to show me the way, I had better know the way really well.”  Then came the sadness of no longer being able to spend time in the presence of my beloved teacher.

The feeling of beloved teacher is an ancient one for me. I have had many wonderful teachers in this lifetime and in the millennia that I have existed. I have also been a teacher and am now. The bond and the transmission of the work, the soul altering  transformation that comes from this kind of relationship is one that I have experienced many times. The most powerful teaching comes from one being sharing the truth of their path with another and thereby modeling how to find one’s true path. I want to show and be shown the way. The tao. The teaching is the way.

In Nia, this has always been the case. At the last Brown Belt I was at with Carlos he said that all these practices that came to him came for him to be a better Nia teacher and did not necessarily make him a better person. Now, I do not know Carlos personally, so I can’t say for sure what he meant by that. For me seeing how he developed these practices for Nia  and then went ahead and did them to achieve mastery has not only made me a good Nia teacher, it has also opened up the way to creating the practices that I need to grow in this lifetime. Nia has and continues to make me a better person. I feel Debbie Rosas Stewart, who created Nia with Carlos has a handle on how Nia makes one’s life better and she models this beautifully. Thank goddess she is still with us to share her path.

I am left wondering what I need to learn to create space without creating a situation that is going to force me into stillness.  So many times I have had to still my mind, body and spirit so that I can feel my emotional body rock! Guided by my body to find this. Once there is stillness, it’s easier to distinguish the voices of the universe talking to me. Last night, as I lay in my stuffy head, Nia said to me, ” Feel the joy of this too. It is here for you.” I almost laughed out loud! And then I took the directions and felt what was there for me: the most deep gratitude that I got to spend time receiving from Carlos what he had to share, gratitude that I actually received it and that it is up to me to continue the work for myself and share it with others. Fear of the unknown, of what comes next for me, for Nia and for the Nia community. Sacred knowing that although I am in the unknown, I have the basics down. Joy of movement if present and in the house.  So is that original optimism that I felt. There are so many beings that have also received Carlos’ transmission and many of them are dear to my heart.  The community is strong. And Carlos, I am sure he will continue to thrill the world wherever he goes.

Dreaming of Flying…and Roller Blading

I had a dream the other night that I was at a huge Whole Foods, going down this long marble staircase.  It was about 6 flights tall and I was going down fast and began jumping from stair to stair. First two stairs,  then four and before I knew it I was jumping 20 stairs at once and found myself  flying above the stairs and very far from the ground. I began to descend and thought that I would surely break my legs, but I spread out my arms like wings and parachuted down landing softly by the raspberries and blueberries.

I have many dreams like this, me in flight or landing from an incredible height or rollerblading down the highway , enjoying my body in a way that I rarely let myself do in awake life. Maybe I should take up X-treme sports for this is what my dreams feel like. But awake, I feel way too fragile to risk life and limb for the thrill.

I move a a lot, in fact, even at rest my energy is getting ready to speed away. Not only do I teach the Nia Technique for a living, I take every opportunity I can to dance and play outdoors. When Debbie Rosas coined the term “movement lifestyle” to describe Nia, I was right there on the same page. I live to move and I move to live. Whether dancing or meandering through the world of my day, I am happiest in transit.

Recently, I’ve been exploring more stillness, especially when I am not feeling well. I have been using stillness as a practice. Being still and sensing my body in stillness. In doing this, I am also cultivating an inner stillness, stillness of my mind. Movement comes to me easily, stillness does not.

Today I am not feeling very well. I have a cold and although I should rest, my inclination is to keep going. Right now, I am writing when I probably should be resting. What happens when I rest is this: At first I feel resistance, a desire to get up and drink something, or send another e-mail, or blow my nose. When I sit with this, I begin to feel the resistance as my friend, showing me how under all that energetic activity there really is a desire to rest. When I surrender to the rest, everything falls into place. I can almost feel the self healing happening in my body. I begin to participate in not just recovery from my day, but truly resting into the moment, into the space and into my sensate body.

Maybe then I will fall asleep and dream of scaling the heights and let my body heal while I continue my movement lifestyle in my sleep.