Maria Skinner

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Archive for June, 2012

Fear Vanquished, Check!

When something comes to an end, there are times when it feels more appropriate to celebrate and times when it feels better to grieve. There are also times, when both celebration and grieving go hand in hand. This moment has sort of crept on me. I did not realize or even dream that I would ever be here. But yet, here I am.

It has the spirit of a confession what I am about to say, and the specter of shame around it, but it something I am standing with, regardless of how little of big it sounds to you. I can tell you, it is a big deal for me. I feel like for the first time in my life, I am making choices and decisions that that do not arise from the fear of getting fat. There you go. A whole career and lifestyle that I created for myself has come from this. And yet, the journey out of fear, out of all the ways I have learned to control my environment so that I could stay healthy and thin has brought me to this place: freedom and the sensation of truly loving my body no matter what.

I want to get down on my knees and weep with joy about this, and also weep for all those things I did not do because of the fear that I would not be able to control things. Restaurants I did not go to, trips I did not go on, people I did not hang out with…can be seen as deprivation or choices made from love. Either way, they entered into the equation.

In all this there has been dance. In choosing how I wanted to move to stay in shape, I chose something that I love to do. Something that makes me feel so happy to be in a body. Dancing to music is heaven on earth for me. And even here, I have made my journey away from dancing to burn calories to dancing for joy. My professional practice, the Nia Technique has been instrumental in bringing me to this new place. Nia has taught me how to make choices that bring me more energy, choices that help me stay connected to my emotional body, choices that keep me feeling alive.

This new feeling, as it is dawning on me, is making me question everything around me. Why I do what I do, and how I can make other choices now that I absolutely know for sure that this schism within me is healed. That all that energy that went into fear and control is now able to go into expressing my love for life and the people around me.

To see the truth beyond my personal epiphany, I have to say that the world itself is not inherently set up for us to feed ourselves with true nourishment. Maybe it was at some point, but I can tell you for certain that when I go into a regular supermarket, there are few things that I want to eat in there. I am not advocating that you do anything that I do. What I know is that for myself, I have created a whole new culture around food that centers on freshness, realness and simplicity. The most credit for this came from the work of Sally Fallon and Nourishing Traditions and the work of Donna Gates and the Body Ecology. And yet, I feel like I have moved beyond their prescriptions to something even more simple.

Having the intention and fear of not getting fat as my guiding force for so long, makes me wonder what now? ImageHow do people live when they can just live? I think I am going to find out.

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The Journey

My favorite Nia classes are the ones where I really ride the waves of the music, where the transitions feel smooth, where the musical landscapes seduce me into sensation. Ruminating on this while I was driving yesterday. Roadtrips and music go hand in hand for me. I can remember trips I have take sometimes more by what I was listening to than where I actually went. I have had a similar feeling of journey in my classes recently. I think this may have been there all along, this sensation, but I had not tuned into it quite this way. Today, riding on the soundtrack of Moodfood…so clearly, the wheels are my feet, they way the music became the landscape. Journey though the 7 cycles of Nia, journey through the vertical and horizontal, moving in directions… In a class, I am not alone. Others are coming along. I look out into the class and change direction slightly sometimes, sometimes radically based on what I see. And then the journey becomes a surprise even for me who thought I actually knew where I was going.

Do I really want to be more aware?

Yesterday,  5 Nia Technique teachers got together to “share the joy” with our fabulous  community in a benefit  for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. The inspiration for this event came after a dear friend passed away from pancreatic cancer a few months ago and we began realizing that so many of us have been touched by death in this form. In proportion to other cancers, there is not as much research being done on pancreatic cancer,  so we made this our focus for the donation, but underneath it all, was a desire to celebrate and practice together, even in the face of so much grief brought on by the way this disease can ravage a life.

In Nia, we say that Awareness can bring more health. In fact, one of our mottos is “Through Movement We Find Health”. In White Belt Principle #5 we teach that by becoming more aware of our body sensations, we can become aware of the ways in which we go off balance and create disease in our bodies. That by tuning in, we can stay healthier by making choices moment to moment that make us feel better. Having practiced this for years, I find myself asking, wondering, what is cancer? To my body, I ask “Can I sense it beginning to take form?”  To my emotional body I ask “Can choosing awareness, and choosing joy help my immune system to bring the errant cells that are precancerous back in line?” To my mind I ask  “Am I just looking for another way to be in control of what I cannot control?” To my spirit I ask ” If I do my best to be a good sober girl will God love me enough to keep my healthy?”

I realize that even hearing the word “Cancer” freaks me out. I feel it in the pit of my stomach. The fear that something I cannot control will take over my body and I will lose my health. And I see that although I am dancing though life, I am also carrying huge amounts of fear with me.  Choosing joy in the face of this, choosing to be present and sense my breath and my solar plexus in its full contraction is sometimes the only place I can go to help myself.  I also see how beneath this fear is a fear of anything that is unknown to me, fear that something will come and take everything I love away from me.

Although I can easily talk myself into being optimistic, I have to really be frank with myself and say, yes, shit happens.  Life can be a struggle. Life can suck. It is not just perspective.

On the other hand, there is adventure and there is the ability to know that I am doing my best to stay with my body, to stand by my self.  Even as I stand with others, not abandoning the moment. Can I do this unconditionally, even if it will not prevent disease? For its own sake, to choose to be here, wherever here is? Can I do it even as I feel the grief and the loss  and yes, the fear? And even as I feel these, can I choose joy? This is what is being tested in me these days.