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The Shaping of Being through Nia

Next Generation of Trainers

The Shaping of Being through Nia

By Debbie Priest on October 20, 2010

My being has shaped my anatomy and how I move…..changing how I move and paying attention to my anatomy has shaped my being. This “shaping of being” through the sensory based transformational movement practice of Nia is what I want to share about.

I have been on the search for real, authentic transformation for over a decade. I have done ontological programs that promised transformation and they delivered some incredible experiences but after a while I felt myself returning to my same sense of stuckness and I’d look for my next transformational fix in the next program or workshop.

When I began Nia I did not like myself very much, I thought there was something wrong with me and I needed to change. I felt worthless and I was very afraid of life. I made many decisions out of fear .

Nia has brought me to a place where I am in love with life, in love with my body, my mind, my emotions and my spirit. I have a sense of contentment and satisfaction that persists regardless of circumstances. I am living the life of my dreams. I am the physical expression of Joy.

Transformation that sticks
How Nia differs from other transformational programs is that Nia begins and ends in the body. Authentic transformation occurs in all my realms and is felt and experienced in my body. Other programs I experienced were primarily mental based and transformation ended up being just a good idea or something to strive for. The transformation I receive through Nia is something that I sense, feel and See, as the physical structure of my body begins to change and shape shift. From the bright sparkle in my eyes, to the opening of my chest and alignment of my spine, to the bounce in my step. My physical structure reflects my transformation.

Besides being body based, Nia is also community based. The ongoing practice in a community is a key element to having transformation stick. My Nia community calls me into being and I call my community into being. In the book “The Spell of the Sensuous” David Abrams points out that philosophy in its origins was considered a “practice.” Nia provides a sensory- based philosophical practice in community that crafts or shapes consciousness through physical, mental, emotional and spiritual inquiry.


From theory to reality
Austin Clark, a philosopher from the University of Connecticut, in his paper “Phenomenal consciousness – so called” explains the “higher order thought” theory of consciousness by making a distinction between types of consciousness, he speaks of “transitive consciousness” as being conscious of something and “state consciousness” as being a “conscious mental state as opposed to an unconscious mental state.” Nia crafts consciousness through transitive consciousness, through bringing attention to something to be conscious of, such as a sensation or a thought. This transforms our state consciousness. Clark continues by distinguishing the “higher order thought” theory from the “higher order perception” or “inner sense” model. Nia utilizes the “higher order perception/inner sense” model by artfully crafting language in the form of pearls that bypass the thinking mind and immediately drop into the body as sensation awareness.

Through Nia’s crafting of consciousness I am learning the beingness of total relaxation. This is a place of surrendering to life as it is and as it is not. My relaxed body feels pleasure in every movement, my relaxed mind is in a place of no concern, my relaxed emotions feel turbulence yet stay in a peaceful center and my spirit…oh my spirit is free to soar.