My Journey to Capetown


By: Ken Gilbert, Nia Education Trainer  |  April 13, 2009

March 2009 –

I am in awe – being a man in this world of diversity and cultural variety.

By way of Nia, over the last two years, I travel into Australia, New Zealand and most recently to South Africa. I arrive in these lands of driving on the left side of the road, where the moon is tipped from what I am conditioned to see; Orion is upside down near the Southern Cross in the night sky and the water drains clock-wise. When I journey to the southern hemisphere I arrive to train a Nia White Belt Intensive.

In Cape Town twenty-six women and one man circle together to be initiated into the 13 White Belt Principles – Nia’s foundation to a life-style and practice for health and well-being. During the seven days of this Intensive I find a unique sense of connection to myself and a culture that is saturated with the feminine spirit of creativity and communication!

Upon my arrival in Cape Town I am caught by the direct and joyful greeting that I receive from each individual. Smiling and laughing I enter into the daily ways of life: where to shop for food and clothing; how to navigate costs for meals and general purchases – the Rand is different than the dollar. I learn to appreciate the value of local exchange; to pay Rand for what I receive. I walk among the colors of South Africa – white, black and colored. Right now I am part of the ethnic diversity of this land.

In my teaching of the Nia Principles I use language in specific ways to deliver the promise of the White Belt Intensive; and, I am surprised at how the immediate culture receives my words – not only the sounds of the words it is also the way the words are used in formal and colloquial manners. I do what I can to communicate clearly and to receive the questions that come my way. We laugh at our differences in how we speak and how we sound. In Cape Town I learn to say “Yeeuw” (you), “Ye-awh” (“yea” in agreement) and “A-weh-ness” (Awareness); it is the sound of the vowels that is most different from my way of speaking. In the Nia Classes I am filled with exuberance and joy to move my body and to share my way of listening and dancing to the music; we laugh and shout with a sense of doing what we love to do!

I am told by many, during the days of the Intensive, that I will understand Africa when I go to the bush. I go to Kruger Park where I see, hear, smell and feel the lushness of the rain saturated landscape; I see Africa as plush. Many of the animals are concealed in the tall grasses; however, I do see the trails of the Elephants, Zebra, and Giraffe. Then, I begin to see the animals concealed within the landscape. I smile at the Troops of Baboons. So far away from my home, I appreciate this part of the world, its interconnectedness, each animal playing its part.

This land is so much older than culture. I pause; I reflect. My journey to Cape Town, South Africa, is extraordinary. And I see that there is a thread through me to all who practice Nia, The Body’s Way. As a Nia Trainer I go to far away places where I connect with people who are strangers for only one moment until I see and feel their eyes and their smiles – when we move and breathe together. We find our way; in Africa I find my way,

In my body I am learning to be whom I am; to be embodied in every moment; to be of body•mind•spirit. Traveling by plane; I sit relaxed, alert and waiting for such long periods – I practice being without distractions of thoughts, ideas and excitement without anticipation I learn to be still, to wait in each moment for the next moment when it seems as though I arrive suddenly into these wonder full parts of the world, so far from where I live my everyday life. It is my body that takes me to these places. It becomes my practice to be with myself; to receive what happens in each moment. It is my awareness that makes each moment a practice of “presence”. I am becoming more human in my being; I am learning of so many ways to live in this world. And, I know in my travels – where ever I am my body, my “best friend,” is with me and I feel at home.