Mantra Meets Movement

The Magic of Nia and Transcendental Meditation

We first saw a Nia demo in 2001 in Eugene, Oregon at a street fair. There were about eight people dancing barefoot in a tight circle on a concrete sidewalk. It looked a little odd. Then they started kicking and shouting “Ho!” We watched for a minute or two, and moved on.

If you know Rolf, you won’t be surprised that when we got home, he created his own new movement form. Inspired by the “Ho!” he called it “Holy Moly.” It basically involved jumping around the living room, kicking, and shouting “Holy Moly!” Kind of fun, but it never really caught on.

Renee took her first Nia class a few weeks later. She told Rolf it was great and suggested he come to a class. “Are there any men there?” he asked. When the answer was “No,” he politely declined. Luckily, Renee took the White Belt Training and started teaching Nia.

Three years later, on our wedding anniversary, Renee had the chance to audit a couple days of the White Belt with Stephaney Robinson. When she asked Rolf to take the two-hour drive and make it an “Anniversary Weekend” together, what could he say? “No?”

After his first class with Stephaney, Rolf was hooked on Nia. No more "Holy Moly."

But Nia wasn’t the first mind-body practice that we shared. We both happened to learn the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique in 1971. At the time, we didn’t know each other. Nor did we know that we’d be TM teachers, meet and become friends, get married, and travel the world together. But that’s what happened.

What Is TM?

The Transcendental Meditation technique allows our mind to dive within, experience increasingly quieter levels of thinking, and even transcend thought completely. Research shows that this creates a more orderly functioning of the brain. At the same time, our body settles down and gets a very deep rest. This enables the body to release deep-rooted stresses and to self-heal.

What we like best about the TM technique is that it’s completely easy, effortless, and natural. There’s no concentration, focusing the mind, or even “trying” to meditate.

When someone asks us about TM, we start with these three points:

You can do it. TM requires no special abilities, discipline, or beliefs.
You will get benefits. More than 350 research studies, published in respected scientific journals, prove that TM works.
It’s a preparation for activity. We meditate for 20 minutes twice a day to create a clearer mind and release stress, so we can enjoy the other 23 hours and 20 minutes more fully.

During the past 40 years we’ve studied, taught, and worked on projects in Europe, India, Zambia, Puerto Rico, Japan, Russia, and the Ukraine. Here in the U.S. we’ve taught meditation, managed TM retreat facilities, and served as national administrators for the TM program.

We’ve discovered that both Nia and TM, each in its own way, are highly effective practices to enjoy improved health, increased happiness, and personal growth, and here’s how they compare and compliment.

Outer and Inner

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the TM program, developed 16 Principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence. One principle that we love is: “Outer Depends on Inner.” This means that our experience of the outer world depends upon our inner state of consciousness.

Nia and TM may approach personal development from opposite directions, but we’ve found them to be completely complementary. Nia starts from the outside, and then nourishes our inner life as well. TM starts from the inside, and nourishes all aspects of outer life.

Nia is a “fusion fitness” practice that enlivens our body, engages our mind, stirs our emotions, and awakens our spirit (our own personal uniqueness). TM is an effortless meditation practice that allows our mind to settle down, our body to release stress, brings peace to our emotions, and reconnects us to our universal spirit (the field of Pure Consciousness at the quietest level of our mind.)

Nia’s definition of an applied science is “the systematic application of a technique or methodology that yields a consistent outcome.” This is true for both Nia and TM. The consistent outcome with Nia is “Through Movement We Find Health.” The consistent outcome with TM is development of consciousness, increased creativity, better health, and more happiness.

Nia offers integrated movement as a means to reconnect to what it calls “the universal flow of consciousness.” TM allows the mind to effortlessly return to its Source, a field of Pure Consciousness beyond thought at the quietest level of our awareness.

Nia directs us to choose Universal Joy, which is “a force and influence that animates all living things at the atomic and cellular level.” TM takes the mind one step further, to the level of the unified field, which underlies and supports the atomic and cellular levels of life.

Nia encourages us to move in our own body’s way, which in time brings us closer to moving “The Body’s Way.” TM releases stress and strain, helping our body return to a healthier and more natural style of functioning.

Fortunate and Magical

By now, both Nia and TM are deeply integrated into our lives. We meditate twice a day. We teach or take a Nia class nearly every day. We offer introductory TM Talks three times a week. We learn and practice our Nia routines. We teach the TM technique almost every weekend.

We are so grateful to have both Nia and TM in our life. They are two precious gifts that we love to share with others. Thanks to TM, we’re able to teach Nia from a deeper and more intuitive level. Thanks to Nia, our mind and body enjoy greater integration during our TM practice.

Thanks to Nia and TM, we live a fortunate and magical life.

Rolf and Renee Erickson are Certified Teachers of the TM technique and Nia Black Belt Nia Instructors. Rolf is a Nia Teacher Trainer.