Choice, Meaning and Peace

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

– Dr. Viktor Frankl

In Nia, we say that choice is the first gift we give ourselves and our students. It begins with the choice to sense the body and to choose The Joy of Movement, a universal sensation that can be present amidst pleasure and/or pain. The thread of choice is then woven through a principle called Your Body’s Way, which encourages you to move your body in accordance with it’s natural design and function; a method of personalizing your movement to fit your body’s needs. We also offer the choice between Three Planes of Movement (high, middle, low) and Three Intensity Levels (1, 2, 3). Really, the list of choices just goes on and on…

But beyond this list of somatic gifts that ‘choice’ gives us, there is a more personal growth element at play. What basic human right is so closely equated with choice?

Freedom.

We feel free when we feel like we have choice. When choice is taken away, so too goes our sense of freedom. There’s an incredible story about choice in holocaust survivor Dr.Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning. When Dr. Frankl treated fellow prisoners at Auschwitz , he observed a distinct psychological difference between those individuals whose health faded quickest and those who survived the longest. He found that the people who lived the longest were those who found a sense of meaning amidst the unfathomable suffering of the concentration camps. Those who lost hope were the quickest to die. He concludes, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

For the last two decades of my life, no ally has been so close a friend as choice. Choice has allowed me to find peace and empowerment amidst great pain and difficulty, to sense stability inside when everything outside felt unstable. When I have hovered in the delicate lifespace between “no longer and not yet”, choice has invited me to simply be present with what is, relinquishing my need for things to be other than they are. Investigating choice, I sense how my life purpose and the circumstances in it have as much or as little meaning as I choose to give them. What has given my life the deepest meaning, consequently, is the choice to see every experience as an opportunity to learn something new about myself. Viewing my life this way, viewing my experiences in Nia this way, I know that no matter what happens, I will always grow. When choice is actualized, evolution is guaranteed. 

We say in the Nia Brown Belt that between the emotions of Love and Fear exists Peace – the unconditional sensation of centeredness. When it comes to making decisions, peace is a great sidekick to choice – providing us with a firm foundation from which to respond. If I do not have the personal power to respond from love, can I connect to the omnipresent sensation of peace? The way I see it, the more allies or tools I have to assist me, the better off I am in managing my own emotional energy…

Peace is available at every turn – all we must do is choose it.

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