GAR 92 | Dance Healer


Writer and dance healer Paula Chambers is the 12th inspiring interviewee in the G & R Podcast’s Rebirth series. She was raised in Los Angeles by an actress mom and filmmaker dad, grew up steeped in show business, and spent her 20s in that world, working as an Assistant Director in movies and television for five years. Paula changed careers at 29 and spent the next decade in graduate school preparing to be an English professor, finishing her Ph.D. in 2000 and becoming a grant writer while also managing an online community. In 2010, she discovered NIA Technique mindful dance fitness, fell in love with it, and was inspired to become an NIA Technique mindful dance fitness instructor. NIA led Paula’s self-reinvention from developmental trauma to transformation and Rebirth and brought her physical and emotional healing.

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Paula Chambers: Are You Aware That Sensing Your Body And Moving With Conscious Intent Are Tremendously Powerful Tools For Healing And Self-Support?






Welcome to the new Rebirth Series where I will be chatting with special inspiring people who have grieved, met their challenges, chosen to heal, and have experienced the blessing of rebirth. This new Rebirth Series is inspired by a comment made by my son while I was on my healing journey after my precious husband died next to me in a tragic car accident. “Mom,” he said. “There has been nothing worse than seeing you in total despair and nothing better than seeing you able to have joy again.” From my heart, I wish this for each of you. Be sure to give it a read.

I’m absolutely delighted to welcome speaker, writer, and dance healer Paula Chambers to the show for the twelfth inspiring interview in the Rebirth Series. Paula will be speaking to us from Studio City, California. Paula was raised in Los Angeles by an actress mom and a filmmaker dad. She grew up steeped in show business and spent her twenties in that world working as an assistant director in movies and television for five years.

She changed careers at 29 and spent the next decade in graduate school, preparing to be an English professor, finishing her PhD in 2000, and becoming a grant writer while also managing an online community. Later, she presented and keynoted across the United States about the earnest shifts that a PhD must make to change careers, most importantly, healing shame, discovering strengths, and taking charge.

In 2010, Paula discovered Nia Technique Mindful Dance Fitness, fell in love with it, and was inspired to become a Nia Technique Mindful Dance Fitness Instructor. In addition to her Academic degrees, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film, a Master of Arts in English, and a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition, Paula is a second-degree black belt in Nia Technique, and she has taken every Nia training that exists.

I’m looking forward to talking with Paula about her inner game of self-reinvention from developmental trauma to transformation and rebirth, how Nia Technique Mindful Dance Fitness helps her to sense her consciousness in every cell of her body, not just in her head, and the ways Nia can bring about both physical and emotional healing. Full disclosure, I took a class in Nia Technique Mindful Dance Fitness after I was widowed, and I not only enjoyed it immensely, but it also helped me with my own healing journey. Paula, a heartfelt welcome to the show.

Irene, I’m so pleased and honored to talk with you. You helped so many people with these illuminating, inspiring interviews. I’m honored to be included.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Let’s start with this question. Please tell us your story as a child of divorce and how the developmental trauma of your parents’ divorce affected you even into adulthood.

I was an only child. When I was 4 and 5 years old, I say that as a two-year span of time because when I was 4, when my parents’ marriage was falling apart, and I was 5 when they got divorced. It was a two-year phenomenon for me, which when you are only five years old, represents 2/5 of your entire life.

In your developmental years, it’s a very important time.

Four and five-year-olds are beginning to assert their independence and discover themselves They’re beginning to initiate activities and projects that were not initiated by the parent. They’re striking out on their own for the first time. Yet, they still are young enough to believe that everything that happens in the world is caused by them. The world is still centered around the 4 or 5-year-old. Yet, he or she is beginning to strike out and become independent from the parents. That is a particularly vulnerable time to receive negative messages about yourself when you’re that young.

My parents never gave me any negative messages, but they didn’t need to. Because I was that age, I believed that I had caused their divorce. Of course, I did not cause it. If anything, I was a positive factor. If anything, they stayed together longer because of me. Experientially, subjectively, as a 4 and 5-year-old, I could only receive the message that my world had fallen apart and it must be my fault.

Some of that might have also been because you were an only child, would you say?

That did amplify the pain quite a bit. Also another factor is that, as it happens, both of my parents are very charismatic individuals. Any child of that age is in love with their parents, but my parents are quite compelling. That made it all the more traumatic for me when they divorced. It affected my entire adult life because I was robbed of the opportunity to develop healthy self-esteem, a healthy sense of independence, and a healthy way of self-validating.

I try something, “It had a good result. The thing that I tried was good.” I was so distraught and devastated that this terrible thing had happened in my world, and I must be the cause that my development of healthy self-esteem was significantly delayed. Looking back, now that I just had my 60th birthday, every decade that goes by, I look back, and I understand more about why this, why that. I now understand why I was, for example, promiscuous in my late teens and early twenties.

I’ve read an article that girls whose parents divorced when they’re that age often are promiscuous at that later age, textbook case. Many things I’ve read and learned about divorce as an adult have illuminated for me why that was such a big deal. Even though nobody yelled, nobody threw any teacups, nobody hid anybody, there wasn’t any overt conflict.

In fact, that was even a factor in the severity of my developmental trauma. I read recently that the most damaging divorce is what is called Low Conflict Divorce. Everything seems fine. Everybody’s acting fine. Nobody’s yelling. Nobody’s hitting. Nobody’s visibly unhappy, and then suddenly, we’re getting divorced. It’s like, “Then what makes sense? What can you count on in this world?”

GAR 92 | Dance Healer

Dance Healer: The most damaging kind of divorce is low-conflict divorce.

In your young head, you were ambushed by it.

Yes. It was a deep wound, and I lost my sense of security in the world. I can see my insecurity running like a thread, especially my personal life choices. All the millions of guys I slept with, not millions, of course, but too many. It was a form of self-harm to go home with a guy I just met at a coffee house. I could have been raped. I could have been killed. I could have gotten a disease. I’m lucky none of that ever happened, but it very well could have. If I saw a nineteen-year-old doing those behaviors, I would be gravely concerned.

It sounds like you were looking for love in all the wrong places.

Yes, like the song. That’s right. Honestly, part of my trauma was that I did not feel seen by my parents. My feelings were not seen. My parents, though charismatic and lovely people, also had their own serious developmental trauma from their lives. Now that I’m an adult, how painful that period must have been for them. They must have been just barely hanging on to planet Earth. They were too deep in their own pain to recognize and foreground my pain. It’s also just how it was in 1967. The parents make the decisions. The kids go along like a suitcase. I’m not angry with them. They were in so much pain. They couldn’t take care of my pain as well. That’s my job now.

There wasn’t a comfort level with therapy in those days either.

I don’t know if my parents went to a therapist. They might have. They did some avant-garde things. They might have, but if they did, it obviously didn’t work. The thing is, I have to add this, Irene, because your show is mostly focused on grief and rebirth. There is a heavy grief element to the developmental trauma that I experienced. I only in the last few years have become aware of what I just said, that my pain is still in my body, and I have to feel it.

I was in a breathwork class a few years ago, and the focus was on our heart center. We were breathing, lots of people in the room. That does not happen anymore since COVID. Before COVID, I took a few breathwork classes. I discovered my pain is this enormous, purplish, brownish, oddly beautiful nebula in my consciousness. In that class, I just totally gave in to it. I was crying my guts out. I was ugly crying. It was an oddly fabulous feeling. It felt so great to just dive into the grief, dive into the pain, and notice it. What are its colors? What is its shape? What is its name? Does it have a name? Focus on my pain like it was never done before, even by myself. That was amazing.

That breathwork, was that an adjunct to your Nia or part of it?

It was unrelated. There was just a place near me that had meditation, breathwork, and stuff classes. I thought, “I want to learn more about that.” I took a class, and it blew my mind. That was an amazing experience.

Now, since you’re so identified with Nia, let’s find out what those initials stand for and what health and fitness modalities it combines. By the way, everyone, it’s amazing, and it’s a fun workout which is set to music. You have a black belt in Nia’s technique. Tell us about that, too.

When Nia was first invented in the early 1980s, two far-sighted, deep-thinking aerobics instructors invented it, a man and a woman named Debbie and Carlos. They created Nia as a reaction against the harmful aspects of old-style aerobics. There was a lot of impact and jumping up and down. There wasn’t room for emotions. There was only room for a part of the emotional spectrum, “We’re going to do it. No pain, no gain.”

They noticed a high injury rate among aerobics instructors and among themselves. They noticed in their own bodies, “I’m teaching ten classes a week. Why don’t I feel so fantastic? I feel like crap, in fact. Why is that?” They pooled their consciousness, and they explored other movement forms. They took pages from aspects of nine different movement forms and melded and stirred them together like ingredients in a soup to make Nia.

The nine movement forms are three of the martial arts, namely Taekwondo, Tai Chi, and Aikido. Three of the dance arts, namely Modern Dance, Jazz Dance, and Isadora Duncan style free-form personal expression dance. Three of what they call the healing arts: Yoga, Feldenkrais, and Alexander technique. Elements of these nine movement forms, the most important aspects of them, what their goals are, what their philosophies are, what the movements feel like in your body, that was what they synthesized together to create the first-ever hybrid movement form, Nia Technique. They called it NIA because it originally stood for Non-Impact Aerobics.

GAR 92 | Dance Healer

Dance Healer: The elements of the nine movement forms create the first ever hybrid movement form: Non-Impact Aerobics Technique.

They have abandoned that acronym in the many years since because it seemed to be saying it was not this. It’s not literally no impact. You are standing, you’re moving around, but they abandoned the Non-Impact Aerobics acronym and others have been proposed. My personal favorite is “Now I Am. Now I am shaking my hands and feeling my hand bones. Now I am sinuously curving my spine. Now I am walking assertively.” Nia emphasizes sensation, sensing your body while moving.

What I also love about it is that both men and women take it.

You do see more women than men, not because that’s how we want it. That’s not how I want it. I want to share Nia with men, too. I have about 5% to 10% men in my classes, but all group fitness classes across the board are 90% or more women. It has to do with men’s cultural pressure to do things right and not look like an idiot and appear strong and like they know everything and not take direction. I don’t know what at all, but there’s something that keeps men out of group fitness classes, especially the dance-y ones. Nia is like that, but I will say the men who do take Nia are amazing men.

They’re a little more evolved, perhaps. They’re comfortable with themselves. What is a black belt in Nia?

One of the great things that I love about Nia and that made me commit to it whole hog is that the Founder of Nia, Debbie Rosas, has created these fantastic education programs. It’s more than just a certification. She borrowed the concept of the built system from martial arts. The first level of training is the white belt. You then take your blue belt, brown belt, and black belt. There is now a first-degree and a second-degree black belt.

The reason those belts were created was that the creators of Nia had so much to share about how to live in a body, how to live a body-centered life, how to take care and love your body, not just accept it like reluctantly and grudgingly because you have to, but actually love your body, how to dance through life, and how to make every moment a sensory opportunity for pleasure. These curricula build upon each belt builds upon the last, and I love education. I’m a lifelong learner. I am hungry for learning of all kinds. The fact that Nia, unlike Zumba, has such a rich, multidimensional education program that I can take. That was a big selling point for me.

How do they choose the music, by the way? The music’s great. It moves you and your whole body gets exercised, plus you’re having fun. How do they choose that and your programs? There are definite scripted programs with them, right?

Correct. It’s one of the things that the Nia organization does with the money that I and other Nia teachers pay. We have to pay an annual licensing fee, as you do with any movement modality, an annual fee, like a license. They use that money in part to purchase the rights to NIArific music, music that is just perfect for Nia. It’s almost entirely by unknown or little-known artists. They’re cheaper, but as important because when you’re dancing to music, you don’t recognize. It’s better for your ability to sense your body. You’re having a fresh experience at the moment, and it’s not associated with, “I heard this song at my high school prom. This is the breakup song from that boyfriend in the 1990s.”

When you're dancing to music, you don't recognize it's better for your ability to sense your body. Share on X

There are no personal associations with most of this music, which enables sensation. Nia pays for the rights, which helps to support independent artists. It is mostly world music. It’s very unlike the disco-derivative music you hear in many group fitness classes in gyms. It’s much more culturally variegated and rhythmically instrumentally interesting, which is part of what made it come alive for you. I pay Nia to access the routines. Nia organization has professional Nia choreographers recruited from the Nia training faculty who develop these beautiful routines, which are movements that are set to this music.

I even remember doing cha-cha steps.

We have a cha-cha step. My job as the teacher is to choose which routines I want to learn that fit my style, learn them, and then deliver them to my students.

Do you want to tell us about the first time you listened to your body’s voice in a Nia class and what it said to you?

I would love to tell you about that. I had been taking Nia for a few months. In one class, we were swaying back and forth, and our palms were facing each other but not touching. Almost as if there’s a soap bubble between your palms. She encouraged us to imagine that each hand was like a person, like a face. By facing each other, they were looking at each other and having a dialogue. As we were doing this gentle, easy movement, she encouraged us to listen and see if we could overhear what our hands were saying to each other.

At that time, I was experiencing a little bit of a repetitive stress injury from computer work and misaligned ergonomics on my computer in my right elbow. It wasn’t carpal tunnel. It was something elbow-y. That happened to be going on at that time. What I heard my hands say, my left hand said to my right hand, “I will help you.” My right hand said to my left hand, “I will teach you.” It inspired me to say, “Maybe some of the things I do with my overworked right hand, I can teach my left hand to do, and my left hand will happily learn to help my right hand.” I did that, and my repetitive stress injury healed a few weeks later, and it changed my life.

My other question is, how did this technique also help you to sense your consciousness in every cell of your body, not just your head? That is another thing, and many modalities were so head-centered.

In my life, I have been very head-centered. Because of my trauma, I have put myself on a lifelong treadmill to earn approval. A way that I earned approval was by being smart. People say I’m very smart. My parents loved it when my teacher said that. I thought, “That’s the way to earn love. That’s what I have to do in order to not lose my other parent. I have to be really smart.”

I became an intellectual. I got my PhD. During my 20s and 30s, even though I exercised and danced, I hadn’t discovered Nia yet, but I was moving. I was using my body, but my consciousness felt that if you asked me where Paula was located in my body, I would have said, “I, Paula, am above my neck. I am in my head,” because that’s what’s valuable about me.

My body was, at that time, like a roving pedestal to hold up the head. My hands were like two little paddles to shove in food and fuel the head, but it was all about my head. Through Nia, it was not overnight, but incrementally, overtaking Nia over a period of months, I realized. Now it’s years. It’s even more so. I feel that every single cell is imbued with my personality and my personal identity. My me-ness is in every cell. I feel alive from tip to toes. I feel Paula is not more in my brain than in my knees or my hips. It is a wonderful feeling to feel so alive, to be walking on bones with glittering gel clinging to the bones like I am my whole body. Sounds a little out there, maybe, but it beats being a pedestal with a head on top of it.

I don’t think it’s so out there. It’s wonderful that we’re getting to a point in life now, and we’re talking about these things that we can welcome outside the box so that it’s not so confined. I also want to know exactly how it helped you heal your childhood trauma through this movement in sensing your body.

GAR 92 | Dance Healer

Dance Healer: Heal your childhood trauma through this movement and sensing your body.

That started to happen very quickly and early in my relationship with Nia. I was blessed to have good Nia teachers. They often emphasized, in the way they taught their class, sensing your body. Not just do this, but see what it feels like to do this. Sense your arms while you do this. Sense the soles of your feet on the floor. By being reminded and cued to sense my body, I discovered that sensory data, the information about what my body feels like doing those moves, is only available to me. Only I know what it feels like to be in my body doing these moves. That information cannot be refuted. It cannot be argued with. It’s nobody’s even business what my body feels like. I was amazingly 48 when I started Nia. It’s so late in life.

How often were you dancing to Nia?

I was dancing once or twice a week at that time. I started once a week and quickly went to twice a week. Life interferes sometimes. You can’t make the one class, but you make the other. Let’s say 1.5 classes a week. It was not too many classes before I realized, “I am my body.” I began to develop a whole new body-based sense of self. I began to create for myself a sense of myself that I didn’t get the opportunity to create when I was age appropriately 4 and 5 years old because of the trauma that I endured at that very time.

How about telling everyone the top benefits of Nia?

The number one benefit is that it injects joy into your life. Nia Technique is designed specifically not just to burn calories or build skills but to create a feeling that we call the joy of movement. We speak of movement, music, and magic that are created by our routines, our brilliant choreographers who create the movements in order to sense joy in this music.

Nia Technique creates a feeling of joy in movement. Share on X

The movements relate to the music expressively. It is an expressive, imaginative journey that is designed specifically for joy to be the outcome. It is not denial. It is not toxic positivity like, “Let’s everybody feel joy now.” It’s not like that at all. It starts with sensing. Sense your breath going in and out, and the music changes. We do something else. You’re swept along on a magic carpet that brings most people joy.

That is a very important benefit. Your capacity to feel joy is not infinite. It is like a muscle. When not used enough, you lose the ability to feel joy. The pleasure center of the brain needs practice in order to feel pleasure in life so you can have all of your pain, grief, and trauma. You shouldn’t be thinking, “Once my pain and grief are all processed, then maybe I’ll have time to feel joy.”

No, joy is an uplift that can be felt in parallel to pain, and that provides a healthy updraft in your healing process. That is the top benefit of Nia. Other benefits include fitness and wellness. Nia builds the five sensations of fitness. That’s a very important terminology because, in gym classes, you’re building skills. How many pounds can you lift? They are quantifiable. How many pounds have you lost? How many calories did you burn? How many pounds can you lift in this press and that press?

In Nia, we recast fitness as a set of sensations. We call them FAMSS: Flexibility, Agility, Mobility, Stability, and Strength. By casting fitness as sensations, we empower the individual person to sense what flexibility feels like in their body. That empowers them to notice, maybe 5 or 6 classes later, “I feel more flexibility as I do this move than I did weeks ago, and I felt different. Now, I feel more of that sensation.” It is a subjectively, self-judged, empowering progress that Nia provides. Agility, mobility, stability, and strength all work the same. They are sensations, not objective measurements. You are the judge.

I would imagine because trauma is stored in the body that through this movement, you can release a lot of that.

Unlike mainstream group fitness classes, all emotions are welcome in Nia. The music has a much wider emotional range than gym music, which is pretty much all upbeat. In Nia, you’ve heard incredibly varied and rich instrumentation and melodies from all over the world. It’s so interesting. That unfamiliar, slightly strange music invites the expression of unpredictable kinds. The Nia teacher doesn’t say, “Everybody, feel angry now.”

Sense your emotions and do the moves in a way that expresses an emotion that you have. No prescription of what that should be like, “This is a happy song, so let’s all feel happy.” None of that. It’s all sensory-based. What do you feel in your body? You’re always welcome to cry. You’re always welcome to be vulnerable. It is safe to be weird or vulnerable in Nia.

You also offer a 90-minute Graduate Student Wellness Workshop that furthers your mission to heal shame, reveal hidden strengths, and promote professional development. What would you like to tell us about that?

It seems like an odd mixture, doesn’t it? Yet, here’s why I can do this. Prior to my becoming a full-time Nia teacher, I had a 20-year career helping graduate students prepare for possible non-academic careers. Most people who go into a PhD program want and expect to have a chance to get a professorship. In the end, they want to become academics, but statistically, that is not likely to happen anymore because of structural changes in the way the university system works.

You have a lot of highly trained, very bright people who have put 8 or 10 years into their PhD program coming out with no job at the end. They have tremendous feelings of shame and failure because the cultural message in the academic world is that you aren’t good enough. You are at fault. It’s the same message I now notice that I received from my trauma.

Before you just finish your thought, I’m getting that Nia helps people accept themselves to forgive themselves.

It is deeply and profoundly self-accepting, and it leads to self-love. How I helped others while I was in grad school myself, I started an online community for Humanities graduate students who were interested in non-academic careers. Back in 1999, when I started this, it was even a taboo subject to even talk about it. You would be shamed or ostracized for even talking about non-academic careers. I started an online community that showed people right away, “You are not alone. We are with you. There are good careers available to you that aren’t at a university.”

That eventually built into a nationally visible business called Versatile PhD. Versatile PhD was a web-based career education service specifically for doctoral students, helping them learn what career options were available to them based on their academic discipline and ending their isolation and shame by putting them in a supportive community.

With that being said, that’s what I did right before I became Nia. I’ve dropped that in order to devote myself to Nia. Now, I can bring my experience with graduate students’ mental health and professional development. I can harness the power of that with the power of Nia to create a 90-minute movement experience for doctoral students that helps them learn how to sense their bodies and listen to their body’s voices. That’s the professional development connection.

Listening to your body’s voice acquaints you with your actual truth. Maybe your body’s saying, “Honestly, I really would rather do this other thing over here.” If you go with the academic culture’s belief about the body, that the body doesn’t matter, that we are just heads on pedestals with paddles shoveling food in, so we can do more research, then the body doesn’t have a voice in that view.

Listening to your body's voice acquaints you with your actual truth. Share on X

When you discover your body and that it has a voice, the body doesn’t lie. Martha Graham said it first, “The body never lies, whereas the mind lies all the time.” By helping graduate students sense, love, and listen to their bodies, I build their physical wellness, emotional wellness, and professional development by tuning them into their truth.

You have Nia classes on Zoom. Now everybody reading to us is saying, “She does this on Zoom?” Explain how members of our audience can access your classes. Do you have a special offer for them?

I will, and I do. I teach several ongoing weekly classes. That might go up or down in the future, but right now, it’s three. All of my classes are on Zoom. My website converts the time to your time zone. If it says 1:00 PM, it’s 1:00 PM for you. I’m in the Pacific time zone. I’m in Los Angeles. I teach from my home studio, which oddly is perfect for Nia. Prior to the pandemic, I was teaching in person in studios here in Los Angeles. When the pandemic came, I realized it wasn’t going to be over in five minutes, and I was going to have to teach on Zoom or else not teach at all.

I’m no great lover of technology. I reluctantly got onto Zoom, and I loved it. I couldn’t believe how much pleasure I was able to give and receive even through the Zoom medium. My guest unit that we had built was a perfect Zoom studio. I’m all equipped, and I don’t plan to go back to regular in-person classes. I’m on Zoom to the end.

It goes on your website, and they want to take your classes. They want to get classes with Paula. As if they were taking a regular class in the studio at a certain time, do they sign up for that class? Is that what happens?

The first step is to visit my website, On that website, you can learn more about me and about Nia and stuff. Click one of the big, loud Book Now buttons, and you will see my upcoming class schedule. All of my classes are on Zoom. Anyone can experience them from anywhere in the world, and the website converts it to your time zone. I’m in Los Angeles, but it will show you your time. You pick a time that’s available for you and give it a whirl.

Register, and you’ll have to agree to my waiver and all that like you normally would expect. You don’t need much space necessarily to participate. About 8×8 square feet of clear floor space is adequate, and you don’t need any special clothing. Any person at any fitness level, any ability level can participate, including people who are in a chair or who use a wheelchair.

Do you recommend that people wear sneakers or they go barefoot?

Nia Technique is preferably done barefoot unless you, for some reason, can’t go barefoot. You have to wear a special orthotic or whatever that is. That’s all fine. When in doubt, go barefoot. Why? It helps you sense your feet on the floor and sense the muscle bones of your feet as you move. My special offer for your audience is they can have a free Nia class if they get on my site and book a single class using the discount code, IRENE. If they mention your name, they get a class.

GAR 92 | Dance Healer

Dance Healer: Go barefoot to help you sense your feet on the floor and sense the muscle bones of your feet as you move.

They get it. That’s great. I’m all for that. Thank you so much. A lot of people will take advantage of that. That’s a wonderful offer. Thank you, Paula. The other thing I love that you do is several times a year, you offer special personal growth classes designed to help self-transformation through movement. Would you like to tell us about some of the topics you cover and how a person can access these, and how that works?

The access method is exactly the same. Book on my website. Show up on Zoom at the appointed time. The topics that I cover are all inspirations that I have received from my spirit. For example, we are conducting this interview the Friday before Mother’s Day in 2023. In two days, it’s Mother’s Day. I have a Mother’s Day class. That is a special class. I call it “The Self-Mothering Dance.” Whose mother was perfect? Nobody’s. Who is perfect as a mother? No one.

There’s always some gap. There’s always something we didn’t get from our mothers. Some of us did have terrible mothers. There was a lot we didn’t get from them. Whether your mother is absent physically or mentally or whether you have a complicated mother relationship that maybe makes Mother’s Day a little bit of a mixed bag for you, that’s the population for this special class.

On Mother’s Day, I teach a class in which we use movement to give ourselves the mothering that we still want and need. It doesn’t mean we think our mothers were terrible. It just means we are taking that responsibility over now for ourselves because who better than us, the adult person, to supply our own needs? We must be self-sufficient now that we’re no longer children.

We learn in this class. We have an experience that helps heal our mother’s wounds. On the Day of the Dead, I offered a class where we dance to honor our ancestors. It’s very powerful and moving. On Thanksgiving, I often offer a Gratitude class, a class all about expressing gratitude for all the many things we have to be thankful for in our lives. In the spring, I offer a spring-cleaning dance where the theme is “Out with the old and in with the new. We discard, we envision, and physically jettison unneeded toxic beliefs, habits, practices, and relationships in our lives.”

I was going to ask you about that and toxic relationships, too.

We purge toxic anything and make room for new growth of new ways of being.

That’s wonderful, and I love this. Tell me, please. What is your joy audit, and what are your tips for finding joy in life?

I have a very simple process that I’ve done to great effect in my life. For 2 weeks or 4 weeks, if I can stand it, I write down every moment during the day when I had joy. I do it in the evening when the day’s pretty much over. I write down whatever joy I experienced that day. If I didn’t experience any, I don’t write anything down. It’s important to capture every moment of joy honestly. No agenda, no editing, no judging. Just say when you felt joy and be honest about it.

Do this for 2 to 4 weeks, and you will learn a lot about what actually does and doesn’t bring you joy. After, when you have that data that only you know, then you can make decisions about, “How can I make a little adjustment in my lifestyle to allow for more of those things that give me joy and maybe decrease the things that drain my joy?” That’s the joy audit.

It's important to capture every moment of joy. You will learn more about what will bring you joy when you feel joy and be honest about it. Share on X

Sounds to me like a perfect solution. Also, it brings gratitude, which is marvelous because if you’re focusing on the joy instead of all the negative things in your life, you’re going to start feeling grateful for what you have.

If your assignment is to write down every moment that you felt joy, very soon, you’re going to notice them better.

Paula, Nia Technique Mindful Dance Fitness has you dancing through life, feeling your feelings, listening to your body’s voice, and speaking your truths. I’m sure many in our audience are now eager to benefit from your Nia classes, as well as your wonderful personal growth classes. Thank you from my heart for this inspiring interview that has illuminated the healing and rebirth that has come to you and others, from the amazing fun workout set to music called Nia.

Here’s a reminder, everyone. Make sure to follow us and like us on social, @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and be sure to subscribe to Grief and Rebirth on YouTube. Like, subscribe, and hit notify so you’ll get all these inspiring and insightful new interviews, like this one with Paula, coming your way. If you’d like to be part of this Rebirth Series, please send me an email to As I like to say, to be continued, many blessings, and bye for now.


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