“On the path, off the trail”
This affirmation has accompanied me for over a decade. It's helped me stay connected to my purpose and deeper "why" through my different physical, educational, and vocational pursuits.
I've created my practice, Healing in Motion, because I believe the more aware and attuned we are to our physical experience the more we realize how interdependent we are with all of life. We can begin to make choices that value our life and the lives of others. I see my work as a kind of activism and my clients are collaborators for change.
More About My Path
I grew up in a small town in Kansas, immersed in traditional sports and athletics. If it involved a ball and a team I loved playing.
My earliest and fondest memories are of playing sports with my dad and brother, friends and neighbors. It was a dream come true when I received a scholarship to play college football.
It turned out to be a very humbling experience. After two years and a couple of injuries, I decided to quit.
It turns out that I didn’t just quit playing football: I quit sports. I quit athleticism. I quit competition. I quit my relationships with men.
So, I tried on a new hat.
I started practicing yoga and meditation.
I dove deeply into organic agriculture and permaculture and shaped all of my studies in Sociology around environmental and racial justice.
My teammates and friends thought this transition was strange. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to being bullied for being different.
I wasn’t getting the celebration and support that I wanted and needed as I worked to embody my authentic self.
Widening and Deepening Abroad
I decided to travel abroad as a way of creating space for this identity exploration and search for my right livelihood.
I visited a number of communities and cultures in the United States and abroad. I worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer planting trees, an NGO researcher looking at social and economical relationships, and as a farm hand in rural Zambia.
Throughout this time I had a slow, gentle yoga practice and a strong commitment to meditation.
I felt fulfilled. I felt enlivened. I felt authentic.
Until I didn’t.
Recognizing the Trap
On the surface, my life looked free: I was exploring the world.
But when I looked at my movement practice - which I believe provides insight into the rest of my life - I realized that I'd created a "trap" of control.
I had a highly regimented practice that, if I didn't do, left me with anxiety, tension in my muscles, and stiffness in my joints. If I didn't do it, I didn't feel good.
I also realized that I was suppressing large parts of myself, and my interpretation of yoga encouraged this. I was hiding from my big emotions - the pain, the fear, the anger, the shame.
Rather than process and dialogue with these parts of myself, I let them float away like a cloud.
Turning Towards my Shadows
I eventually made my way back home to Kansas again. After my mom passed away and I became a father, these emotions grew and bypassing them no longer worked.
However, I was afraid of engaging in these big movements, feeling these big emotions, and reverting back to a self I felt ashamed of.
I needed more ways to experience, express, and contain these emotions.
During this time of feeling powerless, I started to integrate more "power" practices - heavy weight lifting, sprinting, and throwing.
During and after these sessions I had new and deeper insight into the way I was showing up in the world.
Reconciling the Duality
Cognitively, I was asking myself: How could I integrate these two ways of being - the "athlete" and the "spiritual guy" - in the world when large parts of me were exiled?
It took some time, but I realized the connections between these seemingly disparate passions - team sports, working on the land, and spiritual practice.
They all shared in common a deeply embodied experience of flow and companionship.
And, when I looked at the way that I was shaping my movement practice, I was integrating spiritual practice, athletic development, and personal growth.
Integrating the Whole
When I realized the ways this was serving me, I made big changes in my life.
In my search and exploration for my right livelihood I put embodied flow and companionship in the center.
By engaging in different movement practices and studying the many layers of the body, I have been able to access different parts of myself, experience a greater range of (e)motion, and deepen my engagement with myself, others, and the world around me.
Practicing Hellerwork Structural Integration at Kinetikos Health Collective and teaching movement classes in the community aligns beautifully with the life I'm working to create. I continue to receive several kinds of body centered therapies and find this to be my most potent continuing education. It also allows me to approach my clients and students as companions on the journey toward deeper embodiment and authentic expression. On the bodywork table, on the dance floor, in the community – we are moving together.
I'm passionate about this work and would love to hear your story.
Please tell me a bit about your own journey.