my journey

doggie in the windowmy relationship with movement began when i was three years old. my mother was a classically trained ballerina, and she felt that it was important to introduce me to that form of dance practice, not as a mode of self-expression, but as a discipline and a way of learning how to carry my body with grace. at the age of 13 i stopped ballet dancing at the suggestion of my teacher who convinced me that my body size and structure would hinder my ability to dance professionally. nevertheless, my love for dancing never waned.

in september of 1991, i fell asleep at the wheel of my car and woke up as i was careening down an embankment at 40 miles an hour towards the center of a deep ravine. i was on a nine hour journey from chicago to new jersey for my five-year high school reunion, and was half an hour away from my destination. the cacophony of metal scraping rock and my guttural screams of terror came to a screeching, eerie silence as i reached the bottom of the ravine. the car folded in on itself like an accordion. the force of impact blew out all of the windows, and my body was thrown against the steering wheel and tossed back into my seat like a ragdoll. another driver had seen me go off the road, and called for an ambulance. as i sat there in a pool of glass, it was a severe struggle to breathe. my first thought was that i was dying. i put my fingers on my neck to feel the reassurance of a pulse in my jugular vein. then i wiggled my toes. it was evident that my collarbone had snapped in half from the seat belt. i was trapped for 45 minutes until the ambulance arrived. once i reached the hospital, x-rays revealed that i had suffered a broken collarbone, a cracked sternum, two fractured spinal vertebrae, and a concussion. after five days in the hospital, an immobilized shoulder for four months, and eight months in a back brace, my body had healed from its injuries.

traumas of this nature inevitably cause a shift in consciousness, and if we are lucky, a heightened appreciation for the sacred. in the discomfort of my injuries, the visceral reminders of the potential loss of my life were inescapable. through my own process, i became aware of the auspicious orchestration of a key element of the event ~ the highway was six lanes wide, three lanes in each direction, separated by mostly concrete median and trees. i happened to fall asleep, when effectively i was not tired, at a quarter mile break in the highway where the median contained grass and rocks. at that time in my life, i was living in a spiritual black hole. it was deep and vast. five years before the accident at the age of 16, my mother had committed suicide. in the wake of that tragedy, i turned my back on all things spiritual. i was suffering. i was asleep. metaphorically and literally, the accident awakened me. it was the inception of my spiritual journey, with my body as my guidepost. i began practicing yoga in 1994.

Liz-6my first conscious dance experience was in august of 2008 at the esalen institute in big sur, ca. i was not looking for another spiritual practice, and knew nothing about conscious dance, 5rhythms® or soul motion™, which were the practices that comprised the retreat weekend. i was simply moved to travel to my sacred home at esalen to celebrate my 40th birthday. from the moment i stepped into the container of the dance dome on the esalen grounds, my body began to move, authentically, exuberantly, freely expressed, in ways that i had never experienced before. my mind let go, my ego fell away, and i dropped into this exquisitely beautiful, quiet, welcoming space of prayer in motion. throughout the course of the weekend i felt surges of emotion move through me ~ ancient deep sadness, celebratory laughter, sensual longing, pure love, electric anger. there were very few words, only soft suggestions of instruction from the teachers in a perfectly held space, and i experienced freedom ~ absolute scream-off-the-mountaintop, i-have-come-home-to-myself, it’s-about-time kind of freedom. the 3 year-old ballerina in me was finally able to take off her tutu and step back from the practice barre, and embrace and explore her love of dance that is guided from within, the purest form of grace.

once conscious dance found me, my yoga practice shifted. it became less about making shapes and more about moving with what was next, being informed by the directive of spirit moving through the body. i allowed my feet to move off my yoga mat and in fact, it became constricting to be limited to that 3’ x 6’ piece of rubber. instead my feet yearned to dance in the grass, jump up and down, spin, twirl, and skip. i followed them. my personal practice evolved into having reverence for the yoga shapes themselves, the deep dive into their container to feel how prana (life force energy) wanted to move, and the grounding force of feeling the pull of life coming up through my feet when i stood still and breathed. it allowed me to experience the sheaths of mind, body, and breath in a fresh way, and opened me up to the free-form movement of the dance that reverberated effortlessly through my consciousness. at last i could touch the emotional and spiritual layers of myself in their fullest expression. a new practice was birthed called bhavana in motion™ that honored the gifts of both the dancer and the yogi inside of me that celebrated movement from such an ancient place. this is where my most profound healing has transpired. it is from that place that i extend my hand to you and invite you to join me in this exploration of self.

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