My initial career objective was, in a nutshell, to change the world.
I worked with Dutch activists, German Greens, Native stand-offers, Mexican migrants, South African post-Apartheid educators, at-risk Montreal kids…
Meanwhile the chronic pain, fatigue, health problems and post-traumatic stress I experienced since a car accident I had when I was twenty just got worse.
Committed to getting well, I studied everything I could on health and healing.
At the same time, I tried to find the energy for my doctoral studies and career as a professor and transformative educator.
These two areas of my life–my work on the transformation and well-being of both the world and of myself–would logically come together.
In my research and teaching, I focused on the question of how to bring about a healthier, more caring culture through education for social change.
I wanted to know how we could break the unhealthy cycles of the past. Like the old French saying: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (The more things change, the more they remain the same), I wanted to know why most revolutions and movements for change end up returning to the place they started.
The same was true in our individual lives: Why did we often repeat old, unbeneficial patterns when we really wanted to live differently?
I was interested in reflective practice–narrative and arts-based forms of inquiry that helped us question our experience so we could learn from it.
The theory was all about how we embodied social dynamics, and how, by studying ourselves, we could better understand the world.
As I wrote, stories emerged. Not just from my work in Mexico or South Africa, but from my childhood, my parents and grandparents lives, and the histories of the areas and regions where we lived.
I hadn’t realized how growing up as a minority in the wake of a nationalist movement in Montreal in a community full of Holocaust and pogrom survivors was something that shaped the core of who I was.
At the same time, I apprenticed with my mentor, a bioenergetic therapist who taught me how to use sound, work on the body, and listen deeply. I began to see that the body resonated with our stories of the past in a way that social theory could not explain.
Later this became clearer when I learned about epigenetics and the new neuroscience of pain and trauma.
The science has show that our past experiences, as well as those of our parents and grandparents, are embodied and determine the stories of our lives. In other words, our biology is our biography.
This work led me to a new way of approaching mental and physical, as well as personal and cultural health challenges and the work of transformation and healing.
The most important part of this work was learning how to open to life–to it’s goodness, grace, love, and wonder, and in finding joy, inspiration, and a sense of sacredness in my experience.
I have come to really understand what my mentor told me in the early days of our work together: Love is the only healer. This work connects us to the essence of life, our own hearts, or the spirit of love, so we can live fuller lives, more fully ourselves.
For more on the work, click here.