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Dr. Amber Elizabeth Gray, “Manman LaSalle”, moves from a diverse landscape of experience. She took her first yoga class in 1979 and began teaching in the 1980’s, initially offering classes in war-affected Guatemala. 28 years studying and teaching Haitian dance led her to Continuum and Dance/Movement Therapy. A human rights psychotherapist, she works with survivors of political violence in the U.S and is an international consultant, advising many programs worldwide on staff care and wellness programming. Considered a pioneer in the use of Dance Movement Therapy, Continuum and Somatic Psychology with complex trauma, political violence and disaster, Amber provides clinical training on the integration of refugee mental health and torture treatment with creative arts, mindfulness, and body-based therapies worldwide. She originated polyvagal-informed Soma-Movement & Dance/Movement Therapy, based on 20+ years of creative, collegial idea-sharing with Stephen Porges. She regularly leads eco-somatic “wild-zeness” retreats with humans, animals, and the earth and ocean mothers, to inspire embodied regenerative activism. She is a Sevito in the Fran Ginee tradition of Vodou, an animal rights activist, and a lover of all things wild.

Haiku is an anchor to my soul when the ocean becomes a tempest.

Poetry is a long-time love of mine, and I wrote poetry for years without finding my ‘right voice’. When I discovered Haiku, I journeyed to Japan for a month and explored libraries, bookstores, and boldly inquired of anyone I could communicate with, to learn as much as I could about this ancient writing practice. Haiku became my favorite form of poetry, because it is elemental. I have often described my love of working in conflict zones, complex humanitarian emergencies and disasters through my appreciation for how elemental the experience is.  In these contexts where life meets death directly, all excess and noise is stripped away. The purity of the experience requires that we tend to the basics of survival, of relationship, of life. Survival is the bone-grid of life. Haiku is writing the bare bones of creativity.

Haiku requires precision in language and word, stripping away the inessential. Haiku is spacious in its expression of the ever-present unseen that surrounds and infuses us with breath and spirit. Haiku reveals the potency of our intrinsic, explicit, and eternal relationship with nature, a relationship that bathes our life with meaning.

Haiku is an anchor to my soul when the ocean becomes a tempest.