Continuum teacher and bodyworker Val Leoffler discusses a creative approach to healing in her work with clients, as well as in her own recovery from a brain tumor. (6.08 min)
Continuum & The Creativity of Health interview with Val Leoffler (video transcript):
There’s a way in which Continuum, as it keeps that practice of being able to drop down in, provides a kind of nourishment that is the essence of healing. Being able to come home to my breath, my sound, my movement, I will be able to continue to fall back into a practice. You know, having been ill or having a severe injury can be a very isolating process. That’s why fundamentally for me this work is about being able to come not just into that pause, but in the moment of being able to feel into how I can build a relationship with myself, with my own self-touch with the touch of my environment. How I am in relationship with props that I might use, with my own internal dialogue, or in the act of being witnessed.
I want to say something about complexity. You know, I had my own healing journey, nine years ago when I was so grateful from having had a brain tumor and brain surgery and the result was losing the use of my leg and not having full sensation. To be able to fall back into my teaching practice and my own practice with Continuum was everything! And it was a deeply creative act because I’m dealing with the unknown and dealing with the uncertainty of the unknown.
When I got out of the hospital and was starting my recovery I was giving myself lots of attention about just restoring breath. It had nothing to do, as we would say in regular physical therapy, with the injury site which was hip down to foot, but had to do with knowing that for the recovery of surgery [I had to] really open up; I remembered my breath and remembered my lateral lines and my diaphragm – all to help with the sense of overwhelm that can happen in any situation.
I never approached myself as a problem that needed to be solved. This wasn’t something that had to be fixed. This was more the openness to it – like I’m not attached to what happens here, but I’m going to listen and really love that […]
And then I have an ongoing continuing practice of working with different breaths and different sounds. I remember specifically because I couldn’t stand, of working with having my foot against the wall, and being able to feel into it. I couldn’t keep my foot up with the wall first, but being able to at least press it against where I was laying down and be able to get that sense of some contact there, and feeling into it. Which is how I work a lot if I’m working with somebody on kind of a problem of having again a relationship. [We work on] being able to play into that and go into that.
Whenever I’m traveling and in a new town or a city that has a lot of walls or buildings, and I have to maybe be inside a lot during the day, I’m always trying to find out where the greenbelt is, if there’s a little tree that I could go find or a water way or a park or something like that, just to be able to be in nature, to remind me of my own nature. And I realized that what I’m doing in my Continuum practice is that I’m finding that greenbelt inside myself. And being able to feel where life is continually yearning to regenerate and bubble forth.
You know, we come from a culture where a person [is] a problem. That’s one thing that I didn’t do, I never approached myself as a problem that needed to be solved. This wasn’t something that had to be fixed. This was more the openness to – like I’m not attached to what happens here, but I’m going to listen and really love that, and that’s just the baseline, that has to be said.
I’m appreciating a lot the Japanese culture’s art of kintsugi where they work when a bowl has cracked, to be able to restore the crack in the bowl not by making it invisible and just gluing it together but by putting gold in the crack. And when that happens, that becomes a piece of art. And so there is the beauty in that healing and the beauty in that value of the complexification that has happened in what we might say a person that has been wounded or a person that has been working through something that it’s now at value because it has deepened, its layers have deepened.