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Sophia Babai, Writer and Somatic Healer, NY

In one of my first sessions with Elsa, she asked me, with a knowing grin, "Are you making your feelings wrong?"

The answer, of course, was yes. The answer, really, was that I had been making my feelings wrong for years, and I had wound up with a life that sounded right but felt wrong. A perfect-on-paper environmental policy job with an abusive manager and counterproductive programs, a loving relationship that didn't meet some of my most basic emotional needs, a big paycheck and nice apartment that did nothing to quell my endless anxiety. I had stopped doing the things I actually loved, which were writing stories and helping people.

The proof was in my body (it always is.) I had a constant stream of health problems, some with apparent explanations — car accident, parasites, gluten intolerance, cracked tooth — but most with nothing more concrete than “your immune / nervous / digestive system is attacking itself.” I had tried physical therapy, psychological therapy, exercise, acupuncture, meditation, medication, endless medical exams, special diets, the list goes on. Some helped, a little, for a while. Most didn’t.

Elsa didn't offer any of the fancy tips and tools that those other methods did. Instead, her technique was deceptively simple — not “solving” any of the problems in my body, but teaching me to fully exist in my body, to remember it is not my enemy but myself, and that pain is a sensation just like any other.

This attitude of embodiment and acceptance characterizes all her work. With endless good humor and beautiful gentle stubbornness, Elsa has pushed me to express my desires instead of denying them, to appreciate the tender and protective parts of myself instead of shaming them, and ultimately to inhabit my life and my body in a way I hadn't since I was a very young child. Her energy is absolutely infectious — in the presence of her sparkle, I feel myself light up.

My life looks completely different than it did before I started working with Elsa. I left the paycheck and the partner and the apartment. Instead of chasing something “perfect” and empty and exhausting, I have a life that’s messy and beautiful and REAL. Instead of pouring all my energy into the perfect-on-paper job that was sucking the life out of me, I'm building my own somatic business and finally writing the novel I've wanted to write for over a decade. I didn't "fix" the anxiety or the health issues — instead, I FELT them, and in doing so I opened up to feeling so many other things: joy, pride, courage. Working with Elsa is an exercise in fullness, an exercise in saying yes, and ultimately an embrace of the fact that our bodies and our feelings are never wrong.