Emilie Conrad, a genius healer, passed away at her home in Encino, California, yesterday.
Emilie was the founder of Continuum, a system of movement that empowers people who are totally paralyzed to be able to move again.
Although she was loved and inspired by many, I wanted to offer my insights about why she was so special to me. I have always felt she was 30 years well ahead of her time.
I heard about Emilie Conrad years ago when I was first studying healing work. My first foray into healing was with Brain Gym, a simple system of exercises that integrate the brain.
What struck me at that time was Emilie’s insight about being a healer: “YOU are the technique,” she wrote.
To me, that meant that your real gift as a healer is your personal vibration.
It meant to me that as a healer, all our own inner work, all our personal evolution, how we eat, how we move, how we meditate, how we breathe, how we do what we do and say what we say is part of what we contribute to others.
It meant to me that as a healer we can only take others as far as we have gone ourselves. And Emilie Conrad had gone a very long way in her personal evolution.
Emilie was born and raised in New York City where she studied ballet and Afro-Haitian dance. Aside from her professional accomplishments, she had also experienced personal abuse, which she used her movement to heal and overcome.
She spent five years as a choreography in Haiti before moving to Los Angeles in 1963.
She was a successful choreographer making very good money, but her dedication to her own evolution did not stop there.
In 1974, Emilie pioneered a protocol for spinal cord injury. She collaborated with Dr. Valerie Hunt, author of Infinite Mind, to study movement, healing and the chakras from 1974 to 1979. Their work proved that fluid, primary movement is essential to our ability to innovate.
Emilie Conrad was my favorite guest when I ran Total Fitness radio show from 2005 through 2007.
I also had the privilege of studying personally with Emilie in a workshop at her studio in Santa Monica. I remember parking my car and walking into the building. The shift in vibration was so profound – and this was even before the workshop started – that I walked back to my car and back into the building to feel the difference once again.
At the workshop, there was a young man in a wheelchair who had been totally paralyzed who was moving again as a result of his work with Emilie. He was there with his lover and they both seemed very happy. What a gift it is to be able to move! What a blessing it is to be able to make love and enjoy our bodies! Many who are able bodied do not yet feel this level of appreciation.
On my radio show, I discussed Emilie’s views on the importance of evolution.
Many who are successful in life simply get stuck by money or fame. They attain a certain degree of comfort and lose their willingness to continue to evolve themselves or their work.
Emilie’s personal example – of giving up her work as a dancer, then giving up her work as a choreographer, then giving up her wild success in Los Angeles to create this new system of movement that many did not first understand or appreciate – has inspired me throughout my own career.
When we fail to evolve, we fail to make an even bigger contribution.
It takes tremendous courage to move out of our comfort zone and give up stuck ways of living and working, but when we do, we can serve others at a higher level.
Emilie also discussed the importance of adaptability. Her favorite organism was the octopus because an octopus can morph to shift into any direction, with various systems of movement. When we adapt, we can thrive in literally any environment.
Emilie did not like conventional gyms where people work out on machines. She said that machine movement leads to mechanical movement.
She also made fun of yoga class, which she referred to as “behave yourself class.” Instead, she favored movement as a system of personal discovery, as a means of drawing breath and chi deeper into the body to open up stuck energy to connect us to our deepest cellular wisdom and our intuition.
If you were to observe Continuum, what you would see is people lying on the ground making free form movement and guttural noises. Continuum connects breath to the healing vibration of the planet.
At our workshop, Emilie and I discussed intuition, which she saw as the ability to connect easily to the energy of all that is. I agreed.
I was also privileged to have a semi-private lesson years ago with one of Emilie’s senior instructors. It was a shamanic journey I will never forget.
“The concert of existence places me in resonance with our biosphere, meaning at this moment there is no ‘body’ no separation; I am part of the swirl of bio-morphic unfolding,” Emilie wrote in her phenomenal biography, Life on Land.
If you are at all interested in healing or movement therapy of any kind, I encourage you to study Continuum and the philosophy of Emilie Conrad.
What is healing? Healing happens when we remain dedicated to our own evolution for the highest good of all.