My Life is My Spiritual Practice
Spirituality has always been the sea in which I swim, not one aspect of my life but rather the context in which my life happens. I’ve been exploring since I was a child, both within and outside organized religion. For me, spirituality is less about belief and more about resonance and direct interaction with the transcendent.
I regard everything I experience as an invitation – to learn about the nature of existence and to deepen, expand, and become, not a better version of myself, per se, but a truer version. To shed personas and conditioning and return to my Essential Self.
My personal practice is contemplative, earth- and body-based, rooted in devised ritual and the Divine Feminine. Past and current influences include Neopaganism, Taoism, secular Buddhism, the Transcendentalists, Orthodox Christianity, mysticism, and Goddess cultures throughout time. I claim no religion today but I find the sacred everywhere.
Viewing my experience through the lens of spirituality helps me heal and grow. In this way, every path I travel becomes a journey home. Nowhere is this more evident than in my experience with spinal cord injury.
At 33, I became paraplegic after falling 20 feet out of a tree I’d climbed for fun. As a lifelong dancer and hiker, I expected my spirit to be crushed. But the fall was a profound experience, a spiritual awakening that brought unprecedented peace, clarity, and purpose. Though it didn’t spare me the extreme difficulties of paralysis (then or now), the transformation it inspired placed me on a path of service, helping people remember their authentic selves.
A Focus on Health and Healing
I inherited a passionate interest in health from three generations of healers and health enthusiasts before me. For 40 years now, I’ve been exploring for myself the influence of spirituality on healing, through challenges including a brain tumor, spinal cord injury, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and an eating disorder. Combining a spiritual orientation with appropriate and diverse medical modalities has optimized my wellness, even when no cure is available.
I’m also a caregiver. In 2017, my family began living with my mother, in part, to manage more easily her increasing needs. Despite providing multiple aspects of care on a daily basis, I didn’t at first recognize myself as a caregiver, only a daughter. Our dual relationship has given me intimate knowledge of the complexities of caregiving. I find spirituality recharges me and makes more accessible caregiving’s rewards.
Over the decades, I’ve spent a great deal of time with healthcare providers. I have developed rich relationships with professionals from both the “alternative” and Western medical worlds, thanks to caregiving and my own healing journeys. I’ve been honored to facilitate workshops with local physicians in southern Vermont. And I’ve been a frequent guest lecturer, sharing my wisdom and experience with future healthcare providers at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Samuel Merritt University, Mt. St. Mary’s College, Pennsylvania State, Temple University, and more.
“Lyena is a wise and able guide who has lived life’s most humbling lessons. Her seasoned gifts come naturally and through dedication and experience.”
Jonathan Ellerby PhD
Bestselling author of Return to the Sacred.
As an acclaimed storyteller and writer, my life story has been featured on NPR, CNN’s Headline News, and dozens of blogs, podcasts, and other media. I’m a contributing author of Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the stories that kept us small, and the subject of the award-winning short documentary, Caterpillar Soup. My one-woman, autobiographical play (also called Caterpillar Soup) has enjoyed five national tours and recognition from VSA Arts, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center.
Thirty Years of Spiritual Leadership
- Former congregational leader in the Dianic Wiccan tradition
- Former transformation coach
- Inspirational speaker for students, congregants, and organizations
- Facilitator of workshops and transformative conversations across the US
Degrees and Certificates
- Master’s Degree in Human Development, Pacific Oaks College
- Certification in Interspiritual Counseling and Companioning, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary
Bicultural, bisexual, and differently-abled, I feel a deep allegiance to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In my work and life, everyone gets to belong.
I live with my husband of 20 years, our 12 year-old son, my 90 year-old mother, and our rabbit, Hopster, in my native California.