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Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence
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Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  658 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Matthew Sanford's inspirational story about the car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down is a superbly written memoir of healing and journey—from near death to triumphant life.

Matt Sanford's life and body were irrevocably changed at age 13 on a snowy Iowa road. On that day, his family's car skidded off an overpass, killing Matt's father and sister and left
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Rodale Books
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Pierced Librarian
Sep 15, 2015 Pierced Librarian rated it really liked it
Matthew Sanford is amazing. Just a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

Suddenly feeling lost in a familiar place

My body interacts with the world and records it regardless of whether my mind is having any experience
Healing can travel in so many directions

I also know to trust time...time keeps moving. It may move slowly, it may be withour contour or flare, but it keeps moving

Trust that the passage of time brings results

The silence we carry is not loss. It is the presence of death as it travels
Michelle Margaret
Aug 06, 2011 Michelle Margaret rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is a moving, accessible, page-turner of a memoir by Matthew Sanford, a yoga teacher who became a paraplegic at age 13 in a car accident in which his father and sister were killed. His paralysis has led him to a profound understanding of suffering, silence in the body and the mind-body connection/disconnection. A favorite quote: "I am without tears because I am reaching for my most familiar healing story: using the silence to achieve a deadened acceptance. I am not pounding the steering ...more
May 17, 2011 Jeanne rated it really liked it
The focus of this book is the mind-body connection and while I haven't experienced the kind of trauma the author has, I did have a new awareness and respect for my body during childbirth. That baby was coming whether I tried to stop her or not. Pretty incredible what the body can accomplish.

The story of his family's auto accident and his recovery was fascinating. And I believe that his physical therapy and therapists ignored the connection between mind and body. Perhaps that has changed some wit
Leslie Waugh
Aug 12, 2012 Leslie Waugh rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable. Everyone who practices or teaches yoga should read this. Anyone who works in health care or the medical field should read this. Anyone with a pulse should read this. This memoir offers revolutionary insight into pain, the mind-body connection and healing from trauma. Truly surprising, raw and inspirational.
Nov 29, 2014 Kaliki rated it it was amazing
Sanford describes the mind-body connection like no one else I've read. I would consider this writing essential for any yoga practitioner seeking transformation.
Angel Gardner-Kocher
Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence chronicles both the physical and spiritual journey of a man who became a paraplegic at the age of 13 after surviving a horrific car crash. Both Sanford's father and sister were killed in the crash. He documents his own struggles as well as the struggles of the rest of his surviving family members with great empathy, from his mother's struggles as a widow raising a disabled child and his brother's burden of having to be fiercely independent and a rock ...more
Elizabeth Andrew
Nov 05, 2012 Elizabeth Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I love Matthew Sanford's genuine voice. It's plain--this is a book without frills. It is welcoming--Sanford tells a good story. But most of all, this book is driven by passion. Sanford cares so much about the interconnections between body and spirit, his prose can't help but move the reader. When I closed this book, I was struck by how love for a subject can transcend craft.

As a spiritual memoir, I found WAKING refreshing--the primary spiritual practice is yoga, and Sanford does a beautiful job
Cynde Moya
What struck me was his notion of "healing stories" and how some of these stories did or did not work for him. The stories from the doctors that his legs were dead and there was nothing more to be found out from them, was countered by his much later studying Yoga. Through yoga he re-discovered that the silence that is his lower body, still has a lot of connectedness with the rest of his body and his mind. Through yoga he offers a different paradigm from which to understand paralysis, and the para ...more
May 13, 2013 Autumn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yoga, disability
a beautiful journey intersecting disability and being fully present through yoga. Matthew has thrilling insights to understanding and accessing the energetic connection to one's body. that healing is an art. about moving slower and pushing softer. stillness. and that the principles of yoga are non discriminating. any body can do yoga especially when done with the original intention of yoga: as an exploration of consciousness.
Nov 06, 2007 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: yoga-books
I heard an amazing interview with Matthew Sanford on the NPR program "Speaking of Faith" and promptly ordered the book. His story is riveting; I am in danger of riding past my subway stop on the way to work with this book in hand.
Sep 01, 2012 Eileen rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal. Heart-breaking at times but so many lessons to be learned from Matt Sanford's journey through life. Really an inspiring man and story.
Dec 22, 2016 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Silence and healing stories described in Introduction. Re: silence: "It is the source of the feeling of loss, but also a sense of awe." Re: healing stories: "They come together to create our own personal mythology, the system of beliefs that guide how we interpret our experience. Quite often, they bridge the silence that we carry within us and are essential to how we live."

"Perceiving foreknowledge of one's fate is one way to [heal trauma]...This longing for a connection deeper than random defin
Nov 11, 2016 Sara rated it liked it
This is a hard story. The youngest survivor of an awful car crash suffers the worst injuries and is compelled to survive for the sake of his family, facing years of recovery. He spends years in a wheelchair, ignoring the lower 2/3 of his body, and pretty miserable. Eventually he finds a body worker who starts helping him explore new ways of healing, which leads him to practicing yoga and eventually appreciating the mind/body relationship that he's able to develop.
Cydne B
Jan 11, 2017 Cydne B rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having a story to tell doesn't mean one knows how to tell it. Did not finish.
Melissa Brandts
Nov 10, 2016 Melissa Brandts rated it really liked it
An interesting read about paralysis and yoga, written by a local author.....
Laura Klover
Oct 12, 2016 Laura Klover rated it it was ok
Being a yogini and someone who is signed up to take a workshop from Mathew, I was very interested in reading this book. I could tell that it was a very difficult story for him to tell (and me to read!), and it is really hard to think about all these hard things happening to one person. Mathew does a nice job of never blaming anyone for any of his misfortunes, and I could clearly tell he loves his family very much. I did keep wanting him to call the astral body what it is and go a bit deeper with ...more
Oct 08, 2010 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Health care professionals, people wanting to think about mind/body connection and embodiment
Recommended to Joy by: Speaking of Faith, now Being on NPR
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 03, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Matt is paralyzed as a child in a wreck that kills his father and sister. He talks about growing up and putting pieces back together while going to incredibly difficult / painful medical procedures. I found most interesting him talking about an inner silence we feel when we are not distracted by anything or wholly immersed in what we're doing. The mind body connection is vital yet we pay nearly no attention to it. Through yoga, he looks to reconnect to his paralyzed legs and lead a full life hel ...more
Sep 03, 2011 Sergey rated it really liked it
"Can you take your leg wide, like a big V?" The spasticity in my legs resists, but eventually they spread and stay put. I am hit by a rush of something , something feels strange, something. . . "Matt, can you put your hand on your thighs, lift your chest, and breate?"

"Matt, can you put your hand in parayer? Keep your elvows at y our sides. Stretch from your shoulders to your elvows, from your elbows to your wrists. Press your palms together, stretch throught each finger, and lift your chest." Th
Brenda C Kayne
How can a man paralyzed from the waist down become a yoga instructor? This book tells you how in a profoundly meaningful way. I think it's one of the most important yoga books ever written in this country.

It is both a painful and uplifting read. Sanford writes with much detail about the physical ordeal of what he undergoes in order to live. In the process, however, he makes discoveries about life and about his body that are remarkable. His ability to communicate that with such clarity, wisdom an
Nov 06, 2009 Bozich.lind rated it really liked it
Excellent book for health care providers. His story reflects the exact reason I want to go into the health care field. I think many health care providers treat patients as just that..a patient. When in reality they are a person, and no matter how many times you have seen a diagnosis you have to treat it different as no individual heals the same way.

Matthew does a great job of explaining how frustrating it is when doctors listen but do not truely "hear". The consequences can be major. It is impo
Jan 29, 2008 Heather marked it as to-read
Matthew Sanford was paralyzed from the chest down at the age of 13 in a car crash that killed several members of his family. In adapting yoga postures and practices to suit his body, he has come to understand more about a body he can not feel than we who have full use of our bodies. He is also trying to get the healthcare industry to start incorporating some of the practices of yoga into the therapy of paralysis.

I had the opportunity to hear him speak and to take a yoga class directly from him.
Brooke Brown
Jul 29, 2008 Brooke Brown rated it it was ok
Matthew Sanford's journey from devastation and loss to so-called transcendence (Sanford's words) is a bit lacking. Don't get me wrong, he most certainly has transcended the physical traumas that were inflicted upon him at such a young age. But what's lacking is an understanding or explanation of his psychological and/or emotional self. Certainly there's as much trauma to transcend in the emotional realm as the physical, if not more so.

I get the sense that Sanford is hiding behind a brave face m
Feb 23, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, spirituality
This book is amazing--Matt became a paraplegic at age 13, in a horrible car accident that killed his father and sister. He describes in exquisite detail the surgeries, the treatments, and therapies he participated in and endured. That's the trauma and he found yoga in his twenties and that's when the transcendence begins. It isn't easy--it's hard. He even breaks more bones. But he begins to reconnect with the paralyzed parts of his body in a new way, a way he was taught not to do in the traditio ...more
Dec 27, 2011 Deb rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: healers, yoga enthusiasts
4.5 stars. This story of what Matthew Sanford went through after a terrible car accident at the age of 13 is fascinating and well-written. Sanford vividly describes the accident and his treatments. I found myself relating to how the body deals with traumatic energy.

The only reason it didn't get 5 stars is because the section on yoga bogged down some. Also, he uses Silence as a continuing metaphor. It worked in the beginning, but just got to be a bit over used at the end.

Sanford has a profound
Nov 08, 2008 Amey rated it really liked it
I found this book to be quite moving and very well written, especially for someone who is not a professional writer. Sanford is so articulate in his descriptions of the altered mental atmosphere of trauma and pain... and equally articulate about the process and sensations of healing. In particular, I was very affected by his deep connection with the quietest, most subtle sensations within the body, and how these connections affect our spirit and psyche. I'd definitely recommend this book, especi ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This was a thought provoking book, both on disability and on the way people are asked to deal with loss in general. Currently, going through a loss in my life, it was interesting to take what Sanford was writing about and apply it to a different kind of loss. I also really appreciated how he wrote about a relationship to our body, what it means to be present in a space, and how we all set our own goals for healing, whatever that means to us.

The trauma parts of the book are hard to read. What hap
Jul 02, 2014 Marion rated it it was amazing
I read this book after recently attending a talk and yoga class that Sanford led at my Iyengar yoga studio. The talk was life-changing for me because of the way Sanford approaches the mind-body connection and the book only furthered this for me. My professional experience as a mental health clinician and my personal experience as a yoga student have led me to a similar understanding as Sanford. I appreciate his approachable, intelligent, open manner, which allows readers to engage wholeheartedly ...more
Jun 02, 2008 Leslie rated it did not like it
There are some resonate images in this book. It seems very repetitive in places. We lose track of the brother and the mother by the end of the book. Are they there at the leg surgery? Is he all alone? I appreciate the mind-body dialogue, but I truly think it was over done. I felt like I was beaten over the head with it by the end. The last section of the book is the best. The imagery of the dead son and the living one -- very powerful. I wanted more storytelling like this. This powerfully demons ...more
David Guy
Aug 09, 2012 David Guy rated it really liked it
Sanford tells a truly horrific story here, of going through a dreadful car accident at the age of thirteen that killed his father and sister and left him paralyzed from the chest down. That story, and the often poor medical care he got, take up half the book. But then he talks about the way he was able to reconnect with his body through the practice of Iyengar yoga. His real message is about connecting the mind and body--however disabled the body may be--and being present. There are some sappy a ...more
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Matthew Sanford once led an ordinary life in a loving family. But at the age of 13, a devastating car crash took the lives of his father and sister and left him paralyzed from the chest down. Advice from his doctors to “forget his lower body,” however, was what really crippled Sanford, leading him to ignore his once-athletic body, until at age 25 he discovered yoga and the healing power of the min ...more
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“Then there are also the quiet deaths. How about the day you realized you weren't going to be an astronaut or the queen of Sheba? Feel the silent distance between yourself and how you felt as a child, between yourself and those feelings of wonder and splendor and trust. Feel the mature fondness for who you once were, and your current need to protect innocence wherever you make might find it. The silence that surrounds the loss of innocence is a most serious death, and yet it is necessary for the onset of maturity.

What about the day we began working not for ourselves, but rather with the hope that our kids have a better life? Or the day we realize that, on the whole, adult life is deeply repetitive? As our lives roll into the ordinary, when our ideals sputter and dissipate, as we wash the dishes after yet another meal, we are integrating death, a little part of us is dying so that another part can live.”
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