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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  452 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Matthew Sanford's life and body were irrevocably changed at age 13 when his family's car skidded off a snowy Iowa overpass, killing Matt's father and sister and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. This pivotal event set Matt on a lifelong journey, from his intensive care experiences at the Mayo Clinic to becoming a paralyzed yoga teacher and founder of a nonprofit o ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Rodale Books (first published June 27th 2006)
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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
Pierced Librarian
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 experienc
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
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
Michelle Margaret
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
Elizabeth Andrew
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
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
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.
Leslie Waugh
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.
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.
Oct 08, 2010 Joy rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
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
"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
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
I absolutely raced through this book. I was horrified and inspired at the same time. It's so easy to take things like health for granted, our own and our children's. Reading about his journey helps me keep perspective and keeps me in gratitude.

The book was recommended by a client who took a yoga class from the author, and now I am going to see him speak next week about meditation at work. I really look forward to it!

I recommend.
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
Brooke Brown
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
Jan 29, 2008 Heather marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 27, 2011 Deb rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Nancy Noyes-ward
Truly an "out of the ashes" story. The author transcends a horrific adolescent experience and emerges with a whole body outlook. His spirit is inspiring.
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
I really enjoyed this book and will definitely read it again. He does an excellent job describing what it was like in the hospital after a spinal cord injury and his life after his injury. I would recommend this book for anyone who is thinking of working with people with disabilities, because it really helps put in perspective what people are experiencing after an injury and what they may be feeling and/or thinking. I appreciated his honesty and vivid descriptions of his feelings throughout his ...more
David Guy
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
Samantha Carney
I'm halfway through this book. I started it last year actually and had to put it down for a while. It is well written but a very painful story of a young man whose family is ripped apart in a car accident. He survives but is left paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 13. However, his story goes uphill and his life takes a path which is an example to all who know him or read his book. He goes on to become an Iyengar yoga teacher and teaches from his wheelchair! This is an incredible story i ...more
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
Sanford's memoir is an unflinching look at his recovery from the traumatic injuries he sustained when his family's car hits ice and spins off the road. This book's strength is that it never waxes poetic about healing. Instead Sanford's recovery from these types of injuries is uniquely brutal (he has many surgeries and sometimes his bones have to be re-broken in order to heal correctly). Eventually Sanford, a quadrapeligic, reconnects with his body through the practice of yoga. A truly remarkable ...more
Matthew W. Sanford was the speaker at the opening ceremony of the Iyengar Yoga Conference in Chicago - Sept., 2011. He's a very entertaining speaking - puts a positive spin on all the traumatic and transcendant events in his life. I was so surprised that there was no book signing event following the speech. Where was his agent? Does he have an agent? Anyway, I bought the Kindle version, but didn't read it right away. I thought it would be too painful. Eventually I did read and enjoy it.
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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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