Posts Tagged ‘Heidi von Beltz’

Beyond the Body

January 16, 2012

Heidi von Beltz, a former championship skier and aspiring actor, was paralyzed from her earlobes down in a two-vehicle head-on collision while working as a stunt double in The Cannonball Run in 1980. Unbowed by her doctors’ prognosis that she had perhaps five years to live, von Beltz routinely endured a grueling regimen of physical therapy and muscle stimulation for up to ten hours a day. Nine years later, she was able to sit up on her own. Six years after that, outfitted with lightweight aluminum leg braces, she taught herself to stand.

Sixteen years after the crash, while promoting her memoir, My Soul Purpose, von Beltz, who had devoured countless books on philosophy and spirituality, said she considered herself lucky and wouldn’t have wanted to miss the experience of her paralysis for anything. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” she told Entertainment Weekly magazine. ‘‘I was always so active that I would never have sat down long enough to learn what I’ve learned. I can’t imagine going through this life and not knowing what I know now. I just had to break my neck to do it.’’

The following paragraph from page 97 of von Beltz’s memoir illustrates the start of her transition from body identification to a higher awareness of self:

After the crash, talking with good friends or “losing myself” watching a movie, I forgot about my physical body. This was a new experience for me because I am such a physical, active person. Other people always had reinforced the importance of my body because, even when I was growing up, they reacted to my appearance: I’m a tall and (more…)

The Barn Burned Down

November 21, 2010

In her book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, Pema Chodron wrote:

I have a friend dying of AIDS. Before I was leaving for a trip, we were talking. He said, “I didn’t want this, and I hated this, and I was terrified of this. But it turns out that this illness has been my greatest gift.” He said, “Now every moment is so precious to me. All the people in my life are so precious to me. My whole life means so much to me.” Something had really changed, and he felt ready for his death. Something that was horrifying and scary had turned into a gift.

I have heard this story in so many different forms over and over again. Heidi von Beltz, a former championship (more…)