If you haven't already heard of this well-established course, the Sedona Method (www.sedona.com) is a self-empowerment course created by physicist & engineer, Lester Levenson.
Lester Levenson's life story was nothing short of remarkable. In 1952, at 42 years old, he fell critically ill, and was informed by his doctors that he had only a few weeks to live. With no medical technology available that could help him, Lester turned to the laboratory within, hoping to find a way to revoke, or at least postpone, his pending death sentence.
What he discovered in his exploration was that not only did he have the ability to release, or “let go” of unpleasant feelings, no matter how intense, or how long he had had them, but that, much to his amazement, as he released these feelings (particularly his non-love ones), his health began to improve.
Continuing with this experiment, over a 3-month period of time he not only restored his health, but achieved an inner state of perfect peace which he maintained until his death in 1994, living 42 years beyond his doctors’ expectations. It was from this state of mind, and with the hope of teaching others to achieve the same state of peace and calmness as he had attained, that he created what is now known as The Sedona Method.
While advanced Sedona Method retreats are held several times a year in Sedona, Arizona, the Basic Course is taught around the world by certified teachers, and is also available in audio format.
The course that I attended here in Los Angeles was taught by Elliott Grumer M.D. (a board certified psychiatrist) and his wife Laura McCormac (a certified Feldenkrais practitioner) two of only three certified instructors currently teaching the course in the United States. Interestingly, the couple is also involved in the Japanese martial art of Aikido, which they study at the ACE Aikido dojo in Santa Monica.
The course began on a Friday night, and ran through the weekend at the Marriott Courtyard in Marina del Rey. Elliott and Laura were the ideal instructors to present the in-depth processes of The Sedona Method, as their synergy as a couple was key to the successful facilitation of the course.
Through the course of the weekend, we learned the technique of releasing. In a nutshell, I’d describe it as a quick, effective method of letting go of unpleasant
emotions and reactions to life experiences, which with a little bit of practice can be used on the spot. What I enjoyed about the technique was its simplicity. The basic yet direct nature of the Method makes it a technique that is easily brought into everyday life.
Elliott and Laura bring their own personal touch to the course through their unique backgrounds. Elliott, with his background in psychiatry, delivered a comprehensive understanding of the Method, gladly clarifying any concept the group had questions about. Laura, with her background in dance and kinesthetics, took the group through several physical experiences that appeared deceptively basic, however as the group went through them, became metaphors for how we live our lives, and how to use the powerful tools of the Sedona Method.
As the weekend drew to a close, our group was noticeably calmer and more openly connecting with each other. This was not only because we had each released much of that inner sense of “barrier” we so frequently experience with others, but also stemmed from the shared recognition that underneath it all, we are all truly connected in ways normally obscured by our own incessant but unnoticed mental processes.
Elliott and Laura worked so well together that I was curious to find out more of their personal experiences with the Sedona Method. It turns out that they are two of the most experienced teachers of this Method, and had a close friendship with its founder, Lester Levenson. As Elliott went on to tell me, Lester was always open to people and did not play favorites, because he had such a powerful recognition of our underlying oneness with one another. He was totally convinced that we would all come to share this recognition, and constantly reiterated “I am no different than you. You just don’t realize that as yet.”
Being true to his vision, Lester would not permit anyone to make him a Guru, and kept referring people back to their own power and ability. He encouraged people to let go of underlying wants and programs in order to reach a state where they recognized their unity with everyone and everything. “The key intention is to discover and experience the oneness that is your original and natural state” Elliott explained. “Lester’s life story is illuminating because he went from being an avowed materialist to someone firmly entrenched in the recognition of the underlying transcendant unity of everyone and everything.”
I asked Elliott how he became involved in the Sedona Method, which is certainly not reflective of his formal professional training. “I was at a gathering where someone spoke about the Sedona Method,” Elliott explains, “and I resonated with what they said. I had already recognized that the key to any lasting and meaningful personal change is to let go. And that’s not just for people in therapy, that’s for anyone.
So when I heard about this Method that taught HOW to do this, and then experienced it for myself, I realized that this was what I’d been looking for. The key to any personal change, whether for example it’s moving beyond the uncomfortable feelings of a failed relationship, or confronting the persistent barrier of our own sense of limitation and doubt about being able to achieve what we want in life, is in letting go and allowing internal changes to take place. That’s what this Method teaches.”
“When I took the course,” Elliott added, “Laura saw such changes in me that she attended the following month. We had both studied many personal change approaches prior to The Method, and we’re still open and exploring. We just haven’t found anything else that for us has the simplicity and power of the Sedona Method. Our view is that the Sedona Method can be used as a ‘stand alone’ tool, or, if you’ve studied other things, can be used to amplify and enhance your use of them.”
Several months after taking the course, Elliott and Laura were introduced to Lester Levenson, and eventually moved to Phoenix, Arizona, so they could be under Lester’s mentorship and study with him more closely. They maintained their relationship with Lester until his death in 1994. It was at his urging that they became instructors of The Sedona Method.
I asked Elliott how he and his wife use the Sedona Method in their daily life. “We try to keep it going all the time. We try to stay in a ‘state of release’, so that when unwanted stuff comes at us or up in us, we simply notice it and let it go. We don’t walk around stuffing our feelings and reactions, but let them go and then respond in a way appropriate to the situation. With continued practice of this Method, you can experience a shift from your customary and automatic habit of holding on to feelings, to one of releasing them. This is the state we try to maintain with our ongoing use of this Method. It makes us much more effective in dealing with life, and certainly much more comfortable. It’s our hope that anyone who takes our course will experience this shift as well.”
Elliott and Laura’s next Sedona Method Course will be held this April 24-26, 2009, in Marina Del Rey. For further details, the couple can be contacted at [email protected], or at 310-476-5440.