Integral Life Center is a Space for Healing, Transformation and Maintaining Health
as well as a place for Finding, Deepening and Enriching your Spiritual Path.
Our classes and programs support individuals in releasing emotional and physical pain or stress brought upon by injury or emotional distress, as well as daily life. These issues may stem from substance abuse, emotional stresses such as depression, anxiety, grief or trauma.
As highly trained practitioners who have experienced our own healing journeys and recovery from traumatic physical injuries (see Our Story), we are uniquely qualified to address a variety of the issues and concerns our clients have. At the Center, our clients concerns are our concerns.
By providing a space for deep healing and transformation the Integral Life Center will help you realize the life you desire. Our sincere desire and intention is to help people alleviate their suffering whether mental, emotional or physical. Our goal is to offer the best possible techniques and services to facilitate healing and transformation so that our clients can live their lives with more joy, peace and purpose.
Our classes stay small and intimate, providing individualized attention with staff trained to support you exactly where you are, while keeping you focused on where you want to be. Our classes and therapies are provided by certified and licensed teachers and therapists, so you know you are getting the best.
Whatever your physical, emotional or spiritual goals, we are here to guide you in clarifying and actualizing them!
Blessings, David & Freia
We also welcome the use of our space by other groups. If you are interested in holding a class or workshop, we would love to hear from you! At the Center, we are a community that desires nothing more than for you to be Happy!! Contact Us for more information.
Many have asked for us to share the story of our transformation and how what we do and what we offer at our center has supported that evolution. Here is that story.
A Fall Into Grace
On Christmas Day 2011 my family and I went for a walk at Squaw Rock in the South Chagrin Reservation of the Metro parks just east of Cleveland Ohio. It was a beautiful warm day in December and we all wanted to be outside. So Freia, Anya and I drove down to the park with our new 3-month old puppy named Trixie. There are two trails that connect in that particular park. One that runs down by the Chagrin River and one that runs up on top of a hill, lined by a cliff.
We were playing around having fun with our puppy and just enjoying the day. We have always preferred being out in nature to being indoors. The day was so beautiful! The snow had been melting a little because it was an unusually warm day in December and the sound of the river was a constant soothing and at the same time enlivening sound. The sky was gray but the sunlight reflecting off the snow gave a bright cast to the day. This was not a quiet day in the park. Because it was warm for December in Ohio many people came out for a walk by the river. Every five ten minutes there was another Good Morning or Merry Christmas. It a was day full of Joy and appreciation.
At one point we decided to leave the lower trail down by the river and climb up the hill to the trail up on top of the ravine. As we were doing that we reached a point at the top where to get to the upper trail we needed to go around a tree. I first got my self around the tree and then helped my daughter come around and up. It was a little harder than it looked. The tree had grown first out of the ravine at an angle then up towards the sky, I had to grab hold of the tree and pull myself around and up on top of it to get up. As I turned around to help my wife Freia, she lost her footing on the wet leaves and shale and began to slip. As her feet went out from under her, she fell onto her stomach and started to slide down the hill. She had no idea what was about to happen.
I immediately jumped down to try and grab her. As my feet hit the ground, I knew I was in trouble; they slipped out from under me, putting me on my back and sliding too! With only shale, slippery wet leaves and snow, there was nothing we could do. After about 40 feet, which felt both like an eternity and a split second at the same time, Freia disappeared from view. In walking up the hill we had moved over at an angle and put ourselves above a 40-foot cliff.
When she disappeared from sight over the edge, there was a moment of complete quiet and calm for me. All went still. Nothing moved for a moment and the words, “So be it,” came through my head. At that moment I surrendered, I completely let go. I assumed we were going to die and there was nothing I could do. I have never felt such a quiet before. No sound. No thought. No emotion. I was simply there in that moment.
As I went over the edge of the 40-foot cliff I saw Freia lying at the bottom, motionless. I assumed she was dead. I was just hoping not to land on her. Thankfully I didn’t and I fell a little to the right of her. As I landed, I folded in half, my head coming down to meet the ground and was flipped head over heels and down the next hill towards the river. Moments later I was stopped by a tree. My only thought was to get to Freia. I began to stand up, that’s when I heard my left leg crunch loudly beneath me and felt the most intense pain I have ever felt shoot through my leg and up my body, I collapsed to the ground in tears and anguish. I couldn’t get to her!
A few moments later there was someone at my side holding me and talking to me. Then I heard it, Freia’s voice. She was alive! I was both so happy and in more pain than I have ever been in my life. She called out to me and I to her. She heard me and then called out to Anya, our daughter, who wasn’t there yet. Freia called out to me again and again as if each time she was just coming awake. I realized that she kept going in and out of consciousness. Shortly there after, someone had gotten Anya and brought her down near us but not near enough to see us. She didn’t want her to see us in the state we were in. In hindsight I am grateful she doesn’t have to live with the image of her parents broken, bloody and in pain! Anya could hear Freia and she her too. As Freia would come in and out of consciousness she would call out to Anya saying each time, “Anya, everything is going to be okay!” Anya would reply with a simple “Okay.” I would learn later, that is was amazing that Freia was even able to talk at all.
Freia had landed on her face and crushed her jaw and most of the bone structure of her entire face and jaw. I had shattered my Tibia and Fibula into many pieces, as well as broken my back. I later learned that the average survival rate for a fall with in 20 feet is 20%. We had fallen 40 feet and both survived! With a little help from some Angels of course we were blessed to be alive. But that is another story. Someone had called the ambulance and I could hear a helicopter coming. The EMT’s arrived shortly and immediately went to Freia, because of her head trauma so that they could get her to the helicopter and life flight her to Metro Hospital in Cleveland. My injuries were considered less severe with no concern for brain injury.
When they could finally get to me, it was a little trickier situation because I was on a wet hill and they had figure out how to pull me up the hill to the trail and then carry me out. While I was waiting, somehow, I was able to pull my phone out of my jacket packet and call my mom to see if she could come get my daughter. It was one of those times where you look back and think; "How did I have the mind to do that?" Yet at the same time, in as much pain as I was in, my daughter’s wellbeing was more important than my pain.
Freia was life flighted to Metro Hospital and I was eventually taken by ambulance to Hillcrest Hospital. There, as I was being pulled out of the ambulance, a Park Ranger had brought Anya up to Hillcrest for my brother to pick her up. It was so nice to be able to see her as I was being brought into emergency. To know that she was alright and someone was taking care of her made all the difference in the world. At this point I was given a CAT Scan and diagnosed as too difficult to take care of at Hillcrest Hospital so they flew me to Metro Hospital like Freia. As I was being brought into Metro Hospital’s emergency ward, I got to see Freia before she was taken to surgery. Having seen her and knowing she would be okay let my heart soften and my body sigh a little relief.
I came awake the next morning in excruciating pain with two new titanium rods in my back and a plaster open cast the length of my left leg with four rods with a long bar with a hinge in the middle sticking out of my leg. They had to screw four rods into my leg, two in my upper leg and two in my ankle. Then the surgeons attached what is called an External Fixator to stretch my left leg out to match the length of my right leg. It took two weeks before the swelling would go down far enough for the surgeon to be able to work on my leg. Amazingly once the swelling went down; they were able to rebuild my leg with a titanium rod, a plate and about 14 screws. This left me in the hospital for about 3½ months of recovery and Physical Therapy.
Freia was able to go home much sooner, but had to come back for three different facial reconstructions over a period of 3 months. The surgeons needed to repair her whole face and jaw: a crushed left mandibular joint, broken mandible in four places including the right mandibular joint, her Upper Pallet was split about ¼ inch apart, nose was broken, sinuses and cheek bones were crushed, missing and broken teeth and teeth that would fall out over the next 3 months and a broken elbow.
The road of recovery has lasted over the past 4 years and continues today. Spending 3 ½ months at the hospital in recovery and physical therapy, then another 6 months in bed at home and learning how to walk again was definitely a challenge. Freia has had to learn how to literally see herself differently. We don’t realize how used to our facial features we get. Even the smallest of changes can shift our perspective. A chin that is a little more angular or a jaw line a little more defined, even though to a stranger means nothing, to us it can change everything in how we see ourselves. We both deal with pain in one way or another each day but we continue to strive for that day when it will be gone.
There has been so much that has gone into our recovery it would take a whole book to put it down. But to be brief, it all began with our community reaching out! Friends set up a yahoo group so that people could schedule play dates with Anya. She was so busy; she was booked two weeks out in advance. My mom took care of her when she wasn’t otherwise occupied. Freia’s mom flew in from Mexico and stayed with us for months. Two more friends set up a PayPal account and a website and sent out requests for donations. Those donations were completely unexpected and, an amazing gift, paid our rent and bills for 7 months. People donated so much food we had to begin donating it so it wouldn’t go to waste.
Healing services were donated such as massage, reiki, cranial sacral therapy, physical therapy, prayers and singing. A group of women came to us one night and sang spirituals to us while we were in bed, while another time, friends circled our bed giving us all Reiki. It was so wonderful! Friends of ours filled out insurance paperwork for us. It was almost overwhelming to receive it all.
There are a few things that stand out that have really played a part in our healing and recovery. First and foremost was time. Because of the financial donations we had the time to rest that is so important in healing. Second the bodywork we received, both donated and paid for. Massage allowed us to work out so many of the aches and pains through recovery. Cranial Sacral Therapy allowed our nervous systems to relax enough so we were not constantly in a fight or flight mode along with allowing Freia jaw and cranial bones and my vertebrae to continue to heal and align as best as possible.
Next on the list of essential modalities that have played a strong role in our healing are Energetic Medicine and Yoga. Energetic Medicine has done wonders in helping release the held physical and emotional traumas from the accident for both of us. It has soothed our nerves and allowed us to focus on what is happening right now without getting caught in a loop of the past and the stories we were telling ourselves about what happened.
We have learned something interesting, when you stop for a moment and look at the pain you feel, there is the primary pain and the secondary pain. The primary pain is the actual physical pain. The secondary pain is all the emotions and stories we build up around that pain. The work we have done in letting those stories go has been fundamental in our progress.
The role of Yoga in our healing has had so many levels to it. One is the physical aspect of learning how to use our bodies properly again. With our injuries came the natural need and desire to hold ourselves still so as not to feel more pain. Yoga supported us in exploring movement and pushing ourselves to do more in a safe environment. At first I was only able to do about a quarter to maybe half a yoga class when I first came back after a year of being in bed. The fact that I need to lie down half way through class and just stay there was no problem. The teachers were very supportive of what I needed.
Also, Yoga gave us a way to use our movement to go inward and nudge our healing on. To truly follow your breath as you move from pose to pose can be extremely liberating to someone in chronic pain. It was and is not just a set of movements or exercises; it is a way of being truly present with your self in any moment.
Recovery has been such a slow process at times but I am amazed at what we have been able to accomplish. It has been a process of learning how to move, how to walk, how to talk differently. Our accident is not who we are but it has changed us both in so many ways. We are more aware of how fragile we are yet how incredibly resilient. We are amazed and in awe of humans capacity for kindness and generosity. We are inspired to be worthy of this second chance that we have both received. We feel different. We entered such an amazing experience of gratitude and still live there most of the time! It is unfortunate in some ways what happened to us. Yet, to feel a sense of gratitude in my life so powerfully and to experience what I only know to call as Grace has been eye opening and life changing! To feel and know that I am precious and that we all are precious! To live this way changes everything!
My hopes, in sharing this story, is that someone will take the time to look for that Grace in their own life without needing to go through a trauma. We are all precious! You are precious! Why not Live that way now!