You're an avid snowboarder, shredding down a Lake Tahoe mountain, when you fall…40 feet. You wake up in the hospital, paralyzed from the shattered neck down. You're staring up at the ceiling through frightened blue eyes as a hissing machine breathes for you and the doctors tell you that you'll never walk again. That your condition is "incurable." That you might not survive the night.

You're 21 years old.

Incurable…the doctor's words loop through your otherwise neurologically damaged mind. Something inside whispers, "No. They're wrong."

Six months later, you're off of all the medications they'd prescribed—the medications that kept you addicted and out of it and disconnected from the body you're determined to heal.

"I knew it was definitely in their interests to keep me on meds," you'll one day tell a journalist, as you sit propped up in an armchair, gesturing with hands they said you'd never move, hands that now type and hold things, attached to elbows that bend and straighten, even though they were once frozen and deemed "incurable."

A year after leaving the hospital the doctors said you'd likely die in, you head to the Amazon, where you take part in over 100 ayahuasca ceremonies. The plant medicine allows you to break through your paralysis so that you can feel parts of your body you hadn't felt since the fall, parts of your body they said you'd "never" feel again—parts of your body that have been eagerly awaiting your curious attention. The plant medicine teaches you about your central nervous system, how it works, what it needs to heal and how you can heal it yourself.

You come back to the States six months later with a deeper understanding of your injury, of your path to healing, of the consciousness and the emotions that are contributing to your condition. You study yoga, breathwork, Qigong and meditation. You spend hours and hours—daily—breathing life back into your nadis, building your subtle body until it has the strength and the stamina to move your muscles, the same ones the doctors said you would never move again as they injected massive amounts of opiates into your 5'4", 21-year-old body.

You admit the path is tormenting, because in releasing the paralysis and in working so directly with the energetic bodies, you allow the consciousness and the emotions that are infusing your physiology to come to the surface, where you face them head-on, with unflinching courage.

"Healing's not easy," you tell the journalist who hands you your green juice, angling the straw so that you can lift it directly to your lips. "It takes mental strength."

"Is it worth it?" she asks.

You ponder, inhaling sharply, eyes angled upwards, toward the barrette holding your dark, shoulder-length hair off your forehead.

"Absolutely," you say, smiling that infectious smile that lights up your face, infinitely wise beyond your 28 years.

You spend a lot of time alone, working with your resentment, your anger and your blame, and connecting them to the parts of your body that are inviting acknowledgment, compassion and release. When you're not actively working with your body, your story, your emotions and your nadis, you're on your computer, galvanizing support and resources for the Spiritual Health Network that is your vision, your passion and your mission—the one that collects stories of awakening, and connects progressive practitioners with clients who are committed to taking full responsibility for their healing, and who are willing to put in the effort to recover, agonizing though it may be.

You are Teresa Schroeder. You are a force of consciousness and will and heart and tenacity that is absolutely changing the way the world thinks about health and injury and healing and awakening. You are 28 years old, and you are beautiful. You will not only walk again, you will dance and skip and leap and soar. In many ways, you already do.

SWEAT 2012

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by Alexa Schirtzinger

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Hotshot Trots
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Team Ballet
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Mind Over Mass

by Ardee Napolitano