Waking A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence

Matthew Sanford

Rodale Books




272 Pages



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Matt Sanford's life and body were irrevocably changed at age 13 on a snowy Iowa road. On that day, his family's car skidded off an overpass, killing Matt's father and sister, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down, and confining him to a wheelchair. His mother and brother escaped from the accident unharmed but were left to pick up the pieces of their decimated family.

This pivotal event set Matt off on a lifelong journey, from his intensive care experiences at the Mayo Clinic to becoming a paralyzed yoga teacher and founder of a non-profit organization. Forced to explore what it truly means to live in a body, he emerges with an entirely new view of being a "whole" person.

Waking is a chronicle of that process. By turns agonizingly personal, philosophical, and heartbreakingly honest, this groundbreaking memoir takes the reader inside the body, heart, and mind of a boy whose world has been shattered. The author allows us to follow him as he rebuilds his life from the ground up, searching for "healing stories" to help him reconnect his mind and his body. To do so, he must reject much of what traditional medicine tells him and instead turn to yoga as a centerpiece of his daily practice. The author finds not only a better life, but meaning and purpose in the mysterious distance that we all experience between mind and body.


Praise for Waking

"This is a riveting, heartbreaking, heart-opening saga . . . His insights are seeds that acquire power and shape over time—months after first reading it, I find myself appreciating his writing and the depth of his thinking more and more."—Nina Utne, Chair, Utne Reader

"From a hard-won understanding of how the body has intelligence and is an aspect of the soul, the author presents us with a new revitalizing vision of what it is to be human."—Susan Griffin, author of Woman and Nature

"Matthew Sanford's groundbreaking memoir advances a startling premise: Within an expanded consciousness of the mind/body connection lies hope for humankind."—Patricia Weaver Francisco, author of Telling

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  • Matthew Sanford

  • Matthew W. Sanford is the founder of the non-profit organization Mind Body Solutions and specializes in adapting yoga to people living with disabilities. He currently resides in Orono, Minnesota.