At age six, Elizabeth Wisniewski was diagnosed with a rare eye disease, and when her retina detached at 14, she lost vision in her right eye. At age 21, while undergoing her 30th eye surgery, everything went terribly wrong, and she lost almost all her vision in her left eye as well.
Though she was devastated by her future without sight, Elizabeth’s natural curiosity and passion for learning led her to pursue a degree in political science and environmental studies and then, in a significant shift, to earn a degree as a doctor of chiropractic. She also became a yoga teacher and a Reiki practitioner.
Now a student in the Ph.D. Program in Depth Psychology with Specialization in Somatic Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, Elizabeth is integrating her many varied interests in conjunction with her personal journey, exploring what it really means not to have her sight, and seeking ways to help sighted people better understand her experience.
As a child, she remembers painting all the time. Now she paints by choosing colors based on the energy she feels from the bottles of paint. It was this practice that led her to shift from desiring a specific outcome in her painting, to focusing on the process itself. She even incorporated blindfolded painting and yoga into her summer fieldwork at Pacifica. She plans to continue to offer retreats, and hopes to study under an indigenous bone setter in order to treat patients even more holistically.
Elizabeth believes her personal experience has shifted the paradigm of her life into more connectedness within her body, which allows her to be connected to her community. “I know that when my soul made this contract with losing my eyesight, that this was part of the journey,” she remarks. “So I’m so grateful because every part of me believes that I wouldn’t be a chiropractor, I wouldn’t be a yoga teacher, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I could still see….My challenge has been losing my eyesight, but my assets are my hands and my heart space, and I can still practice,” Elizabeth offers.
Listen to my new audio interview with Elizabeth Wisniewski via Pacifica Post