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Swimming with Elephants: My Unexpected Pilgrimage from Physician to Healer Paperback – October 1, 2017
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From the Publisher
How good are you willing to let it get?
Have you ever longed for more meaningful work? Or sought a deeper relationship to the sacred? If your answer (to one or both) is YES, I wrote Swimming with Elephants for you.
This memoir accurately reflects my own story about going on my own hero’s journey. I have reconstructed the story from my memories, my journal entries, and from my conversations with the characters involved. I found myself really lost at sea after 20 years of practicing medicine. With help and support I found the courage to seek outside the hospital and see what else was out there for me to do. I found deeply satisfying work. I hope my journey with all its twists, turns and confessional moments will inspire you to step out into what ever hero’s journey is awaiting you. May you be reminded that you are loved and that whatever you seek is out there waiting for you. Take courageous steps forward and continue to step forward.
My dream is that this book will leave you inspired to say YES to your own hero’s journey.
A new spirit helper came forth-an Asian elephant named Alice
Though she is a spirit, Alice can also be pragmatic. When I am confused about how to work productively, she gives me helpful sample schedules-work in early morning, then walk the dog, not the other way around. She also gives me metaphors to help me complete particular projects. Step carefully from lily pad to lily pad. Don’t hurry or you’ll fall into the river. It’s the spirit in which things are said that matters.
And there’s another thing I want to make clear: Alice is a dear spirit companion, but she doesn’t want to control my destiny. In contrast, she cheers me on in whatever destiny I choose. When I ask her what I should create, she always reminds me that it is up to me. For me, Alice is a source of clarity and wisdom about the truth of all matters. While some of the things she tells me may seem obvious, they aren’t to me at the time. I ask Alice the questions I most desperately need answered so I can keep going. Alice encourages me.
I’ve been working steadily with different people who long to be whole again, whose creativity feels blocked, or who have lost their power and feel stalled. Some of them are experiencing what I once did-the feeling that there’s something else, some special work they’re supposed to be doing. It’s just that they’re not sure what it is or how to begin. I help them with aid from my spirits. When they ask, I teach them how to connect with their own spirits.
So much has changed since I first walked along the edge of the forest near my house during my first sabbatical, anxious about the great buzzing energy I sensed there. I’ve stopped being timid and hesitating at the periphery. I now plunge smack dab into the deep woods with awareness.
- So long as we love, we serve, so long as we are loved by others, I would almost say that we are indispensable. Robert Lewis Stevenson, Lay Morals and Other Essays
“A glittering, honest account of what it means to search and also to find. If you are a dreamer, or an overworked parent, if you are someone who recognizes the magic in animals or wonders what it would be like to make a truly bold choice even if you are halfway down your life’s path, please pick up this beautiful book!” ―Sara Corbett, coauthor of New York Times bestselling A House in the Sky
“Emotional and spiritual awakening are at the core of Seidelmann’s memoir about her transition from medical doctor to shamanic healer. Memoirs work best when the author is ready to lay it all out on the table, and Seidelmann does this in Swimming with Elephants. Her willingness to be herself and to follow her path―no matter how non-traditional and wacky it might seem at first―makes for an endearing and illuminating adventure.” –Foreword Reviews
“Swimming with Elephants is an entertaining and moving front row seat in the drama that unfolds when a western trained physician does the work required to become a true healer.” ―Christiane Northrup, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Goddesses Never Age
"Fans of Seidelmann's previous work (Born to Freak: A Salty Primer for Irrepressible Humans, 2012, etc.) will surely enjoy this chronicle of the author's chaotic transformation from a fourth-generation physician to a shamanic healer and life coach. The author details her travels around the globe, including sojourns to South Africa, India, and the California desert, searching for her inner shaman. A feel-good story for like-minded readers ." --Kirkus Review (Aug. 2017)
“A poignantly honest journey which beckons us all. Sarah Seidelmann takes us right along with her through the looking glass and out the other side into a magical reality that pulses with life, adventure and intelligence.” --Llyn Roberts, Award-winning author and acclaimed teacher of healing and shamanism
"This is an exceedingly vulnerable, beautifully written book and the most genuine spiritual memoir I have ever read. It is also--in many hilarious moments--laugh out loud funny." --Maria Bamford, Comedian and star of Netflix Original Series Lady Dynamite
"I LOVED THIS BOOK. Sarah takes us on an intimate tour of the hero's journey. She's a brilliant storyteller...making sense of the baffling journey from the ordinary world into the mystical and back again. I didn't want it to end." --MeiMei Fox, New York Times bestselling author
"A fascinating, amusing, and wise account of how someone born with a shaman's predilections, raised in a rationalist culture, finds her way back to her true self.” --Martha Beck, New York Times bestselling author of Expecting Adam
"Sarah Bamford Seidelmann has amassed heaps of wisdom in her courageous leap from the safe realm of medical science into the unknown -- the world of spirit. In this incredibly honest and compassionate memoir, you feel as though you're soaking in her courage and wisdom on every page. Even better, you do so laughing." --Jaimal Yogis, author of Saltwater Buddha and The Fear Project
"From the lakes of Minnesota to the Ganges River in India, Sarah Seidelmann's transformative journey from MD to shamanic healer is a refreshingly honest and very funny tale of spiritual growth." --Matt Adrian, author of The Guide to Troubled Birds
About the Author
Sarah Bamford Seidelmann is a fourth-generation physician turned shamanic healer and life coach, who deeply enjoys shenanigans. She’s a frequent guest blogger at Maria Shriver’s site for Architects of Change and has led sold-out retreats combining surfing and shamanism in Hawaii and a sacred pachydermal pilgrimage to Thailand. She loves to help others find their own “feel good” so they can live courageously and enthusiastically. Visit Sarah at followyourfeelgood.com.
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Catharine Larsen, LP
This was the perfect book at the perfect time! I am so grateful that Sarah followed her soul and allowed this book to be written. There are so many things that could have stopped her, but she let it bloom, and then I got the perfect book at the perfect time - the type of guiding light in the middle of the storm that reminds me of what is real and what is important.
I met Sarah in 2015 at a coaching conference and was fortunate enough to experience her Shamanism workshop. It was a magical experience, much like reading this book. Sarah truly manifests the best qualities we can find in a fellow human—love, tenderness, compassion and a real zest for adventure. She is an incredibly spiritual woman who had the insight and courage to leave her medical pathology job to pursue her dream.
It was fascinating to read about her life journey, including challenges such as the hardship of being away from her family while working long hours as a physician, family issues, the call to become a Martha Beck life coach, and listening to the guidance of her helping spirits such as Alice the elephant. You will travel and grow with her to far off, exciting, multi-dimensional destinations such as South African and India. Sarah is an inspiration and this memoir proved to be one of those novels I had a hard time putting down. Fasten your seat belt!
Finished reading it a few days ago and can still feel Sarah Bamford Seidelmann's hero's journey tale working it's magic on me. Felt like a love story on many levels - her ongoing relationship journey with her husband, family, healing work, and herself and her growing relationship with her helpful guides. Deeply grateful to all of them for allowing the touching and heart expanding stories to be shared.
I have no doubt this book will be a beautiful inspiration to many as it has been for me.
Swimming with Elephants also reminded me of Joseph Campbell saying, "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls." Sarah illustrated with such warmth and humor how 'following her bliss' opened the most wonderful doors and allowed her to share her beautiful medicine with the world and in the process invites us all to do the same. I'm in!! <3
The eloquent way that Sarah communicated her own struggle for a major change resonated with me, as I'm sure it would with many people who are embarking on a life-altering way of being and working in the world. Since I find myself at that juncture, her wise words resonated. Since I'm past the point of return, guideposts along the way such as this one are so welcome. There are no coincidences indeed and this came to me at just the right time.
I admire the full, uniquely customized life Sarah has wrought for herself while honoring her family.