“Provider Spotlight” is a series that highlights the wonderful team of healthcare providers and specialists here at the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine.
Laura Elizabeth Dorsett has always been fascinated by the relationship between spiritual life and physical health. She leads a free drop-in meditation class for all levels every Wednesday from 7:30 – 8:30 pm.
Why did you choose your specialty?
After experiencing the competitiveness of the ballet world for much of my life, Yoga gave me a way to experience my body in a room without mirrors. I was able to begin a new relationship with my body that was based on what my body felt like, rather than what it looked like to others in a performance environment. Little did I know that it was really a way of connecting more deeply to my inner life.
Around that time, I was also grieving the loss of my father, with whom I was very close, and who transitioned from this life when I was 23. I had no understanding of how to relate to grief and I lived in denial for several years, experiencing anxiety attacks, pain in my body at the same location as his tumor, and general emotional paralysis. It was Yoga that broke open the dam; in reconnecting to my body in a loving and conscious way, I was able to experience the feelings that had been locked up inside me. As I faced these feelings, the most astonishing thing happened: a tremendous peace would come over me right in the midst of the most emotional intensity. It was here that my spiritual life was born. For me, Yoga became the means of a profound spiritual awakening. And yet this awakening of spirit occurred within the context of the physical body, of listening to it, accepting it, and letting its intelligence guide me toward greater awareness and acceptance.
Just as Yoga changed my life, my dharma (Sanskrit for “calling” or “duty”) in this life is to awaken others to its profound possibilities.
What is the biggest challenge in your practice and how do you overcome it?
When self-judgment arises, I usually recognize it relatively quickly – “Ah, here we go… Hello, self-judgement.” I breathe into it, acknowledge it by placing a hand on my heart, and I reassure myself as if I am reassuring a small child. If I am really stuck in it, I sometimes do some gazing with my husband. We simply look in each other’s eyes and focus on our breathing for about a minute. It is an excellent way of bringing myself back home to presence and to feeling unconditionally accepted. I encourage people to try this with their partner, friend, or even – and perhaps more effectively – their pet! Having the unconditional presence of another being with you, especially while experiencing a harsh and unkind inner environment, is extraordinarily healing.
What’s the one piece of advice that you give to all of your patients?
You are exactly where you are supposed to be. Feel Life’s perfection working through you and as you, letting go of your ideas of how things are supposed to be and opening to how they are… a great surprise awaits you when you do this.
What are some of your interests and/or pastimes outside of work?
I love singing kirtan (devotional yoga music and mantras), spending time in nature with my family, curling up with a book, cranking up some music and having spontaneous dance parties around the house… lately we’ve been putting on the song “Afreen” from the “100 Foot Journey” soundtrack (highly recommended stress release!)
If you could choose another career, what would it be?
There is nothing else I would be doing other than what I am doing!