Melanie Balint Gray
Weyers Cave, VA, US
It might seem odd for someone with a highly specialized, scientific background to show up as a facilitator of the Living Inquiries and actually it would have been a big leap for me to go directly from graduating with my PhD in Immunology to where I am now. Instead, life had a gradual process in store for me. I made my way to Natural Rest and the Living Inquiries in fits and starts over many, many years.
I grew up trying to follow all the rules I had absorbed as the daughter of a diplomat. Behave. Excel. What happens in the family stays in the family, or else… Don’t contradict adults. Oh yeah, and put on a happy face. Needless to say, anxiety and apprehension were constant companions.
I excelled at following the rules most of the time. I also excelled at hiding my exploits when I deviated from them. In a family that had many secrets to keep from the outside world, secrecy was second nature. I learned how to stuff my real feelings a lot and at various times I sought out the comforts of attention and praise, and food and alcohol to soothe the pain of stuffing so much. I thought that was just the way everyone was supposed to handle life. After all, I was reprimanded or shamed whenever I expressed any negative emotion. Migraines plagued me and an unhealthy relationship with food was born.
I continued doing what was expected: college, graduate school, marriage. And superficially, I was happy.
Upon completing my graduate training, and seven months pregnant with our first child, I decided to make parenting my first priority. I made the difficult choice to shelve a full-time postdoctoral appointment and step into this new and foreign role of mom. Once our second child was on the way, I knew I wasn’t going to return to research, even though it was frowned upon by many for me to throw away such a potentially prestigious career.
I was led to esoteric science by way of anthroposophy and the vast teachings of Rudolf Steiner. I dabbled in meditation and became curious about what lies beyond this world that we experience—the supersensible realms.
While my inner world was expanding, my family life and my outer world were crumbling—a lengthy separation and divorce ensued. I found myself face to face with my foibles and failings. The chronic, low-levels of anxiety and depression that had followed me for years now came out in force. I had no interest in medicating these conditions away, so I sought out alternative medicine and found myself in a dream group facilitated by a Jungian psychologist. My nightly dreams had flourished throughout this time of personal turmoil and their messages were lifesaving, literally. It was in dream group where I began to intentionally connect with the rich landscape of my unconscious mind.
This kicked off a journey that continues today—a journey into the world I’ve constructed for myself—bringing more of it into conscious awareness all the time. There have been many teachers and guides: shamanic work; The School for The Work of Byron Katie; HeartMath®; Gay Hendrick’s Awakening the Breath and more.
I gained seven years of in-the-trenches training while I worked as a HeartMath® Stress Management Coach in a chronic pain management clinic. My task was to guide severely stressed, chronic pain patients in the art and science of utilizing their heart intelligence. I learned the power of simply “resting with what is” as well as the stabilizing and healing effects of cultivating emotions such as appreciation, gratitude or sincere care. Patients could defuse a panic attack, quiet anxiety, shift depression and even reduce physical pain. Simultaneously, my own anxiety and depression continued to lift. You teach what you need to learn, right? I learned a great deal about the importance of meeting a client exactly where they are; not forcing them ahead, but supporting them in the moment and watching what unfolds.
So that is how a conventional scientist has turned into an unconventional LI facilitator. There is really no conflict at all. The purest science is that which relies on an open mind, lots of curiosity, and keen observational skill. This leaves the scientist with little to no agenda as to how the experiment should turn out. In this way, the experiment is free of bias.
This parallels the task of a Living Inquiries facilitator. We enter a session with no agenda, and we bring curiosity, kindness, openness and compassion to the meeting. We watch, listen and sense into what the client brings, serving as the container in which the “experiment” plays out all on its own. I love being of service in this way.
I have chosen to focus on serving women who have experienced trauma or abuse and who are masking their pain with food, since that has been a part of my personal journey. I am also delighted to facilitate anyone who feels drawn to me after reading this profile.
If you’d like to meet with me for a 1-hour, complimentary discovery session to see if we’re a good fit, then email me here for details. I’d love to meet you.
I can be reached at: [email protected]
Melanie Gray, PhD
Certified Living Inquiries Facilitator
HeartMath Stopping Emotional Eating Coach
“When I came to Melanie I had such a conflicted relationship with food, having dieted for years. I labeled some foods “good” and others “bad”. I felt guilty and ashamed—an endless cycle of giving in to cravings and feeling ashamed or avoiding the cravings and feeling empowered. I felt almost powerless over cravings. Well, I felt I could defeat them at times, but they always came back. It’s very stressful to constantly fight cravings.
The thought of not controlling my eating was very scary and Melanie helped me face that fear. She is helping me look at cravings and compulsions and make moment-to-moment decisions about eating. I am also becoming aware of the cycles of thinking and the emotions behind them.
I feel freer than before. I see cravings as thoughts and not commands to eat something. I have let go of the guilt and shame and don’t beat myself up for having a sweet treat. I am learning to pay attention to what my body really wants.”
“I was just super appreciating you and the kindness and space you are when intense emotions come up. And the sense of safety that you’re able to create by simply being you. Magical You!” A.K.
Melanie Balint Gray interviewed by Fiona Robertson on what she loves about the Living Inquiries. (5 min)
Talking with Fiona, I recalled a recent time when I once again found myself frozen in my tracks–a familiar response to perceived threat. Only this time, the freeze revealed a previously hidden function, as did the thaw that followed. This frozen state – that I’d seen as a handicap for most of my life – turned out to be preservative. It kept me in a sort of safe, frozen, calm until my system could handle the thaw. So benign, so kind, so wise. The Living Inquiries enable me to plumb the depths of old, seemingly debilitating reactions, and again and again, I’m surprised by what I find.