Annemarie Lombard-Puntschart is an Austro-American global citizen, a fast paced 6-figure income, New York City corporate career girl turned Yogi, human energy-body worker, photographic storyteller and host & producer of VENUSfrequency, a yogic radio show, currently living in Vienna, Austria. Following the impact of a skydiving accident in 2003, she promised the gods to keep her feet on the ground. At TEDxVienna’s Adventures Within Work event, I had the chance to gain even more insight into Annemarie’s very own adventure within her body and mind.
Annemarie, congratulations on your first TED talk! What an inspiring and moving story. How did it feel giving your message to the audience?
I just responded to the same question to a friend of mine, where I said it was almost as thrilling as jumping out of an airplane (laughs).
I can imagine! You moved to New York City at the age of 19, where you succeeded in pursuing a career in an extremely competitive environment. What advice would you give to a young person facing the same situation?
Visualize, feel, act! Only later on did I realize that this is a formula and that it’s something that you can really follow. Once you start visualizing something, you put a feeling to it, and then you can start. Walking into that direction, the doors do not miraculously open, but you have enough wits and wherewithals to open them, because you believe, you have the faith in it. There were hurdles along the way with visas, work permits, apartments and leases, but whatever it was, I was able to solve those problems by constantly seeing myself living in New York as the choice of my career path.
It’s a very interesting model that you presented, because it sounds like something that we should all know how to do, but you put it into words, which I think is very impressive!
There are again also other teachers in other traditions who use similar processes, but this is what fascinates me. Back then, I didn’t know any better, but I was able to independently make that career leap and the living in New York situation without a local support system or guiding help, like family, on my side. And I see the power in it now more and more, how the visualization, and being in a full understanding of what that can feel like, strengthens you from the inside out. We always come upon hurdles on our way, and if you think back, anything that you have made successful, you visualized. In your studies for example, you see yourself finishing that degree, so you go for it, you put it into action, you study, and you see yourself many years afterwards with that PhD.
That’s quite a motivating message. When you were in rehab after your terrible skydiving crash, an incredibly emotional and moving story, you had to start your own adventure within – mind and body. In your talk, you mentioned the phrase ‘embodying your vision’, could you explain to our readers what this meant to you personally, and how you achieved your goal following this mantra?
I came out of that very goal-oriented environment with numbers, figures, spreadsheets and contracts, and I didn’t have a relationship with my body. I saw it as a vehicle that gets me through life, and I had to break it in order to realize how vulnerable we are. In order to make that bone heal, it needed blood, and when Inge (Annemarie’s friend who helped her take responsibility for the recovery outcome, ed.) first came to my bedside, she literally told me to ‘bring blood there’. She helped me put the phrase into a process, that was visualizing that bone as it sucks up blood and nourishes itself. This built the connection that made me be a part of that body and of that healing process, so to say. All of a sudden, you feel yourself all the way to the soles of your feet and you realize that you are part of that healing process. Does it always work? Who knows! The question of if my body would have healed without that process is another topic that we could discuss, but it did work for me. I was told I only had a 15% chance of healing, and from day one, I was able to actively partake in this process.
You talked about your fear while lying in that hospital bed, not being sure if you would ever be able to walk again. Do you think that fear triggered a disconnect between your mind and your body?
Yes, I do think I think so. I’m often asked about how painful the crash was, and I think that’s an automatic trigger reaction. Shock and fear disconnect, I do remember lying on the ground and seeing my foot up to the side, the bone sticking out with dirt on the bottom of it, but there was no pain. I felt really disconnected from that, and I think that is something that we also need to understand, how powerful our brain is in these situations, but also in moving you forward and achieving your goals.
Obviously, in the middle of a pandemic, we now find ourselves in a situation in which everyone is confronted with fear and anxiety. How do you think we can stay present and connected to our bodies in times of extreme unrest, in which we all might feel a little out of touch?
Feel your feet on the ground. We need to feel ourselves and initiate that journey through the entire body. Right now, feel your feet on the ground. Your thought process and your mental connection needs to travel all the way down there, it needs to feel, and it needs to travel back. With that, you are already feeling, breathing, moving mindfully. It’s beautiful to be human, but we are gradually losing our humanity. The simplest reaction to that is to feel yourself. And the simplest task therefore is, every now and then during the processes of your day, feel your feet on the ground, intentionally and fully present. Then, you are coming more and more back into that feeling of your own intelligence and the natural force and power that we are, and we are putting all this away because we fear. We’re all head, we’re all brain, all caught up in there. The rest doesn’t really matter anymore, but this body has been given to us as a vehicle to feel. In Yoga we have the saying ‘philosophy without practice is pure speculation’. Yoga asks you to step onto that mat of your life and gives us a practical, systematic and methodical discipline to work with and invites us to be present, to feel, and to put that philosophy into action.
Annemarie, thank you so much for taking your time to talk to us backstage, and thank you for sharing your story of an adventure within!
It’s a great honor to have been invited to that stage!
Make sure to watch her full TEDxTalk from TEDxVienna’s Adventures Within Work!
Header image & photo by Marlon Hambrusch