About theFounder

Alison Brzenchek, MSW, Ph.D

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Founder - Alt. 1

We are steeped in the normalized myth that we are, each of us, mere individuals striving to attain private goals. The more we define ourselves that way, the more estranged we become from the vital aspects of who we are and what we need to be healthy.

—   Gabor MatéThe Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture


I’m Ali Brzenchek, the founder of the Embodied Learning Institute (ELI). My life’s passion is to generate a cultural shift toward Embodied Learning.  This holistic approach: embraces universal interconnectivity; relies on practice-based living; and generates a grounded, expansive, and integrated way of being.

Embodied learning is a space of transformation in a global capitalist consumer culture that promotes: scarcity, individualism, control, competition, fragmentation, disconnection, and disembodiment. When we are guided by this myth, our body contracts. We rely solely on the presumed merits of our “rational” mind. We engage from the space of linear thinking. We become disconnected from our heart, gut, and spirit.

I developed the four pillars of Embodied Enoughness – Somatic SensibilitiesWholehearted WisdomDynamic Discernment, and Luminous Living – to challenge the cultural status quo. These pillars are a practice-based way of living that help individuals, communities, and organizations thrive.

My path to founding ELI is grounded in a rich tapestry of life experiences that span my personal, educational, and professional development. Below, you can learn about my Embodied Enoughness journey.

My Embodied Learning Journey

I’m a CIS, white, middle-class, woman who spent a great deal of my life trying to avoid feelings and sensations. I lived in my head. My hypervigilance and disconnection from my body limited my agency.

When I was under stress, I didn’t recognize my bodily sensations and feelings. Instead, I reacted to external cues from people and my environment.

When things were going well. When it seemed like I was in control. When I accomplished what I set out to... I was semi-satisfied with life.

When major challenges arose, as they always do, I pushed back hard. I tried to force things. I saw myself as a victim. I couldn’t understand why bad things always happened to me. I couldn’t understand why I was not getting what I wanted.

Learning to Thrive through Embodied Enoughness

Living from a space of Embodied Enoughness changed that for me. I learned (and I’m still learning) to thrive! To live from a space of expansion. To recognize I am a complex human being with many overdeveloped and underdeveloped parts. These parts are not good or bad. I tried the good/bad dichotomy, it was very unproductive and caused much unneeded pain and suffering.

Alternatively, expansion and contraction are terms that draw attention to bodily experiences. To sensations and feelings. I have some really overdeveloped parts that tend to make me smaller and tighter. They shrink my heart space, head space, and gut space. They limit my vision. These overdeveloped parts are built into my nervous system.

Today, instead of reacting, I am much more likely to turn to my Somatic Sensibilities. To recognize my overdeveloped parts (common patterns of sensations, postures, feelings, thinking patterns, and ways of being built into my nervous system), accept their presence, respond from a space of engaged equanimity, and spend more time living in the now. At the same time, I'm more aware of the spaces of opening and expansion in my body and the opportunities for opening and expansion in my life.

My Somatic Sensibilities create more space for Wholehearted Wisdom. I am able to choose understanding and compassion over disconnection and disembodiment because I honor the principle of universal interconnectedness. The practices of humility and gratitude enable me to befriend my spaces of contraction and appreciate how they have protected me. Simultaneously, I have more capacity to recognize, relate to, and support the spaces of contraction in others.

The practice of Dynamic Discernment has shifted how I engage in the world. I recognize the multiple interconnected and interrelated systems that have shaped and continue to shape my ways of being. I understand that I am a small part of a much larger universe. That my words and actions have reverberations that I will never fully recognize. That life is complex and messy, and the human tendency to engage life from a rational, linear, and dualistic framework ignores this beautiful complexity. When I engage life from a space of nondual consciousness, I honor this beautiful complexity and allow my life giving emergent energy to flow freely.

Finally, I embrace Luminous Living, by surrendering my ego and trusting in the beauty of the perfectly imperfect. I am committed to practice-based living guided by what I refer to as the "sacraments" of self-care, spirituality, social connectedness, and service.

How This Informs My Practice

My Embodied Enoughness path is enabling me to connect with what was always there, my spirit (Amber Glow Ali). I am honored to travel this path with others. At the same time, I deeply understand the difference between the methods I practice and teach on the one hand, and the universal human ability to experience Embodied Enoughness on the other.

The ELI Pillars – Somatic Sensibilities, Wholehearted Wisdom, Dynamic Discernment, and Luminous Living – are a specific example of the methods I teach and practice. Alternatively, the universal human ability to experience Embodied Enoughness is about learning to embrace and live in an essential and eternal paradox. We experience Embodied Enoughness when we are able to embrace the coexistence of:

  • Human Frailty: We are all perfectly imperfect beings who "shatter to pieces" throughout our lives due to the mortal realities of universal suffering and human frailty.

  • Divine Presence: We are all inherently worthy and dignified being who thrive when we honor and connect with our divine spirit. The moments when we "shatter to pieces" are of the utmost significance to deepening the connection with our divine spirit.

I can be with others on the Embodied Enoughness path, I can share the methods I use to practice Embodied Enoughness, I can share the way my path has shaped me, and I can point to the universal beauty of Embodied Enoughness.

One thing I refuse to do is to "sell" my methods as the holy grail. To approach Embodied Enoughness from a space of militaristic certainty and exactness is a lie that causes unnecessary suffering.

There are no "right answers" or "external fixes" that enable us to live into our Embodied Enoughness. Instead, as we learn to live with the universal paradox of human frailty and divine presence, we connect with our heart, gut, discerning mind, and spirit.

My Training

Strozzi Institute Somatic Coaching Certification ProgramCompleted December 2022
International Coaching FederationMember since 2022
University of MassachusettsDoctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) Communications
University of MichiganMaster of Social Work (MSW)
Pennsylvania State UniversityBachelor of Science (BS)Human Development and Family Studies

The ELI Story

Read about ELI’s founding guiding principles, core values, mission, and vision for the future.

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