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Meet Sam Morris of Zen Warrior Training in Topanga

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Morris.

Sam, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My interest in Zen dates back to college in 1998 when I first discovered Buddhist teachings. Suddenly, the human condition made a whole lot more sense to me. The notion that the impermanent things that we attach ourselves to are what cause us suffering and that finding true freedom means letting go of these attachments and becoming fully present really resonated.

A year later, in one instant, my life changed forever. I had just finished leading a cycling trek across the United States for nine teenagers when a car accident caused by a drunk driver left me paraplegic. I lost my ability to walk, my sexual function and my bladder and bowel sensation. My whole life had suddenly been turned upside-down. A week after my injury, my doctor took me off morphine and I suddenly was confronted with the nightmare of being paralyzed. Somehow, I managed to surrender to the experience by connecting to the power of my breath and spirit and I had a profound shift in consciousness where I saw that who I really was could not be defined by the circumstances of my life. I was able to let go of my ego and expand into an awakened state. This experience was followed by a lifelong commitment to studying movement and meditation as healing modalities.

Throughout the years, friends and acquaintances would comment on how gracefully and resiliently I seemed to move through the challenges of my life, including being bedridden for over four years due to pressure sores and spending two of those years in hospitals. Finally, in 2013, it occurred to me that everything that I had been through was forming the foundation for my life’s work. Zen Warrior Training was born.

Since then, I have coached many high performers including CEOs, spiritual leaders, professional actors and professional athletes in the art of transforming seemingly impossible challenges into opportunities to connect to their higher purpose and a more fortified sense of being that transcends the limits of the “ego self.”

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This has been quite the opposite of a smooth road. Being paraplegic and dealing with the health challenges that my condition has created have made for a very challenging ride. At various times I have been hospitalized and bedridden while struggling to keep a business alive. I have literally coached clients while lying motionless in hospital beds for months. I have had to learn how to put my own struggles aside to really show up fully for my clients. It has never been easy and it will likely never be easy. But having the opportunity to help influential people to transform and make a greater impact in the world makes it more than worthwhile.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Zen Warrior Training – what should we know?
With Zen Warrior Training, I coach high performers in one-on-one programs, as well as teaching public workshops in the art of connecting to one’s inner power and deeper wisdom. I specialize in working with people who are at a crossroads in their lives. Generally speaking, these are folks who have been very successful in one area of their lives, but they don’t feel the type of fulfillment, energy and sense of purpose they know they are capable of. I help them to leverage their deepest challenges as wisdom for reaching their next level of potential. What sets me apart from the growing crowd of coaches out there is that I have worked through the types of personal challenges that most people would find unfathomable and I’ve come out the other side a highly capable and healthy individual. I coach from years of hard-earned experience, as opposed to simply from common coaching rhetoric and techniques.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
It has taken a team for me to get to where I am with Zen Warrior Training. First and foremost are my parents, who really came through for me after my injury. They were so caring and supportive in so many ways, including helping me through financially in the early years following my injury when there was no way I could provide for myself.

My wife, Meghan, has been an incredible advocate for me. She was the one who convinced me to move back to LA after living in the mountains of Colorado and teaching adaptive skiing. She knew that she and I would both ultimately be happier if we rooted in LA to build meaningful careers. I’d still be in Telluride if it wasn’t for her. She continues to compassionately push me to live up to my potential and I do the same with her.

Beginning shortly after my injury, I studied movement meditation with Emilie Conrad, founder of Continuum Movement. She was instrumental in helping me to move through deep layers of physical and emotional trauma from my injury.

These days, my mentors are Mariane and Richi Karou, a couple from Pacific Palisades. Mariane is the founder of Dance Alive, a program which trains you how to optimize your life and relationships by connecting with your body’s intelligence and vitality. Her husband, Richi, I like to call the “White Shaman.” Mariane and Richi are both extraordinary in their ability to traverse the multiple dimensions of human consciousness. They have helped me to become extremely effective in how I work and live.

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