Elisabeth “Lava” Lawaczeck has been a health professional for her entire career, but now she is caring for people in a different way. Lava, a certified health, life, and spiritual coach, is holding retreats for individual clients. The retreats are customized to each person, whether they want to find their purpose, achieve inner peace and outer health, be more fulfilled, or need guidance through a spiritual awakening.
Her desire to help others came about after her own transformation. Lava, who comes from a family of physicians, started out as a doctor of veterinary medicine. When she was in veterinary school, she was intrigued by epidemiology, so after a short time working as a large animal vet, she became an epidemiologist, working on diseases that affect animals and people.
She spent years as a public health official working at the state level in Oregon, Arizona, and Colorado, but didn’t love living in a city. So when the opportunity came up to live in the mountains, in the San Juans where she had spent time in her youth, she took a position as the director of public health in Ouray. “I wanted to be more connected with a community,” says Lava. “It was an amazing challenge.”
Lava, knowing how underfunded Colorado’s health departments are, supplemented the budgets by getting grants. In particular, she was able to address mental health, and the high levels of suicide and substance abuse in our region. “The idea was to integrate mental health into primary care.”
She was succeeding professionally, but personally, she was struggling with her own mental health issues. She was suffering from some very painful, traumatic experiences. “My personal life fell apart,” she says. “I fell into a deep clinical depression.”
For Lava, counseling alone didn’t help and she was reluctant to use anti-depressants. She needed to go deeper; she started with mindfulness, meditation, spending time in nature, yoga, and within three weeks she was having what she called “out-of-body experiences that were really blissful.”
Lava needed help understanding what she was experiencing, and she found that guidance with Laura Wade Jaster, MA, NCC, eRYT. Laura was not just a licensed counselor, she was also someone who had her own profound spiritual experience, so she could help Lava process what she was going through. “She was literally a godsend,” says Lava. “I had to have loss, grief, clinical depression, and out-of-body experiences to be pushed to the point to search for truth. I was led to a spiritual path. It was forced on me and it was frightening to me, but it was beautiful. This was a realm that was not comfortable for me. I finally had to surrender.”
Lava also trained with Shiva Rea and Mas Vidal, learning how to teach vinyasa and hatha yoga and about pranayama and ayurveda. She studied holistic nutrition, life and health coaching, and meditation. She studied the psychology of awakening and became a certified spiritual emergence coach® through Emma Bragdon, PhD, founder of Integrative Mental Health University. She wrote a book about her spiritual transformation, Stillness and Wilderness, with lots of resources at the end for anyone who needs guidance on their own journey.
But she wanted to do more; she remembered how much she enjoyed her one-on-one time as a vet, visiting someone on their farm and working with them individually. So she started her own business: personal, custom retreats with guided meditation, introspection, yoga, breathwork, time in nature, and other wellness sessions with local healers to help people in their healing and on their spiritual path. “My transformation was so rough and frightening that I wanted to support others so their transformation was safer and smoother than mine,” says Lava. “I love it. Witnessing the fulfillment and peace that others find doing the work with me really fills my cup.”
Before the retreat, Lava has a free “discovery session” with a client to figure out what they need and how she can help. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 669-6128 to set up the initial consult. She does a couple of coaching sessions prior to (and after) the retreat so that she can customize it for each individual. The idea is to support her clients by brainstorming around obstacles and also build the self-accountability to follow through with the changes they commit to make in their lives. “I offer a deeper experience than a just vacation in the Telluride area. If you want more than just adventure or relaxation in beauty, and you want lasting change in the quality of your inner and outer life when you go home, please contact me. Through holistic health, life and spiritual coaching, I support my clients to shift within themselves so that then they can create long-lasting change in their lives. Most of my clients are from out of state, but I have a few wonderful local clients as well.”
You can read more about her work at elisabethlava.com.