196: Alyson Stoner – Transcending Yourself Through the Art of Movement

Podcast

“There is poetry in how you treat yourself.”
– Alyson Stoner

Hey, guys, welcome back to ONKEN RADIO (previously NION Radio), the podcast where we explore the body, mind, and soul of the creative entrepreneur. It’s my goal to help you take your creativity, business, and life to the next level. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this journey!

Today, I’ve got an extra special guest for you — Alyson Stoner. She has been in Hollywood acting and dancing since she was six years old! More recently, she became the founder of Movement Genius, where she teaches people how to tap in and heal themselves through movement. 

In this interview, we talk about her story and how you can utilize movement to transcend trauma and fully express yourself creatively.

That’s what we’re all about here. Alyson is a go-getter, a brilliant individual. She’s uber-creative, and we had a great conversation. She’s a big advocate for mental health and helping others activate their mental health. Let me give you a little preview here:

“You do have to make [your mental health] a priority, [and] the way I see it is I remember that the fruit of this labor and the fruit of this process — [it] is more beauty and love that I can spread.
– Alyson Stoner

Today, Alyson and I are unpacking that creative process and uncovering how it can benefit entrepreneurs like you — artists working to build creative careers. I know Alyson’s advice will be as beneficial for you as it has been for me, so let’s dive in.

Who Is Alyson Stoner?     

Alyson has been casually performing since the age of three — she thought it would just be a recreational hobby in Toledo, Ohio, until she attended a New York convention when she was seven. 

Unexpectedly, she won a couple of different awards where agents and managers suggested auditioning out in LA. She was fortunate to land a job with her first audition, and the momentum led to her working in the Hollywood entertainment world for a good 20 years now. 

From starring with Missy Elliot in her hit music video “Work it,” she’s worked with Ludacris, Outkast, and even toured with the Jonas Brothers. Most recently, she did a guest appearance on stage with Missy at the 2019 VMA’s – a 17 year later tribute!

Alyson endured grueling hours with adult-level responsibility placed on her young shoulders — all while trying to manage school and growing into adulthood. Her career progressed into film and television, and she forged a relationship with the Disney Channel that’s maintained till this day!

While Alyson was so grateful for her journey through the entertainment industry, she started to feel like she was meant for more. Tired of hiding her true self, she began to dabble and create content with everything switching to digital. She wasn’t interested in going viral or mainstream topics — reaching an audience curious about the same things and seeking deeper meaning became her focus.

Now, Alyson produces, writes, directs, and edits every piece of content she puts out into the world! . You should check out her work here.

Alyson is on a mission to make personal transformation accessible, affordable, and relevant, and I was honored to have her on the show to share her story and mission! 

The Beginning of Alyson’s Introspection

Something I admire about Alyson is her inner journey work and how she’s deeply introspective. I’m always curious to find out how someone gets started on that journey.

“I wish I could say it was a fairy tale or a flowery experience, but I think it was because I had a very chaotic household and work life, and I was still not even double digits in age. I met a friend in the neighborhood whose family had a certain glue that held them together, and there seemed to be a loving presence that was very different, and I wanted to know what that was about. I initially pursued a certain religious practice. Then I reached a point where I recognized that all I had done with my spiritual journey was repeat my pattern of overachievement and perfectionism just in spiritual terms, but I hadn’t necessarily tapped into liberation or a true kind of conscious ascension of any sort.”
– Alyson Stoner

Trying to do the right thing all the time ended up making Alyson a caricature of herself. She couldn’t even look deeply in the mirror because she didn’t want to see the shadow. She just wanted to get rid of the shadow and jump straight to goodness and purity.

If only it were that easy.

Alyson explored an array of sources, not just spiritual texts. She was looking at science, math, art, and even at the planet as whole — she was studying everything with a deep curiosity. Alyson was a young woman searching for an understanding and trying to be okay, and even with all this going on, she had a deep desire and trust that something more was on the way.

Alyson’s life on movie sets and in music videos across the world from such a young age, has accelerated her wisdom through experience.

“I had to counter that chaos with something that would show me where peace could be found.”
– Alyson Stoner

What a journey! It makes sense that Alyson began her spiritual path early; however, it didn’t stop with introspection. In order to find fulfillment and her true self, Alyson had to navigate through several traumas and find healing. 

The Obstacle Is the Path

Experiencing different trauma meant Alyson had stored everything in her body and was diagnosed with a condition called alexithymia, which is the inability to feel and name sensations and emotions in your body.

“How ironic that I was [in] acting. And yet, I was the actress who couldn’t feel; I knew how to produce tears mechanically. And I was intellectually aware that I could be sad from a certain circumstance, but if you asked me to feel it in my body, it would be completely numb.”
– Alyson Stoner

To find healing, she began with psychotherapy after quite a severe eating disorder drove her to realize she couldn’t keep living life as a victim of her past. She wanted to be healthy and whole. She admitted herself to rehab to understand why trauma controlled her world.

“It just is. So what do I do about it? I had to kind of crack open my belief system and see, not out of convenience [but necessity]. That was my fear trying to make spirituality fit my desire. But in reality, it was an opportunity and an invitation to understand a larger perspective on literally everything.”
– Alyson Stoner

Her new approach to inner work means whether you’re dealing with something at a cognitive level, emotional level, social level, or spiritual level, you need to focus on the life event that’s in front of you.

“Let that be the path, instead of thinking, you’ve got to stop your life and seek something elsewhere, you know, there’s the phrase, the obstacle is the path. Don’t try to get around it; go through it.”
– Alyson Stoner

I love that phrase — the obstacle is the path.  It’s such a powerful tool to understand regarding our current lives during COVID-19. Many of us are going through this experience for the last few months, and it’s easy to let that obstacle stand in the way of growth or healing. But instead of viewing COVID-19 or any other difficult circumstance as something that can stop you from achieving your goal, face it head on.

Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and Alyson’s Application 

Up till now, we’ve been talking about how our narratives shape the way we interact in life — the way we project onto other people, the way we interact with them, and the world. In our interview, Alyson shared Ken Wilber’s narratives under his integral theory framework and how we can grow through them.

“Ken’s book The Religion of Tomorrow is a fascinating look at why people turn away from the ancient religions. It’s a detailed look at how literal interpretations erode the underlying gems of truth within their traditions and texts. He proposes four categories of development to explore how we can practice the religion of tomorrow today, expanding our potential for growth and realization.”
– Alyson Stoner

The four categories are: 

  • Waking Up (meditative states) — this is becoming more aware.
  • Growing Up (human developmental stages) — this is all about growth and development.
  • Cleaning Up (shadow work) — this is the part of ourselves that we reject or minimize or even ignore.
  • Showing Up (working with quadrants) — this is how all this translates into working with others.

Alyson gave us examples of how she’s applied these stages in her own life too:

“Growing up, I recognized that while I can be incredibly disciplined and determined to complete a project, I have never cultivated my daily practice, like a daily morning ritual. Building my warm-up and cool-down [ to each day] became part of my growing up. Showing up is putting together sematic workshops that are movement-based, working with psychotherapists, for folks to create a healing and brave and safe space to start doing some of this work. … Waking up, I learned from sister Jenna. … I was trying to be that student who overloads the course credits for a semester and really should take a few classes at a time. My waking up has to do with certain meditative practices and a ton of talking. Cleaning up [my] shadow work — I’m working with my therapist on that. You have to make it a priority, but the way I see it, as I remember that the fruit of this labor and the fruit of this process is more beauty and love that I can spread.”
– Alyson Stoner

Remember how Alyson started in the industry at age six? It’s so easy to be hard ourselves, but she’s teaching us a valuable lesson on how to be kind about our past, be brave enough to explore ways to grow, and be patient with how we show up to implement what we learn.

I want to acknowledge her for doing the work! This is a great exercise we can all begin to use in our own lives as part of our Creative Alchemy.

 The Creation of Somatic Therapy

Besides being an accomplished dancer, Alyson studied body language and recognized her outward demonstrations of how she felt internally.

“In an audition, I need to convince someone that I’m powerful or capable of taking on that task. I’ve got to lean over the table ever so slightly, and I’ve got to let my legs kind of spread to take up more space, to let them know I’m solid and grounded and strong but not too intimidating. That level of awareness of self is an interesting exploration.”
– Alyson Stoner

Alyson’s keen observation allowed her to spot characteristics in others — from noticing smart people being completely unaware of what’s going on in their skin to people who are super embodied but can’t articulate it. People can have deep wisdom, whether intuitive or emotional intelligence, and their movements can tap into it to express it. Alyson has transformed her own experience, going from feeling numb to being fully alive in her skin. Furthermore, Alyson has translated her knowledge into a way that makes it accessible and repeatable for other people.

She began a journey to co-create a movement course on somatic therapy. As a non-doctor, she enlisted psychotherapists’ guidance to combine with her trauma-informed movement and facilitation certifications.

“I’m designing a fun everyday movement program that brings mindfulness and body fullness into a practice that you can release whatever you’re feeling that day. And you can tap into your creativity and become more aware of how you move through the world. The great news is if you can never do those postures in yoga or can’t remember those dance moves, this is about you becoming empowered to move as you truly move, not how the teacher wants you to.”

Doesn’t this sound like a fun all-in-one workout for your mind, body, and soul?

Elevating our understanding and knowing how to support ourselves and others is an excellent steppingstone to withstand everything we’re going through. It’s not about being a savior with a one-size-fits-all approach — instead, it’s about inviting everybody to explore their different needs and the various tools to navigate themselves. The world certainly needs more of this.

Be a Creative Alchemist with Alyson Stoner

I was stunned to hear that Alyson went through a period where she didn’t consider herself creative! I wonder how many of you can relate to this?

We often get stuck inside our heads comparing ourselves to others without understanding the context of what they’re creating. It’s humbling to know someone as talented as Alyson deals with this too.

“For some reason, even though I dance, act, write, and make music, … my brain felt like it was just doing the math the whole time that I was calculating how to get a project from beginning to end. I’m learning that I get to broaden my understanding and definition of creativity so that when I look at a business person or a technical person, I don’t think that’s the absence of creativity. It’s their strain.”
– Alyson Stoner

The truth is everyone is creative. We have a different art form. I’d even go so far as to say we need to expand the definition of creativity to transcend the traditional forms like painting, photography, singing, or dancing to include things like building a business.

“Maybe it’s the way you organize your day. There’s an art to it. There’s a story you tell, and how you speak to other people, there’s poetry in how you treat yourself.”
– Alyson Stoner

Alchemy is defined as taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

With that being said, I define Creative Alchemy as using the process of creativity to create a lens through which to perform alchemy. These principles not only apply to artists and creatives in their creative processes but to anyone wanting to create an extraordinary life in color for themselves. I’ve found that 80% of creating alchemizes the thoughts, emotions, and other inner blocks that keep you from putting pen to paper. Navigating to the act of creation takes alchemical processes. Alyson demonstrates how creativity can be the lens of how we see the world, and when we’re creating life with intention, we create from the first hermetic principle, which is for anything to be created, it must first be thought.

I have tremendous respect and acknowledge Alyson for the difference she’s making in this world and the things she’s creating because the world needs it!

Thank you so much for joining me today, guys. I hope you enjoyed this episode — if you did, please screenshot it and post it to Instagram and tag me, @nickonken, and Alyson, @alysonstoner. And if you’ve got time, leave me a review on Apple Podcasts. I’d love to hear your feedback. 

Now go live the biggest life you can imagine. And remember — never stop creating yourself.

Nick Onken

You can Subscribe and Listen to the Podcast on Apple Podcasts. And please leave me a Rating and Review!

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“I was the actress who couldn’t feel.”
– Alyson Stoner

Some things we learn in this podcast:

  • What is it like to work with Missy Elliot [5:00]
  • How Alyson Stoner got a job working on the Step Up movie [11:15]
  • Alyson Stoner’s spiritual journey [14:45]
  • The burdens of young performers [18:15]
  • How to grow from suffering [32:00]
  • What is Ken Wilber’s integral theory [36:30]
  • How to apply Ken Wilber’s principles to your own life [37:45]
  • Alyson Stoner’s morning routine [41:15]
  • How to play Keep, Toss, Transform [42:45]
  • How to become more self-aware [45:00]
  • What are the components of a somatic-based mindful movement program [48:00]
  • What does it mean to let your creativity go wrong [53:50]

Ken Wilber’s Categories of Development:

  1. Waking up
  2. Growing up
  3. Cleaning up
  4. Showing up

Links Mentioned:

Connect with Alyson Stoner on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Alyson Stoner

Different strokes for different folks.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or full time creative hustler, everyone needs something a little bit different on their journey.

Take the Creative Identity Quiz

to figure out what type of creative you are, and get a customized guide to help you figure out where to go next – totally free.

Take the Quiz Now!

Different strokes for different folks.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or full time creative hustler, everyone needs something a little bit different on their journey.

Take the Creative Identity Quiz

to figure out what type of creative you are, and get a customized guide to help you figure out where to go next – totally free.

Take the Quiz Now!