For Chico woman who has dedicated her life to enhancing the lives of others, it’s time to move on from teaching
For more than three decades, Elena Tonetti has dedicated her life to studying and teaching others how to enhance their lives through “conscious childbirth” and recoding one’s nervous system to eliminate negative emotional or psychological patterns. And her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Just as Tonetti, who is Russian by birth and lives in Chico, is preparing to take off her teaching hat in favor of writing, she’s also being recognized around the world for her contributions in her field.
This past November, Tonetti was featured in a book project titled A Force Such as the World Has Never Known (available on Amazon.com), which highlights 30 influential women from around the world and how they’re making a difference. She’s also one of 10 nominees in 2014 for the Living Legacy Award given by the Foundation for Living Medicine in Arizona.
For the majority of Tonetti’s 32 years of teaching, she concentrated on the idea of conscious childbirth, including natural water births, which she believes are less traumatic for both mother and baby than modern hospital births.
About 11 years ago, however, Tonetti’s work evolved into a new phase. What started as a desire to remove the traumatic “limbic imprint” of being born turned into a broader study of long-term effects of various experiences on young minds. (“Limbic imprint” refers to the process by which prenatal, perinatal and post-natal experiences imprint on a child’s limbic system, which controls the emotional part of the brain.)
For example, Tonetti said, if a girl grew up with an alcoholic father, she might have a tendency to attract men with drinking problems, or if a boy grew up with an emotionally unavailable mother, he might have a tendency to be attracted to women who are uninvolved. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general, there is a strong correlation between childhood experiences and adult ones, she said.
Tonetti has traveled the globe, from Thailand to New Zealand and Fiji to Prague, sharing her method of personal-improvement, dubbed Birth Into Being.
“Whether you are birthing a new baby, a dream project, or an upgraded version of yourself, you must first learn to trust, connect, and surrender to your own Greatness,” she explains on her website. “When you create from a place of personal integrity, the outcomes are profound.”
The basis for her teachings is limbic-imprint recoding, which essentially allows people to reprogram their nervous systems’ emotional centers to create healthier lifestyles. In addition to reaching people directly, Tonetti has taught around 200 apprentices from 22 countries to carry on her work in all major languages.
One of those apprentices, Nicole Moore of Australia, explained via email that Tonetti’s method also can unlock dormant creativity.
“People who work with the Birth Into Being method often go on to finally complete their projects … and manifest all sorts of dreams and visions they have previously been feeling stuck with.”
This week at her home in north Chico, Tonetti will offer her final of many teachings she’s held locally over the years. Her last Chico training, in December, drew 35 participants from 11 countries. In November, she’ll offer her final teaching in Germany. Then she’ll leave the teaching to her apprentices and turn to a project she’s longed to finish: completing the four books she started but never quite had enough time to work on, including a workbook, a coffee table book, a novel and her autobiography.
Tonetti’s autobiography will undoubtedly offer a fascinating read. Relaxing in her peaceful home, she spoke about how in the 1980s she was part of a “community of free-thinkers” trying to change the quality of life in Russia. Then she met a man named Igor Charkovsky, a water-birth pioneer who showed her “the basic concept of correlation between the quality of our formative period and the quality of our adult life.”
He also showed her that she and her friends “were trying to make a difference in the quality of life [but] that what we were doing was like putting a Band-Aid on somebody who had just gotten run over by a truck,” she said. “You really had to have some fundamental changes so people wouldn’t get under the trucks in the first place.”
Tonetti collaborated with Charkovsky from 1982 to 1989, and after a visit from American scientist John Lilly, Tonetti was invited to the United States. She went, thinking it would be a short visit, but the moment she left Russia, the whole Eastern Block collapsed, and she was stranded far from home. By the time it was safe to go back, she was married with children.
In 1990, while living in Los Angeles, Tonetti met her future husband and followed him to Chico. She had learned some English and thus was able to continue her work, which she said has continually grown and evolved.
“The process is powerfully enriching … and it’s extremely rewarding to witness all those people waking up, how all the lights go on and all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place,” she said. “We need to make sure we complete what inspired us to answer this Earth’s call to come here.
“Life is very short and there’s no need to waste any of it on being smaller than who we really are.”