I would like to say that he takes my breath away; but reality is… he helps you breathe. I would say that he makes dreams come true, but a more accurate statement is that he assists in the discovering and experiencing of our dreams… so that we may find the truth. Nathaniel V. Dust is not like many healers that you’ll find in Los Angeles. He doesn’t wear flowy white robes or carry around crystals to align your chakras, though he’s not opposed to that either. Nathaniel is cut from a different cloth. Upon first sight, his tailored suit, colorful socks, and Mohawk don’t necessarily scream “HEALER”. However, one session with him will find you connecting with and moving through emotions you may have long forgotten. This month, Up and Coming had the pleasure of sitting down with Nathaniel V. Dust; The Heretic Healer.
Nathaniel’s method of healing uses tools that not many have heard of, or experienced for themselves. The first of these tools is called Breathwork. In his own words, Breathwork is “a simple breathing technique that quiets the mind long enough to allow suppressed emotions to come to the surface. What this means is that you get a chance to process the sadness, shame, grief and other uncomfortable emotions you’ve been suppressing all your life so you can feel less burdened and more content.” It’s a type of meditation, an active one, and through breathwork, many have found relief from anxiety, substance use, negative self-talk and various traumatic events. “Breath is life. By tuning into your own life force (breath), you can produce dramatic results. I help people clear out the emotional and physical detritus that keeps them stuck in unhealthy patterns, reliving various traumas, and engaging in toxic behaviors. Often, after just one session, clients experience an emotional release and are better able to feel compassion for themselves and others. Some might even call it euphoria. It’s almost bizarre how quickly a breathing session can help a person change.”
Archetypal Dreamwork is another tool Nathaniel uses as a healer. Through Archetypal Dreamwork he helps clients engage with their dreams, rather than interpret them. The belief is that dreams can show us things and send us messages that are inaccessible while conscious. “Often those messages revolve around how our lives are directed (or even restricted) unconsciously by rules we’ve told ourselves to live by. We have all sorts of unconscious patterns, belief systems, and habits that rule us and bring comfort not because they are fair or fact, but because they are familiar and comfortable, but all they do is deprive us of joy. Dreams help us discern between our core beliefs and the unhealthy thought patterns disguised as truth.”
What exactly is a “Heretic Healer”? The definition of a heretic is: anyone who doesn’t conform to an established attitude, doctrine or principle. After sitting with him for even a brief time, it is easy to see that “conformist” is not a word used to describe Nathaniel V. Dust. He doesn’t quite fit into the stereotypical or conventional “healer mold”. To Nathaniel, heresy is about having the ability to make your own choices in life, in all that you do. “I want healing to be accessible to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status, race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or physical ability. Healing is often only relegated to those that can afford weekly sessions, weekend retreats, and the fancy accessories that make it feel more official. I want healing to be an inclusive journey where people feel accepted right from the beginning. I want to give people a choice on the road to their healing. I reject this new American road to healing which is essentially just spiritual bypass in its most insidious form. The emotions often labeled as “negative” (think anger, sadness, fear, grief, or jealousy) are suppressed or ignored because there’s this thought out there that to be “happy” or “spiritual” or to lead a fulfilling life, those emotions shouldn’t be present. Or that, if they are present, you are not only wrong or bad for having them, you are somehow less spiritual because of them. This is one of the most toxic ways of thinking. Without these emotions, we cripple ourselves. We throw away some of the best tools for becoming happier and more fulfilled.”
The path of a healer isn’t one that Nathaniel has always actively walked. When he was young, he knew he wanted to be of service and to help people. That idea quickly faded as he sought out ways to dull his own pain and discomfort within himself, often coming from the hands of a methamphetamine dealer or whiskey bottle. He spent a large part of his adult career as a Chief Operator at an oil refinery but quickly found himself unhappy and unhealthy. To an outsider, it may have looked like Nathaniel was living the American dream; he had a house, a car and enough money to afford a habit that would briefly take the sadness away. When he found breathwork he says that a sort of remembering occurred. “I remembered that I wanted to help others. I’m passionate about creating space for others to be able to look at themselves in a new light and find the healing they deserve. To encourage them to look within and find the answers they’ve been looking for. To help them find the resources they need to do that. I don’t know that there is any better feeling in the world than helping another human being stop their own suffering. It’s magic. Watching clients I work with reclaim their lives and take a stand for their own joy and fulfillment is a glorious thing to behold. We need more people doing the things they love because they empower others to do the same.”
The journey to success often comes with the support of those we choose to fill our lives with. Nathaniel has been lucky to have some key players assist him along the way. His wife Anne, who he describes as being the most intelligent, hard-working and creative person he knows, has “a deep compassion and knowing” that helps him reframe things when his life seems unmanageable. His mentor David Elliot, has supported him with patience and encouragement, while helping him to look at himself first, before lashing out and perhaps hurting those he loves. He also credits his clients, and the power it takes to show up for one’s own healing. It’s not an easy task while living in a society where so many are ashamed for seeking help. “I am deeply honored by the strength and resiliency that my clients show, and in turn teach me. They remind me that I am not done here yet, and that healing is for me, too.” Finally, he credits the pain he went through at the height of his addiction and those who taught him an easier and softer way. “I owe a lot to my pain. Without it, I would probably be dead by now. There have also been a lot of helpers on the way. Corrie Lenn, who introduced me to the breathing at my darkest hour. Dee Marble, who taught me that letting go of trying to control the outcome of everything could be as easy as riding a horse.”
What’s up and coming for Nathaniel in the next year? For us lucky Angelinos, the year will be filled with a ton of healing workshops and training within the Breathwork realm. He’ll also be taking his practice on the road, spreading out that luck across the Continental United States, helping others heal; one breath at a time. His wife Ann, a certified Sex Educator and Dreamworker, will be joining him as they conduct various workshops centered around healthy relationships, sexuality and how dreams come into play with these subjects. Another project of Nathaniel’s, called Breathwork for Recovery, will be expanding its reach as well. It consists of the work he does in treatment centers and for people working through trauma, mental health issues and substance use disorders. Breathwork for Recovery runs a weekly, donation based, support group called the Recovery Circle in Los Angeles. This circle will be expanding outside the LA area (San Diego, New York, Albuquerque) in the hopes of assisting more people who struggle with substance use.
He may not be what we’re used to in a healer, but he’s everything that a healer should be. He’s a teacher who’s caring, insightful, open and knowledgeable while remaining teachable and willing to change. By walking through his own pain and letting himself experience joy, Nathaniel is able to aid others in doing the same. His methods aren’t commonplace but they’re effective and proven. His heart and his intentions are true. With these, he uses his gift to help others find the ability to heal themselves. Nathaniel V. Dust is the Heretic Healer and is definitely what is up and coming in L.A. He left us with these words: “I acknowledge that I have a unique gift and powerful perspective that helps me bring a kind of healing to the world that few others can. And with that, I am able to help people acknowledge and nurture their own unique healing abilities. If I lean in and rise to the occasion, maybe someone else will be inspired to do the same, to take their pain and embrace it and then use it to help others. We each have an offering for the world unique to ourselves. My story may inspire someone to tell theirs, which in turn may inspire someone else to tell theirs. That’s how we change the world. By first changing ourselves. I am not a finished product; I want to grow and continue to learn my whole life. I want to remain a student to my own emotions and to my own experience”.
Want to try out breathwork for yourself? You can find Nathaniel every Wednesday at 8:15 pm at Unplug Meditation in Brentwood California. E-mail him at email@example.com to receive a free pass for all first time Unplug visitors.
You can find more information on all of Nathaniel’s offering and events at www.nathanielvdust.com. Mention “Up and Coming” and he’ll give you a 25% discount on your first private breathwork session.
The Recovery Circle support group is led by credentialed drug and alcohol counselors every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm in the Pico/Robertson area of Los Angeles, CA. Visit breathworkforrecovery.com for more information. There’s help there for you. Please don’t be afraid to reach out.