Finding the Right Brain: Alysia Tromblay '83

Alysia Tromblay ’83 helps people “wake up” their whole selves. by Greg Ryan '08

It’s not often that a job perfectly mirrors a person’s passions. It’s even less often that it empowers someone to live out her most deeply held beliefs.

Alysia Tromblay ’83 is one of the fortunate few: she makes a living doing both what she loves and what she believes in. A musician, craftsperson, and spiritual counselor, the School of Music jazz studies graduate believes a balanced life requires the connection of soul, body, and mind, which occurs when people “turn compassion into action,” as she puts it. “My life’s work,” she says, “is helping people wake up from the inside out.”

Alysia’s life philosophy is evident in her work as a musician and artist. She has put out two albums of mostly original songs, As It Rains (2003) and Three Times around the World upon Your Head (2007), on which she sings and plays piano. In the works she explores her concept of the divine. “A good song somehow conveys the relationship between the seen and the unseen,” she says. Tracks include such numbers as the haunting “River in Time” and the serene “Hope is a Winged Thing,” which were inspired by the Bon, a Tibetan people Alysia has visited and admires greatly, and their reverence for the feminine in all things.

The primary focus of her visual artwork is creating Spiritboxes, personalized, cabinet-sized temples that represent “prayer made visible,” a phrase Alysia uses often in describing her work. She designs and builds the Spiritboxes for individual buyers rather than commercial resellers, using materials she finds at thrift stores, garage sales, and the dumpsters of cabinet makers — the discarding of which, Alysia says, is a custom that reflects some of our own throwaway spiritual lives. “The presence of the sacred as fulcrum,” she explains on her website, “can transform what was lost to found, what was curse to blessing.”

As a counselor, Alysia helps clients explore their inner selves through song and meditation that encourage “right-brain,” intuitive thinking. “We’re mending ourselves,” she says. “Two halves are becoming whole.” She notes that although our culture undervalues this kind of thinking, it is important for individuals to nurture it for their holistic health.

Alysia began her career as a more traditional musician in New York City, playing coffee houses and smaller venues, before her interest in sound as a healing instrument led her to become a spiritual counselor in 1990. She credits Ithaca College’s emphasis on liberal arts as a main reason for her development in all of the roles in her life.

Alysia has turned compassion into action further through the Bon Future Fund, the nonprofit organization she established in 2003. The organization helps children of the Bon receive a higher education. “If you give people the ability to create beauty,” she says, “something happens to them.” That “something” is what Alysia has tried, in every facet of her life, to help others realize.