Hi, my name is Jo
A number of years ago I was asked what my life goal was. What was the legacy I wished to be remembered for, the motivation for all my studies, my purpose? After some serious consideration the answer was simply ‘…to inspire and motivate others to make ongoing positive changes in their lives’. With that realisation I committed to supporting myself and others to progress along the path of optimising wellbeing – to be a source of information for those who need what I have learned, and to coach them towards greater vitality.
The pillars upon which my wellbeing philosophy is built is my awareness that wellbeing is progressive – something to be continually built upon; that everyone can choose to nourish or deplete themselves; that everyone’s version of wellbeing is different – one size or strategy does not fit all – and that sometimes the path of wellbeing is difficult and uncomfortable, but if you stick with it, your sense of health and vitality can continue to be improved.
I consider myself a seeker – someone with endless curiosity and motivated by knowledge, understanding and insight. This probably explains my lifelong passion for learning and studying. Another lifelong passion and my #1 source of wellbeing is experiencing the natural world, whether hiking, gardening or simply wandering in a park wherever I may be in the world at any given time (currently I’m in Hong Kong) – this is something of great value and necessity for my health.
Of note is something that revealed itself to me very early in life, and what has shaped my personal and professional life ever since; and that is an awareness that there exists both seen and unseen worlds, each equally impactful on our health and wellbeing. Born into a spiritualist home, whilst still in single digits my inherent curiosity had me delving into texts discussing such topics as eastern philosophy, rebirth, Jungian archetypes and the collective unconscious, the varying expressions of subtle anatomy, global mythology, and the many differing experiences of human reality. Exploring these concepts led to an erratic meditation practice in my teens, an introduction to Buddhist psychology at 17, and insight meditation in my early twenties, all of which offered a level of self-enquiry, reflection and wisdom I still draw upon regularly, even decades later.
My clinical experience began in 1993 as a veterinary nurse, spending each day in surgery, and concomitantly beginning to practice the healing art of Reiki, working with my in-patients to help them settle during recovery. These successes encouraged me to move onto massage diploma and certificate studies in London, followed by a relocation to Australia where I continued to work in health industry roles whilst simultaneously continuing my own personal development, increasing my professional practice experience, and studying where possible to formally qualify in meditation facilitation and teaching, aromatherapy, and finally achieve a Reiki master teacher certification.
Throughout this time I continued to reflect on my experience of both the seen and unseen worlds, my deepening awareness of the flow of Qi/Prana in and around me, and my ever-deepening awareness and observation of how the mind-body-spirit and environment interconnect; with an imbalance in any of these having an impact on all. My observations and experiences also reinforced my understanding that it is necessary to attend to all aspects of being equally in order to not only improve wellbeing but to achieve a lasting sense of vitality.
Acknowledging there was much more to be learned, I returned to full-time study at Australia’s oldest naturopathic school: the Southern School of Natural Therapies (SSNT), and after five challenging but rewarding years successfully completed a BHSc Naturopathy, graduating as DUX with high distinction and the ‘Most Outstanding Graduating Student’ achievement award and prize for that year. In addition, I was fortunate to also be presented with the ‘Excellence in Naturopathy Award’ and prize for which I remain most grateful.
For me the learning never stops – as I continue to evolve myself, new scientific studies are released or disproved, and contemporary understanding of what constitutes health develops. I follow where my interests lead at any given moment with the proviso that all learning should add a layer to what I already know about human existence. This could include mind-body medicine, physical-biochemical research, spiritual-transpersonal wellbeing, subtle anatomy and energetic medicine, or the impact of environmental factors on health.
The breadth of my learnings as they pertain to human wellbeing are listed here; but in short, my interests following my undergraduate degree have spanned acupuncture neurophysiology, advanced research methodology, traditional Chinese medicine theory; nutrition psychology, wellness coaching, energetic kinesiology, and transpersonal art therapy modules exploring symbols, dreamwork, myth, ritual and shamanic practice. The latter few led me to complete a Graduate Diploma in Arts Psychotherapy, because the creative arts offer a unique expressive platform when words are not enough.
Needless to say perhaps, it is true that I am equally passionate about formal education and knowledge sharing via less conventional paths; not only in relation to increasing my own knowledge, but also as it enables me to share more accurate, adaptable, in-depth information with others. As such (and as an ongoing professional requirement), I also attend regular seminars and conferences, and seek mentors where required to expand my personal understanding of areas of particular interest.
Whilst it would be correct to say I most enjoy boutique clinical environments and being in private practice; I have, at times, taken breaks from full-time practice to explore other health and wellbeing projects and experiential opportunities. One of these included a 6-week volunteer program observing the day-to-day operations of a leading organic health and lifestyle retreat in Queensland, Australia; another was my involvement in a practitioner clinical and technical support team, assisting other health professionals with their client casework. This latter position led to a supervisory role mentoring a clinical and technical editorial team of naturopaths and nutritionists; creating functional medicine inspired educational resources, patient materials and other practitioner level technical documents; a wonderful platform to improve my health-related research, writing and editing skills.
Throughout my long journey to date, my area of specific interest is mind-body medicine and the multiple aspects of bioenergetics. As such, mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as how people create, hold and use their energy – in every way – forms the heart of my consulting practice. With due respect for traditional medicine, I am equally informed by the more contemporary approaches of functional and lifestyle medicine and apply this to each case. Ultimately I embrace a paradigm whereby I acknowledge myself and others as an integrated whole of body-mind-spirit-environment and approach my work and life accordingly. As such, equal importance is given to a persons subtle anatomy, as it is to their physical, mental and emotional aspects of wellbeing – the latter of which are what many clients are more familiar with.
This uniquely integrative approach gives me the agility to work on all aspects of health and wellbeing; however I work especially well with those who find themselves experiencing fatigue, suffering the effects of stress and/or anxiety, and those whose most accurate description is ‘burnt out’ – all individuals who have lost their mojo, their vitality, and who know they can enjoy better health and energy. Many of my clients are not only looking for an individualised, holistic, achievable solution to their health challenges – but need a personal wellbeing-oriented accountability coach and mentor, to support them in implementing incremental changes, so they can get where they want to be. Another aspect to my work is to offer support to those who are pro-actively wanting to build their resilience to everyday life with regular relaxation and restoration using Reiki therapy.
Whilst I may certainly recommend herbal, nutritional, dietary and lifestyle prescriptions for my clients depending upon their needs; I find an important part of our work together also involves getting back to basics and teaching experiential techniques that allow them to self-regulate via breathing exercises, or other mind-body skills training – something they can then take with them for life. In my experience this is a more sustainable long-term solution for wellbeing than endless prescriptions.
With a strong background in nutrition psychology and wellbeing coaching, I have also found success supporting those wanting to improve their body composition and lose excess body-fat by following a healthy and sustainable ketogenic-style eating plan – not the ‘dirty keto’ found all over the web that emphasises the overconsumption of dairy and nut flours (which can increase weight if misunderstood), but a more phytonutrient dense naturopathic nutrition approach that considers the needs of the human gut microbiome, as well as the tastebuds! I have learned that it’s rarely easy for anyone to make a dietary change – but the results are worth the focus and commitment. It is endlessly rewarding to support those clients truly committed to their journey and observe how much they learn about what really works for them… and what doesn’t. Lessons they are then empowered with for life.
My personal future aims are many and include deepening my ongoing regular yoga practice with formal teacher training, furthering my shamanic experiences, committing to a more regular art practice, exploring permaculture design and applying this knowledge to my own garden and other areas of life, continuing to expand my natural medicine knowledge, and creating enough time between all of the above to write down the book (maybe two books!) that are currently stored in my head, along with other things I have learned. This way I can share this knowledge, and how I have been able to progress along my own personal path of wellbeing, with others.
Remember, the experience of wellbeing is a continuum – a process to work on and contribute to every day; one that requires you to engage with living each day well – to make the best choices you can at every given moment, to be congruent, and to nourish every aspect of yourself whether seen or unseen.
I wish you well on your path to ever-increasing vitality.