I consider myself an explorer – someone with an endless curiosity and motivated by learning that which I do not know, developing deeper understanding and gaining further insights into the human experience. This underlies my lifelong passion for experiential learning and studying. Another passion and my most reliable source of wellbeing is experiencing the natural world, whether hiking, gardening or wandering in a park wherever I may be in the world – this is of great value to me and necessary for my health.
My early readings shaped my path
Something that revealed itself to me very early in life and what has shaped my personal and professional life ever since is an awareness that there exists both seen and unseen worlds; with 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.
In my 20s my clinical work and formal studies began
In 1993 I entered a clinical environment as a veterinary nurse and for several years spent each workday in surgery. A random workshop flyer in my local health food store led me to the study and practice of the healing art of Reiki – which I initially used with my in-patients, helping them settle during their recovery. Later I moved onto massage diploma and certificate studies in London, followed by a relocation to Australia where I broadened my health industry career path whilst simultaneously continuing to invest in my personal development, increase my professional practice experience, and find more time to study, qualifying in meditation facilitation, aromatherapy, and achieving my Reiki master teacher certification.
Throughout this time I continued to reflect on my deepening awareness of the flow of Qi/Prana in and around me, and my observation and insights regarding the interconnection between mind-body-spirit and environment – it became clearer that an imbalance in any of these aspects impacts them all. I have also come to understand that it is necessary to attend to all facets of self equally in order to not only improve wellbeing in the short term but to achieve a lasting sense of vitality.
Acknowledging there was 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 Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) specialising in Naturopathy with majors in western herbal (botanical) medicine and clinical nutrition. I graduated as DUX of the overall 2011 year with high distinction and the ‘Most Outstanding Graduating Student’ achievement award and prize. In addition, I was fortunate to also be presented with the ‘Excellence in Naturopathy Award’ and prize for which I remain most grateful.
I doubt I’ll ever stop my enquiry
For me the learning never stops – as I continue to evolve myself, dip further into traditional medicine realms, 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 know about human existence. This could include mind-body medicine, physical-biochemical research, spiritual and transpersonal wellbeing, subtle anatomy and energetic medicine, or the impact of environmental factors on health.
The breadth of my learnings as they pertain to health and wellbeing are listed here; but in short, my interests following my undergraduate degree have spanned traditional Chinese medicine theory, nutrition psychology, wellness and spiritual life coaching, energetic kinesiology, yogic nutrition, mindfulness practice 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 which I volunteered with for a year in a community setting in Brisbane and still utilise elements from with clients now – because the creative arts offer a unique expressive platform when words are not enough. It is a powerful method of deep enquiry, helping to connect to the psyche.
I am equally passionate about formal education as I am wisdom sharing via less conventional paths; not only in relation to increasing my 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 each year and seek to learn from others as required to expand my personal understanding of areas of particular interest.
Learning is also to be had through doing
Whilst it would be correct to say I enjoy boutique clinical environments working one-on-one with others, I also like to take breaks from full-time practice to explore other health and wellbeing projects and experiential opportunities. One of these included a 6-week volunteer program supporting the day-to-day activities of a leading organic health and lifestyle retreat; 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 editorial role mentoring a team of naturopaths and nutritionists and facilitating the creation of a range of functional medicine inspired educational resources, professional technical documents and patient materials. As someone who began writing creatively as a teen and who loves to blog from time to time, this was a wonderful platform to improve my health-related research, writing and editing skills and take them into a more clinical realm.
What informs me is the sum of my experiences
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, and how people create, hold and use their energy – in every way – forms the heart of my consulting practice. As someone who gives due respect for traditional medicine systems and is equally informed by the more contemporary approaches of lifestyle and functional medicine — I apply all of this awareness to my cases and my written work.
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. I give equal importance to subtle anatomy, as to the physical, mental and emotional aspects of mine and others wellbeing.
Weaving together my skills and learnings
My unique blend of qualifications and choice to integrate these together gives me a lens through which to view the many integrated aspects of health and wellbeing. Over the years I have identified there are two key areas that most commonly compromise physical and emotional health – the gut and the nervous system – so take a particular interest in these systems to check all is well (or not) and address any imbalance first. This can be of particular benefit for those who know they are experiencing the ongoing effects of stress and/or anxiety but are not quite sure what to do about it – they may even be feeling too stuck or burnt out to effect any change on their own. Typically, this picture is one of someone who has lost their mojo, their vitality, but who knows they can enjoy better health and energy with a bit of support and information.
In my journey I have learned that many people are looking for individualised, holistic, achievable solutions to their health challenges – but also need a personal wellbeing-oriented accountability coach and mentor, to support them in implementing the changes that typically need to occur to get them where they want to be.
For those ready and wanting to work on their subtle anatomy and Qi flow, I turn to Reiki or advanced energy healing techniques. Reiki is very helpful at inducing the relaxation response and perfect for those for whom ‘switching off’ has become difficult.
It’s not uncommon that I will create a bespoke herbal formula – for example, to help reduce someone’s sensation of mental overactivity; or offer a gut detoxification program to clear up symptoms of gas and bloating. However, I also may recommend other dietary and lifestyle prescriptions, at least in the short-term, to help people regain a sense of balance. That said, I have a mantra that “you cannot supplement your way out of a poor lifestyle” so an important part of my work revolves getting the basics right and teaching experiential techniques that allow a person to better self-regulate. This may include breathing exercises, or other mind-body skills training – something that can be learnt and practised for life. In my experience this is a more sustainable and empowering long-term solution for wellbeing – not forgetting I also encourage people to understand their food is their medicine (or their poison if not mindful of their choices).
Wellbeing begins with what we eat (and how we perceive our world)
With a strong background in nutrition psychology and transformational wellbeing coaching, I am very supportive of those wanting to improve their health via their diet. I have personally navigated a keto-style diet, a Paleo approach, intermittent fasting (which I still do), having to restrict certain items due to food intolerances (fortunately only temporarily), and in my 40s switched to a 100% plant-based diet — all this has made me very aware of the effort it takes to make and sustain changes. It has also informed me how best to support and coach those wanting to make changes themselves, for example, to switch to a keto approach to lose weight, or to a wholefoods plant-based diet for long-term health.
As a naturopath, I advocate phytonutrient-rich whole foods, limited healthy fats and minimal sugars in all approaches and consider the health of the 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 that empower them for life.
The path ahead…
My future personal aims are many and include deepening my ongoing regular yoga practice with formal teacher training, expanding my reach via my written projects, exploring the shamanic realms, and creating enough time between all of the above to write the book (maybe two books!) stored in my head – there is so much I have learned along my personal path of wellbeing that could be shared.
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.