I love the work I do! Having benefited from Positive Psychology myself, studied cross-cultural sound and music therapy, and practised yoga and meditation for many years, it’s not that surprising that I want to give back what I have learned and benefitted from.
In particular, I believe I offer a fresh perspective on supporting people, by combining both my personal and professional experience.
Some year ago I was extremely ill with ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) – from bed bound, to house bound to slowly, slowly getting out again on very short walks I crawled my way back to health. It’s been tough – but what kept me going? What helped me to keep picking myself up? To try something new, to think outside the box? Well, it wasn’t listening to the ‘non-believers” that’s for sure!!
Just before I became very ill I attended a weekend course on Positive Psychology with Dr. Chris Johnstone who runs The College of Wellbeing. Small, seemingly insignificant tools became the bedrock of my daily focus on what felt like survival, but in fact kept me hunting out the good stuff, looking at what went well that day (even if it was reading one paragraph of an inspirational book), and seeing the bigger picture of what was possible. Many times I felt utterly helpless – barely surviving on 2 hours of sleep a night – and the rest of the time was spent feeling as though I was plugged into an electric socket as my nervous system was so out of whack…wouldn’t recommend it! But again, through tools and information shared alongside what I believe is my natural optimism, determination and maybe just plain bloody stubbornness…my sense of helplessness was turned into resilience.
Alongside this I already studied and practiced Healing Chant. Can you imagine my shock and even shame when I couldn’t quickly heal myself? And believe me one or two people ‘kindly’ pointed that out to me…”Oh Sarena, all those things you do, they’re not helping are they?!” Well, thanks…as I pointed out at the time – my doctor and the NHS had and still has little understanding and even less help or ‘cure’ for ME/CFS – so I was in the dark and finding what helped was a long haul. But I did trust in and draw upon the healing sounds and believe very strongly that doors opened for me in unusual and unexpected ways, leading me to practitioners and information that were stepping stones to a multi-layered healing process.
Gentle yoga became my very best friend at midnight or 1am or even 5am…slow, easeful stretches combined with good breathing soothed my nervous system and calmed my mind. I found a DVD and book by Fiona Agombar, who herself had been bed bound with CFS and recovered. She specialises in Energy Yoga and Yoga for ME/CFS – every day I practiced – even 5 or 10 minutes could make a surprisingly significant improvement in calming the “electric shock” feeling.
Coaching – and from someone with a strong background in supporting health change – was also a fundamental part of recovering my health. Setting manageable goals, taking small steps and being accountable to them (and ultimately to myself) kept me focussed on moving forward alongside learning self-compassion when things didn’t go quite as planned.
There were other things that helped too – and things that didn’t! But it goes without saying that I am hugely thankful and have deep gratitude to all those people who walked alongside me, some for short periods of time others for months or even years… and to those friends who are still by my side – you must be mad!
Where I am today
I created Birch Moon to draw together my personal experiences and training to offer a fully integrated, holistic centre that guides and supports people on all levels – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
The Birch Tree has always had a special place in my heart; in the Celtic tradition it is symbolic of new beginnings and renewal, regeneration and hope. The white of the trunk represents cleanliness and determination in overcoming difficulties. Do we not all need to draw on the wisdom of the birch tree at some point in our lives?
Just before my mother died she introduced me to her oncology nurse: “This is my daughter…she is a healer.” It was the only time she acknowledged exactly what I did…and it was the best of parting gifts.
‘I’ do not heal you…but we work together to create the right environment in which you can heal. I genuinely believe that we are held and supported by the Source of all life, and my work is to help others connect with the healing power of that Source.
So today, having now professionally trained in positive psychology and resilience tools, continuing my studies with healing chant and mantra, and mid-way through a 500 hour Holistic Yoga Teacher Training course – I absolutely LOVE sharing all I’ve learnt for your health, happiness and positive change. I wish you well on your journey, and offer you my very best care should you choose to work with me. Om Shanti. Peace to you.
The healing power of sound
I have been incredibly fortunate in training with pioneers within the field of sound healing and therapeutic voice techniques – and this forms a significant part of my work.
Initially dipping in with Jill Purce in the late 1980s, then – 16 years ago – I spent three years studying with Pat Moffitt Cook of The Open Ear Center, New Mexico, USA. This study continues today with learning healing chant and mantra from the Hindu, Buddhist, Tibetan and Indonesian traditions. I am now studying the root of all mantra – the Vedic tradition.
Today, I am an Advanced Practitioner in Cross-cultural Music & Sound for Health Therapy.
Argh yes, the “reluctant yoga teacher”…for years (both before I was ill and during the improving time) I was told “you’d make a great yoga teacher”. Well, I didn’t see that and in fact what I saw was an abundance of yoga teachers, why would I do it too? How wrong could I be?! I absolutely LOVE teaching slow, gentle holistic yoga. Treating the whole person – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – holistic yoga supports you in managing your daily life, improving and maintaining health, and offers you guidance and ways to develop personally and spiritually (whatever that means for you – yoga helps you connect to “what is” and it’s for you to decide what that means..)
Coaching for Health and Therapeutic counselling (2005)
I gained an Advanced Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and Psychotherapy (2002 – 2005) and was in practice for 10 years before ‘switching camps’ and re-training in Life Coaching – choosing to study with internationally renowned organisation ‘Mentor Coach’ in the USA. They based their coaching on “Positive Psychology”, something that I previously studied with Dr Chris Johnstone, a leading positive psychology coach, author and teacher here in the UK.
Teaching and Facilitating.
Way back in 1989 I was invited to run courses at the local Adult Education Centre, not realising that this was to ignite my love of teaching. Since then running workshops, courses and retreat days has been a constant in my life and I am known for my relaxed yet informative style, holding a safe and welcoming space, and encouraging people to be more than they realised was possible. I have taught in the private, public and third sector.
Not forgetting the University of Life…
A mum to a strapping 6′ 1″ outdoors-mad son, I’ve been married, divorced, had the above mentioned health challenges, dealt with life…you know, the stuff we all face to a greater or lesser degree – and so from personal experience I offer deep listening and compassion, humour, and encouragement on your journey.