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.
For over 20 years I have studied, practised and taught Healing chant and mantra; initially in America for three years where I studied with a pioneer of healing music and sound, Pat Moffitt Cook of The Open Ear Center – and my studies and travels took me to India, Europe and of course here in the UK. In India we experienced private healing ceremonies with an amazing village healer, were invited to participate in ceremonies led by Priests, and chanted in sacred Buddhist caves. Life changing! My journey continues with further study in Vedic chant (in Belgium) and Mantra as Medicine also in Belgium and here in England. This draws on the Buddhist, Hindu, Tibetan and Indonesian traditions, alongside vocal toning and ‘vocal maps’ used to explore, express and heal the body-mind. I am an Advanced Practitioner of Cross-Cultural Music & Sound Therapy.
Positive Psychology and Resilience Coaching – Having benefitted so much from these two emerging areas of psychology it was a natural progression to deepen my understanding skills. Already trained in counselling and psychotherapy, this new area of work absolute sang in my heart. Instead of looking at what’s “wrong” with someone, positive psychology looks at what’s right, what’s going well and a person’s strengths rather than weaknesses. Below is a personal account of my struggle with ME/CFS – positive psychology together with re-building my resilience tool kit was a life saver – now it’s a real privilege to offer those skills to others.
Gentle, holistic yoga – So here’s a confession. I never wanted to be a yoga teacher, there were plenty of them about, I was immersed in other (equally wonderful!) things. No thanks. But…again from my personal experience of how gentle, therapeutic yoga made a significant and positive impact on my health – eventually I gave in and began training in Holistic Yoga. I now specialise in gentle, holistic yoga – it is slow, therapeutic and works in a gentle yet powerful way.
Creating Birch Moon…
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 in my final year of 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.
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. With Chris, in addition to Positive Psychology for Coaches, I have studied both resilience and motivational interviewing skills.
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.
My journey back to health….
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 – this 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!
Wherever you are in your life – you can be more; happier, healthier, calmer, stronger, more resilient, more optimistic…there is no limit.
Happy to help, support and guide you into a more vibrant, peaceful life.