In Susan’s words…
My original profession was as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and like many people in caregiving roles, I became worn out after many years of working in the field. I wasn't using my energy in a way that was sustainable, and I didn't have self-care tools like meditation and yoga in my life at the time.
I'm a big believer in living sustainably, as an individual and as a community. For something to be sustainable, it needs to be energy efficient. In the case of self-care, it’s about easy access. So, techniques that focus on your breath, or something as simple as tapping with your fingertips like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), are particularly powerful. These techniques are always available to you, and once you learn them, you can apply the techniques yourself any time. You can even teach others in your community, making the tools that much more sustainable and beautiful.
In 2007, I faced a personal health crisis that changed the trajectory of my life. I wanted to have more zest and juiciness. I wanted to feel more passion. More than anything, I wanted to be myself. When anyone is going through a healing crisis they do not feel like themselves, and they usually long for getting back to homeostasis. So I made a decision to become more sustainable with my personal life practices.
I learned a lot from my healing process. As I learned self-care techniques to get myself back into balance, I realized I wanted to help others to do so, too. That began my path towards becoming a Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach. EFT Tapping - a self-applied sequential tapping process to acupressure points – was the first practical tool I learned to help manage energy and stress, bringing balance and healing to one’s life.
At the time, I was dealing with a personal stressor in my life. Our family had just adopted an older dog, and she had severe health issues that were unmanageable for her previous family. I was completely stressed out over the situation. I experimented with EFT tapping on myself and noticed an immediate difference; I became more centered and the negative, limiting thoughts dissipated.
Naturally, I wanted to learn more, so I began studying EFT in depth and eventually became an EFT Certified Practitioner. Tapping works on a mind-body-spirit level (or mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual level). You can use tapping for a tightness in a certain part of your body, for example, or it can be used to release limiting beliefs. Each round of tapping eliminates more and more blocks. It is like tearing the outer leaves from a cabbage plant until you get to the core of what's going on and arrive at a place of self-acceptance and self-love.
Along with the benefits of tapping for health and well-being, tapping woke me up to understanding how our thoughts are energy, and how some thoughts are energy giving and some are depleting. Our physical issues are therefore related to our thoughts and vice versa. It’s relational. Too often people get trapped in self-blame and self-judgment thinking they caused their illness which can make healing even more challenging. The work I do - as a teacher, coach, and healer - is to help people meet themselves exactly where they are with love and compassion.
In addition to EFT, I also am a trained practitioner in other energy healing modalities such as ThetaHealing™, Emotion Code, and LifeForce® Energy Healing. In addition to the classes I teach at the studio, I have a private practice space just across the street in the historic Wyatt House where I see clients and groups.
I believe in holistic health practices and see yoga as a holistic practice, rather than just a physical practice of asana. The first two branches of yoga, for example, are the Yamas and Niyamas. These are ethical guidelines about how one lives. Satya is the yama of truthfulness. Here is where we ask ourselves: “Am I going to speak the truth? Am I going to be honoring the truth in myself?”
Ahimsa is a significant yama for me; it means nonviolence or nonharming and asks the questions: “Am I going to live my life with discipline and practices that are life giving? Am I practicing compassion?”
I weave the eight limbs of yoga into my classes. When I incorporate an ahimsa, I will ask: “In your practice today…in this moment…are you practicing nonviolence in your thoughts…in how deep are you going in the pose?” We don't want to go so deep into our asana as to cause harm later on. If we're busy judging ourselves on a yoga posture, it’s going to have a negative ripple effect to our mind, body and spirit.
I’ve gained so much from practicing and teaching yoga. I love it! When I first started as a student, it felt like a reunion, like I had been doing it all my life. Though at first I couldn't even do some of the postures. I remember thinking: “How am I ever going to be able to do Triangle or Side Plank?” At the time, I was rebuilding my strength, so it felt out of reach. But I have also always connected with yoga at the spiritual level, like connecting with an old friend.
I was a student for 11 years, and then space opened up in my life for me to complete a 200-hour teacher training at 8 Limbs in Seattle. I’m a life-long learner, so I will continue to study all my life, just as I keep up my Continuing Education Units for my clinical social work certification. Currently, I'm enrolled in a 500-hour yoga teacher training.
Yoga and tapping are just two practices that I use regularly with myself and clients. Of the variety of alternative energy healing modalities I’m also trained in, one of my favorites is ThetaHealing™, a technique for changing subconscious beliefs. Because so much of what we do is based in our subconscious, it’s an effective tool to get to the root of our stress, what blocks the body from healing.
ThetaHealing™ is something I often use in my own life. I love to bring the practices that have served me personally to my professional work. It’s one way that my essence can shine through, a sort of living example. Sharing and teaching what sustains me allows me to be fully myself, and is what my clients want for themselves, too. Whether it's through meditation or yoga or gratitude journaling, self-care modalities are at the core of my value system and my work.
In my health and wellness coaching practice, I start by helping a client understand the importance of self-care related to 12 distinct life areas. We talk about where they want to be in their lives and how they can bring more of themselves to the process. We have it all within ourselves, it's just a matter of accessing it!
Sometimes when people don't take care of themselves, there's a limiting belief in the background. Something like, “I'm not worthy of doing that, or I don't deserve this, or I don't have the time.” The language we use reveals so much about our underlying beliefs. It is much more life affirming to reframe our mindset to think we GET to do something versus we HAVE to do something. Ask yourself, “How can I think about things in a way that will be sustainable and won't drag me down and deplete me?”
It’s also about maintaining your vibration with the kind of thoughts you want to have about your day, and having a bit of a lightness, rather than a heaviness. I know! I used to take things seriously all the time.
We have trained ourselves to have our ego gratification be about how productive we are. We think we need to be busy every second of the day to be a worthy human being. The very idea of rest and relaxation seems so foreign to many people. But it’s simply unsustainable to think that we can put out so much energy without filling our own wells.
With such an emphasis on the external world, we lose touch with the internal. We become disconnected from our core self, unable to fully reside in who we are in our true essence. When we overextend our prana and use it inefficiently, we are not only unable to be present for ourselves, but for other people, too. Research has shown that when we multi-task, we are not more focused. It's scientific evidence, yet the culture we're in encourages the multitasking of doing, doing, doing -- rather than being. It’s a great reminder that we are human BEINGs, not human DOINGs.
When we are in alignment with our essence, we are relaxed. We are usually happier and easier to be around. Our energy is able to flow and we can bring our gifts - our "songs" - to the world in a much more effective way because nothing is hindering them. They will pour out of us when we are in alignment with who we are.
Thankfully I'm at a point now where I have good energy management of my Life Force, qi, prana, that I'm able to fully express myself in whatever role I'm in-- a coach, healer, teacher, friend, mother, wife, daughter, or sister without depletion. I’m grateful that my health crisis woke me up to a more sustainable way of living. But not just that, it awoke in me the realization that a deeper self-love is the foundation for a more just and sustainable world.
There's so much to love within each of us. I say love yourself completely and wholeheartedly, without any hesitation! When we love ourselves in this way, it's so easy to love others. When we can empower ourselves, we can empower the world.