How I overcame a chronic pain condition...
I am a life coach specialising in Mindset coaching and Positive psychology. I typically work with professional people who have hit a plateau in their lives and want more life purpose, fulfilment and happiness. Along with running Transformational retreats around the world, I am known as The Chocolate coach, for my unique process that I have developed following training in facilitating Cacao ceremonies with the Chocolate shaman in Guatemala. I have had such phenomenal breakthroughs with clients using this method that I was flown out to Thailand this year to share it on the retreat of one of the world's best performance coaches. A huge achievement for me, having a coach that I looked up to value what I do so much.
And all of this has happened over the last 3 years following my coaching journey with the coaching school Animas back in 2015. Before that, I spent 16 years working as an anaesthetic specialist, essentially putting people to sleep for a living and now, my whole life's work and passion is to wake people up- to make better choices, decisions and expect more from life! To realise that anything is possible - with the right mindset, tools and knowledge, within the right environment and surrounded by the right people. I feel a powerful drive to guide people into realising that they have a choice, to truly believe in themselves, and to be part of making it so that Everyone has a choice. To empower people to realise what gifts they hold within them.
If you'd have met me 10 years ago, I was at breaking point and in so much pain - you'd have seen a totally different person. I allowed myself to get consumed with negativity, my outlook was so contracted and I had more or less given up on life. So, to be here now, sharing this - experiencing my life unfolding in the most exciting and fulfilling ways fills me with so much gratitude. I had been in a very dark place in my life back then, that I can't even put into words how scary that was. To be in so much pain that I just didn't feel alive, and the feeling of having nothing to live for when each day brought with it more pain and hopelessness. It was so hard to explain to people what I was going through, constant pain is like hearing a high-pitched noise in your ears relentlessly and the potential to never hear silence again. It is literally the body being in a constant state of angry noise, that you can't tone down or drown out. I remember praying at times to just remember what it felt to be pain-free, for just one day.
I promised myself at that point, that if ever that miracle occurred, I would make sure I use my life to its greatest potential. To live my life to its fullest, and to inspire others not to take 'it can't be done' for an answer.
I still remember clearly that feeling of the doors that slowly shut around me, of things I couldn't do anymore because of this illness. Gradually losing myself and any control I had over my life more and more. I cut all my hair off, because washing it got too difficult, I stopped going to the gym, stopped running, stopped dancing, stopped playing football. I remember being in the back of my friend's car rolling around in agony on what was meant to be an exciting trip to Manchester. I couldn't do anything that involved me having to sit for any length of time- I used to get severe muscle spasms that eventually caused me to have panic attacks when I was out. Whether at the cinema, going out for meals or on trains to visit friends. I never forget having a huge attack at a firework display because I'd been sat with my head looking up too long. I had to carry a tens machine everywhere I went and went through every kind of holistic therapy there was. I became very bitter, negative and angry that it was happening to me - that I became very distant and ended up losing the man I was engaged to marry land all contact with my family. And when it returned the second time, I was so distraught by it coming back - after finally experiencing being pain free and returning to a normal life - I slipped into a massive depression which resulted in me losing my then 4-year relationship with a guy I really loved, along with our whole friendship group. I was in such a dark space, I managed to push everyone around me away. That was the second rock bottom moment of my life, and what began my quest for answers and refusal to just 'accept what is'.
My whole life transformed dramatically following a retreat and trip to Guatemala that totally changed my life, back in 2012. I was struggling with a third flare up of chronic pain and fatigue that left me stuck in bed unable to do anything and really depressed to be in that place yet again. I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 21 years old, and was advised I needed to adjust my life and learn to cope with this 'condition'. I had been warned not to continue my studies to specialise in surgery, as it would be too physically demanding for me. I was also told I needed to stop being so active (I used to be an athlete) and if I didn't slow down and pace myself, I could end up in a wheelchair. I was also told on the 2nd flare up to stop chasing miracle cures and learn to accept what is and adjust to how life now was for me. I began a regular yoga and meditation practise after realising how much this helped, and so when it happened the 3rd time, back in 2012 - I decided to go on a yoga retreat to really explore what was going on and learn how I can help myself. I just couldn't accept that this was it for me, and took myself to Guatemala on a 10 week retreat and spiritual expedition, which was totally life-changing.
There were many things on that trip that helped me understand what was going on and eventually overcome the pain that had took over my life for a whole decade. Our retreat guide and his spiritual teachings, the daily yoga and meditation practise outdoors in nature, being in such a beautiful and inspiring part of the world, eating wholesome, vegetarian meals everyday and detoxing. But the biggest shift and breakthrough for me, was in a Cacao ceremony led by a Chocolate shaman - where I was guided through meditation, visualisation and breathwork to understand what the pain was, why it was there and the lessons I could learn from it. Through drinking a cup of this pure ‘hot chocolate’ - I opened up and had a huge emotional release. In my meditation, I had a slideshow of memories come through, guiding me to when in my life I had allowed the pain to store up in my body. Flashbacks of memories and the exact emotions I felt in each moment, which I was guided in how to release through visualisation and breathing techniques. I had a major insight that day, with such clarity of vision and realisation - it was totally profound. Once I had let all that emotional pain go- I felt a surge of energy go through my body like never before. And from that moment, my whole life totally changed. I never experienced the excruciating shoulder and neck pain I used to get, and I was able to throw away the strong pain medication and sedatives that used to be my survival kit and have never needed them again 6 years on.
It had such a powerful effect on me, that when I finished my trip and travelling, I decided to return to Guatemala and work more with the Shaman. I spent 9 months in total healing myself, developing knowledge and skills in this spiritual energy healing, then training how to use it to guide and help others. At one point, I was going to 3 cacao ceremonies a week, some lasting up to 5-6 hours. Some really deep-diving into what Carl Jung described as ‘shadow work’. Of which, some were incredibly uplifting and energising. I'll never forget one hugely powerful one, right at the end of my trip when I felt I had nothing else to work on, but just wanted to play with visualisation practise and manifesting my future dreams. About an hour into the meditation, I started to feel panicky and my arms totally cramped up, my hands were seized up and I couldn’t relax them out, with the feeling then spread up my neck, face and mouth so I couldn't speak - I was so freaked out, thinking I must be having a stroke!
Which was a familiar feeling of sudden onset of symptoms and fearing the worst I used to have. When I was training and first working in surgery- I used to experience symptoms correlating to the specialism I was working in. Cardiac surgery - I used to get palpitations and panic attacks where I was certain I was having a heart attack. Neuro-surgery and sudden migraines and severe headaches and so on. And so, with the guidance of my teacher, the cacao shaman I uncovered the root of these fears - where they originated and so many realisations and shifts in my perception came from that one session.
It was such a huge turning point in my life that when I came home, 2 months later I booked a flight back out wanting to heal and learn more. I spent another 6 months there - working with many teachers and more closely with a doctor who ran a natural healing centre. I found a beautiful house and made myself a life there, as part of the community - however I got news that my grandad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and so I immediately returned home, sending them instructions on how to heal it naturally, sharing all that I learnt out there. Thankfully, he had mistaken what the doctor had said - and it was due to it being so enlarged that he was advised surgery. And by the time I had returned to go with him to his next appointment, it had resolved itself completely, and he and I believe it was due to following the advice.
After that, I knew I was being guided to share this knowledge where it is most needed and so trained as a coach in order to develop the necessary skills to facilitate my own cacao ceremonies back in the UK, following the guidance of my teacher, the cacao shaman and all I learnt through my inner work. My main intention with my coaching school, Animas was to develop the confidence to guide groups in the best way I can, along with running my own retreats to create the most Transformational experiences that I can for people. To give others the opportunity to totally change their lives, and in some cases get their life back like I did.
Life coaching for me, is my calling and my purpose in life. To motivate, support, guide and inspire people to truly be alive in the life they choose to live. To be the best possible version of themselves, to realise and achieve their full potential. To follow their passions, overcome challenges, hardships or pains, to excel in life, explore their purpose, whatever the person desires. To ultimately create the life they actually choose to live and reach true happiness and fulfillment. And by every means - not just 'accept what is', if that doesn't serve their greatest good. That we do have a choice, it just may take some 'inner work' to develop a deeper sense of awareness and realisations about ourselves and the world, in order to respond in better ways and to make the best decisions for ourselves. This is what I have learnt through my experience as a medical professional, someone who overcame a chronic illness and a coach.
Life coaching has been the greatest gift to me. As it was through life coaching itself, through my first coaches, Cecilia Calancha - my voice coach and Michael Serwa my life coach, that I discovered this was where my passion lies. And the channel through which I can guide and inspire others to become the changes that they wish to see. Funnily enough, both these coaches gave up on me halfway through, because I was too complicated a case for them! And the beauty of it is, that it was through coaching myself that I got the answers that I was searching for. Through my work with Ceremonial cacao, and being guided to look within myself, that I got real clarity and the shifts in my old ways of thinking, believing and seeing things.
I am forever grateful to those two people, who as coaches, made such a big impact on my life - both in the positive aspects, and by the gift of strength that I received through them giving up on me, which led me to stop looking outside of myself for answers.
I believe coaching is a lifestyle with an expanding positive influence on the world as a whole, I love the ripple effect that it has when it impacts the person's world and people around them. And I love how each coach will play their part in just the right way. We are all on our life's path, leading to an end destination. Some people consciously work on where their path is heading to, getting clarity and taking the time to always clear the path ahead of them. I believe throughout our lives, we'll have people join us on our path, walking along with us. Some might be a short walk, some for the duration - but all having their role to play and purpose. Some may guide us to some great shortcuts, or open our eyes to beautiful alternative paths that lead us to better destinations, or help us realise we were on the wrong path the whole time. And yes, some might lead us right off the path, into the bushes, maybe even into a dead end. But that has its value too, if we consciously reflect on it. A good coach will assist you to not only find your best path, but guide you on how to maintain it, enjoy it to its fullest and bring in the right companions to support and uplift you all the way! 🙂
My life has certainly been a journey - I have flipped from victim to hero so many times up til now, it's been like a battle. Life felt like a battle, but with just enough glimpses of beauty and wonder that I remained hopeful and kept walking the path.
This is my ultimate drive and motivation as a life coach. And that is not to say that I coach people because I have mastered life, to believe that would be naive, and somewhat ignorant. However, I have mastered certain 'layers' of my life, through which I have learnt valuable lessons and insights that can only come from the deepest and darkest levels of pain.
I remember one of my spiritual teachers, 6 years ago, advising me that what I was going through at the time, was temporary, and just another layer of the onion peeling away to be healed. And that analagy really didn't sit well with me. That made it feel never-ending. And to remove the layers of an onion, ultimately leaves you with just the little inner core. But actually, what I have come to realise, as a coach - is that is the secret to living the life of your dreams, living life fully and really experiencing a sense of purpose, fulfillment and true happiness is to remove those old layers, as they are not ours. To get to our true self, true voice, true essence and then re-invent our ‘I AM’ with all the things that make our heart sing and fill and light us up. To stand guard to our mind and only allow in that which does these things.
And that's me- and my main coaching philosophy. Each of us have our unique core being - our gift beyond all the layers. The layers being all the labels, stories, belief systems, traits, fears, traumas etc. that we have been layered with since childhood. I work with clients to re-discover their gift - their uniqueness and purpose in life. Which is a beautiful journey of removing all these old layers, like a snake shedding its skin, or the caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly!
Along with coaching people to let go of the stories of the past and take control and be the author of their future story - the one they are living right now. To have everything in place, in harmony and in alignment so that story is a best-seller and something you will look back on in later life with love, pride and share with passion.
For more information on how life coaching can benefit you, or how to work with me, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org