Hi! I’m Emma. I live a bit of a hermit lifestyle in a small sunny cottage in the Highlands of Scotland with my beloved twinsoul Stefan, and near to my family home and the woods where I used to play as a kid. Densely populated with Scots Pine, Douglas Firs, Beech and Sycamore, the wood has a river running through it called the Peffery and a majestic hill rising up behind it, called Knockfarrel, or the Cat’s Back. It really is a beautiful corner of the world.
I am at my happiest when out scrambling about in the woods, and in nature in general, climbing up the hillsides for the phenomenal views, napping on haybales, singing, listening to folk music, singing mantras and such like. I am pretty obsessed with nutrition, having suffered from numerous food intolerances myself for years: gluten, lactose, soya, caffeine, yeast, deadly nightshade family, sugar, oranges (yup, even oranges!) As such I am completely dedicated to healthy eating I have a certificate in human nutrition and am constantly doing my own research. Anti-consumerist to the core, one day I hope to live off-grid and grow my own food. I am deeply committed to the pursuit of optimal health and the overall wellbeing of body/mind and spirit, and all the avenues that this entails – for example by using 100% natural products and not putting anything on your face you wouldn’t put in your mouth. I am very interested in alternative therapies. I’m a Swedish Massage and Reiki Practitioner and am a big believer in the benefits of many other body work and energetic practices including Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Pranic Healing, Accupressure, and Shamanic work, to name but a few.
I am passionate about yoga and meditation. I have an 9 year long meditation practice and am dedicated to doing Vipassana meditation daily (yes, the kind where you go on completely silent retreats for anywhere from 10 days up to months at a time!) My daily yoga practice is Kundalini Yoga- a comprehensive practice for mind, body and spirit which incorporates asana, mudra, mantra and pranayama. It is the most powerful form of yoga I have ever come across, I am now a teacher of this wonderful form of yoga and offer workshops and sessions as Back to Source Healing in my beloved Highlands as well as healing treatments and spiritual counsel sessions in person and online. I do my daily practice in our lovely little home studio in the cottage and eagerly await the building of our outdoor deck this coming Spring which I’ll be able to practice outside in the elements with a full glorious view of the Knockfarrel.
My ultimate dream is to open a retreat centre with an indoor studio and a big outdoor wooden deck for myself and others to teach yoga, meditation, sing, dance, and gather in a myriad of different artistic, musical and spiritual ways in amongst the trees. It would be directly inspired by the outdoor deck of experimental dancer/choreographer Anna Halprin, who at 96(!) is still living and teaching at her home in Marin County, California. Her outdoor deck is situated in amongst the native Californian Redwoods, with Mount Tamalpais rising majestically just beyond the forest, I was lucky enough to visit her there just months before my illness took hold, it was one of the best days of my life.
So many dreams have already come true, and there are so many dreams on the horizon that I hope one day to realise…. and I dream BIG.
This all sounds pretty idyllic right? Well, I have to tell you it really has NOT been, in fact these past 4 years have been the hardest years of my life. I have worked so hard to get to this point and I am still very much on the rocky road to recovery sometimes. Over 4 years ago, at the age of 25, I became a fully-fledged, card carrying member of ‘generation burn out’. After several frustrating months of banging my head up against a brick wall with the medical establishment, I knew I was very unwell but all my blood tests came back normal and scans showed nothing (I’m sure some of you will relate to that). I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E., which with my own research, following the advice of integrative, homeopathic and alternative medicine doctors, coupled with my knowledge of my own body, I now know on the physical level was caused by Adrenal Fatigue/HPA Axis Dysregulation, plus a hefty dose of Candida. Ironically, at the time I was struck down by this illness, I was, by society’s standards ‘living the dream’. I’d just completed my masters in 20th Century and contemporary art theory, I had majored in Art History in my undergraduate, and was interning in the curatorial department in one of the world’s biggest galleries in New York (for a little girl from the Highlands of Scotland this would be seen as having really ‘made it’, right?!)
But instead of feeling ‘on top of the world’ with this success at this early stage of my career, a sure step towards a high-flying job in the arts industry… I felt completely dead inside, and stressed beyond belief. I have an undying deep love and respect for artists who make authentic, expressive, universal work, but, here I felt like every day was a battle and that I had sold my soul to a superficial, shallow, money-driven system, I felt there was no heart in the work I was doing. I would literally cry on the train into work everyday, and this manifested not only in the dissatisfaction, anxiety and depression that came with realising my career ambitions had proved to be completely hollow and empty (even if someone had offered me the Director’s office I would have refused hands down), but a chronic illness that overtook my entire physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual being and quite literally forced me to STOP and completely re-evaluate my entire life.
The truth is that after years and years of working too hard (both as a student – studying flat out to get the best grades, and as a employee, working my way up in the art world, giving up so much of my for free time to climb the career ladder) I had become a workaholic and had completely forgotten how to relax. I was addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, and at points drugs, sex and unhealthy relationships, sugar, caffeine, exercise… I was constantly going out, to social events, to bars, clubs… doing, doing, doing! And it was the work addiction, the pursuit of career ambitions that finally broke me. It was the most painful realisation, but as I have progressed along my healing journey I am increasingly filled with gratitude.
I am finally learning how to just BE. Doing is over-rated, learning to simply be is the most valuable lesson I have learned to date, and it is a lifetime’s work to commit to and not be re-swept up by our all pervasive ‘doing’ culture. In order to really heal, I had to leave the city behind, and I returned to my homeland, to the seat of my soul – a place where I have been able to focus on healing- by connecting with nature, doing yoga, daily meditation, eating the most nutritious foods, journalling, bedroom dancing, nourishing reading, walking in nature and undertaking different alternative therapies as well as going through and completing an intensive therapy process in order to reconnect to my soul and re-build my Self, and my supportive connections with friends and family. This was my full-time job for 4 years. I am so thrilled that as the student becomes the teacher and the person in need of healing, once healed becomes the healer, that I am now in the position to share my story and to help others in any way I can, while I continue to love, accept and help myself on this journey. I feel like I’ve made my Way Through the Woods, and have reconnected Back to Source and want to share this in every way I can.
I started this blog as I know that I am not alone. I know there are increasing numbers of women like me (and men too of course!) who have been busting a gut trying to succeed in an unsupportive world, a world based on negative outmoded masculine ways of being. I know that many of us have gotten sick, or maybe will do one day if we keep going the way we are. (By masculine, I do not mean male dominated- I mean dominated by so-called ‘masculine’ values- external success, profit driven, status, ‘doing’, self-sacrifice for material gain and external recognition). So many of us completely lose ourselves trying to live by these standards. We need, individually, and as a society, to reconnect with the values of the eternal feminine: inner knowing, deep listening, connection, self-care, compassion, empathy, simplicity, connection with nature, to re-learn our natural state of ‘simply being’.
This blog is a space to share my stories and my experiences of what has healed me, and what continues to heal me and enrich my life, whether it be yoga, meditation, healthy eating, living, being in nature, or healing or spiritual practices. If this helps or entertains, even ONE person who is going through something similar, then this is all worthwhile, then that means my illness has served a purpose.
Thank you very much for reading, I’d be delighted if you comment on the posts if you feel moved to, or do get in touch to share anything that resonates strongly with you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.