Three years ago today, I published a blog call “confessions of a hippy scientist“.
In this blog, I came out as a science meets woo person, something I had shied away from for a couple of years.
You see I’ve got a PhD in biology and spend 20 years working as a research scientist.
When I left my scientific career to become a doula (back in 2012), being at births and feeling the incredible powerful energy in the room, combined with hanging out with a lot of spiritual birthworkers, led me to want to develop my energy healing abilities further.
Back in 2003 I had undergone Reiki Level 1 training. In 2015 I took it to level 2 then master teacher level.
After training and starting to offer healing to people on a regular basis, I agonised over showing this side of myself to the world.
Doula clients told me they’d picked me because of my scientific background, which wasn’t surprising as Cambridge is full of medics and scientists. They felt reassured by it and I understood that.
I worried a lot about putting people off if I chose to show my woo underbelly.
I even went as far as considering a separate website for my Reiki work!
Luckily someone challenged me to “come out”, and I wrote the blog I mention above.
It felt very vulnerable to publish it, yet the post only got amazing responses, mostly from people who felt the same as me and thanked for it. It helped others on their way to embracing their full selves.
Something magical happened in my work too, as I started getting clients who were more aligned with my true self.
Because you see, when you show your true self, it puts some people off, but these aren’t the people you want to work with.
Instead, you start attracting people who are much more aligned with who you are.
For instance, a birth client who had told me she didn’t want any hippy stuff, asked for several Reiki treatments after birth. When I asked her what had made her change her mind, she said “before the birth I didn’t get it, but now I do”, which was a complete reflection of my own journey.
So where am I now 3 years after this “coming out” blog?
First of all, I have now embraced who I am so much that I cannot believe that I used to feel the need to hide this side of myself.
I still work with a lot of scientists and medics (I’m still in Cambridge after all), but somehow my alternative side is never an issue.
I’m getting a lot more woo clients too, which I love. This year I have finally ticked my bucket list wish of drumming during a birth, and I have also been hired specifically by someone who wants me to drum at their birth. It feels very good and exciting.
I’m also being hired to organise mother blessings and group closing the bones ceremonies, as opposed to just doing them for friends.
I’m still a scientist, and always will be be. I love nothing more than providing clients with evidence based links, especially when those help them make truly informed decisions about their care, and challenge population based hospital policies.
Last year, I spent several months reviewing the research on the aging of the placenta and wrote this blog mostly because I got fed up of seeing non scientific birthworkers friends being bamboozled by jargon, and to show that things aren’t quite a simple as the “experts” say.
To write it I had to put my old scientist hat firmly back on and spend many hours reading the research. I realised I found doing this, that I found it tedious and dry. This is no longer who I am, and I’m really glad I’m not working in academia anymore. Today I’m able to unapologetically embrace who I am, and no longer feel that I need to know everything.
As I write this, I realise that I already felt this way when I was a budding scientist, early during my PhD. I remember my supervisor implying that I had to know everything and that I was incompetent if I didn’t. What a load of tosh! Something in me already knew this wasn’t true. I also remember questioning the way scientific papers were written under the same rigid rules and not liking it. I found reading papers for the sake it really tedious even then. I guess I always was a bit of a maverick, and someone who questions everything.
Between 2008 and 2012, as I trained for my diploma in antenatal education, I learnt about the way we learn, and it makes so much more sense to me. You simply cannot force knowledge into people, by pouring it into their heads.
Interestingly, I feel that my scientific knowledge is now kept fresh and alive by the multitude of clients I supports and all their wide and varied needs. Because I love nothing more than finding scientific evidence for clients, I find myself reading avidly on their behalf, and the knowledge sticks because there is a positive and emotionally investment behind my looking for it.
I’m still a hippy, in fact more than ever! I’ve carried on developing my more spiritual skills since I wrote the original blog. In 2017, made a shamanic drum at a very spiritual workshop, for the purpose of healing around pregnancy and birth. I then took a Reiki Drum training course shortly after that, and using my drum for healing and holding groups etc has become completely normal and natural to me. I’ve had two Reiki training upgrades. I have even stopped shying away from using my drum as standard in my closing the bones treatments (I used to give people the option to have it or not, now I just tell them it’s part of the treatment). Using Reiki treatment is part of my everyday life.
What I’ve found has happened is my energy work offering, which started being a neat Reiki thing, has morphed into my own style of blended healing, which is completely intuitive, and doesn’t actually have a proper name or fit in a box, but it’s mine and I love it.
Rather than offering energy work as a standalone I now weave it in and out of my birth and postnatal practise as and when feels appropriate.
The call to embrace and develop my inner healer is extremely strong. It feels without a shadow of a doubt that this is where I’m headed.
To make room for this I ended up dropping hats that no longer fitted me, that I felt I had outgrown. For instance I left my role as an NCT teacher.
I’m also slowly letting go of my teaching of babywearing. I still love supporting parents using slings, but I dropped running a sling clinic and I’m also letting go to actively teaching babywearing peer supporter courses-because whilst I still enjoy it, it doesn’t fill my soul with joy the way facilitating more spiritual work like closing the bones does.
The thing I love above all is blending my own cocktail of science and woo.
I trained with Spinning babies since I wrote the blog, twice, and I use a combination of their techniques which I apply in a very scientific way, together with tuning in to what I feel and see happens energetically to the mother during labour. I have experienced true miracles in using this unusual mix.
Perhaps the one thing that exemplifies this above all, is that I just finished developing an entirely new massage technique inspired by closing the bones, together with Teddy Brookes the osteopath. We called it the postnatal recovery massage. It combines massage, energy work and osteopathy. We teach it together, and the feedback we have received reflects exactly that. To quote Charlotte, a doula who attended our first training :
” Sophie and Teddy have taken all that is special about it and fused her energy-work approach with his osteopathic technique to create something extraordinary.”
Openly embracing who I am with all my paradoxes and quirks has been the most liberating journey ever.
I am a scientist but I am also an energy healer. I am proud of it. It’s what makes me unique.
If being a doula has taught me one thing, it’s that we are ALL full of paradoxes and quirks and uniqueness.
Nobody fits nicely into a neat little box.
I want to support others in this journey of embracing themselves, and this is a massive reason being my recently becoming a doula course leader.
When we celebrate rather than shame our uniqueness, this has tremendous power, both for ourselves and everybody around us.