As the founder and organizer of the Build Your Private Practice community, I typically share tools, tips, and advice on private practice in my weekly articles—along with my personal experiences in the industry.
That said, this week’s article is more personal. I’d like to share with you a bit of my journey, and I invite you to reach out once you’ve finished reading with your comments and shared experiences.
Before I became a therapist, I was a yoga teacher with a dedicated spiritual practice. I meditated daily, studied yoga philosophy and Buddhism, and travelled to India, Nepal, Indonesia, Guatemala, and Costa Rica to study with my teachers. At every step, I learned more about the path of realization and awakening.
Anyone who knew me back then knew how committed I was to the path of yoga. I spent over a decade constantly traveling, learning, and teaching.
In 2012, I was invited to go to Los Angeles to work with one of my teachers. I was over-the-moon excited! At the time, I believed that all of my hard work and perseverance had paid off.
There was a sense of finally having “made it.” I received recognition, and I thought that this invitation would open new doors for me that would allow me to truly flourish on my path.
Although I have never spoken about my experience in L.A. publicly, that time was the most difficult of my entire life.
I trusted blindly in a teacher whose reputation preceded them and put myself in a vulnerable position. I assumed that because they were a skillful teacher who was well-known in the community that their intentions were of the highest good.
My experience in L.A. is what finally sent me to therapy—resulting in four years of intensive personal work. This included attending the Hoffman Process for healing childhood wounds and weekly individual therapy. It culminated in completing my Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology, becoming a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, and reading and studying the work of trauma and relationship experts.
Seven years later, the aftermath of my experience in L.A. is still unfolding.
Although the experience was nothing like what I thought it was going to be, and only ultimately ended up lasting a few months, I have always known that it was the catalyst that sent me on my journey to psycho-emotional healing.
I have been a huge advocate of integrating psychotherapy into spiritual work ever since.
I have taught somatic therapy to yogis, helped yoga teachers understand how to create trauma-sensitive classes, taught spiritual seekers about attachment in relationships, and have essentially chewed-the-ear off of anyone who would listen about how important psycho-emotional healing is—particularly as a spiritual seeker and/or yoga practitioner.
What I failed to realize until this year, however, is how much pain I was still carrying from my experience in L.A.
In moving there, I had left behind an incredible community and yoga studio. I had many friends and lovely students who regularly attended my classes in Calgary, Alberta. And once I left L.A., I also left behind my yoga practice… and my commitment to a spiritual path.
I didn’t stop practicing right away. In fact, at first, I threw myself even more fully into my practice. But after a year and a half, I was left feeling empty and disconnected.
It was at that point that I turned to psychology and personal healing and eventually became a therapist. Yet, in doing so, I disowned the pain of leaving behind my spiritual community and a path that felt like home for so many years.
This summer, my wife and I went to the Omega Institute in New York for a weekend workshop with Tara Brach. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, she’s a psychologist, Buddhist teacher, and yoga teacher. The similarities between our paths were uncanny. Hers was the first workshop on spirituality I had attended in over five years.
On the first night, as I watched her so skillfully and beautifully integrate concepts of human psychology with the path of awakening, I found myself sobbing. It was the first time I allowed myself to come face-to-face with the anger and the pain of what had happened to me, and to truly grieve for the path I had left behind.
Since leaving that workshop, I have reclaimed my spirituality and am committed to re-exploring and developing that part of my life.
My career, from aquatics manager to yoga teacher, to life coach, psychotherapist, and business coach, has always been a reflection of who I am.
It is impossible for me to teach yoga, or offer therapy, or mentor a fellow therapist in private practice without bringing all of myself – my past experiences, my sense of humour, my passion, my brokenness, my joy, my compassion, my whole heart…to what I do.
Re-embracing my spirituality will be no exception.
I have every intention of continuing to be a staunch advocate for embracing psycho-emotional healing on a spiritual path. Moving forward, however, I am exploring personally and professionally what it means to bring spirituality to psychotherapy, and even to our work as entrepreneurs in private practice.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey, and I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences with me about your own psycho-emotional-spiritual journey. I look forward to continuing to walk this path with you.
Ps. If you need support with your private practice, please schedule a free Business Mentorship Consultation.