Here are the full interviews I did with my SmartBody SmartMind alumni.
*Note – These folks were in the program when it was called “The New Inner Game”, so if you hear them mention that, or “the game”, that’s what they are referring to. Same program, different name.
Mason - On Being the Change!
Marloes van Eck SBSM Alumni
I am very grateful for having found and participated in SmartBody SmartMind. It has been both enlightening and reassuring, challenging and supportive, gentle and potent, important and necessary.
Irene, I am so impressed with how you organised and delivered your body of work (especially via the internet, so that we could join no matter where we are in the world).
No easy feat yet so successfully done.
I am also so touched by the group of amazing people in this program. Your vulnerable, courageous posts and comments have taught me much and inspired me greatly.
I am very much looking forward to continuing to practice this work and for the next round.
Sue Melbourne, Australia. SBSM Alumni
I came across the SBSM program by sheer 'accident' - I was clearing out my email Junk folder and almost deleted the email but something in the title caught my eye - something along the lines of Trauma Releasing and as I'd been through a very difficult 4 yrs and had some new trauma enter my life, and because I believe in synchronicity, I thought I'd take a look
Well, that's when my real journey began - I had been to psychologist after psychologist, tried a myriad alternative and spiritual practices which I still implement, etc. which all helped to a certain point but I knew both intuitively and physically that I had trapped emotions in my body, I literally felt them and I knew I needed to 'get them out' in order to heal but didn't know how.
When I watched Irene's 3 free healing trauma videos I felt a surge of hope and I wanted to try the program out but it was quite expensive and wouldn't be an easy journey either. It was a tough decision to initially make as I'd handed over so much money already trying to find the right thing for me and was struggling financially and knew the program was a lot of money for me to spend. After many weeks of indecision I finally came to the conclusion that this felt 'right' for me and if I didn't at least try it nothing would change and I literally couldn't keep going the way I was. So I managed to scrape the money together, made many sacrifices, and with the payment plan made it workable.
Irene was also completely upfront about the commitment the program would require, financially, emotionally and physically, BUT the huge benefit was that once you became a member of the program you became a life member, had ongoing access to the content and was able to also attend the program when it was run live each time (online). I thought, wow this is indeed an investment, once paid there's no more costs and you get ongoing support and a member's group to connect with any time so you won't ever feel alone or broken again AND forever!
So I made the commitment and felt very nervous about all the stuff that would come up and I did struggle throughout the whole program as did many others. I did manage to go through the program completely which I didn't know if I'd be able to as it does bring up a lot of stuff but with Irene and her team's full support and encouragement to go at our own pace and no shame if you did drop out in this round there was no pressure, only encouragement and opportunities to challenge ourselves.
I feel totally empowered now and have so many tools which I'm beginning to remember to implement in my daily life and can check in with our Facebook group anytime. I would encourage anyone who truly wants to understand and release trapped trauma and especially those who have tried everything else with little or no lasting results, to try this all encompassing program. It's not a quick fix, there's no certificate at the end as there is no end - this is a lifelong journey of discovery, understanding, integration and release but it is one of EMPOWERMENT and as Irene says, as we heal ourselves we heal others along the way, so we are all helping humanity release collective trapped trauma. What an awesome thing to create!
Kajsa Futrell Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. SBSM ALumni
Hello Irene and team! I am super grateful for the work you are doing. This programme is excellent, well paced and respectful. Irene, you have a good balance between pushing and encouraging us but also teaching about listening to our own flow. We all need to be careful not to override but then also not to collapse either.I also appreciate the balance between the education (and I love all the extra links!) and the exercises-practising.
For myself, I have spent most of my adult life working on my mental, emotional and spiritual health BUT I have not been embodied. Finally now here's a programme that teaches that. However, if I had not done all my other work it would have been too triggering being in my body like this without one on one support with a SE preactitioner. You do suggest this and now I am doing it that as well.
Early in this programme as I started the exercises I was blown away by the level of terror in my body - I had no idea. Feeling this so early in the programme alongside your insistence that we respect our bodies, I learnt to listen and go slow (for the first time in my life!!!), and not complete exercises (wow, that too is new for me!). I developed a deep empathy and respect for myself (again very new for me!) and a desire to be gentle and respectful with myself - also new for me!
This alone is so HUGE and life changing for me, in ALL areas. I still do have huge resistance to doing the exercises but as I can repeat and repeat your programme, I can go slow. It is so huge having this new relationship with myself, and many many times during the day I'm checking in with my body tensions and releasing, while going about my daily activities. Also listening more to my physical body's needs-thirst, peeing etc.
Irene, I love your passion for your work and I too get very excited about the deep need on our planet for trauma education, which is actually becoming more mainstream BUT being embodied and HOW TO BE EMBODIED IS STILL MISSING! As a survivor of childhood/teenage sexual abuse (which is so rampant on our planet let alone all the other traumas, simply being in a human body on this planet is traumatic!) anyway there is still not a felt sense or understanding of how very very slow we need to go. Trauma survivors have no frame of reference, no anchor…..very very terrifying to start encountering that inner terrain until there is a sense of internal safety, which this programme helps to build.
Thank you again Irene, I am hugely passionate about your work and have been spreading the word. Doing this work is 'walking the talk', the most difficult but this is REAL. So many therapists need to get REAL, let alone all the other healers and teachers out there….your work is humbling and also empowering AND there is no bullshit!
Thank you thank you
Linda – Healing MS via Nervous System Health
Tereza Hrdličková Feldenkrais Practitioner, Prague, Czech Republic. SBSM Alumni
Irene's 12-week program has been a deep multi-layer learning for me. It has brought me huge enrichment both personally and professionally.
It influenced how I am in my daily life, how I relate, how I parent, how I understand myself, how I work. It improved greatly my ability to understand and recognize my stress responses and provided me with tools to shift them and to process "unpleasant" feelings and sensation. It has been intense learning about the autonomic nervous system, stress physiology and trauma, though everything I've learned makes absolute sense in my work as a Feldenkrais practitioner. Actually it has been challenging and changing my thinking and practicing.
I have a busy practice in Prague. I have had many happy clients, still, I found with many of my clients I didn't have the tools I needed to get results that stay. I've found that what Irene teaches is what I am searching for. Thanks to the program I have greater understanding of the tools I learnt in the Feldenkrais training and how to use them to the benefit of clients, plus I've learned new tools that have totally changed how I work with clients that have trauma, which I can also perceive now more clearly. Last but not least I got greater understanding of whom my work really is for, what I can offer, and when I should refer people to a trauma specialist.
My conviction after finishing Irene's program is that it is very beneficial for any practitioner, and any human, to have the understanding and experience of autonomic nervous system regulation, stress physiology, ability to recognize trapped trauma, and know how a traumatized system will tend to respond. Irene offers us a chance to learn all of this, and to feel and sense what biological safety is and how to gain more of this quality. I recommend the 12-week program as a postgraduate education to any practitioner.
Lisa Dennys Author, Life Coach and Intuitive Personal Growth Catalyst. Ontario, Canada. SBSM Alumni
I really liked the concept that trauma is anything that overwhelms the nervous system…it was a gentler and broader viewpoint than I had learned in the past-- and that continues to help me with my own inner work and with client work.
I had some periods of frustration here and there in the learning curve, that were just related to my wanting to master it all NOW (my own impatience, longstanding with learning new stuff..!) I appreciated Irene's constant emphasis to go slowly and respect our bodies, and that going too fast was counterproductive. Now when my mind says "keep going", I try to listen to what my physiology is saying, because I realize it's the TRUE indicator of my stress level.
I've also adapted the exercises to do in various situations throughout my day as a way of LIVING the material more and more-- and through that, I believe I'm doing constant little bits of rewiring….I live differently and there's no going back! I even had a concrete example when my startle response was much less severe than it has been for years, and I came 'down' from it really quickly by using what I've learned.
I see so much more in what's happening in my clients now. I feel like I now see everything through the 'lens' of the nervous system state and past trauma, and it has really opened my awareness and filled in things I could not quite grasp previously. I am SO grateful to Irene for all she is doing in this field. It has been --and will continue to be-- a life-changing piece for me in my health recovery and in my overall quality of life.
Darla Riotto Enumclaw, Washington, USA. SBSM Alumni
Wow, where to start? This has been a MAJOR life changing experience for me. I am gleaning everything I can and will continue to so it can become the new normal for my system.
My car accident in 2010 left me with injuries in my upper body that have affected every aspect of my life. These injuries produced chronic pain, foggy or confused thinking, insomnia, migraines, adrenal/chronic fatigue, unstable ribs that rotate from chronic muscle spasms, neuropathy and a sense of being unplugged in a heavy body. My legs get so heavy with Charlie horse cramps I can barely walk as my energy drains and I try to push myself. According to the multi-injury specialist because of the way my treatment was handled it totally confused my nervous system to the point where it no longer knew how to function properly. They knew it needed to be rewired but drugs were all they could offer to manage the symptoms. They had no idea how to actually rewire it. The steroids used for inflammation created early onset osteoporosis and Fibromyalgia was added to my medical chart in March of 2017 due to increasing symptoms and no improvements with any treatments.
The most tangible physical result of taking SmartBody SmartMind is that after years of new symptoms arising every 4-6 weeks taking this program stopped that downward spiral my body was on. It has now been 15 weeks since my last new symptom occurred! That alone screams success! The other physical things I have noticed are: I now have random bursts of joyful energy for a few moments at a time, although I still don't sleep more than a few hours at a time I am slowly adding more times where I can go back to sleep. My ribs are not rotating as quickly or creating as deep of bruising from the rotations, I'm breathing more fully - not holding my breath as much, migraines and stabbing/burning sensations of neuropathy are less intense, the heavy weighted down feeling is lighter, less depressive thoughts/feelings, digestion/elimination is better, I feel more emotionally stable, and I seem to be able to relax easier - I have random moments where I feel completely safe to just be alive.
My overview of the program is this: it is very well organized, suggested outline to follow is paced well, no pressure to push through it or do it perfect, good preparation for what to expect, lessons are easy to follow, educational content is comprehensive and thorough, bonus education adds additional clarity, bonus music section helps body relax to absorb exercise lessons, good balance of educational lessons and time to absorb them, the ability to have live training and ask questions creates atmosphere of safety, the team support is stellar with quick compassionate responses, other people sharing their stories often answers questions I didn't know I had and provides a community connection feeling of you are not crazy or alone. The ability to share what you want, when, or nothing at all creates empowerment.
This is very different from other group therapy I've been in. The sense of safety has allowed me to explore suppressed areas in my being. I've been able to release a lot of anger, guilt and shame in realizing my body is simply having a biological response to trauma. I've found a deep level of forgiveness and compassion for myself and others in recognizing I had birth and developmental trauma. Understanding the biology and principles of the nervous system is helping me slowly and steadily release myself from the tyranny of perfectionism and the idea I need to be constantly productive/ busy to be worthy of value. I am still strong but being a Wonder Woman who does it all can never be part of my life again and now I am learning the skills I need to become my true self. Because I've been working on the cognitive aspects to heal my inner being for years, this inner shift is the most amazing to me. Adding in the body feels like what I have been missing all along.
Jennifer Massachusetts, USA. SBSM Alumni
The SmartBody SmartMind program found me, somehow, through facebook advertising and the timing was spot-on, as I had spent the last several months on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. I was knee-deep in body-exploration through yoga, and as my body awareness and sensation started to increase, I started to become aware of trauma responses, and these responses started to interfere with my daily functioning.
I had honestly never considered the impact of trauma on my life. I grew up in a loving family, went to college and grad school, got a good job. Sure, I was aware of a few challenging events in my life, and have a void where relationships "should" be, but trauma wasn't on my radar. As I watched the videos I felt a magnetic pull towards this information. I was grateful that the program was starting so soon, as more time probably would have allowed me to talk myself out of it!
The 12 weeks of SmartBody SmartMind was eye-opening. I watched, I listened, I learned. I felt. I faced body sensations with an intensity that was at first somewhat overwhelming, and then became more tolerable as I began to learn just how much was just right for my nervous system. Although I don't think there is a "pleasant" way to go through the process of learning to feel difficult emotions, I felt so supported in this process by the Facebook group and the wonderful insight of the professional moderating team, that it was all doable. The online format met me right where I was at, in a place that allows me to choose my level of engagement and vulnerability. The support of the other participants made me braver, and my sharing became more frequent and open (and thus more helpful!).
Now, at the end of this round of SmartBody SmartMind, I can honestly say that I do not regret the money and time I invested. I feel different in my body, and the neurosensory exercises and education gave me both strategies and a sense of empowerment to continue the journey. I wish I could be a miracle story, and say that all my symptoms are gone, but I know now how important it is to move forward slowly in this journey.
Much heartfelt gratitude and thanks to everyone.
Janet Raftis – Developing Deep Self-Love & Body Trust
David Magness – Better Mental Health via Positive Coping Strategies
Janet Raftis Energy Healer and Psychic Medium, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. SBSM Alumni
Irene's Smart Body, Smart Mind program was powerful for me both as a practitioner and as a client.
Before enrolling, I knew very little about the nervous system. Irene focuses on the importance of understanding how the system works and she is able to explain the intricacies of it clearly. This information has helped me tremendously when working with my own clients in my energy healing practice, as I now understand the "why" behind how things are showing up in their bodies and energy fields.
Personally, the information and the exercises have been extremely helpful in understanding how trauma and early dysregulation of my nervous system has been held in my physical body. The exercises have been profound! I have used a lot of other modalities and received relief, but these exercises allowed me to go even deeper and to release in ways I didn't even know were possible.
Shaina Loos Massage Therapist. Vancouver, Canada. SBSM Alumni
I have done lots of other therapies including yoga, but this material really gave me a new level of self awareness and body awareness.
I now sleep better, have less back pain and headaches, understand how I hold stress in my body, and practice tools that gently release tension throughout my day. It is so worth it so invest in yourself and learn advanced self-care skills.
Wendy Billings, Montana, USA. SBSM Alumni
First off, this course is a safe place to ask questions and to be vulnerable. The support from the admin team was superb and it was very comforting to have classmates who supported me. I am indebted to Irene, her team, and the beautiful people who have chosen to be on this healing journey.
I have been diagnosed with complex PTSD. It was tearing my marriage apart, despite having a very supportive husband. My mind was on high alert and anything remotely negative, judgemental, or critical of others would put me into a tailspin. I persevered though! I kept on doing the work in SmartBody SmartMind and eventually my body seemed to know that my husband did not hate me as I had perceived he did. That was the turning point. Rarely does my body get triggered any more as it did… and it is a relief beyond description.
Hope is what this course has given me. Hope and a lot of self compassion.
Lisa – Healing the Immune System
Amy – Improve Your Love Life, Business, and Anxiety
Mark Fan Engineer & Researcher. Toronto, Canada. SBSM Alumni
Each person needs to study themselves -- this course is a wonderful guide to help us do that.
Irene has a wonderful voice, pacing, and manner of speaking that makes the audio lessons easy to follow and comforting.The exercises we covered expanded the sophistication of my approach to continued self-understanding and self-maintenance.
CrisMarie Campbell Speaker & Management Consultant at Thrive! Inc. Whitefish, MT. SBSM Alumni
Irene's program gave me the tools to rebalance my nervous system, and to understand that my childhood experiences impacted my nervous system development and kept me locked in unhealthy patterns.
I continue to utilize the tools to reset my nervous system daily, which makes me feel calmer, safer, and gives me more self-connection and confidence. I love it!
These are life/body/emotional skills that everyone should have growing up (or to recover from growing up)!
Jayne Eddington Holistic Babycare Specialist. Auckland, New Zealand. SBSM Alumni
If you believe in the mind body connection, if you believe you are the source of your own healing, but just need the tools, then THIS is the program for you.
I used to have fibromyalgia. I used to hold everything inside me. Literally. I didn't feel much of anything (except pain). I was "happy" enough but with no sense of joy. I felt kinda helpless to help myself beyond the physical (osteopath, naturopath, acupuncture, diet and lifestyle - all since 2002) and when my subconscious told me it was time to start taking a look at what I hadn't seen, my mind freaked out and had no way to file or process and it resulted in a deep, dark pit of depression and despair.
Fast forward to me creating (another physical) supplement regime that avoided pharmaceuticals to stop myself from taking my life, and some excellent counselling and I was able to see that I needed something more. In September 2016, I stumbled across Irene's free Healing Trauma intro videos that are the informational series to the 12 week program. I had done SO much myself, I had healed as much as I could, but I was at a loss with persistent dis-ease and lack of overall sense of wellbeing... The emotional side of things and the mind body connection were missing…
Watching the three-part video series, I was riveted. I felt compelled! It spoke to me in a way no other therapy had! Could I really gain the tools to help myself to heal? Could I really stop myself from responding to stress the way I always had? Really? YES! The answer is YES!
I went to the dentist the other day, ZERO anxiety. For as long as I can remember the dentist = stress response. I no longer have continual pain in my hip/body -- I used to hold anger in my right hip, I now have the tools to release any pent up anger and frustration in a constructive health promoting way, no longer holding onto it to manifest as physical pain. I have such a sense of freedom. SO much has opened up in my life. I can FEEL and I am ok with that, vulnerability suits me it seems.
I feel more generous with my time - I am easily a hermit ordinarily. I see an osteopath on occasion as opposed to almost weekly as a necessity. I work through stressful situations in a flash to the point that they are no longer an issue. I can have repressed memories crop up and deal with them powerfully - not be consumed by them. Issues with people in my life? Meh, sorted in an instant without drama on my part... Illnesses around me this winter (I'm in NZ) nada, I have been exposed to SO much and had nothing at all… AND... I am experiencing JOY, every day.
My past isn't coming back to haunt me, it is coming back to heal me. I am healthy. My bloodwork and alternative tests look fabulous. No liver toxicity, no chronic inflammation no regular pain… I had done A LOT of work myself prior to this course, and, although I have learnt a tonne and have no regrets, if I could have my time again, I would just invest in this course. And, finally, the best thing…
I have found love, I am IN love. I am in a relationship with a really awesome man (it's a recent thing). I was single my whole life (on purpose) and unable to engage, or even if I am honest, consider the possibility of engaging prior to this course… Things are on track for happily ever after… I wondered if it would ever happen… A WHOLE lot of stuff needed to not just change, but transform before this was going to happen and now it has and IS happening. I needed to be able to love myself first… And THAT started with acceptance.
This program is a journey of self discovery, of letting go of what is not serving you, of gaining the "things" you need to live your life from a place of health… whatever that means to you… You can take it at your own pace, you can stop and start if you need to, you are accepted at wherever you are in your journey, there is no pressure, you are the skipper of your ship… There is incredible support offered by Irene and her team, but also the alumni and other participants. You are not alone. You must DO the work, but if you do, the results are INCREDIBLE. I know this, because I am living proof of it.
What are YOU waiting for? This IS it. This WILL get you results.
Naomi Galinski Vancouver, BC. SBSM Alumni
I’ve had chronic fatigue for years. It has debilitated my social life and ability to exercise, go out, and have fun. I tried everything with diet, supplements, meditation, gentle yoga, etc.. Despite being disciplined and a saint in those areas, I was still having insomnia, migraines, difficulties focusing at work, and was exhausted all the time.
I tried releasing the core belief that “I’m not good enough” through counselling and meditation but it kept on rearing its head in unexpected ways causing suffering in my life. I could also feel fear, anger, and sadness (my old traumas) as tension stuck in my body. I tried different modalities to release them but I was impatient and they wouldn’t release. Some meditation techniques were even too cathartic and re-traumatized my nervous system instead.
Working directly with and at the level of the nervous system was the missing piece. Irene’s 12 week SmartBody SmartMind (SBSM) program helped me understand why I still had all these repeating issues and the exercises helped (and still are helping) me get unstuck.
SmartBody SmartMind is laid out in a way that releases stored trauma, creates more space, and capacity in the nervous system in a gentle way. This process is slow and takes time, but it’s potent and lasting. I didn’t finish the lessons and exercises in 12 weeks, but Irene encourages us to listen to our bodies and slow down when we need to, so I did that.
I reduced my hours at work and dedicated myself to this practice last summer. I noticed improvements early on and it has accelerated my progress in healing. Even my Somatic Experiencing (SE) teacher was amazed at how far I had come along in 6 months!
I also love the science she brings into this. I’m a former PhD physicist, so it’s important to me that things make sense. Through her lessons, I learned why these neurosensory exercises work and why I sometimes must slow down.
The nervous system cannot be pushed into healing. As an over-achiever slowing down has always been difficult because I believed that you must “do-do-do” to achieve, but armed with this new knowledge it’s easier to let go, rest, and trust in the wisdom of the nervous system to heal itself.
Here are some improvements I experienced from doing SBSM:
Re-wiring the nervous system is a slow process, at times painfully slow, and sometimes you feel worse before feeling better, therefore I am also grateful for the encouraging and supportive SBSM Facebook community (the fellow participants, Irene, and her professional staff).
It was also wonderful to finally connect with a group of people that understood what chronic fatigue syndromes (CFS) is and what I was going through. I still have chronic fatigue, no stamina to exercise, and need more rest and quiet time than others, but I am more content with this condition now. I know how to work with it instead of feeling like it is working against me.
I am so mind blown by this experience that I am inspired to become an Somatic Experiencing practitioner eventually myself.
Thank you, Irene. I feel nothing but deep gratitude for you."
Linda Yuncker Ventura, California. SBSM Alumni
My nervous system was in a state of functioning freeze. I repressed a lot of emotions. I did not like conflict. I had a tendency to go into shut down. I tried to always be nice and a people-pleaser. I felt shame around feeling “negative” emotions. I was diagnosed with colon cancer 2 years ago and had a baseball size tumor removed. I chose to take a holistic approach to my healing, and a year after working with my doctor he recommended I have a second cancer test done that is very specialized. The results came back and the numbers barely changed. I started to cry. My doctor told me that I had done a great job with my diet and supplements but if he had to give me a grade for my stress level he would give me an "F".
The test was done on September 21 2016 and I was blessed with an email about Irene's 3-part video series and I started SmartBody SmartMind on October 4, 2016. Just today a friend who sees my same doctor asked me what do I feel changed for me after my doctor told me that I was failing in the stress department. I told her that hands down it was taking Irene's 12 week program.
Irene's 12 week program provides information that is so valuable for understanding our nervous systems. The class is structured in a way that it is dosed out perfectly so that you never feel overwhelmed. I was impressed with the way the program was laid out. No matter your learning style Irene provided material to fit. I was able to read the lesson, watch a video and print off the transcripts. Brilliant!
I love that I can take this class as many times as I want, as I have a tendency to be an overachiever, but I felt for the first time with an online class that I could pace myself and if I did not complete the 12 weeks that it was okay. This took so much stress off me and it helped my nervous system.
Irene provides exercises that are great tools. I found this to be so very helpful. So often people present theory but they do not share tools that can be helpful for self-empowerment and healing. I have greatly enjoyed the private FB group as well. I have learned so much from people's posts and comments. I feel a real sense of community as a member of this group.
Now I have healthier relationships with people and I am so much more compassionate about what people are going through. Irene encourages us to honor our bodies plus she teaches us to self-regulate. That was huge for me since I have always had a tendency to shut down or rage. I feel like I have spent so much of my life out of my body. This program made me feel safe to be in my body and to appreciate it's wonder from a whole new level.
Mariana SBSM Alumni
Irene's 12-week program has been pivotal in deepening my understanding of myself as well as the people with which I work. I work with suicide loss survivors and the information I've learned in this course has given me the nervous system language needed to assist people in better understanding what they are experiencing in this complicated grief process. That, in and of itself, is priceless.
Irene presents the concepts and exercises in a simple, easy-to-understand way. I had already done quite a bit of personal healing before I found this program and it filled in gaps of understanding, provided effective and simple tools, and deepened my connection with myself and others. I am so glad to have found Irene's work and am so grateful to her and for each and every person that works with her to make this program such a full experience. The rich, juicy, community-building discussions and connections are invaluable and add a depth to the program that is rarely found in an online format. I highly recommend SmartBody SmartMind to anyone on a healing journey!
Ellen Hill SBSM Alumni
The 12 week program has been life changing for me. I bought the program October last year and just couldn't get my head around paying so much for it. My mindset definitely affected my whole approach to the process. Although I made some huge progress even with a negative mindset, the changes I have made since doing the program this second time round are nothing short of astounding.
If you are holding back because of the price, don't! You will be so glad that you have bought this program, support and education. It's truly worth every cent.
I have always wanted to use the skills and abilities I know I possess, but I have never had the confidence and courage to put myself out there and just do it! Well, now I'm doing it I am in the process of starting up a business.
Chris Maldonado SBSM Alumni
I knew in my gut this class was holding a huge missing piece in my 20 year Lyme healing journey. I wasn't sure it was the right time to do it, as it was starting while I was moving. And it cost almost 2 months of income for me. But I knew it would be profound for me. So I did it and am so glad I did.
For most of these 20 years, I kept thinking the "right treatment" would come along for me, so I tried everything, spent everything to get well in those years, including selling my house to pay for treatments. As the years went by, I started to suspect that I needed to change my approach. I knew I had more internal work to do, had been to therapists, unsuccessfully. I didn't know what else to do.
This program showed me how. And why.
I knew, that in addition to feeling sick, I somehow didn't have the stamina I used to, I was burning out faster and faster in response to less and less stress. It was something I couldn't really explain to my medical team, but I knew it was a problem. But I didn't know how to stop "pushing through" to make things work/get things done, despite the burnout feeling. And I thought it was all Lyme.
I also knew I didn't find it easy to feel things. I numb out and push thru it, I thought that was how everyone did it. I couldn't "feel" my feelings. With this course, I learned how to "be with myself". I learned that numbness and not being able to feel is common and normal for someone like me who has been through so much trauma. I learned that it's essential for me to feel and experience my own anger, my own feelings... and I got a ton of help with learning to be in touch with that part of me and how to let it out.
In the last few years I started to suspect that some of my physical symptoms were not Lyme symptoms, but something else, but I couldn't figure out what, or how to help myself. Understanding what Functional Freeze looks like (me), what the symptoms of trauma are, and what it means to have a dysregulated nervous system were eye-opening to me. Freeze! Conservation mode! I'm not always exhausted from Lyme, I'm in Conservation freeze! And it's not a matter of just "changing my mind" to get out of it. That, is a game-changing understanding for me!
This program has a great FB page, and tons of people participated... talking about what they were learning, encouraging each other, from all over the world. It was remarkable to me, after being in varying support groups, to find such camaraderie and care. I have come to the place where I don't feel alone in this, as I have for most of my life.
I feel like I was on the Titanic, saw the iceberg, and this program helped me turn the ship away from a collision and towards connecting with myself on so many levels I didn't know existed.... and that's worth everything to me.
M.W. SBSM Alumni
I've had anxiety and depression since about age 8. I grew up in a toxic family environment. I was fairly functional up until 4 years ago, but then was hit big time by extreme anxiety and depression. I was already on an antidepressant, but that wasn't cutting it anymore. I went to a psychiatrist who tried about 7 different medications with disastrous results. That experience in itself was traumatizing.
I was finally able to get an appointment with a psychologist that I connected well with. I saw her for a year. We did EMDR, Brainspotting, and talk therapy. Those things helped, but I still wasn't totally functional. I found Tim JP Collins Anxiety Podcast, that's how I learned about Irene and decided to join her 12-week program.
I was eager to learn about the nervous system. I've always been one to want to know why things work the way they do, I learn better that way. I noticed little changes pretty quickly, but when we started the exercises I was amazed! I knew it was working. The anxiety was greatly reduced, it wasn't everyday like it had been for the past 4 years. But then my progress seemed to stop. (I know now that it didn't really stop, that's just part of the process, but I'm impatient). I found great support from Irene and her staff and from other group members, that really helped me "hold on".
About mid-way through the program, I was able to assert myself by setting boundaries with some family members. It gave me a feeling of power and control over my life like I've never experienced (I'm 59). That lead to an apology from my abuser that I thought I would never get. I was able to accept the apology, but will still hold the boundaries. I've also been able to lessen the feeling that I need to try to fix any situation that causes distress to my family. I realize I don't have control over some things and that thinking I do or should, causes stress and anxiety. And that taking that task upon myself isn't necessarily helpful to that person anyway.
Once the 12 weeks were over, I pretty much stopped doing the work. I began to sink back down into the despair of depression until one day it occurred to me that I should do the exercises! So I'm back at it and feeling better! And I'm ready to do the 12 weeks again.
So thank you, thank you, thank you Irene! for dedicating your life to learning and teaching this program.
B.H. SBSM Alumni
Apprenticing with Irene over 12 weeks brought about a major, salutary lifestyle change for me. It's not just the lessons/labs themselves but her optimistic, grounded spirit, the supportive facebook community, and how she weaves in the very personal and intimate phone calls with theory and practice. The experience is like be-friending your body at a deeper level while fine-tuning your awareness of how it interfaces with your emotions, your environment, and deeper memories and experiences. It's a renaissance blend of science and humanity that feels like an antidote to a modern world that is overly segmented and compartmentalized. It is both remedial education and a radical, root-level healing journey.
Irene deconstructs the body's underlying processes so that you begin to sense on an intuitive level the patterns of holding and/or overload lying just beneath your conscious awareness, allowing you to bring more focus and choice into how you relate with your body, allowing gentle releases and re-organization over time. It sounds esoteric, but is very down-to-earth. Her integration of many disciplines - Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing, Kathy Kain's Somatic Touch, and the work of Moshe Feldenkrais - creates a "toolbox" that works for those with a severely compromised nervous system perhaps accompanied by disease as well as for those needing help in unwinding shocks to their system to gain back nervous/emotional stability and resiliency. The effectiveness of the program is in large part due to Irene's embodied, intimate style of delivery, shaped by her own well-regulated nervous system. This piece is key, for in nervous system recovery, the teacher's level of healing resonates with and influences your own.
Results are palpable. I entered the program after a cathartic workshop that had re-awakened old traumatic memories too quickly, resulting in what my network chiropractor called an "imploded" nervous system. With Irene, I immediately started feeling more energy and "support" during even the most basic neurosensory exercises. I could sense I was on the right path. By the end of the program, my chiropractor said my system was "more flowing with better organized energy", the coherence Irene speaks of. As I continue to work with her "toolbox" on my own, his most recent diagnosis was that "you now have a solid foundation/structure so that your energy is not constantly ricocheting around and compensating but is now manageable." I am so grateful that Irene came into my life when she did so that I could turn a major corner in my life.
Karen MacKay Calgary, Canada. SBSM Alumni
ike many others, I’ve been on quite a long healing journey. I’m recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I’m overweight, and I have a number of other health issues, which I have spent years trying to resolve. I had definitely made progress in finding peace and dealing with many issues, but still felt STUCK, even with everything I’d learned and done. Irene’s course somehow came across my Facebook feed earlier this year, and I just knew it was the next piece I needed. I had no idea when I started out though, how profound her work is. She draws together a number of tools and modalities, but has an approach that is, I think, revolutionary.
A key piece for me has been the education she has given me – I now finally clearly understand what happens when my body has a stress response, and where it comes from. I’d never have thought that knowing the biology would make such a difference, but it truly does. Then, with the knowledge piece on board, she takes you on a journey into your body, ever so gently.
It’s a tough transition to make, learning that there is a deeper level of healing that can only happen through the body, not through the mind. Our whole world tells us that we need to talk it out, figure it out, name it, change the belief etc – and while that certainly has an important place, if you don’t go into the body and process stress and trauma at that level, there will always be a vital element missing from your healing.
Now, I know more and more that I can become my own healer, if I just keep practicing these new tools. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
The biggest change for me is that I feel as though I am finally becoming UNstuck. I’m seeing changes in my thinking and in my choices and in my ability to live life more fully. I finally have real hope that profound healing and change is actually possible and that the second half of my life really can be one of health and abundance in ways I can’t even envisage yet. It’s not a quick fix, but I’m pretty certain that the changes that have happened so far are definitely here to stay!
One last piece that has been a really wonderful experience has been the support and sharing that have happened in the very private, very safe Facebook community of people who are doing this work together. We are able to support each other and learn from each other and share this journey, and it’s really special.
Roza Maragopoulou Feldenkrais Practitioner. Athens, Greece. SBSM Alumni
The last few days, there have been a few instances of people telling me “wow you look well! the last time we saw you you were so exhausted you could hardly talk, what happened to you?”
Hehe :), this program happened to me! Yay! Here are some examples...
So thanks again to everyone, I just have to express that I'M GRATEFUL, and this feeling of gratitude is so very new to me. Yesterday I lay down for 30 minutes just seeing the images of people I feel grateful for in my life. I don't think I've ever done this before and it warmed my heart and made me smile. Can't wait to continue with this learning on my own over the next few months and then again when we start the next session!"
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