reprinted with permission from Women's Spirtuality, by Mary Faulkner
The woman you are about to read about has put a whole new spin on the term "born again"! Sarah Stewart, a health-care provider for more than 30 years, has been a visionary and pioneer using both allopathic and holistic modalities. She draws on her experiences as a nurse, massage therapist, yoga teacher, herbalist, hypnotherapist, mother, and grandmother.
Stewart is a member of the Pre and Peri Natal Association, the American Council of Hypnosis Examiners, the Holistic Nurses Association, and the International Massage Association. Her school, The Institute of Integrated Healing Arts, was founded in 1982. In 1987 it expanded to include instruction on clinical hypnotherapy and yoga. A sister school was opened in the southeast in 1992. Stewart maintains a private practice in Sonoma California. Here is her remarkable story.
Of the Earth
"My Mother died in childbirth when I was 13 years old, and my brother died with her. She had three other children born healthy and easily at home under the caring supervision of my grandmother--in the same room in which she was born. What went wrong this time? Well, the doctor was going on vacation, and three pregnant women were due at the same time. He put all three in the hospital at once and induced labor. My mother was one of these women. She hemorrhaged to death as a result of being induced and of not being properly attended to during her labor, and my brother strangled with the cord around his neck."
"When she died, her image came to me in a vision. There was peace in her eyes as she looked directly at me and smiled, "Take good care of the kids for me. I have to go now." Then she disappeared, and I was left holding my 11-month-old brother and looking at my 11-year-old sister in the corner of the room. A few hours later they came to tell me she had died, but I already knew it. That experience left its imprint on my life in ways that are still being discovered."
"I always wanted to be a doctor, but with my mother's death, there would be no chance. I did what many women do: I went to nursing school." In addition to her traditional education as a nurse, Stewart's professional training included many years of practicing yoga. She knows that this spiritual disciple strengthened her and opened up many levels of awareness that she uses in her healing work today. In her 30s she traveled to the Philippines to work with the psychic surgeons she had heard about. Her healing abilities were recognized, and she was allowed to assist them and ultimately to work side-by-side with them. Although she does not use psychic surgery in her practice, she knows the experience opened more levels of healing with her.
Stewart continued to pursue her studied in the blossoming field of holistic health, this time with Dr. David Cheek, a pioneering obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in San Francisco. Dr. Cheek was a friend and associate of Dr. Milton Erickson, who is considered to be the father of hypnosis in Western medicine. Dr. Cheek believed that babies had consciousness in the womb, having both sensory and cognitive awareness. He treated many of his clients with hypnosis to relieve stress during pregnancy and to facilitate pain-free and drug-free deliveries. He encouraged starting the parent-child relationship at the beginning of pregnancy.
Building on Dr. Cheek's work, Stewart began to design a process she calls reconception, in which she uses regression to take a person back through their experiences of conception, their gestation in the womb, and birth. "The mother's emotional state, her spiritual awareness, as well as her physical health all create the climate in which the baby spends almost the first year of life. Re-birthing is popular, and it's a good way of clearing birth traumas; however, many additional things have already happened to the mother and child at the time of conception and throughout pregnancy that leave lasting imprints on the soulbody."
"I have worked with pregnant women and their families for many years as a spiritual midwife to the whole family. I prepare them for birthing at home or in the hospital using yoga, breath, hypnosis, massage, and just being there during the pregnancy and delivery. My goal is to help parents and siblings realize that the child within has consciousness. I also emphasize that the family can help this spirit feel loved and wanted. This takes many forms, including stories by the big sister, conversations with the baby, and the traditional preparations of gathering the baby's things. When arrangements are made lovingly with the intention of welcoming the baby, the child is much more likely to be a secure and loving person. This establishes a live time pattern that affects every aspect of being a full person, and these positive feelings will be transmitted to everyone he or she meets."
An Integrated Vision
Stewart was on retreat at an ashram in India when a vision of her school came to here, showing her the combination of healing arts that she would offer. She describes it this way, "The body contains our emotional memory. If the memories are good, they contribute to good health. If they are painful, the opposite is true. Combining the hands-on healing of massage with deep relaxation and hypnosis regression along with yoga breathing exercises, emotional trauma from the body can be released." Stewart has worked with hundreds of students, teaching them her integrated approach to healing.
"Everyone brings individual strengths and offers a little different approach to their healing work. This is important to recognize. The philosophy of Integrated Healing Arts is to use this diversity to create powerful healing modalities that work with the same set of principles yet honor the individual healer. The 'integration' factor of Integrated Healing Arts works at many levels. It integrates right and left hemispheres of the brain by teaching cognitive skills and developing intuitive healing abilities; it integrates new techniques with the body of knowledge each student brings with her; and it integrates past with present, allowing the future to be a transformed one." Stewart reminds her students and clients that "There is no need to carry the pain from the past into the future." The school is licensed and leads to a certification in clinical hypnotherapy, massage therapy, or yoga instruction.
Stewart looks back over her childhood, the loss of her mother, letting go of her dream to go to medical school, and the subsequent events that have taken her all over the world to study with the healers of many different cultures, and she feels a powerful affirmation of being on her true spiritual path. "I am doing the work I feel I was born to do, and I love doing it. I have followed my visions, my intuition, and my inner guidance, and it has served me well. I guess I will continue to follow it."
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