Often the best way through the hardest decision is to take the gentlest route. For Barbara Wellborn of Summerland’s Wellborn Bodyworks, that means looking inward and finding a new direction toward self-care. With 20 years of experience in spiritual coaching, massage, meditation, deep energy work and aromatherapy, Wellborn guides women to the clarity and confidence they need to release the trauma of the past, move forward at a crossroads, and create the life they deserve with the grace and self-awareness needed to continue on their journey.
Wellborn understands the pain and difficulty of change. After struggling with personal and professional challenges during her younger adult years, she listened to the universe and chose a healthier path. After learning to honour her true self, she answered the call to help others live better lives in the present. Today she offers long programs and short courses for individuals and groups, focusing on the uniqueness of each person and the obstacles they face while blossoming into their truth.
One of the most telling comments I read about you is that you are “wise to the human condition.” What a beautiful endorsement. Tell me about the time in your twenties when you realized you couldn’t continue living the way you had been. And what was one of the first things you did to shift your life and move in a healthier direction?
Thank you! I am deeply honoured by that comment. Having gone through my own healing process, I have come to realize that all of the experiences that I have had over my lifetime brought me to who I am today. Each of these experiences have given me the compassion to understand what others are going through and the ability to approach them with empathy.
When I was in my late twenties, my world was unravelling. On the outside I presented well, but on the inside my life had reached a crossroads of epic proportions. My marriage was dissolving due to an affair, my husband and I had to file for bankruptcy because of crushing debt, and my first business was failing because the market had changed and I failed to adapt. I desperately tried to cling to what I knew, but every joint in my body was screaming out for change. I was in unbearable pain that kept me awake at night, endlessly allowing me to mull over my many failures.
Through a series of synchronicities that only the universe could have planned, I was introduced to an energy modality that would change my life. I went from daily chiropractor visits to needing only monthly tuneups as I had a world of physical and emotional pain lifted from my shoulders. I was able to leave my husband with the wisdom to know that we had come together for a reason and to see the lessons I had come to learn. I could walk away from my old career with a renewed sense of purpose and embark on a beautiful journey towards becoming the healing practitioner I am today. I learned that our bodies have the amazing capacity to heal when we truly commit to living in the present.
Committing to my own personal recovery has taken me on a journey through healing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of my being. I have healed familial patterns of pain that I carried forth generationally. I have healed past life pain my soul carried forward to heal in this lifetime. I have healed relationships at a soul level, coming to understand why each person in my life had to play the roles they did in order to heal all these different aspects of myself. It has been a fascinating journey that I am honoured to bring to the table to help others heal. We are more than just a physical body. Incorporating Eastern philosophy, ancient mystery school philosophies and modern philosophy has enabled me to touch into the deepest level of the psyche to bring about profound transformation for myself and others.
After your own experiences and 20 years of helping others find their way through personal challenges, you must have heard a great variety of stories, yet noticed certain patterns. Do you find yourself surprised after all this time?
There is not much surprise in what I do. Everyone has fascinating stories that come down to fairly predictable limiting beliefs that drive their actions and choices. So much of what we do is driven by unconscious patterns that were developed in childhood, carried forth in our DNA or even brought forth from previous lifetimes. Much like an iceberg, our lives are controlled by what is underneath, what we cannot or choose not to see; our consciousness is the tip of the iceberg, infinitely smaller than what lies beneath.
What I have come to understand through many years of studying and working is that when we go through traumatic events, especially in childhood, our body has a splinting reflex that energetically holds that experience in our body’s tissue. If you have ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you were nervous, felt like you were punched in the gut when something made you angry, or felt the suffocating ache of grief in your heart when you lost someone, then you understand what I am talking about. For many children, this stuffing down of emotions is a survival mechanism that helps to keep them safe in the moment. If these are recurrent traumas, energy builds up in the area until there is a blockage. Our bodies, in their infinite wisdom, keep placing us back into situations to complete these emotions and heal ourselves. If we continue to stuff these emotions down, we eventually wind up with disease: liver issues related to unexpressed anger, stomach and bowel issues from unexpressed shame, heart and lung issues from unexpressed grief … the list goes on.
You ran a workshop last year called the “The Giving Tree: Debunking the Myth of Selflessness,” which urged busy women to start putting themselves first more often. Tell us about the myth and why many still struggle with the idea of selfishness?
I have made it my mission to help others like me to learn the art of being selfish. We have been taught that being selfish is wrong, that being selfish is a “sin.” I am a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother. I know a little something about self-sacrifice and giving endlessly of myself. A large part of what I do in my practice is to help women regain a sense of who they are, release old emotions that have locked them into repetitive patterns of self-sabotage, and rediscover who they truly are and what they want out of life. Too often, I have women who come to me with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, debilitating migraines and various forms of cancer; women who have endlessly given of themselves to the point where there is nothing left to give.
I’d like to clarify what I mean by selfish. When we look at the boy’s character in the children’s classic, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, we see a caricature of what we have been taught selfishness looks like. At first, he loves the tree and he wants to play with her and spend time with her, but as he grows, this sense of entitlement and resentment begins to take over. He takes advantage of the tree’s generous nature because she has no boundaries. This was me. I had no boundaries and made it easy for others to take advantage of my generosity and compassion until I had nothing left to give. I had become a stump, just like the tree in the book. This is many women’s story.
When I looked up the meaning of the word “selfless,” the first definition I saw was “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.” That doesn’t sound too bad, something we might want to aspire to. The second one I saw was “having no concern for self.” Hmm … less good. The synonyms ranged from lofty words like magnanimous, altruistic and “compassionate, right down to the heart of the matter, words like self-sacrificing and self-denying. When you dissect the word, being selfless literally means to be without a self.
To pay due diligence, I then turned around and looked up the word “selfish.” I saw phrases like “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure” and “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.” One can see by our society’s definitions that the thought of being selfish might bring up some doubt as to whether it is a good idea or not. But interestingly, the synonyms ranged from the low end with words like narcissistic and egomaniacal to the other end of the spectrum, with words like self-regarding, self-seeking, self-centred and self-loving.
When we look at the word through these lenses, being selfish equates to having self-worth and self-esteem. When we can put ourselves first, it means that we care enough about our own well-being to know that we have far greater value and can contribute more to the world around us when there is actually something to give.
Share something about yourself many wouldn’t know—a fun fact, story or perspective.
There aren’t too many people who know that I am a land healer. It wasn’t something that I really signed up for, but instead was called to do. In my travels, I have had many interesting and exciting adventures being approached to heal the places I am visiting.
One of the more amusing times was in Mexico, when I was visiting one of the great Zapotecan ruins. As hordes of people were streaming towards the grand step pyramids, I felt pulled to go off in the opposite direction. My travelling buddy and I walked to an area that suddenly was free of all other visitors but the two of us. My friend wandered off to take pictures of the landscape as I was drawn to what appeared to be an offering of flowers laying on the ground in the centre of what had once been a building. As I bent down to take a picture, I felt myself surrounded by a bunch of land spirits asking me to do a land healing. They had made sure we wouldn’t be disturbed.
I had read the location’s history in the visitor centre, so I knew that this was no small request: lots of tragic things had happened here. I started laughing and explained that I was on a bus tour and only had a few minutes before we would be departing. But they were really insistent. After a bit of negotiating, we agreed that I would do a quick healing. Once I was done, my friend came back from taking pictures and a group of people showed up as we were walking away. Spirit works in mysterious ways, and I just have to roll with it.
Needless to say, being in nature is one of the things I do to bring myself back into balance and to achieve well-being. Nothing makes me happier than hanging with the nature spirits!
This column was submitted as part of BWB Wednesdays.
All Columnists Stories