Healing spaces evoke a sense of cohesion of the mind, body and spirit. They support healing intention and foster healing relationships. In this episode, Lisa Marie Holmes discusses strategies and tips for creating your own healing space.
Episode 49: Creating Healing Spaces
The content of this podcast has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA. It is educational in nature and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult a qualified medical professional to see if a diet, lifestyle change, or supplement is right for you. Any supplements mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please note that the opinions of the guests or hosts are their own and may not reflect those of Advanced Orthomolecular Research, Inc.
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Welcome to Supplementing Health, a podcast presented by Advanced Orthomolecular Research. We are all about applying evidence based and effective dietary, lifestyle and natural health product strategies for your optimal health. In each episode, we will feature very engaging clinicians and experts from the world of functional and naturopathic medicine to help achieve our mission to empower people to lead their best lives naturally.
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[01:41] Cassy Price: Hello listeners. Today on Supplementing Health we are joined by Lisa Marie Holmes registered herbalist, public figure and the owner and creator of Lapothicaire Botanique to explore the role of healing spaces and how to create them. Lisa effortlessly integrates her conviction for a healthy home with her background in alternative medicine to help her clients strengthen their mind, body, spirit connection to restore whole body awareness and live with vitality. Thanks for joining me today Lisa.
[02:09] Lisa Marie Holmes: Thank you so much for having my Cassy. This is amazing.
[02:11] Cassy Price: So, my understanding is that you began your own health journey back in 2006 or so. Do you mind sharing a bit about your journey and the motivation that it has provided you?
[02:21] Lisa Marie Holmes: Yeah, I would love to. So, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease when I was 17 years old. I suffered without a diagnosis for about a year and a half. I was experiencing symptoms such as hair loss, oedema in my face, hands and my feet, my skin hurt, I had poor memory retention, I was sleeping like 17 hours a day. I developed a stutter actually because the amount of brain fog that I was experiencing, I couldn’t formulate smooth sentences and linear thoughts. I actually thought that I had a brain tumour before I had been diagnosed. I actually went to my mom and I told her how sick I was, and I eventually was able to get diagnosed with a gastroenterologist who diagnosed me with coeliac disease. So, I guess what had been happening was that the villi in the small intestine was being attacked by my immune system and therefore I was no longer absorbing nutrients.
[03:22] Lisa Marie Holmes: The first thing to go when you’re not absorbing nutrients, is that your body goes into survival mode, so things that you don’t need like hair growth or nail growth or even superficial wound healing all kind of went away and I ended up getting a receding hair line and all of this other stuff. I was really, really, sick for a really long time until my diagnosis which helped with the gluten free. As soon as I went gluten free, I started to feel a bit better but for about six months I was still experiencing the symptoms. My gastroenterologist, he asked me if I was cheating with the gluten but to me it just wasn’t worth cheating because the pain was so profound. I begged my Mom to see a naturopathic doctor but at the time we had access to a holistic nutritionist. This holistic nutritionist, truly this woman saved my life. So, it is because of her that I feel like I am here today because the symptoms of that brain fog didn’t go away with eliminating gluten.
[04:29] Lisa Marie Holmes: The pain did go away, but I still had really high amounts of oedema, brain fog fatigue and lethargy. So, she actually put me on a three month detox. This was way before detoxification was a trendy thing to do. It wasn’t something that I had heard of especially being 17 years old. It saved my life. What I realised was yes, eliminating gluten from the diet is imperative for someone with coeliac disease but with coeliac disease there comes a lot of other imbalances that happen in the gut microbiome and so I had to also eliminate diary for a little bit there, and sugar, and a lot of processed foods that I was eating that were gluten free were still inflammatory. So, I actually learned a lot through my holistic nutritionist and that just changed the course of my life ever since I had been diagnosed.
[05:23] Cassy Price: That’s a crazy journey that you were on for sure. Obviously, a long one that very much impacted your life today, I’m sure. So, how did access to healing spaces impact you on your wellness journey?
[05:37] Lisa Marie Holmes: So, I love that question. Having healing spaces definitely is very important. That is one thing that I actually didn’t find that I had much of growing up and going through this essentially on my own. I grew up in a very stressful household. It wasn’t until I was 18, so about a year and a bit that I was diagnosed, I booked a one-way ticket to backpack through Europe. It was me and my backpack, her name was Sally, just navigating the trains and the ferries of Europe and it was actually there that I was finally exposed to a different pace and a different lifestyle. The European culture had a massive impact on my healing process just because there is truly a change of pace in Europe, and I came from a family that was very focused on work and stress and fast-paced.
[06:39] Lisa Marie Holmes: I think for anyone going through a healing process that is not the most conducive environment to healing. Creating a healing space was something that I had to learn how to do on my own with the help and influence of mentors. I always joke that I am a mentor collector so if you know of any good ones, I would love to take them as my mentor because I don’t claim any of my breakthroughs or my successes, everything that I have accomplished with my healing journey, was really done with the influence or the support of someone else. I really do think that surrounding yourself with good people, people who are supportive and also taking the initiative to create that healing space for yourself is the ticket because we have to take responsibility at one point or another, we do have to take responsibility for our health. We can’t always blame the people around us or that we’ve had the closest access to. We can take the initiative to create something beautiful for ourselves. That’s what I learned and as a result every day my environment, I make a conscious choice to be in a location, surrounded by the right people, the right sentimental material items that will bring me to a greater place of health and wellness because truly health is a journey not a destination. Despite my breakthroughs there is always room for improvement.
[08:20] Cassy Price: I love that you mentioned that it is a choice. You wake up and you choose to love the people around you. You wake up and you choose to be positive or negative. There are multiple choices that we make through the day. I love that you bring that up and you show that this is also one of those things. Now, when speaking about a healing space it could be a physical space like a yoga studio or a quiet room in your home, but also you are referring to space within yourself right? Like when practicing meditation there is often references to letting go of past traumas to create space. Which do you resonate most with? Physical or spiritual?
[09:00] Lisa Marie Holmes: I’ll have to admit that I am so directly impacted by my physical environment that it directly effects my mental and emotional headspace as well. I think the two definitely go hand in hand, but I know that I feel way better when I am in an environment or in a space that feels good. In terms of physical spaces, having an impact on how we feel, clutter. Clutter is one of those things that come to mind when people are feeling overwhelmed. I always tell my clients that they should let go of that which does not serve them and often times those are material things that we have collected overtime that are really collecting dust on the shelves. They create clutter in the space that we are occupying.
[09:53] Lisa Marie Holmes: By clearing the space physically I do think there is a therapeutic benefit to that mentally and emotionally. So, when we can experience a space that feels flowy and calming and organized that will directly impact the way that we feel on the inside. Now that being said, I am no Julia Roberts meditator in Eat, Pray, Love. I am not to that level. Perhaps someone who is at that level would say that it doesn’t matter if the mosquitos are nipping at you, you should still be able to find peace and tranquillity and I would love to be there. From personal experience I cannot say that I am at that Julia Roberts level yet, but I commend those who are. I just know that for me feeling good about the space that I am in directly impacts the way I feel emotionally and spiritually.
[10:50] Cassy Price: Yes. I completely agree. It would be lovely to be that person that just lets everything roll of your back and never be affected by other’s moods and what’s around you but that’s not always reality for everyone. I would love to explore that a little bit more and look at what contributes to a healing environment because evidence-based design research has demonstrated the power of disciplined elements and the design to support and improve patient outcomes in healthcare settings as well as, we’ve all experienced it, you go into a super busy place and you feel anxious or stressed or however you might describe those feelings. So, what exactly beyond clutter actually contributes to a healing environment?
[11:43] Lisa Marie Holmes: I think that reminding ourselves that we are nature. Nature is within us as well as around us so when we are disconnected from nature, I think that is when high levels of anxiety and stress and subsequent health diseases are born from that. So, what actually contributes to a healing environment? I think it’s really close access to nature. So, what that looks like for me could be healing colours, colours that are earth tones or earth inspired colours, access to natural light with big windows, or even having access to going outside, so screen doors or opening the space so that you can really see and feel the natural environment around us. As someone who has experienced an autoimmune disease, I think there is an interesting point here to discuss about the body distinguishing itself from other. That is one of the issues with having an autoimmune disease. Your immune system fails to recognise what the body is, yourself, versus the trigger or the invader or the problem causer. For me when I am trying to determine, myself, for the space that I am in, it is really important to remember that you are also a part of that space. The space is actually an extension of yourself. So, creating elements who reflect who you are can also bring you back to yourself. So, the things that are on the quote “As is within, so is without.” That truly reflects itself in the space that we occupy.
[13:37] Cassy Price: Okay. So, that brings up two questions for me. One, if you’re living in the core of downtown Toronto or downtown Calgary, where you are surrounded by other buildings and concrete and very little nature, or even downtown Vancouver, but they’ve got a little bit more nature, how can you bring in more outdoors beyond maybe some potted plants? The other thing that I was curious about while you were talking was if you are sharing a space with others because we all find different vibrations, energies and settings relaxing and maybe some of the people that you are living with, whether it be roommates or family, may have contradicting preferences.
[14:26] Lisa Marie Holmes: That’s a great question. Something that we all have to face at one point or another because many of us do share a space with other people, whether that be your siblings, parents, partners. A few things come to mind for me. Obviously, I am all about those plants. The more plants in a space the better for several reasons. Aesthetically speaking plants are just beautiful. The more time you spend in nature, studies show that we’re calmer with less anxiety and there are better stress management strategies that you will feel. So, there are the benefits of just being close to plants. That’s one thing but also plants have the benefits of giving off clean air and providing fresh oxygen to us and so when we are in those buildings and have little access to outdoor spaces or wild forests and hiking trails, bringing in the plants from the outdoors in will offer a beautiful opportunity for clean air.
[15:30] Lisa Marie Holmes: Plants are known to clean the air from VOCs such as formaldehyde and benzene. So, for me the more plants the better. Other things that someone can do to enhance a calming space would be to use diffusers. So, grabbing your favourite essential oils and putting them on a diffuser, the air around you will small like the plant of your choice. I know for really nice calming effect, there is a long list, but lavender always comes to mind as the easiest and most accessible essential oil to access. Another thing is sound therapy and light therapy. There is so much that we can do enhance the space and make it positive for the people that we also share it with. So, again access to natural light and make sure that your windows are able to be opened and just bring that fresh air in. I think these are really nice small things that someone can do to enhance the space that they are living in.
[16:35] Cassy Price: Awesome. The Idea of hygge. For our listeners its spelt hygge but it’s pronounced hygge. It is a danish cultural principle that has gained popularity over the last year or so in Western cultures. It marries the notion of spiritual and physical healing spaces for optimal health and happiness. Do you incorporate these cultural principles into your healing practices at all?
[17:02] Lisa Marie Holmes: Yes. So, I love this question, it is one of my favourites. Hygge is one of my…unconsciously I just gravitate toward this lifestyle really. It has been incorporated into Danish and Norwegian design, but it is really inspired by lifestyle. So, like you said it is about incorporating a mood. Hygge is a mood. When you walk into a room, like you said, you want to be impacted positively by the vibe of that space. Hygge is that cosy contentment and wellbeing in the form of design and just enjoying the simple things in life. Things like reading a book by the fireplace would be called hygge. Going for a nice walk on a winter’s day all bundled up with your pup, that would be something that they would call hygge.
[17:58] Lisa Marie Holmes: So, things that we can pull in from that so just enjoying the simple things in life but incorporating it into a design perspective would be something like choosing a paint colour that is earth inspired. So, I actually have a line of paints that are non-toxic, the release zero VOCs and every single one of the paint colours is actually named after a botanical that I work with in my apothecary. So, as a registered herbalist I work with herbs and I make all of these medicinal concoctions and I like to act like a white witch but what I did was I took those concepts and the colour therapy and put it into a paint line. So, we have Goddess Ash Revonda or Sacred Sage. Using these earth inspired neutral tones bringing them into your home that can be hygge. So, less is more essentially. So, I love that.
[18:59] Cassy Price: Awesome. I kind of equate it with feeling cosy and you can feel cosy any time of year, right? It’s not necessarily just winter bundled by a fireplace, it can be in the summer just enjoying the warm sun on your face and stuff like that. I think that is kind of that feeling of calm because when you are cosy generally you are calm. They just kind of go hand in hand. Now there are certain rituals that people use to clear their spaces as well such as smudging or like you mentioned essential oil diffusion. Are there certain rituals to improve a healing space specifically?
[19:43] Lisa Marie Holmes: Yes. So, smudging is a sacred indigenous word to describe the practice of burning sage or other sacred herbs such as cedar, sweetgrass and or tobacco. As someone who doesn’t identify as an indigenous person, just out of respect, I actually don’t use the term smudging. I prefer to use the words smoke medicine. Smoke medicine is actually something that has transcended all cultures. In India they burn incense, in Scotland they would burn holy herbs or resins such as Mugwort, or Birch, Ash, Hawthorn. The Celtics have a strong history with burning herbs and woods for ceremonial purposes. So, this is something that everyone can incorporate into their daily practice or routine and also connecting to your ancestral lineage I think really fortifies that ritual or that practice. For me having a Celtic and Scandinavian background I really am drawn to the herbs that they use.
[20:57] Cassy Price: Cool. Do you have any resources where people could find out more about the different herbs?
[21:03] Lisa Marie Holmes: Yeah, oh my goodness. Honestly, a quick Google search will lead you down a rabbit hole of the direction that you want to go in. The more you learn about yourself the more you’ll end up resonating with the different plants around us. We are so fortunate to live in Canada where there are actually a lot of plants that are both native to North America as well as Europe. Mullein for example is a Celtic plant that was burned on Halloween, so it is called Selwyn for the Celts. They would roll the Mullein in beeswax and burn it on All Hallows’ Eve essentially. So, as soon as you start the initial search it will take you down this rabbit hole of learning and connection to your ancestral lineage. It is just so great because when you really connect to the plants that your ancestors use, they are more effective, they are stronger, and you really develop a friendship. The plants to me have become my friends and when I see them, sometimes I see St John’s Wort in a meadow and I’m like, “Hey, St John’s Wort.” They become these familiar friends to you, and they love to be acknowledged. So, I think the ceremonial practice of smoke medicine or clearing spaces is much more fortified when you have a connection with your ancestral rituals.
[22:42] Cassy Price: Awesome. When you’re selecting a space if you are either moving or you’re trying to choose what room to make your healing room, do certain architectural elements contribute to that healing space more or things that you want to avoid from an architectural standpoint?
[23:00] Lisa Marie Holmes: Yeah. That’s a great question. I think that, I wish I knew more about Feng Shui, I don’t though. Just from my own personal experience and sharing a lot of spaces with other people and learning from some of the best designers honestly, I have been so blessed to work with some really close designers since I have married into the Holmes family, I think that a few key elements to consider. Again, is that access to natural light. Studies do show that architectural spaces, especially in healing facilities like hospitals, for example, the patients do heal so much faster and more effectively when they are exposed to natural light and they can see the trees and the grasses and the flowers and the rolling hills verses being in the city centre surrounded by that concrete jungle.
[23:53] Lisa Marie Holmes: So, access to again that nature because we are nature. That is something that I always remind my clients. Actually, we are nature so when you return to yourself you are returning to nature. So, other things to consider with your space from an architectural perspective would not feeling closed in or not having those dark spaces or shadowy corners and making sure that the light, there is always something about that natural light hitting every surface that is really important. Being surrounded by those earth tone colours. Even the artwork that you choose it can have a positive impact on your perception. Also, always incorporating the cultural and spiritual traditions from your past. I think those are some key elements that will really contribute to a really great healing space.
[24:49] Cassy Price: Awesome. If listeners, when they have finished listening to this episode and they want to get started right away, what would be the first two to three steps that you would say everyone should take to creating their own healing space?
[25:02] Lisa Marie Holmes: So, one of the most affordable things that you can do is actually paint. Paint is very affordable which is why I think it is something that anybody can do. If you make a mistake it’s okay. Paint, you are supposed to have fun with it and be light and airy and if you don’t like the colour then fret not, you can always paint over it. Paint is a very affordable and powerful tool to really enhance your space. It is kind of the lipstick and mascara of your house. It is something that you can do really quickly, and it will be a major transformation. Paint is the one thing that I would highly recommend for people. Always try to find the paint that have zero VOCs and is non-toxic because you don’t want to be breathing that stuff in while you’re stuck in the room painting. Another thing is plants. I can’t stress that enough.
[25:56] Lisa Marie Holmes: The more plants in the house the better for all of the reasons that we stated before; being the clean air benefits as well as the aesthetic perspective. If you can make your friends, when they walk into the house, if you can make them feel that they are still outside by bringing the outside in that will have such a powerful effect on everyone psyche and emotional wellbeing. You know what I actually just remembered crystals. Crystals, art, sentimental belongings. If you can make an alter for yourself. Things that are really precious to you and I know that some people really resonate with crystals and stones so getting familiar and creating an alter for yourself that is a safe space that is familiar to you.
[26:41] Lisa Marie Holmes: One element also from the architectural perspective is always having a space that is private to yourself. I think that is really important and undervalued these days. I think everyone feels that they have access to you, whether that is on the cell phone, email, Instagram, everyone is so wide open right now and in terms of finding healing sometimes that takes privacy. To make your greatest leaps and bounds in the healing process you need to be alone. You really have to sit comfortably with yourself and find peace with being alone. So, when you are in an environment that you feel again is that reflection of the way you feel on the inside, or at least where you want to be, then it will really help your healing journey.
[27:29] Cassy Price: Okay. I just want to jump back for a second because what you were saying got me thinking. You earlier mentioned light therapy and sound therapy as well. So, for light therapy are there are certain styles of lightbulbs that you should be including in a room whether it be like a Himalayan Salt Lamp or just even your regular ceiling light bulbs? Are there styles of light bulbs that are better for that healing? For sounds should it just be natural sounds that you can get a soundtrack on or are there other sorts of sounds like certain vibrations that support your chakras or things like that that you would recommend?
[28:09] Lisa Marie Holmes: I love all of these questions. They are so great. Okay, so light therapy is a really fun one. As someone who has experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder, I think most people in the Northern Hemisphere have experienced SAD every now and then especially throughout the winter when the days are really dark and long. I know that there are these lights that you can light in the morning when you wake up and they actually turn on with your alarm. I can’t remember the specific company that I use but I can get that information for you after this session and share it with you so you can share it with your followers. Yeah, light therapy is beautiful. I know that the first morning light is the most important.
[28:55] Lisa Marie Holmes: If you are able to get up and even leave your house and watch the sunrise, that will just set the tone for the rest of your day. Cortisol is the highest in the morning and it is stimulated by the receptors in your eyes. So, it is stimulated by the sun, the circadian rhythm. So, we all follow the circadian rhythm, so we are meant to rise with the sun and set with the sun. Light therapy is really important for just stimulating those receptors and getting you moving in the morning. Sound therapy is really fascinating to me. It is something that I haven’t really dove too deeply into however that being said when I do yoga classes and we end with an OM there is something that just words can’t describe the full body sensation that happens.
[29:47] Lisa Marie Holmes: So, when chanting OM, you are actually vibrating at about 432Hz which is the same vibrational frequency found in all things throughout nature. When we are tapping into these different frequencies, we are actually vibrating with the sounds and the frequencies of nature. Again, there is healing in nature because we are nature. We cannot forget that. So, I think when we expose ourselves with these vibrations and these cleaning noises it can do a lot of good for our neurological system, our digestive system, our nervous system, everything just kind of rises to that frequency and it is really powerful. There are a lot of studies that are being done on both light and sound therapy.
[30:39] Cassy Price: Well to me it is very obvious that you are clearly connected with nature and you have a good relationship with your environment it seems like. So, do you practice gratitude at all, and do you find that it improves a healing space as well?
[30:57] Lisa Marie Holmes: Gratitude is one of those things that I think is underutilised. We are so bombarded with a lot of negative things. I feel like some people that is all that is familiar for them to talk about is the negative. When we transition, we can actually change our perspective to appreciate even the struggles, even the hard times and find the rainbow in the storm. You will…how do I describe this? It excites me just thinking about it. Anybody who has the power to shift their perspective and be grateful for every moment, there is an inner core strength there that I just think is contagious. If we can be the ones to change the dialogue and change the narrative from one of being negative and dwelling to one of being proactive and supportive, I think there is power in gratitude above and beyond the impact that we may know when we are doing it. It will have a ripple effect, I think.
[32:06] Cassy Price: Awesome. Well thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. This conversation has definitely energised me, so I really appreciate that. Now I am thinking about things that I could even do around my house. If our listeners want to work with you or get a hold of you, how could they go about doing that?
[32:21] Lisa Marie Holmes: Yeah. Okay. So, I am about to launch my botanical apothecary. It’s actually called Lapothicaire Botanique. It means The Botanical Apothecary. You can find me on Instagram and soon you will find me in my own shop actually in Meaford, Ontario where I will be compounding herbs for my community and I really am excited for that to launch. I am just waiting for the website to go and just sitting tight until then so you can find me on Instagram either @lisa.marie.holmes or @lapothicaire_botanique. I really look froward to answering anybody’s questions about herbs and how you can enhance your space that you live in with incorporating nature into your daily life.
[33:14] Cassy Price: Awesome well thank you so much again and I am super excited to see your new website when it launches and follow your journey on Instagram.
[33:21] Lisa Marie Holmes: I appreciate that. Thank you so much for your time. I am truly honoured to be here. Have a great day.
[33:27] Cassy Price: You too.
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