FOR just over 20 years now, Rostrevor model and mum-of-one, Marie Boyle, has practised a combination of energy healing and emotional freedom technique (EFT) which she credits for having helped "save" her.
It was to these alternative therapies that she turned in her darkest hours, after losing her beloved parents Brian and Briege and elder sister Sasha in a fire at the family home on January 7 1999.
Loved ones had gathered at the house the day before to celebrate Marie's 21st birthday. A Christmas candle started the blaze which quickly took hold. The tragic accident stunned the close-knit Co Down village on the shores of Carlingford Lough and the community rallied around as Marie and brother Shane attempted to put their lives back together.
When a woman introduced Marie to reiki, or energy healing, she immediately felt a wave of pent-up emotions coming to the surface as they held hands. Marie decided to look into energy therapy a bit more and invited a healer to her home. That prolonged session was to be the start of her healing journey.
“The day before had been a bad one, for me,” Marie recalls. “I'd been trying to comfort myself as I lay in bed, waving my hands about, putting one hand over my heart, then moving it over my tummy.
“When the woman started doing the same movements, I recognised them right away and realised that what I'd been doing myself had been a form of self-comfort. It was a powerful and emotional treatment and I remember her telling me that she wouldn't leave without giving me the Reiki Level One attunement (transfer of energy between teacher and student).
“She told me she felt guided to help me and that she was giving me this precious gift; the ability to self-heal.
“She stayed with me for hours, leaving my home around midnight. That was really the beginning of my healing process. Before the accident, I'd never heard of energy healing. But I truly believe that these things come into your life when you're ready for them.”
Marie, who had moved to London some time after the fire, felt an energy change in her body following the reiki session. There were plenty more "wobbles" and tough times as she mourned the loss of her parents and sister but when her grief threatened to overwhelm her, she practised self-healing again.
During a particularly challenging period, Marie's then partner came across a practitioner of emotional freedom technique (EFT) or 'tapping' and thought it might help her release some of the pain she was holding on to. EFT tapping is an alternative treatment for physical and emotional distress and has been used to help people with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Those who use the technique believe tapping the body can create a balance in your energy system and treat pain.
Marie was aware that she was still holding on to a lot of grief that manifested itself in illness. Her throat was particularly vulnerable and she developed nodules and spots which affected her swallow and caused pain.
“I was swallowing down my emotions and all the trauma was coming out as spots on my throat,” she explains. “When the body holds on to any type of emotional pain or trauma, it will eventually manifest as illness and disease.
“Tapping is quite similar to acupuncture in that it uses pressure points. It really helped me get rid of a lot of emotional and physical blocks.
“The more I went for the tapping, the more stuff started to come out. It was like peeling an onion, with layer after layer of things I didn't know were traumatising me; images, sounds, smells. My body was holding onto all this trauma."
Marie, who'd become mum to daughter Erin while in London, continued to practise energy healing and tapping as part of her regular health and lifestyle routine. Any time she took a break from the therapies, she felt those strong emotions bubbling up again so immediately got back on track.
When her relationship broke down, Marie, who'd been a regular visitor home to Rostrevor over the years, to visit her brother Shane, his wife Nuala and her two nieces, decided it was time to move back. Determined to keep on with her treatments, she tried to find someone locally who practised EFT. She wasn't able to, but an advertisement flashed up for a training course and Marie suddenly knew what she had to do.
“It was like I wasn't meant to find a therapist; I was meant to be a therapist,” she says.
“Everything started to fall into place. I feel like I was supposed to come home and when I did, I knew I'd made the right decision straight away.
“The community here is so welcoming and supportive, Shane and his family are here and being able to bring Erin up in Rostrevor is such a blessing.”
A year and a half ago, Marie signed up to do an EFT practitioner course, so she could set herself up as an energy therapist. While sitting in her apartment overlooking Carlingford Lough, she felt a sense of peace and the name for her practice came to her, Still Waters.
Energy therapy aims to bring a client back to a state of balance and to clear any blockages that are holding them back. It can involve reiki or tapping and is useful for not just emotional and physical pain, but self-sabotaging behaviours, addictions and negative thought patterns.
Most of Marie's clients come to her for rebalancing and healing. Some know her story; others aren't aware of what she's been through. The business wasn't up and running long before Covid-19 hit and the stop/start nature of the lockdowns meant face-to-face appointments with clients often had to be put off. But Marie made sure everyone was well looked after with the right tools to practise meditations, self-healing and self-love.
Through a number of sessions, Marie helps to clear the blockages that are holding her clients back. She has seen people's energy dramatically change as they learn to let go of negativity and find a natural state of contentment and harmony.
Since moving home five and a half years ago, Marie says she has found her own sense of contentment and peace. She feels fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the country and is enjoying being able to help other people as she grows Still Waters.
But her parents and sister are never far from her mind. Not a day goes by that she doesn't think about them.
“I have a lovely life now but I still miss them so much," she says. "We've just been through their anniversary and that's always tough but I have the tools now to help me to cope.
“And I have beautiful memories of them that make me smile. I was sitting at the kitchen table one day last week, with music playing and when I closed my eyes, I could picture them dancing around me.
“I had big tears rolling down my cheeks but it was a beautiful experience and a very special memory. For that's the thing with energy and love – they never go.
“Energy healing and tapping can't change what's happened but they've certainly made everything more doable and helped me to cope so much better. It's fair to say these therapies saved me – and still do.”
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