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Total Health: Author Signe Myers Hovem On How We Can Optimize Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Well-Being

Nature knows itself, and from that knowingness, there’s a palpable presence that is felt when you’re in the wilderness. What do you experience when you’re in Nature? Do you feel you’ve entered into a space of its own dimension? What do you sense is reflected to you while you’re in Nature’s presence? My relationship with Nature has a sacredness that reflects an unwavering truth about my senses and how they connect me to my environment and orient or ground me.

Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Signe Myers Hovem.

Splitting her time between Colorado and Norway, Signe Myers Hovem is an ordained Spiritual Counselor and energy medicine practitioner whose recently published book, The Space in Between: An Empath’s Field Guide, teaches highly sensitive people practical exercises to successfully be vulnerable, at peace in their bodies, connect to nature and feel safe with others. She’s lived on five continents, raised four children, pets, and has a soft spot for playing squash and golf. A good listener, she has a knack for sensing what is not being said.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Yes, certainly. Thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences with your readers.

I grew up in a small mountain town west of Denver, surrounded by Nature. Our property line was a national forest, our front street was a dirt road, and my closest companion and sidekick was my cat Sparkle.

I was a quiet bookworm of a kid who was a keen observer of life, hoping to figure it all out — a tall order for a young girl easily captivated by the vast starlight skies or transfixed by dappling sunlight through aspen leaves. Nature became an entity that introduced me to wonder and awe, which could remarkably suspend my need for answers, at least momentarily.

My siblings and I were latchkey kids with a lot of unsupervised time that quickly devolved into its own land-locked “Lord of the Flies.” So Nature and books became my trusted companions and my mentors, which is still true today.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Working as a spiritual counselor was never something I imagined doing when I was younger. First, I had lofty ambitions of being an astronaut, which morphed into wanting to be a great novelist. My path towards counseling and energy work emerged when I began to do my inner work and heal from childhood/generational issues interfering with living fully, loving fully.

Surprisingly, there is an unexpected effect from looking inward and healing perceptions that limit self-love: You inexplicably find yourself looking outward to serve others.

I was a young wife and mother living in a foreign land when I experienced a spiritual awakening when faced with a health challenge. With the help of a local energy worker, Sue — who I remarkably sought out after having a vivid dream — the benign tumor that had developed in my throat region shrank so significantly that the medical specialist working on my case declared surgery was no longer necessary.

The doctor had no interest in entertaining the question of what energy work was or the idea that it was responsible for my somewhat miraculous recovery, but it was a pivotal moment for me. The tumor, the dream, and Sue’s deft healing skills awakened me to understand the difference between being a creator of my life and being a spectator — a mini personal paradigm shift.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Undoubtedly, I could highlight many guides, teachers, and mentors here. I will, however, highlight Melaney Ryan, founder of the Melaney Ryan Institute of Applied Consciousness, whom I began working with when my husband and I lived in Perth, Australia.

I’ve always been interested in the nature of consciousness, even before I could articulate what that was exactly as a child. Melaney’s work centers on living in non-duality and understanding the intricate connections between our bioenergetic systems and our mind. After 30-plus years of clinical work, she is now working with universities to study the effects of her meditation practice called Mahat and her energy medicine coursework called ITA (Integrated Therapeutic Alignment).

She is a genuine and passionate leader and teacher and truly embodies her wisdom. She has no interest in being a guru. She demonstrates what an embodied expression of service looks like, and it’s contagious. I can sense the profound patience and compassion she holds for humanity.

When I was writing my book, there were many times that I questioned why I felt I had to write it — often isolated and alone as I worked to language on an abstract subject. She honored my wisdom. Mahatma is a Sanskrit word for “great one” or “great soul.” And to align with the Mahatma energy, you must be willing to know your own greatness and recognize the greatness of each life form. Melaney helped me keep the form to respect what I was offering by deeply understanding my life experiences as an empathic and sensitive soul. She witnessed me integrate this authentic sensory aspect of myself where I could articulate my reality comprehensively and intentionally with others. She did not do this with praise or flattery, and there were no pep talks, but rather a mature and an unwavering gaze of recognition of who I am.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

Early on in my spiritual counseling practice in Houston, Texas, I facilitated creative writing groups in addition to seeing private clients. I also led six-week courses on healing the writer within, exploring what suppresses one’s voice. Ironically, I struggled with my voice when I presented on a subject that I am passionate about, “Language as a Spiritual Tool.”

Creating the presentation was stressful, and I struggled with self-doubt. I began to do a lot of external research on language to fill out my presentation. Unfortunately, too many slides with too much text bogged down my message of how language is a sacred tool and initiates the creator in each of us.

I was caught up wanting to validate my knowledge with research, which diminished my authority on a subject that I actually had so much personal experience with — as two of my four children were born with language disabilities — and energetically, I could sense that there were additional energetic connections between caretakers and persons struggling to communicate. When a toddler begins to speak or master some form of communication with others, this energetic umbilical fades.

This experience highlighted how it is vital not to displace your authority, which fuels your voice. People will attend a workshop or presentation because the topic interests them, so give them a chance to know your experience and personal understanding. Admittedly, research has its merit, but a presentation needs balance, or it becomes a recitation of others’ work.

This experience humbled me. It motivated me to review my intentions when I present material to groups. It taught me to check in on my voice and message, assuring that both will be unified and clear.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

1. “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak moved me deeply at a time in my life when I needed to put my relationship with Death into context. As a young child who spent a great deal of time in the presence of Nature, I experienced a kind of stillness and meditation that was supportive and intelligent. Only as an adult, while volunteering for a hospice, did I recognize the familiarity of Death as an energetic presence. Zusak’s young adult book captured, in part, this familiar essence. (I admit, I read “The Book Thief” because one of my kids was assigned the book for class.)

Death tends to be loaded with fear and anxiety in the human psyche as a subject. So many fear the unknown, and Death is the biggest unknown for us on the mortal side of the veil. How can we spend an entire life finding a sense of place and cultivating a sense of belonging with ourselves — our life, our body, our relationships — only to hand it over once we take our last breath? Our life reduces to a dust and ash mandala swept away.

Death isn’t a verb in the realm of the living; it receives Life and transforms it, and is in perfect harmony with oneness. Accepting change is inevitably part of mastering life.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I have three, actually.

1. The first is from Marianne Williamson’s book “Return to Love,” which states, “You cannot have what you do not wish for others.” This prompt is a profound and humbling philosophy. It can transform jealousy and any other sentiment that may undermine or diminish another into sincere support and goodwill. Embedded into the quote is the awareness that we are all connected. Essentially, it promotes this sentiment: I want you to succeed just as much as I want to succeed. If you struggle to apply this to certain individuals in your life, you have just discovered where your inner work or spiritual growth resides.

2. I used a quote from the Greek poet Pindar in the front of my book “The Space in Between: An Empath’s Field Guide”: “Know who you are and be such.” Unfortunately, there are so many people who do not know themselves beyond trying to conform to society’s norms. Their focus is outwards rather than inwards. We are multi-dimensional beings capable of connecting our hearts with our heads. This coupling assists in being centered, grounded, and more able to handle tests and challenges without going into drama — or, in other words, stepping out of duality. It takes courage to know yourself outside of society’s constructs.

3. My husband Knut’s advice to our kids during their childhood: “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.” I love this life quote. It requires you to reframe a situation to which you are committed. And it is not toxic positivity, either. Essentially it makes you ask yourself: What would it take for you to shift your attitude? To get involved? To share your presence with a project, an activity, or a relationship?

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I’m looking at creating an online course on my book’s material, as well as a way to create a spiritual book club featuring my book. I sense there are so many unaware empathic and intuitive people who are distracted by feeling victimized by their sensitivities. I say if you are an empath, you are on a spiritual path of witnessing what is out of balance. My service at the moment is trying to support those who are overwhelmed by their nature, or distracted by the buzz of feeling like this is a gift and superpower.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.

I practice various meditation styles; I even create guided meditations available for download on my website. One of the more popular ones is Ebb and Flow, which helps reconnect the natural rhythm of your body’s systems to Nature. In addition, it assists with regulating your nervous system by calming your vagus nerve.

Also, I am a member of the global Mahat Meditation community. Mahat Meditation is an active meditation practice that builds inner force and accelerates personal evolution. As the founder Melaney Ryan states, “It is possible to experience a world based on love — the process starts with you. Mahat Meditation offers steps towards finding love and unity within the self.”

I also appreciate practices that incorporate movement, breath, and sound: the trifecta of helping embody one’s spirit. Kundalini yoga offered online by Life Force Academy (Simrit and Jai Dev) was a huge blessing for me during lockdown periods over the last two years.

I highly recommend the book “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” for anyone wanting a better understanding of how important conscious breathing is to our overall health.

Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Tuning into your body is an excellent practice as it has its own wisdom to impart. For example, listening to when you need rest and when to push develops self-respect, particularly as you age.

In addition, strength training, stretching, and any movement in Nature are particularly important for optimal physical wellness. It helps with circulating energy, which helps with both emotional and mental subtle bodies.

I was an avid and competitive squash player plagued with tight hamstrings. I learned how important warming up and stretching my muscles was before heading to the court, and yet one day I was late to a match, and I jumped straight into a game. Not long into my first game, I lunged to return a drop shot, and my leg went out from under me. I ended up tearing my hamstring nearly off the bone.

Rather than have surgery, the doctor instructed me that I had to avoid strenuous exercise for a year to let the muscle regenerate and stitch back together. Going through any rehabilitation will make you focus on your physical health, but it will also challenge where you have been weak but ignoring it. Just like physical illnesses, physical injuries may challenge your perception of what is fair and what struggles you have been internalizing.

This particular point on my sit bone is my barometer now. Gratefully, it healed, and I have movement, but from time to time, it will ache, and I will simply sit with it, wanting to glean where I may be out of balance — where I am rushing and not prepared.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Eating is a sensory experience; in our energy anatomy, it is part of the second chakra, our emotional center. Thus, you can appreciate when people identify with being emotional eaters. Tuning into your feelings and accepting them can help cut down the reaction of eating your feelings. Typically, a traumatic or significant event in a person’s life triggers this behavior, or it is a learned behavior from a childhood family home.

Eating foods that numb the nervous system is also a coping mechanism for sensitive persons who do not want to feel what’s happening around them or within them. Unfortunately, food can be addictive, just like drugs and alcohol. The key to working through this avoidance cycle is gaining perspective and self-awareness. Many therapists specialize in eating disorders that go to the root of the emotional and mental issues contributing to what is out of balance.

Eating is also a mechanism that can physically highlight the balance between being a consumer and being active as a creator. Too much food without enough activity will start to appear as extra weight. This added weight gain can highlight stress and not enough emphasis on physical activity. Food can be pleasurable, so the need for instant gratification may erode the necessary discipline to keep consumption in check.

In general, I would say that improved coping skills for stress and the importance placed on accepting challenging emotions and processing them without creating rewards or perpetuating further self-loathing are essential in creating healthier responses from people.

If you are eating as a substitute for happiness, joy, sweetness, or any other state of being absent in your life, then it’s time to examine how to provide those states through other, healthier means.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Emotional wellness is essential for empathy and how we connect to ourselves and others. Our capacity to care for others is compromised when we do not take the time to support our own needs.

1. Journaling is a great habit that supports emotional well-being. I like to encourage people to bless their journal, which can lift it out of just being a monologue to vent and rant and instead allow it to be a place for recognition and dialogue with yourself. So again, “Know who you are and be such.”

2. Allow yourself to feel a spectrum of emotions. Feeling emotions is the strength and stretching necessary to be flexible and resilient. Induce crying if you need to and purge out stagnating and congested energy. Go to a tear-jerker, tissue-waving movie and indulge your emotional self. Also, getting bodywork done — like massage — helps release emotional content that has been stored away in the tissues and joints of your physical body.

3. A healthy subtle emotional body is playful and creative. Invest in activities that will allow it to express itself. Go to a museum. Be inspired and emotive.

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

There is an energy wellness technique that involves connecting to specific internal organs and smiling at them, acknowledging the organ for its purpose in keeping you alive and healthy. This technique can be used for any organ and as part of a body scan. Unification and oneness start with connecting with your body, emotions, mind, and consciousness that you are blessed and grateful.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Spirituality is the awareness that oneness is an inclusive endeavor. We are one with Nature, and with humanity. While we are alive, whether we are conscious or not, we are contributing to the mass consciousness.

1. I can speak for myself that when I awoke to the expanded reality that everything is energy, and my words and thoughts mattered because ultimately, language couriers intentions and meaning to the physical world and support manifestations. This “aha!” moment helped me recognize that “create” is defined as “call into being,” which is why language is a sacred tool.

So monitor your thoughts, your words; how you use language is an essential component of what you are putting out into your energy fields and into the larger context of humanity. This is you doing your individual part to help the whole.

2. Sit with beauty. Practice being in the presence of something you perceive as magnificent and sublime. For example, place a garden rose in front of you and witness its form and perfection. Connect with its beauty and notice how it affects you. When you feel this deep connection, place yourself in the position of the rose. Can you experience the same sense of perfection and beauty when you connect to yourself? You must be willing to let go of any subservience or demonstrative perceptions of yourself, which fuels a sense of separation.

3. Embrace mystery. Be curious. Relinquish the need to know. And allow yourself to practice kindness as much as possible. Kindness typically finds us when we’re at a point of imbalance, fueling us to stay present in our hearts. By cultivating a natural state of kindness, you may never know when your presence is helping another in need.

Here is a story from my life; it’s also part of my book:

When my father died, I traveled alone internationally back to the US, raw with grief. I was suddenly aware of how fragile and sensitive I was, but also thankful that I knew the routine of international travel so that I could be somewhat on automatic pilot. It was surreal to be so vulnerable yet at the mercy of public transportation during its busiest time — the summer holidays.

I managed the flight without too many interactions. I forced myself to try to sleep, and as the plane landed in Denver, I committed my focus to putting one foot in front of the other, gathering my luggage, and finding my shuttle transport. I spent the hour-long ride from the airport to Boulder replaying the last conversation I had with my dad 48 hours earlier, just hours before he succumbed to the infection that shut down his organs.

I pictured him in the hospital bed. My memory scanned his voice for the tones of tenderness that were usually accompanied by a wink — his trademark way of letting me know everything would be okay. I’m not sure why I felt the need to replay that moment, but it comforted and gutted me at the same time.

The people in the shuttle were dropped off at various hotels and hubs along the way until it was just me and another passenger who sat adjacent to me. With less than a mile to my drop-off, we started to talk. He was in town for a world-class climber’s birthday party — it was Boulder, Colorado, after all. I gathered that he worked for a big mountaineering company based in Utah that must have employed the famous climber. He asked what brought me to Boulder. I hadn’t spoken about my new reality to anyone since I’d left my husband at the airport in Oslo the day before.

I found the sentences forming, and without too much effort, I simply told him that I’d returned because my father had died suddenly. As he extended his condolences to me, his phone rang, drawing him into a business call. At the same time, the shuttle turned into my driveway, and I began to collect my belongings. As I stepped out of the van, he told the person on the phone to wait a minute, and he set his phone down. He looked at me and held my gaze. “I’m very sorry for your loss,” he said again with genuine compassion.

His condolences touched me, but I did perhaps what many people do. I said something like, “Thank you. My dad had just turned 83 and had some health issues.” Then, still holding his phone against his thigh and holding my gaze, he insisted, “Don’t rationalize this. Too many people do that when someone dies. I really want you to know I am sorry for your loss.”

I felt his deep witnessing of my pain. I had been in a bubble on the trip, just wanting some privacy since receiving the news. Instead, I had been constantly surrounded by strangers and the hustle of travel. Yet here was a total stranger creating a space for me to express my truth and witness the depth of the loss I would have to absorb in the days, months, and years to come.

I have found that field guides like this appear when you need them. I’ve had my moments of helping others by being present and discerning when I needed to step forward or step back, and I’ve had the good fortune to encounter guides when I needed them.

Experiencing and witnessing a field guide in action helps me trust humanity’s reach. It isn’t just a social construct; it’s an agency with faculty and depth, and the world needs us all to be active members.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

Nature is authentic and pure, and we experience it directly with our senses: I know wind and how it caresses my exposed skin and tosses my hair. I know temperature and weather and what responses they produce in me if I’m hot, cold, wet, or dry. I know sounds of birds, running water, thunder cracking, and the ground reverberating. I know the scent of pine trees and flowers. I know the taste of blueberries. This knowingness of the natural elements offers my senses peace and calm because they’re engaged with the authenticity of Nature. It has no agenda.

Nature knows itself, and from that knowingness, there’s a palpable presence that is felt when you’re in the wilderness. What do you experience when you’re in Nature? Do you feel you’ve entered into a space of its own dimension? What do you sense is reflected to you while you’re in Nature’s presence? My relationship with Nature has a sacredness that reflects an unwavering truth about my senses and how they connect me to my environment and orient or ground me.

Okay, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I feel strongly that if people could understand their mind’s power, they would take more responsibility for their thoughts and how they project mindlessly onto themselves and others.

In presentations, I will sometimes use dowsing rods to demonstrate what happens to a person’s energy fields if they are the recipient of a projection from themselves or another. It’s a revelation, and typically everyone leaves with the motivation to work on self-love and be more mindful of their thoughts.

I would love to create a PSA around this single point of what mindfulness looks like energetically. And how embodied self-love is the Teflon to deflect the mindlessness of others. A robust and resilient field bathed in self-love doesn’t attract drama.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

How fun! After much consideration, and there were many names to consider, I would love to have a private meal with Marianne Williamson. Her book “A Return to Love” was pivotal to me more than 20 years ago, when I learned about self-love and sought a guide. At the beginning of this interview, I indicated that my childhood relied on books and Nature to be my guides, teachers, and mentors. Marianne Williamson demonstrated what a spiritually aligned human being acted like; others were there before her, and others came afterward, but her words landed most deeply with me when I needed them.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website is smhovem.com or empathfieldguide.com.

I post on my FB author page @empathfieldguide Signe Myers Hovem, and IG smhovem.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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