Are you dealing with any of the following conditions? Anxiety, arthritis, cancer, depression, digestive issues, fatigue, heart disease, energetically or environmentally sensitive, hypertension, Meniere’s, migraine, poor immune function, pain, sleep problems, stress, vertigo or weight issues?
Introducing Sari Telpner, a Whole Health Educator™ and Holy Fire Reiki Master. Over the past 22 years Sari has dedicated herself to teaching, healing and assisting her patients, students and clients in living life with functionality, intention, wellness and vitality. From her wellness roots in the fields of Occupational Therapy and Health Education, to her work as a Wellness Consultant and Educator at the Co-op, and now, her current healing practice. Sari helps inform clients through evidence-based strategies which address disease prevention, reduce inflammation and stress to create lasting behavioral changes. She educates, supports and facilitates her clients, not only to master and take charge of their own health and wellness, but invites them to see, accept, know and love themselves-this is the foundation of true health-self-knowledge and the desire to care for oneself.
I grew up in a small town in Iowa and moved to Eugene, Oregon in 1977. I have lived in Ashland for a total of 23 years, originally coming in 1980. Both of my adult children are graduates of Ashland High and currently live in Asia. My life has been one of always helping, caring for, nurturing and teaching others. I am on a continual pursuit for high level wellness for myself and others which includes physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I am a “life-long learner” and highly motivated to keep growing, refining and evolving in my understanding and skills. My passion for knowledge and communication has gifted me with a diverse background of experience. Being a mother was my priority for years, but I eased back to college to study Occupational Therapy. I initially worked part-time as a Medical-Psychiatric C.O.T.A., with patients undergoing lengthy hospitalizations, teaching them stress reduction and deep relaxation through modalities such as guided imagery, relaxation breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation. Later, I spent years working with developmentally challenged students and focused on visual perceptual, fine motor and sensory integration therapies. The goal of Occupational Therapy is teaching people to become functional and independent in their lives, however challenging their circumstances. My experience working with school children who were affected in utero by drugs and alcohol eventually led me to pursue my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Health Promotion-Fitness and Health Education. After years of working in occupational therapy and teaching in public schools, I had the opportunity to work as a Wellness Consultant at Ashland Food Co-op, one on one with customers, as well as teaching wellness classes related to lifestyle choices, inflammation, happiness and healthy eating. In this position, I gained in-depth training in nutrition, supplements and herbs. Along with my coaching and healing practice, I presently stay connected with the local medical community, working as a Medical Assistant, one day each week at Morningstar Healing Arts.
It sounds like you have had some very broad experience and education in the field of health, wellness and healing. What do you view as some of your core strengths that have helped in creating this path for you?
I feel my work and education path related to health, healing and wellness evolved in different stages as I myself grew, matured and stepped more and more into my own strong sense of self and a clear understanding of my passions. I believe that my passion for helping others comes from a deep level of empathy I developed beginning in early childhood, having experienced a deeply personal path regarding my own healing. At age two, I almost died of pneumonia and struggled for decades with chronic health issues, likely related to regular antibiotic use following the pneumonia. My health cascade began long before mainstream medicine had made the connection between overuse of antibiotics, gut integrity and their relationship to the immune system and systemic inflammation. I was the highly sensitive kid who was always sick and suffered with environmental and food allergies, asthma, sinusitis, anxiety, migraine and fatigue. By age 20, I had experienced years of prescription medications that masked my symptoms and caused further health problems. My first job, at age 15 was in a very primitive health food store, before anyone spoke the word, “organic”. When I moved to Oregon in 1977, I learned to sprout; juice; ate fresh organic foods; learned about herbs and nutrition, began meditating and practiced yoga. Eventually I found healers who understood the relationship between lifestyle and health. I stepped into the role of researcher and became passionate about how to find the right modalities for my own healing. That road was a long one and took decades since much essential health research is just now being revealed. My path has gifted me with many core strengths. I am an independent thinker, highly intuitive, compassionate, patient, persistent; a deep listener; a perceptive health researcher with the mind of a medical detective. I think the depth of my strength comes from my commitment to loving the reality of what is; seeing through the eyes of others; my deep relationship to spirit, daily gratitude practice, love for all creation and being highly resilient in this tsunami we call life. I am solidly grounded by my deep connections and love for family, friends and community. In my work, I blend the world of evidence-based health research with compassionate communication; keen intuition, deep connection and the ability to see and accept each of my clients as fully, wholly, beautiful, unique beings.
About four years ago, following a car accident, my life as I had known it fell apart. I developed chronic daily vertigo and it literally felt like I was carrying the weight of a house on my head. My body became a channel for massive amounts of energy; enough to light cities. I was sensitive to noise, light and the energy of others around me. I would experience sudden, violent vertigo attacks, often triggered by foods or light. Two years into it, I was forced to leave the job I loved and my work, helping others find solutions for their health issues. I am single and my adult kids were living in Asia. I became isolated in my home and terrified of what the remainder of my life would hold. I was scared. There was no magic pill I could take to return my life to what it had been. However, through this experience, I gained a new understanding of “being in the moment” and developed a powerful connection to spirit. I practiced daily gratitude, meditation, and Qigong. I turned my thoughts around and appreciated the gift I was being given, to step back from the world and discover myself. This experience catalyzed in me a powerful understanding that my work is to heal and facilitate others to see themselves, clearly understand their health issues and find their own commitment to becoming whole and well.
Eventually you were able to move through this crisis. How you did you do this and what did you discover?
My process of healing was grueling and painful, physically and emotionally. There were many levels to it. For close to three years, I could only tolerate a few foods. I saw an M.D. specialists; had numerous tests and imaging and got misdiagnosed; went to a nutritionist, homeopath, osteopath, naturopath, chiropractors; had acupuncture and saw several energy healers. The energy healers gave me the most relief. For the most part, recommended medications and supplements made my symptoms worse. I stopped taking supplements for over a year and gave my body a rest. Food became my medicine. I learned about fermented foods; foods to heal the gut and eliminated inflammatory emulsifiers like carrageenan. I prepared all of my food at home- clean, simple whole foods nutrition. I turned to myself; listened to my inner wisdom and my intuition developed exponentially. It led me to the right people and modalities for my healing and I did persistent medical research to find answers. I found an awesome Complementary Practice Internist, who discovered I had extreme adrenal fatigue and she put me on a very simple healing regimen as I still could barely tolerate herbs and supplements. I discovered Irlen Spectral Filters – color prescription lenses and N.U.C.C.A., upper cervical chiropractic to heal my whip-lashed neck and the worst of the vertigo. I used energy hydro-therapy to heal my adrenal glands, daily gratitude practice to increase my mood, and I learned to cry as a way of detoxifying my emotional body. I realized that the healer was me and things shifted for the better. I came to understand that my symptoms were in reality my deep healing process and though extremely traumatic, led me on a journey to truly heal after a lifetime of never being fully well. I was led to Mind-Body Medicine- using the power of my thoughts, feelings and words to affect my state of being and create wellness from the deepest place. In this period, I discovered the gift of my healing hands, becoming a Holy Fire Reiki Master and teacher. And, though I could barely look at a computer monitor a few years ago, I put on my dark, wrap-around Irlen lenses and completed a rigorous 15-month program for allied health professionals, earning my credential as a Whole Health Educator, Coach and Advocate. That program gave me a powerful understanding of the connection between the physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual aspects of health. There were many times during that period when I questioned the value of living and many suggested I apply for disability. Instead, I became “The Little Engine That Could”, and through courage, persistence and strength of mind, climbed the mountain of transformation to my best self. And, yes, I still wear Irlen Spectral Filters – most often rose colored, these days.
Whole Health Education™ is an evidence-based protocol of 1:1 peer counseling and health coaching which began 40 years ago as the roots of Functional Medicine. The protocol allows for an in-depth look into The Five Aspects of Health, physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual aspects of your life, which are all essential to your health and wellness. Several coaching sessions follow an in-depth intake interview. Clients gain new insight into the big picture of their lives; a clear understanding of the cause of their health issues, discover the connection between lifestyle and wellness and are enabled to create positive behavioral change. Through active facilitation, clients create their unique action plan, becoming accountable to themselves. As well, a big piece of Whole Health Education is learning simple but powerful methods to reduce anxiety and stress. The sessions may include Health Advocacy which offers collaborating, coordinating and sharing health information with your medical providers; guiding you to the best practitioners for your specific needs and information and support in selecting your best treatment options. Stand-alone advocacy sessions include accompanying you or a family member to medical appointments; developing questions and providing health information to share with your medical providers.
Much of Whole Health Education also relates strongly to your own health and wellness philosophies. Please say more.
I have understood for years that it is just not one thing. Basically, everything is everything in terms of our health. I used to see many unwell people in the wellness aisle at the food co-op who were over-focused on food and supplements, trying to make everything better with good nutrition. For years I did the same thing. You can eat an awesome, clean diet and take all the supplements in the world and still be unhealthy. A common underlying theme with my client’s health conditions is the issue of stress. Through the initial interview process, it often becomes clear that people are looking for ways to feel better and lower the stress levels contributing to their symptoms. Although clients initially come to Whole Health Education for one or two specific health issues, the interview process often reveals numerous symptoms related to stress. By the second session, I go in-depth with my clients regarding the role of the adrenal glands, adrenal hormones and the Reticular Activating System and their relationship to chronic illnesses and health issues. In my own experience, the stress connection was the biggest catalyst to my crisis. I am passionate about educating others about this and teaching them how to live a balanced life. The overlap of all Five Aspects of Health is essential in understanding where each individual’s stress is coming from. Each Action, Plan takes these five aspects into account. You can eat well and work-out daily and still be unhealthy if you are working a stressful job, living in a challenging environment or dealing with difficult personal relationships. I facilitate my clients to see and understand the “Big Picture” of their life and health. This understanding is powerful in creating behavioral change.
What I find most exciting about the process of Whole Health Education, is observing throughout the facilitation and sharing of evidence-based health information, as my clients gain an awareness and new perspective of all the aspects of their life. Clients have come to me, initially scared and feeling no sense of control over their health issues and through our work together, they regain a sense of power over their health and life- on many levels.
“At my first session with Sari, I was a mess. I wept throughout our consultation. I was in pain, overwhelmed and desperate. With Sari’s gentle and engaged presence, I found myself in a space where I felt safe and no longer needed to pretend and put up my walls of denial. Sari heard, held and guided me without judgment. Sari’s commitment to the Whole Health model offered me the opportunity to see the multi facets of my well being, and see how I could create small goals to be successful and empowered. Sari offered solutions and information that diffused my fear and fed my longing to own my journey towards health on every level. With Sari’s perceptiveness, grace and open heart, along with the Whole Health Education structure, I was able to step out of the role of victim, into the powerful and informed creator of my best, most vibrant self. Sari has a gift. Her gift has changed my life, and I am so grateful. Thank you Sari!” Rosie D.
“I really appreciated Sari’s attentiveness; the way she gently listened and responded to my specific concerns, as well as the time Sari took to research my questions. Working weekly with The 5 Aspects of Health, and understanding how they affected my life as a whole, was very helpful. Sari helped me pinpoint what was and wasn’t working for my health and helped me identify small, but important, realistic, achievable goals. This process contributed to my personal growth and healing. The weekly coaching was very helpful. Sari is a deep listener, and connects in a manner that allowed new ideas and possibilities to emerge for me. I left each session feeling more open, inquiring and interested, with new ideas to process. I enjoyed working with Sari.” D.Jokelson.
Sari with so much information to continually review how do you pay attention and then how do you go about making the best and most relevant choices?
An essential piece of my work is to listen deeply and this helps me to understand what my clients need from me. I focus and pay attention in my work through the intention I set of being fully present for each client. I feel much gratitude for each person who chooses to work with me and I see each client as my teacher as I learn so much from our work together. And, I am always doing my own work of self-development and practicing concentration through meditation and Qigong.
Regarding all the information, it is simple as my mind loves piecing together puzzles and I am passionate in doing health research. I love the way the Whole Health Protocol takes my clients from one step to the next, with ease, beginning with the in-take interview. From the first session, my clients and I develop our next steps and from there, I begin researching, refining and getting them the requested health information. The next several sessions are educational in nature, looking at stress and its relationship to disease, as well as looking at my client’s health condition with a “Five Aspects” approach. Each session includes guidance in stress-reduction techniques. All choices are made in collaboration with my clients to best serve their goals.
You have a very detailed intake interview. Please talk about this
The one-hour initial interview, introduces clients to “The Five Aspects of Health” and the questions encompass these. The interview employs something called, “Behavioral Engagement with Pure Presence” which offers an opening for clients to look inside, connect to themselves and pull out deeply buried thoughts. Behavioral Engagement allows for one to feel seen and listened too without distraction or interruption during the interview. Besides obtaining information about my clients, the process facilitates each individual to access and integrate their stored wisdom, information, and memory. The goal is to create integration which provides for “aha” moments of new awareness. Behavioral Engagement with Pure Presence creates trust and allows for depth of emotion, allowing clients to go deep into detail regarding the information they share. The interview allows one to open to a deep level of emotion. Research on Behavioral Engagement shows that one must experience an emotional shift before making sustainable behavioral change. The interview establishes a strong connection and deep sense of trust between me as facilitator and my clients.
You then have action plans and supporting materials which you provide to your clients.
Beginning in the second session, I facilitate my clients in creating their “Take Action Plan”. This includes each client establishing a level of confidence each session, based on a scale of 1-10. I facilitate the goal-setting process, but each client is the driver in terms of the goals they develop related to their physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual health. Each consecutive session is a check-in regarding the action plan progress, revision and the sharing of additional requested health information. It is interesting to observe how one client may set one goal for the week on the nutritional level and another may set two nutritional goals, one physical activity goal and two goals relating to spirituality. When they come back a week later, the first client may determine they can do more and the second client may realize their confidence level was way too high and both revise their plans accordingly. Each session is a way for people to check in with themselves and face the reality of what they want to do vs. what they are capable of. There is no one recipe and each action plan is unique. Other supporting materials include “demystified” evidence-based health information based on particular health issues. These can be anything from current research on increased anti-oxidant levels in organic foods; lower incidence of cancers in diets high in organic foods; the relationship between daily stressors and incidence of Adult onset Diabetes, to the correlation between daily gratitude and happiness. Flip Charts are also used to share visual schematics about all body systems.
What are some of the primary needs and desires of your clients?
I think in essence, no matter what people are dealing with health wise, they want to feel whole and experience connection, joy and purpose in their life. Most of my clients come looking for a happy, balanced life. It is essential to know that even if you have a life-long limiting health issue, you can still manage your life and be “well”. I integrate Mind-Body medicine in my coaching work. When we think certain thoughts, our brain cells release neuropeptides which land on receptor cites in other organs and our immune cells. We can actually think our way sick if we are not careful. And, we can use our minds to increase our wellbeing. From my recent health crisis, I still experience light sensitivity and often must wear tinted lenses. I frequently keep a plug in one ear due to noise sensitivity. Initially I fought it. Once I changed my thinking, I realized that I feel better on every other level than I ever have in my life. With Mind -Body medicine, I overcame the vertigo with my thinking. When the room began spinning, instead of panicking, I repeated to myself, “I’m fine”, “I’m safe” and the vertigo stopped within minutes. I learned from experience that I do have control-we all do. Some can fully heal from certain conditions, especially those based on lifestyle choices and some conditions can be managed in ways that help you to feel well and whole. There are some powerful tools available to decrease stress, anxiety, chronic pain, lower blood pressure, help digestive function, sleep and weight issues. I use many in my practice. I also integrate Reiki Energy healing into my coaching practice to help my clients calm their Sympathetic Nervous System to support deep relaxation. Whole Health Education is designed to help people develop self-knowledge and the desire for self care-both being the foundation of health. You are the healer of yourself-and that can go hand in hand with working with medical practitioners.
Sari can please give us a brief overview of specific conditions and issues you are working with?
Health issues addressed in Whole Health Education are many, and often the result of stress which triggers systemic inflammation. They include: anxiety, arthritis, cancer, chronic conditions, depression, digestive issues, fatigue, heart disease, energetically or environmentally sensitive, hypertension, Meniere’s, migraine, poor immune function, pain, sleep problems, stress, vertigo and weight issues. Through my advocacy work, I also connect my clients with health care providers who may be the right fit for specific needs.
Finally, how should readers reach out to you about learning more about your services?
Call me to schedule a free 15 minute consultation to learn if Whole Health Services are right for you.
You can learn more about my Whole Health Practice, Reiki Energy Healing sessions and Reiki classes by calling me or checking out my web pages.
Last, but not least, are there any last thoughts or comments you would like to share?
As a Whole Health Professional, I provide coded insurance billing receipts which may be reimbursed through your Flex Spending and Health Savings Account.
I would love to hear from you. You can learn more about me, Whole Health Education as well as the Holy Fire Reiki Sessions and Classes I teach, on my website and blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to read about me and my work. I am so grateful and look forward to connecting.
Sari Telpner • Whole Health