Our feature this month is Val Silver, a holistic healer with a focus on Wellness By Design. I know you will enjoy reading about her as much as I have enjoyed knowing her and sharing in our friendship.
Belle: You’ve been an advocate for natural healing including EFT, energy healing and using nature’s remedies. How did you get started in this path?
Val: That’s kind of a funny story. When I was about thirteen I found this book by Adele Davis about nutrition. I read it and even at that age it made a lot of sense, so I started telling people; you have to eat this… you have to eat that. I thought about becoming a nutritionist, but I was afraid of some of the science classes so I went a different route. I put it aside for quite a while and then about fifteen years ago my mother-in-law started talking about having multiple sclerosis and I remembered Adele and pulled out her book and it’s been history since then.
I started researching nutrition again; this was about the time that the internet was just starting. Some of the things I read about seemed way out there wacky to me at first, like energy healing and flower essences and I thought; I’ll never do those. The more I started looking into these concepts and playing with them, I became a flower essence practitioner and do energy work. So it’s sort of a journey that started from the nutritional things all the way out to the metaphysical things.
Belle: I remember when my husband and I visited you at your home and you had some calendula cream you had made. I had to get a jar of it! It’s such a fond memory and I never forgot that visit.
Val: I had it growing up in front of the house. It’s good for skin.
Belle: Now do you sell your products on your web site?
Val: I don’t. I just make them for myself. I take to mind the approach that if I sell things, I might ask people to take things they don’t need, so I just don’t sell things. I give advice. I know it is good clear advice with no agenda attached to it.
Belle: That’s a good concept to have.
Val: Of course, I would make something for someone if they asked me and if they were in my area. It’s a hobby for me right now, and I just enjoy doing my little dabbling that I do.
Belle: On your web site, it seems to be focused on living a healthier lifestyle. What is the first step to take for those who desire to make changes in their way of living?
Val: I would say the first step, maybe two steps, is being aware first, of all that this is what I am and this is what I need, so there’s an awareness there of what’s going on, but also an acceptance. By acceptance, I don’t mean saying, ‘oh this is great that I’m sick or one hundred pounds overweight.’ Instead state, ‘OK, this is who I am, this where I am right now and I’m OK with that. From this starting place, I’m going to start taking steps to make my life better.’
Belle: And this is where the mind, body, spirit connection comes in.
Val: You can have the best intentions to change your diet, but if your mind is not on board, it’s not going to last very long. That is something I struggle with even still, you know, eating and being consistent with doing exercise. It’s a whole person approach.
Belle: Now you have a guide on your web site that a person can review called the Mind Body Spirit Connection. What is that about?
Val: That’s about the whole person and everything is connected and how the mind really, in research, is backing this up 100% now, how your mind really influences your body. Likewise, your body influences your mind. There is something called the placebo effect where they even do surgeries on people but they’re not actual surgeries and people get better from these pretend surgeries. Sometimes they’re pretty serious surgeries like knee surgeries.
I remember a story of someone with severe Parkinson’s disease and they did a sham brain surgery and the guy got better. So it’s very interesting that, on the flip side, when you believe something is going to hurt you that it actually will. They’ve done studies where they tell people they are taking certain drugs that are going to give them side effects and people get the side effects even though they are just basically taking a sugar pill.
Belle: Now that’s interesting because I’m currently taking an antibiotic. Being conscientious, I wanted to know what the side effects are and it states that one of the side effects is diarrhea, the other one is nausea and headaches and I have those side effects. So, now you’re making me think that maybe if I didn’t know there were any side effects I wouldn’t suffer any of them.
Val: Right. That could actually be a real side effect though because the antibiotics kill the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria. Are you eating yogurt too?
Belle: Yes, I do. I have to eat it every day. It’s for my bladder and so I have to do the yogurt every day just to help replace the good bacteria.
Val: Eat your yogurt about an hour after the antibiotic because otherwise it will kill it right off. If you take your antibiotic at dinner time before bed, eat your yogurt and then it will be in your system all night and that will probably take care of it after a few days.
Belle: The instructions state to not take the antibiotic on an empty stomach so I was eating the yogurt and then taking the pill.
Val: Right, so then it kills the yogurt on the way down.
Belle: So basically, I was defeating my purpose there. Well, now I’ll eat something before taking the antibiotic and then eat the yogurt about an hour afterward. It makes sense and I like the idea of taking it at bedtime.
Val: Then you haven’t taken anything all night so it has all night to do its thing.
Belle: Does our mental and emotional health really play a large part in our physical well-being?
Val: I think so. Studies are showing that our beliefs play a critical role in our health. I don’t know if you have ever heard of Dr. Bruce Lipton, but he talks about epigenetics and the genes and he found that people’s perceptions and their cultures even affect how you’re genes express themselves. And babies, even when they’re born from different cultures, have different cries that make them acceptable to their parents. Because it’s like they’re picking up language in utero that makes them part of their family. The genes are being impacted by your beliefs and your perceptions right from day one and before.
Belle: That makes perfect sense. What we believe, we become.
Val: And Science is backing this up. Let me share with you an interesting story. Several years ago, I was in a car accident and I got my second whiplash. I was really upset about that because I was already having some spinal neck issues. Anyway, I was going to the chiropractor and I was having a fair amount of pain and my insurance company made me go to another chiropractor for an evaluation. He wrote up this thing that said ‘She has whiplash and she needs treatment and in six months she’ll be fine.’ So of course I thought that was hysterical. My chiropractor and I kind of laughed about it and made fun of it.
I wasn’t getting any better and about two or three weeks before his predicted time that I would be better I was actually saying ‘I think I’m feeling a little bit worse.’ Well wouldn’t you know, almost to the day, I mean the day, of six months my pain went away. Now, how do you explain this? I believed he was wrong but somehow my subconscious must have still accepted this suggestion that I would be better in six months and I was.
Belle: Could it have any importance that it was a chiropractor your insurance company suggested versus someone you were already seeing and were familiar with?
Val: I don’t know. I had faith in the one I was going to. We had worked together and had good results before. I just really pooh-poohed him and thought it took a lot of nerve telling me I’m going to be better in six months. How does he know? It could be three months, it could be a year. But what I just thought was so funny was it was to the day.
Belle: Isn’t that amazing!
Val: All I could come up with is that maybe because I was so relaxed about it and didn’t invest myself. You know how they always say when you manifest yourself so attached to an outcome that the suggestion just went in.
That’s not to say I never had neck issues after that, but the horrible pain from that whiplash just went right away. I don’t think my neck was actually better; physically, I had no perception of pain after that.
I still scratch my head over that one and think…ok, is that placebo or no-cebo. It worked!
Belle: You offer a lot of wonderful programs on your website. What programs do you recommend for someone who is seeking to better their life? I know there are so many different categories that you focus on. So tell us about some of those.
Val: The best thing I would suggest to people is when they come to the website is to take the e-course. I have an e-course on there that’s free and it’s basically a tour of the website. It takes people through the website, but it also has them explore certain avenues. There is a section on the mind, a section on the body’s effects on spiritual health, and also a section on herbs and energy healing. So they get a little taste of everything that’s on the website along with some self-exploration. I’m sure it’s a course that could actually be sold, but it’s just a service I give to people, it’s a seven week course. But that would be a great place to start for people who want to kind of sample the waters, if you will. I have also had naturopaths who take the course and write me and say this is right on! I was pretty flattered by that.
Belle: So all they have to do is register as a member on your website?
Val: You don’t have to register as a member to take the e-course, there’s no strings attached. They just put in their name and the course will start coming once a week for seven weeks. If they want to become a member of the website there would be another sign-in and then they would be eligible to get two of my e-books that I have written and my occasional e-zine that comes out.
Belle: Now you know me, I have a large interest in herbal remedies. What is the best way for someone to begin utilizing herbal remedies and how can a person find a good education about how to use the herbs?
Val: That’s a big question! I do have a whole section on my website about herbs so, I guess that is as good a place to start as any. I suggest to just play with the herbs as long as you don’t get into the real strong herbs, they are quite safe to use. For instance, if somebody is a little on edge, there’s a whole section on calming herbs that they can try, or try a cup of chamomile tea and see how that goes. Aromatherapy is another way to start playing with herbs because it’s just so enjoyable. A little bottle of lavender oil is a wonderful way to calm yourself down. Lavender scent is awesome.
Belle: I keep fresh lavender in the house all the time. It’s great for when we have our grandchildren over. Not so much for them, but for papa and me! (Laughter) I know you love being out in nature. Is this where you began your work with herbs?
Val: I feel most centered, grounded, and at peace when I am out in nature. I love sitting out and looking at the lake, and walking around outside and seeing the healing herbs growing wild. Sometimes I harvest some of them to make tinctures and doing that makes me feel connected to the plants and nature and I feel in harmony with nature.
For those wanting to learn more about herbs, start by using herbs on your food, like the Italian seasoning you use in your spaghetti sauce, sprinkle it on a little extra. Herbs like oregano have a lot of antioxidants in it, some antimicrobial qualities. I’ve been trying to be heavy handed with my herbal seasoning, too, just to get in some more herbs in my daily diet.
Belle: And garlic. Garlic is another good one, isn’t it?
Val: Oh yeah, garlic is great! The trick with garlic, if you want the medicinal qualities, is to chop it up raw and let it sit for about ten minutes and then just very, very lightly cook it, if you cook it, or have it raw. A lot of people don’t like it raw. And that actually gets the compounds activated so that you’ve got more of the medicinal qualities of it.
Belle: So, it’s actually better to use fresh herbs rather than the dried herbs in the spice section at the grocery store?
Val: In the case of garlic for the medicinal qualities, fresh is better. There is still some benefit to the other. Fresh herbs, yes, sometimes cooked is better. It’s just like when you tincture herbs, you use fresh and sometimes it’s better to use dried herbs. That’s a whole study there in itself. But, use fresh and chop it up, and maybe let it sit for a couple of minutes.
I just read an article, I didn’t even know this, if you chop up your lettuce and let it sit for ten minutes you’ll get a lot more antioxidants from the lettuce than if you just eat it right away. A lot of times, I would just rip up a head of fresh lettuce and eat it right away. So, now I know to rip it up and let it sit for a few minutes before I eat it.
Belle: That’s an interesting thought, to let it sit for a bit so that it activates the nutrient and the benefits.
Val: It’s because plants have a lot of their compounds to protect them from insects, so I guess when you cut lettuce it would be like a bug chewing on the leaf. So the plant would activate these compounds to protect itself. When you cut the lettuce, it activates those compounds so they are good for us. It might not be good for the bug. (Laughter)
Belle: What about herbal teas?
Val: I love herbal teas. They are a great way to start playing with herbs. Try buying a couple of different herbal teas. Go to the health food store and find a tea that is good for something you need help with. That’s a nice way to get your toe in the herbal waters.
I think the thing to keep in mind with herbs, this gets a little more complicated, is that you just want to match the herb to your symptoms, so to speak, if I can use the word symptoms. For example, not all calming herbs work for all people. Some people may feel more anxious, some may have intestinal problems. My son would have to run to the bathroom if he got nervous. There are actually herbs that should match more closely to those symptoms. So, I always suggest that people read up on the herb they are interested in trying. If they go to my website, I have a few categories for using herbs. Some for calming, I think I have depression, anxiety, but read through and try to match the herb a little bit to what you want and you’ll probably get better results that way.
Belle: What type of services do you offer from your website?
Val: I offer EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique. I learned about it in my perusals online when it first came out. I played with it and it really changed my life because I was able to let go of a lot of past issues. When I did that, I was a lot more at peace within myself and it literally changed my personality for the better.
Doing energy healing was also a life changer because every time I would put my hands into someone’s field with the intention to heal, I would feel unconditional love for them and I realized we are all one and that really shook my religious beliefs to the core. I let go of ‘separation’ and ‘we’re special or right’ because we believe beliefs and in the process actually became much more spiritual when the deepest answer I had was ‘I don’t know.’
More lately I’ve been getting into coaching; life coaching, wellness coaching, it all sort of goes together. Of course, we can do EFT during that coaching session if people get stuck on something. So, I’ve been going in that direction a little bit more. I also do energy healing and I do that once a month at the Apollo Health and Wellness Center, but that’s just a volunteer thing. We get together for a few hours and people come in to have energy healing. Sometimes I’ll do EFT if somebody needs that.
Belle: Now, why would a person need life coaching?
Val: Possibly because they’re stuck. For example, if they’ve been on a diet a hundred times and they’re still not getting anywhere, it might be a good idea to work with a coach to figure out why you’re stuck and how to get unstuck. So it’s helpful; it can keep you accountable to your partner. A lot of people think of a coach as a manager; this isn’t like a soccer coach yelling and screaming at you and telling you what to do. It’s quite a lot different. I might have advice, but it’s more of a co-creative process to get you from point A to point B.
Belle: So, whatever place in our life we feel stuck, then we would call upon a life coach to help us go within to try to find what that block is?
Val: Right, you could do that. Sometimes it’s very concrete; like what have you tried, what do you need to try, what would you like to try, have you considered this, here are some resources that might help you, let’s make a plan. It’s not all energetic, though some of it could be. It would depend on your coach, too, and what their training is. I have a lot of energy healing training, so I try to feel the energy for what is going on with somebody.
Belle: So you basically help them to get better organized?
Val: Right, sometimes it’s a mental organization, as much as it may be more than a physical one. It gets them to look at what’s going on. Sometimes they get to look deeper. I notice in the coaching world, too, that there’s a lot of people who want to call it energy work for lack of a better word. There’s an energy component like feeling in our body. Such as, what are you feeling in your body? Is it bringing something up that maybe helps to identify why they’re stuck, and how to use that coping mechanism we developed as a kid, because we don’t necessarily want to throw those things away when we develop those defenses, those techniques for a reason. They’ve served us for a lot of years, but now it’s starting to interfere. So, how are we going to move past where you are to get to where you want to go?
Belle: Some people don’t know where to turn. The thing I like about the concept of the life coach is that if you were to suggest to someone that they go see a counselor or a psychiatrist there’s an immediate block. They state, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me, nothing wrong with me at all!’ But, if you mention a life coach, often times a very similar process, but it seems to have a different energy to it.
Val: Right, but we’re not analyzing anybody and we’re not fixing anybody, or suggesting that they get fixed. I like to think we’re all perfect where we are, we’re where we are for a reason. This is the best we’re doing for the moment. It’s the idea that we’re all doing the best we can, even when we’re not, and so if you don’t want to be there anymore then we look at how we can get you going to where you want to go.
What’s kind of cool about it is it works for anything. I can call myself a health educator or wellness coach…but it really applies to all different areas of life. They say even for people with business, by the third session it’s all life coaching. It’s all about what we call the inner game…it’s what’s going on in your head.
Belle: So, Val, any last messages you would like to leave for our readers?
Val: What I would like to say is start where you are. It doesn’t matter where you are, accept yourself, be OK with yourself, and love yourself.
I was just talking to someone I was coaching the other day. I told them, ‘you’re not going to move forward if you’re still in resistance about who you are and where you are.’ Once you get to that place of acceptance, then you’re free to move forward. But start somewhere. If you want to start with the physical, then OK, make small steps and change your diet a little bit. If you want to work with the mental or the spiritual do that. But just pick somewhere to start…anywhere…and the whole you will benefit no matter where you start.
Belle: As long as you take that first step.
Val: Right, you’ve got to take the first step, and if you fail, get back up and start over again. Or think of it as an experiment, ‘I’m going to try this a week and see how it goes.’ The idea is to just to move; get one foot going in front of the other.
Belle: So, it really sounds like the key here is allowing ourselves to be in the now moment. Don’t worry about the past, don’t concern yourself with the future, but simply with the present, that’s where the gift lies.
Val: Right, that is where the gift lies. And it’s like you said, it’s not about fixing yourself. You’re good enough the way you are. You’re OK with who you are, but do it because you’re worth it, not because there’s something wrong with you. Do it because you’re worth giving yourself the best that you have and being the best you can.
Belle: Your website is at www.holistic-mindbody-healing.com. How can our readers contact you?
Val: There’s a contact form on the website if somebody wants to contact me. They can just say they read the article. There’s also a place on the website where they can request a complimentary coaching session if they want to talk to me and see if working together would be something they are interested in. I take a real no-pressure approach. I figure if we’re meant to work together, we will and if not, that’s fine.
Belle: I love that about you.
Val: For me, it really isn’t because I have a job, so I feel free to do this on my own terms. I think that’s good because it’s not something I have to do; it’s something I want to do.
Belle: I think that’s a big difference. Now, you also have a book that is coming out soon. Can you tell us about your new book?
Val: The book is almost finished and I’m so excited. It’s called Rescue Me – Tales of Rescue Dogs Who Became Teachers, Healers, and Always Faithful Friends. A portion of the proceeds from the book are going to shelters and rescues. The book is designed as a fundraiser. I got together with ten other writers, just ordinary people who are sharing our stories. I can’t wait for people to purchase it and start reading it so I can begin making donations to these very worthy organizations that are helping animals in need.
Belle: When will your book be available?
Val: The book is now available on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GLF5HQK/ in Kindle and soon to come in a paperback.
Belle: Your book and its cause sounds wonderful. Now tell us about the book cover, it is amazing!
Val: It was done by somebody who very graciously donated her time in creating the cover. I think this is the first thing I’ve been really excited about in a long time. I needed something and Spirit gave it to me. I was asking how I could help. I’ve been an animal lover my whole life. It’s a part of me that went dormant for a while and after my Lily died, I missed having a dog so much. I started looking on PetFinder at those faces and reading how immediate the rescues were. I felt I should do something to help so I prayed about it. This book idea just sort of came. I call it my “divine download.” It was like everything came in at once. How to do it, what to do, but I sort of put it off for a while. I got a little scared by it because it’s a big project, but it’s helped me to go in and keep checking on my intuition…’OK, what’s next, did I get what I needed?’ It’s been a perfect marriage of my love for animals and my love for healing because it’s really a book about how we heal the animals and they heal us in return.
Belle: It sounds wonderful!
Val: So I think my life might be taking a little bit of a turn from here. I will be interested to see what turn my life takes with this book because I can definitely see that helping animals is going to be a little bigger part of my life than it has been. Rescue is pretty hot right now, so I’m hoping that this book will really be successful. Not for me but because I really want to raise a lot of money to help these organizations.
Belle: Aside from purchasing your book, if there is somebody who would like to make a donation to any of these organizations, do you have a favorite organization that you recommend?
Val: We’re going to be hosting about eight organizations who focus on animal rescue. There will be a web page that goes along with the book where people can listen to some of the audios. Some of the stories I wrote from audio because some people didn’t want to do their own writing. So the audio interviews are going to be available. I will have a webpage listing the organizations that we’re working with and there will be a featured organization, so if people want to check it out and see who is featured and what their needs are, they can make a donation. If they have a heart for rescue, any rescue will be happy to have whatever donations people want to give. The need far exceeds the supply of resources. It’s a very, very big problem and I know some of these people are working their hearts out; even dipping into their own pockets to save these animals.
Belle: Do you have a URL yet for that webpage yet?
Val: Yes, it’s going to be in the book. There’s going to be a webpage ‘go to’ unless they have the book, this web page will go with the book.
Belle: So they’ve got to purchase the book in order to get to the webpage to hear the audio and so forth?
Val: Right. If people find it on their own, that’s fine. If anything, there will be a link on the webpage and in the book, so it will work either way. Right now, my intent is it will be like a bonus with the book and another way to get people to see these organizations and hopefully make an extra donation if they can.
It’s also to raise awareness. I didn’t even know there was a difference between rescues and shelters until I started working on the book (and) getting to know some of these authors. A rescue dog often comes from shelters. Some of these shelters only give the dog a few days to live before it is put down. I don’t really call that a shelter, but that’s another topic all together. These rescue organizations go in and pull these dogs out and try to find them foster care or other shelters to take them. This is a huge movement that is going on that I didn’t even know existed until I got into the writing of this book.
Belle: I am so excited about your book and what you and the other authors are seeking to do for these precious animals who are in need of loving homes. We wish you the greatest success with your book and your mission to help the animals.
I feel so honored to know Val Silver personally and have always viewed her as one of my mentors along my own spiritual path. I am so happy to be able to share her knowledge and inspiration with our readers this month. I’m sure you can understand why we have placed Val among the ranks of those we call ‘Beautiful Spirit!’