Erin Telford truly inspires me. Based in New York, she is a certified Breathwork facilitator and teacher, a licensed acupunturist, a Reiki Master and a herbalist. Her energy is inclusive, honest and empowering. It is also beautiful, feminine and creative. In loving and accepting her whole self – and her whole personal history – she gives others permission to do the same.
At the essence of it, your work is rooted in helping people to look within and heal their relationship with themselves. This is such a privileged and beautiful moment to share with people. What opens up for your clients when this happens?
Everything. I love this quote from Haruki Murakami: “What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.” It’s so true! Even though most people pull off the appearance of being a fully functioning adult, everyone has some amount of emotional pain and trauma lodged in their body and spirit. It may show up as anxiety, depression, people pleasing, not feeling valued, being afraid to make decisions, fear of change, inability to take up space or speak up, confusion and apathy, or a million other things. This is human stuff. It may not be the end of the world to carry your wounds with you for a lifetime but what is on the other side is phenomenal and unlimited. Untended wounds can be like cement shoes for our soul’s growth. I know that many of the things that I considered to just be part of my personality - being shy, afraid to speak in public, unable to sing/perform/teach, being sad, feeling like too much - were all things that shifted after doing all the work I did with my teacher David and working with my breath. I barely recognised myself from year to year. I want that for everybody who wants to experience that.
How do you support people through this process?
The main way I am going to support people through this process is through our one-on-one work together and through helping them remember who they are. There is a lot of social conditioning around healing being really arduous and taking a long time. Healing your relationship to yourself has endless facets. It’s your sexuality, your creativity, your relationship to your body, your emotions, your trauma, your parents, your upbringing, your creativity. It’s not a quick fix but once you put down that metaphorical whip and start treating yourself with tenderness and compassion, the journey can get a lot more fun and move along much faster. I love the hell out of my clients when they are in the room with me and we are working. I don’t coddle them and I don’t worry about them. We are capable of so much more than we think we are. We’ve been fed many lies about what we are allowed to do and who we are allowed to be and what it means to be strong and powerful. I trust my clients to ask me for help if they need it and I know they can hold themselves close during the process. Ultimately, it is the individual that has to do the heavy lifting. They know I am there for them but I think my clients usually lean towards self-reliance as I know I magnetise people who carry some of the same traits that I do.
Your website has a beautiful statement: "We can’t change other people but when we heal ourselves, the world around us begins to change". What does healing mean to you?
More peace, more joy, more freedom, more free will, more agency, more fun, more movement. There was a time in my life that I would show up in certain situations as a walking open wound. I would be bracing for someone to hurt me or I would get angry in advance, anticipating some kind of emotional injury. I would self-medicate and drink too much to avoid my feelings. It was horrible to feel that way and so exhausting. No way to live. But I didn’t know it could be any other way! I didn’t know how to change it. My fear and guardedness and anger impacted me and everyone else around me. Healing to me is not carrying around that weight, being able to trust yourself and greet yourself with kindness at every turn, feeling peaceful and easy in the mind.
What healing do you think is needed and wanted in the world right now?
Intimacy and connection. Support and community. A lot of renegade humans to show as many people in as many ways that they can step outside the matrix and live a life according to their own values and beliefs and still be abundant.
How do you contribute to this through your work?
I would like to think that I contribute to this by living it. I create community for people through the group events that I do. I support people in knowing that there are safe spaces to be angry, depressed, confused, disappointed, sad. I am true to myself and follow my heart and express myself. Through these channels, I have created a great life for myself that helps me and others.
You are supporting people through a deeply personal journey. How did this become your life focus?
I needed that support. I really needed that non-judgmental, non-critical, safe space to experience myself and be witnessed and have someone help me. The further I moved into finding my groove in my healing practice and realised what I needed and what it felt like everyone else needed, it became more important to be able to create a space where every piece of someone was accepted and seen. The deeper I go with myself and my own personal work, the deeper I can take other people. It’s important for me to be able to be one of the ports in the storm of life for people.
What would you consider your most transformative life experience and how has this shaped your approach to your work?
It’s hard to pick just one but healing the patterns and the experiences I had in my family is probably the biggest and most far reaching. Our families are such fertile territory for healing. I’ve had lessons in dealing with rage, addiction, healthy boundaries, the mother wound, grief and loss, mental and emotional health, forgiveness, changing my role within the family, asserting my rights to have my own feelings and opinions. It’s endless. Everything I didn’t receive in my child and young adulthood, I had to learn to give to myself. As I shaped myself I was honed by the friction and push back from my family. We have the best relationship we’ve ever had but they were all my greatest teachers - as much through what was taught AND what wasn’t taught.
Your writing – on your blog, Facebook and Instagram – encourages people to return to themselvey by taking ownership of their personal history, by releasing any pain they have incorporated into their identity, and by practicing self-acceptance and self-love. Why are these themes so close to your heart?
I have lived that journey and I think it’s the way home for us. There was a time that the idea of “self love” made me cringe but over time I learned that it is the foundation for everything. We spend so much time beating ourselves up for who we are, what we didn’t do or can’t do, how we feel, what we are carrying. We are all humans. We are all doing our best and we are all inherently deeply lovable and valuable humans. There is no one exempt from this
How much do you believe a person's history defines them? How can someone take ownership of this and transform their relationship with their past?
If you aren’t relating TO your wounds, you are relating FROM your wounds. Your subconscious always runs the show so, if you aren’t attending to your history, it’s driving your life. You have to be willing to look at all of the stuff you don’t want to deal with it in order to move past it. If you don’t move toward the pain of your history, it will always be there. The past creates the present and the present creates the future so it’s a necessary piece to deal with it. Nothing stays in the past. You carry all that junk forward in a ten ton weight around your shoulders. You have to acknowledge it to work through it and finally be able to put it down. We can all heal if we are ready and willing. Everybody deserves to feel good and live a beautiful life no matter what their history is.
You are very open and honest about your own healing journey, on your website, on Facebook and on Instagram. Does sharing yourself so openly come naturally to you?
It does! I saw sometimes that it’s because I’m a Sagittarius. It might be because I got the message for a long time that I was too much and I’m rebelling and claiming space. I think the realest reason is that I cleared out most the shame I had about who I am. I don’t feel embarrassed about any of my experiences. I don’t feel embarrassed about any of my feelings or my process so when I talk about myself I’m just telling stories about my life. I’m not worried about people thinking unkind things about me. I’ve found that fully owning and claiming yourself is the best way to ensure that you don’t attract any “haters” or people who are going to attack you. There is nothing to attack or defend if you love and accept who you are.
I found your words on jealousy and competition very clarifying, so I want to share them again here: "If you're judging me, that's your problem. Those are YOUR places to heal around your own self-criticism, self-judgment and self-worth. If I'm judging you, that's my problem. Those are MY places to heal around my own self-criticism, self-judgment and self-worth. If you feel jealous of someone, GREAT. That means you've identified something that you want." For me, these words create a bridge from "I am not enough" to "I see something of myself in them", which is a much more inspiring and communal place. How do you maintain this sense of clarity and self-awareness in your day-to-day life?
It’s easy because that’s actually how I feel about competition. I know that all of us have something very special to offer and so, if I’m ever in that comparing space, I know it’s because I think whatever they are doing is really cool and I will use it for inspiration. I know who I am so I don’t worry about what other people are doing. Just what I’m creating.
What advice do you have for those starting out on their journey of personal healing?
Be curious. Follow your nose. Keep all three eyes open and see what feels good. There is no right way or wrong way to do this. There is no right speed or place you need to be by now. The journey of getting to know yourself is one that you will be on for a lifetime. Take all the time you need and be kind to yourself.
What would you like us to know about you?
I’m still on my self-study journey and always will be. I’ve spent a lot of time in the trenches and now that I’m on the other side of the grimiest parts, I can now begin to ask to learn my lessons through love and joy rather than pain. I’m in a space with myself that I never thought I could be in a million years. The self-acceptance is so sweet and it creates so much peace inside. I only want to say that so other people know it’s possible. I never thought it would be until I got here.
If you could leave us with just one message what would it be?
You are loved. You are lovable. You are supported by something much greater than you. Trust yourself. Practice receiving and letting all of the good stuff in.
Thank you so much for your time! xx