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“Treat yourself with love.” With Beau Henderson & Dr. Manon Bolliger

Treating ourselves with love, compassion, and empathy, and coming to the understanding that we all have what it takes to heal. This does not mean we exclude others in our healing process, it simply means it begins with us and our choices, needs, and decisions that we make for our own health. As a part […]

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Treating ourselves with love, compassion, and empathy, and coming to the understanding that we all have what it takes to heal. This does not mean we exclude others in our healing process, it simply means it begins with us and our choices, needs, and decisions that we make for our own health.


As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND.

Dr. Manon Bolliger, ND., Naturopathic Medical Doctor, best-selling author, international speaker, educator, and Founder/CEO of Bowen College in British Columbia, helps her clients to discover the hidden secrets within their own bodies to relieve pain and optimize healing through a conscious healing movement that emphasizes listening to our symptoms rather than trying to cover them up.

She helps her patients and students understand the vital role they have to play in their own unique healing process and for over three decades, Dr. Bolliger has trained health care practitioners on how to integrate body and mind while addressing pain, trauma, and health.

Through a deep personal connection to health advocacy, Dr. Manon Bolliger (AKA Dr. M), helps you take ownership of your choices in health and be your second best opinion. She has been featured on ABC, CTV, NCB, The Vancouver Sun, The Morning Blend, Wake Up San Francisco, and has appeared as the head speaker for several events around the world such as JTFFox event “Money, Wealth and Business” in South Africa.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Ever since I was a young child, I was always a very curious person wanting to know how and why everything worked the way it did. From knowing how the toaster knew when to pop the toast, to discovering why a dog’s nose is always cold and wet thrilled the detective in me and that curiosity has never stopped.

It led me to join law school where I was taught more on our freedom of choice and informed consent in order to protect people’s rights, however, when I was pregnant with my first child it came to my attention that several healthcare providers were only able to repeat the same advice, “You need a hysterectomy because your hips are too small”, rather than offer me other perspectives. This single-minded perspective led me to understand that answers need to be sought elsewhere and I had a very nice home birth in 7 and half hours and birthed a healthy 8.2 lbs boy.

The medical system was fraught with assumptions based on an outdated disease management model which left no room for options in care, so I took it upon myself to dive deeper into what I was being told regarding my own health.

I began to understand profoundly that empowered health was really at the base of true informed consent and freedom of choice. I knew I had to learn to fully understand my own body, mind, and spirit in order to develop healthcare plans with my physicians that worked for me. Without our health, we have little agency.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I have so many interesting stories, however, the one that stands out the most happened 20 years ago and was the biggest ‘wake-up-call’ of my life and my career!

I was diagnosed with stage four cancer, and while fear and uncertainty of my future set in, I was confronted with all of the beliefs of the medical system, such as removing my uterus, using chemotherapy…etc.

My expansive knowledge base and the understanding that there were other ways to treat this disease led me to find within myself the strength to go against doctor’s advice and make a different decision for my health.

I had to go deeper than medicine itself. I had to really look at the impact my emotions, my thoughts, and my beliefs were having on my health and well-being. I also had to come to terms that not being in alignment with the way I was living my life had caused severe stress in my body.

I began to deeply listen to my own body, to connect with myself and actually learn how my mind, body, and spirit were connected and how we treat one part affects the other in more ways than we realize. I began to change my inner thoughts and actually listen to what my body needed which, in turn, changed my health.

I cured my cancer without extensive surgery or chemo. I cured it naturally by simply learning to listen to my body, mind, and spirit and treat them as one unit working together for a whole me.

What had begun as one of the most stressful and uncertain times of my life, ended with greater knowledge and understanding of my own body and health and has allowed me to help others realize they are their own best ‘second opinion’ when it comes to health decisions.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

I am what you would call a collaborative leader. My team is an extension of myself and if they succeed…I succeed so everyone’s opinions and suggestions are valued greatly. We have open discussions to collaborate on ideas and the team I have put together supports each other knowing we are all reaching for the same goal.

There is a fine line between being a boss and being a friend, however, when you allow your team to be an essential part of the entire process…when I ‘win’ we all share in that achievement as it was truly a team effort!

As a leader, you must not only be able to delegate responsibilities and have faith in both yourself and your team, but you must also be able to listen. To understand that your ‘idea’ may not be the best route and someone on your team needs to feel they can step up and say so without judgment or repercussions. I would be nowhere without my amazing team! Together we are able to achieve more than I could ever have imagined on my own, so it is worth the time and effort to find a team of amazingly talented people who compliment your energy so you all can grow and succeed together!

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?

Of the many great books that have had an impact on my life, however, the one that resonates the most is Dr. Gabor Mate’s book, “When the Body Says No”. It relates deeply to me because, at one point in my life, I was not listening to my own body and I didn’t pay attention to the emotional connection or the impact that would have on my health.

I had come across this book long after my diagnosis of cancer, however, it reminded me of how much our health is impacted by so much more than just the food we eat or the environment we live in.

So to me, his book…in fact all of his work, offers a deep dive into the cause of illness and our potential for overcoming it! It strengthened my own resolve and empowerment of the connection between body, mind, and spirit.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Wonderful question! Through my experience, we often begin to neglect or ignore our own body signs and symptoms both physically and mentally, relying solely on the advice of physicians or medications to get us through our day and trying several stress relievers that just don’t work. The state of being mindful allows us to clearly focus on our body, mind, and the spirit that animates us so that we can not only discover hidden issues and stresses but address them instead of consistently covering them up.

Stress is something none of us can fully avoid as it can come from outside sources, as well as internal struggles. Stress can also be beneficial such as the physical stress a good workout has on our body, however, the key issue is recognizing when acute stress turns into chronic stress. Being mindful of your body gives you the opportunity to create a healthy relationship to stress. For example, when trying to relieve stress through physical activity, you must also be mindful of what you put in your body to fuel it. Junk food and high-fat foods slow you down making your stress-relieving activity useless.

It is vital to be mindful of our entire body, what we put in it, how we react to different situations, and how we feel internally to ensure you’re caring for your whole being. We all have the power to heal ourselves, being mindful of our needs is the first step!

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

As we begin to become more mindful of our body’s needs and the world around us, we begin to reflect that in so many aspects of our lives. When you are feeling sluggish from lack of sleep, it directly affects your mind, slows your thinking, and disrupts your day. By being mindful of our needs, we can begin to recognize and address sleeplessness, discover new foods to fuel our body, and perform the right physical activities for our health. Physical mindfulness leads to a healthier you while benefiting your mental state and psychological well-being in a positive way. In my practice, I have used and taught a little-known therapy called Bowen Therapy which helps patients not only eliminate pain but also reconnect to their body.

Mental mindfulness leads to a greater understanding of how our environment, relationships, careers, etc., affect our lives and mental health in both positive and negative ways and teaches us the skills to cope with daily stresses. Maintaining a healthy inner-dialogue and practicing mind-sharpening activities such as puzzles, brainteasers, reading, and learning a new subject allows us to focus more clearly and discover our true inner selves.

Emotional mindfulness is one we all struggle with now and then. To learn not to push down or ignore your feelings by openly discussing them with a friend, partner, etc., allows you to learn how to not only express your feelings but guides you to understand why you feel the way you do. It is through that understanding that we learn better coping skills when faced with stressful situations.

We all face stress, however, with mindfulness of our body, mind, and emotions we can learn excellent coping mechanisms so that stress does not consume our lives. Mindfulness also helps elevate your mood, improves your coping skills, and reduces stress consequences such as high blood pressure and tension headaches.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Over the years I have come across many mindful techniques that help in reducing stress from both internal and external sources with dramatic results in overall wellbeing. Here are a few of my favorite mindful exercises anyone can try.

  1. Breathing — One of the easiest exercises to try is mindful breathing. Simply spend a few minutes focusing your attention and raising your awareness on the movement of your breath in and out, without trying to change them.
  2. Personal Body Scan — A great trick I learned years ago is to take a seated or lying down position and gradually focus your attention on one body part at a time. Start at your feet and take notice of any physical sensations such as pain or tension without reacting to them. Instead, make a mental note of what and where your body needs attention giving you full knowledge of your body’s needs.
  3. Eating — It may seem silly to think of being mindful while eating, however, this is a great way to not only enjoy the sensations such as chewing, smelling, tasting, and swallowing but allows you to slow your eating bringing more enjoyment to a meal and surprisingly allowing you to feel full faster which, in turn, has been shown to encourage a healthier diet.
  4. Positive Meditation Gratitude Practices— An exercise in which you think and direct positive thoughts and wishes for yourself and others. Recognizing people, places, and happenings that you are grateful for. This helps in reinforcing positive thoughts and feelings throughout the rest of your day and your good thoughts will begin to happily spread to people around you as they notice your lightened, positive mood.
  5. Movement Awareness– During any physical activity such as walking, running, yoga, workouts, etc., pay close attention to your breathing, your body movements, and your physical surroundings. Let your mind distract from the usual stresses by focusing your attention on you and what your body needs within that moment.

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

It is actually surprising to realize just how much we influence the people around us every day. Even something as simple as stopping in a crowd to look up at a bird will cause others around you to also look up…even if they don’t know why and they never actually see the bird. The same goes for anxiety and stress. If you are trapped in an elevator with a claustrophobic, it is easy for yourself to suddenly feel as though the walls are closing in on you simply by witnessing the other person go through an emotional rollercoaster of stress.

There are several ways to help another feel calm and supported during anxious, stressful moments, and here are 5 of my favorites:

  1. Eye contact — Making direct eye contact can help the other person feel seen and validate their feelings without adding to their stress. Avoiding eye contact may lead them to feel like you too are feeling anxious which can increase the stress within the situation.
  2. Breathing — Humans are great mimickers. If you notice someone who is experiencing labored breathing, try sitting next to them and slowly taking a deep breath in and out. You will find with patience, their breathing will begin to match yours allowing them to refocus and reduce anxiety.
  3. Listen — Often one of the best things you can do is simply listen without judgment. Do not offer advice, instead, try statements like “I hear you” to let the person know their anxiety and/or fears are not going unnoticed.
  4. Use a Calm Tone — Calmness, like anxiety, spreads among us. If you can speak in a calm tone, it helps change the tone in the room to a more welcoming, calming atmosphere.
  5. Be Mindful of Your Own Distress — You may be unaware that you too are feeling the stresses and anxiety of the world around you. Your distress is also contagious so always try to be mindful of your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions to ensure you are not adding to an already stressful moment.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

That is a tough question as there are so many wonderful resources available for learning mindful skills. I would have to begin by recommending Byron Katie’s book, “Loving What Is”. Her book teaches us how to work through past emotions, negative thoughts, and more. Teaching how to become mindful of our thoughts instead of allowing them to control us is a great step to finding true mindfulness.

Another great resource is Ekhart Tolle’s book, “The Power of Now”. It will take you on a spiritual journey to find your true and deepest self and we all could use some spiritual mindfulness to find true inner peace.

And last, but definitely not least, Pema Chödrön’s meditation teachings are a wonderful resource to learn how to meditate with an open mind. Meditation is so much more than sitting quietly and Pema describes how to achieve a true meditative state beautifully.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite quote currently is “How you live…is how you heal”. This is very significant to me as we sometimes think of healing as something you do outside of living, yet the two directly coincide with each other.

Our choices in life directly affect how we choose to heal. Therefore, the decisions we make at the moment, every single step on our journey, our connection to our self and our mindfulness guides our next step and makes our lives so rich, meaningful and healing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A healer in every household, and within every person, is my vision. A movement of taking back one’s health into our own hands. To be mindful of our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirit and honoring how powerful, beautiful, and absolutely amazing our bodies truly are.

Treating ourselves with love, compassion, and empathy, and coming to the understanding that we all have what it takes to heal. This does not mean we exclude others in our healing process, it simply means it begins with us and our choices, needs, and decisions that we make for our own health.

Discovering true mindfulness of our entire selves so that we are able to make informed decisions that are best for us in order to heal in an aligned way!

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

https://www.instagram.com/drmanonbolliger/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmanonbolliger/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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