Spring/Summer 2021 | A conversation with Mèv Bertrand
Mèv discusses using her knowledge of neuroscience, shamanic healing, and psychology as a tool for mental well-being. Mèv is the founder of Spirit Heart Light and the creator of Soul Coaching for Mental Wellness, a groundbreaking approach to mental health that combines modern shamanic healing, psychology, and neuroscience.
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A conversation with Mèv Bertrand
Today’s Exclusive Guest.
About Mèv Bertrand
Mèv Bertrand is the founder of Spirit Heart Light and the creator of Soul Coaching for Mental Wellness, a groundbreaking approach to mental health that combines modern shamanic healing, psychology and neuroscience. She has seen firsthand the profound transformative impact of accessing different realms of consciousness to shift our inner reality as well as the powerful effect on the outer reality we experience and create as a result. Trained as a shamanic healer with a previous background and career in psychology and neuroscience, she pioneers mentorship programs with a resolute focus on grounding the work done at a spiritual level in this reality, integrating it within the brain and the psyche. One of her favorite mottos is, ‘Let’s get real’ Connecting to our higher consciousness and to the world of spirits allows us to gain incredible wisdom and perspective and yet we have a responsibility to fully embrace our human reality by bypassing this experience makes a nuisance of the collective and personal purpose of incarnation.
I studied psychology at the university and then I ended up working in a neuroscience consultancy. These were two of the main aspects of my background. In the consultancy, a lot of my work was to do with the neuroscience of storytelling and how stories impact the parts of the brain that are responsible for behavior change. It’s a very interesting topic because it relates to psychology in terms of the stories, we tell ourselves, but also in terms of shamanism or our spiritual practices because we are the blueprint of the universe we create through our stories. The stories we tell ourselves or what creates our inner reality and from our inner reality, we build the world that we’re in. I was not into any sort of spiritual stuff when I was doing neuroscience research but for 15 years of my life, I was struggling with chronic depression. I would say I was an overachiever with depression, so it didn’t look like I had depression. It didn’t look like I had any kind of mental health issues. It probably looked like I was crushing it in many aspects of my life and career but it wasn’t really the case. I have done traditional therapy and certain life events happened that made it worse. Eventually, I found spiritual practices. The first spiritual practice I encountered was Buddhism. I became a Buddhist and really discovered a life philosophy that is like this understanding of life finally put words to what I always felt inside of me was the way life or the universe actually works. In terms of really connecting to something that’s transcendent, finding a mission that’s greater than yourself, and taking full responsibility for your inner transformation.
How Mèv discovered and got interested in Spiritual and Mental Well Being
Fast forward a few years, I had a very good friend of mine who was into shamanic practices which I thought were very weird at the time. But after hearing some of his experiences which are just extraordinary, I started looking into them. I found another world, another universe of incredible wisdom and practices to help. For me at that stage, it was not just about healing but also about discovering different aspects of my being and learning about different ways of engaging in the world as a human. Eventually, I came to this crossroads in my life where I decided that I wanted to do something for people who had experienced or were experiencing the same kind of stuff that I was experiencing, which is the profound mental pain without any kind of solution. I eventually created this approach that I now practice and teach which is soul coaching for mental wellness. It combines everything that I’ve studied, accumulated, practiced, and worked on throughout the years. So, psychology, neuroscience, spiritual and shamanic practices into a really holistic approach to mental health and wellness. This is bringing in all the tools that I’ve used for myself and finding how they can help others.
Finding the Root Cause
There’s a lot of techniques and practices from more traditional ways of understanding mental well-being and health in general but let’s focus on mental well-being that is helpful sometimes in terms of crisis to move forward but they do not necessarily address the root cause. My experience in my life and with my clients is that even if some of the root causes can be addressed, and I believe that they can through psychology and neuroscience and the physiology of how we feel mentally and emotionally, there is a part of us that exists outside, within or encompassing those two other things. That’s the part that also needs to be looked at, investigated, and honored for us to actually heal and so for sure that was my case. That was the missing link that as much as I had a whole degree, I could diagnose myself and I can do all sorts of things to figure out what was wrong and how I can get better.
Curiosity over blind belief
Some of my friends are within the world of spirituality but a lot of my friends aren’t and so to come across people that are like, ‘Okay, you’re being very weird right now.’ That’s one thing and actually, now I say it, I realized that this has prompted me to investigate what I was experiencing; myself, but also in terms of my clients, what it was that we were doing, why it was working or how it was working because I think doubt and investigating is a very healthy part of having a spiritual practice. Otherwise, it becomes blind faith and it becomes bypass and it becomes all these things that I guess the people that are against those practices and are very skeptical point out. That you’re just saying, ‘This is going to be magical’ while closing your eyes. But if you remained, to a degree, I wouldn’t say critical. If you exert your own judgment, if you remain grounded in your investigation of what’s going on, then you can really uncover the truth or more truth than if you just go blindly into it because it’s attractive or if you just sit. Now that I’ve done that kind of investigation, I realize there are parallels, there are things that converge which is frankly reassuring. When we find that there are concepts and practices and things that are very spiritual that have some sort of correlation with what’s going on in the brain and what’s going on in the psyche. Then I realized, ‘that’s not even new.’ People were excited to understand this a little while ago.
I think now that we’re not the only ones investigating and that makes it great. There are neuroscientists that completely believe in practices to access altered states of consciousness. When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean plant medicine, I mean, breathwork, what it is that we do as human beings to tap into these different parts of ourselves that are able to observe a bit more, rewire our own little patterns, and all of that stuff. This is really fundamentally spiritual but now, science is catching up with that.
COVID and Mental Illness
It’s interesting when people say that COVID is the thing that has magnified the issues that were already there in the first place. If you have a problem in your relationship, then COVID happens, and that brings the problem times 10 to the surface. It’s just the same. I feel like we’re coming to a point where people need to really address their mental well-being and the different dimensions of themselves. We came up with something that was already needed but then it became really magnified because we didn’t have any outlets to make us forget that we needed to do that.
There’s this famous prophecy that says exactly what’s happening right now; that 1/3 of the people will go mad, 1/3 will die and 1/3 will awaken. I think there is something in there in the sense that it challenges everything that we believed in and you either lose it completely because you don’t have any points of reference to attach yourself. It is very tragic that the rates of suicide have gone up and so you may take the exit way because you can’t cope with life as it is now, or something within you kicks in, hopefully and you get some help and then the shift happens where you awaken. It sounds grand but the point is that you are awakened to the possibilities that you have within yourself. I think that is a true awakening hopefully for people. I feel like this is what’s going on. What we practitioners need to do is put the knowledge out there, so that the people don’t go mad, or don’t go to the extreme of taking the exit door because they don’t know what life is anymore. So, they go; ‘Wait, there is a third option and lots of help around. I can find what works for me!’ There’s also the fact that you look at things and maybe they don’t fit and maybe you don’t believe in them but with just a bit of hope and knowing that there are different avenues that work for different people, then at least people can think before the exit or going mad and say, ‘…but maybe I’ll look a bit further. Maybe I’ll try something, see if that works for me.’
Pain is a signal
I have experienced moments when I’ve gone to extremes. It is like some part of you goes, ‘Wait a second….’ And from that, things change. That’s why I think is so important to put the message out there not just that there is help but also almost to normalize negative emotion or our mental pain. I really believe that we have to start being a lot more compassionate towards itself and seeing mental pain as just a signal. It is the same kind of signal as say, appendicitis. Pain is a signal. We don’t understand emotional pain the same way, we draw conclusions that are so extreme and that push people to all sorts of things and that prevent them from trying to look for solutions. If I had a tummy ache, I’d be like, ‘I have a tummy ache, it’s lasted for five days, I’m not eating something right. I’m going to talk to a nutritionist, I’m going to go to the doctor. Okay, the doctor can’t do anything, fine, let’s try an alternative medicine.’ You wouldn’t just be like, ‘I’m meant to have a tummy ache for the rest of my life. This is how I was born and therefore, I’m going to be miserable.’ We get caught up in thinking and projecting when we are feeling emotional pain. I think that’s part of my big message for sure is to remind myself that this is not as big a deal as you feel it is. It is a signal and if you find what it’s trying to tell you, you’ll be fine.
It’s a message that your body is sending you which is that it needs some help. You have to stop and listen to it because it’s trying to tell you, there’s something much deeper on an emotional level going on. I need help on an emotional level or on a spiritual level or also on a physical level. The other thing is that the way we feel is impacted by hormones, chemicals that flow in our bodies, and all of that stuff. It’s a realistic investigation as we’ve said but one that would be done with more curiosity and less shame and with a lot more hope if we treated it as a signal and instead of some doomed illness or something terribly wrong. Before it was just something that people didn’t talk about and now, we talk about it like it’s a massive issue, which it is, but again if we stopped thinking that for a second, it wouldn’t be such a big issue. We’d find the help; we’d investigate and we’d grow as well or more seamlessly and less painfully.
Mental Wellness for Teenagers and Young People
It’s been extremely dramatic since last year. So many people come to me in a combo; ‘This is me and my daughter, we need help.’
The reason why things are worse for young people is because this is the age where you are growing the most. Right in terms of who you are, your identity, what you perceive life to be. All of those challenges are magnified and huge. This is the first time you’re encountering all of those challenges when you are a teenager from 15 to 25. The challenges are huge. These are also the spiritual challenges that we don’t name that way. Fundamentally, this begs the question; Who do you want to be? How would you live life? What is life for you? Big questions that translate into who you’re going to hang out with and all of these practical things that teenagers deal with. Those are the big questions.
The second thing is, psychologically the way the brain develops, it’s not actually fully developed till 18 for women and 21 for me so there are some functions in your brain that aren’t there to help you.
One of them is the ability to have a full perspective on a situation, to understand that it can end and so this is why teenagers always think; ‘This is never going to end!’ This is because of lots of other reasons but one of them is actually a physiological brain reason that the brain isn’t performing that function as well as in adults. So, first of all, big challenges, and secondly the brain is not being optimal in terms of understanding that these challenges can be solved.
The third thing is also a physiological thing; the levels of new hormones that the body and the brain need to adjust to. If we understood this better, we would be able to understand what’s going on within us for example when you’ve had too much chocolate or if you eat too much of something then you’re going to have a bit of a tummy ache. At the moment, there’s just a little bit of a hormonal imbalance and adjustment that’s going on within me and that makes me feel this way. It’s just a feeling that’s caused by something.
This has happened to friends of mine, who have teenage children. They see their doctor and the level of prescription medicine that they are kind of giving out is just a lot.
The Healing Process
Being open to talking about it is the first thing. This actually links to my work because one of the things I bang on about when I work one on one with clients is to really open up to what they’re feeling as a signal or as something that is part of their healing process. This is the same with inflammation. I always make comparisons with the body because I think it’s just so much easier to understand tangibly. If you sprained your ankle, it’s going to hurt. Not because your ankle is doomed, it’s going to hurt because you’re sprained it. You need to do specific things to let it heal. The hurt part of it is inflammation. It is the natural healing response of the body. This is what your body needs to move through to heal. So, one thing is really changing perspective about these things. And then in terms of practices, it is so tragic to put this in a tangible way, I would have somebody come in or not come in because now it’s distant. Usually, they would lay on the floor. I think it’s connecting to the earth and that’s very handy. They would typically not do a huge amount; they would close their eyes and they would receive the healing. We’ve been taught to access somebody’s energy in a much more distant way now. I think it was being done before. A long time ago not just before the pandemic but shamanic cultures have done these kinds of projections for a long time.
Now since the pandemic, we’ve just developed the modern versions. There is a technique that I do to access that. What I would typically do is I would play a specific amount of specific type of sound which is a shamanic drumming sound. Not everybody needs them but I find them extremely helpful for me to get into different states of consciousness to access their energy. It’s been proven to be extremely beneficial for the brain. A colleague of mine does drumming in hospitals just with normal patients because those particular vibrations create theta waves which are very relaxing. In terms of what you experience as a client, it’s quite relaxing. Then I go into those spirit worlds; the way I describe it to somebody who’s never done something like this is that it’s like a mental map with specific directions. Obviously, these have been transmitted from mouth to mouth for years and years of teaching. They’ve been proven to work among all shamanic cultures. This is a state akin to deep meditation and in which I’m aware enough to follow specific instructions or specific steps in my consciousness to access a particular world. It’s just like following a mental map to go somewhere. There’s a place called the lower world and a place called the upper world. You get there by going down or up. The lower is a state of consciousness to access things at an energy level and spiritual level. My clients come for healing so it’s also mental healing. I guess a lot of people have heard about power animals or spirit animals which are not actual animals but are energies. They are inner forces that might help a client that wants a particular thing. I don’t do physical healing so it would be emotional healing.
Well, that’s just very broad but it could be something to do with the courage to speak your own truth or something that would be obviously represented through an animal. It’s not the natural animal but it’s a particular force and particular piece of information which is very helpful because it says to me what it’s there for and also what to do when we are back in our three-dimensional reality to maintain it. All of this incredible work can be done at a spirit level when we’re not in our ordinary state of consciousness. What we found, and that’s not just me but other people who have worked in hospitals with patients that were mentally ill is that it’s important to integrate that work in our ordinary states of consciousness so that it really is maintained. So, I will gather some information on how to do that and it doesn’t have to be extravagant things but it might mean, for example putting into practice certain things to express that energy. For example, you were missing the courage to speak your own truth and now it’s being brought back to you but you need to honor that by taking small steps to do it. From there, we continue the work. It’s not just a one-off. It’s integrating through weeks to help the person heal, different aspects of themselves or their psyche or spiritual force field.
Mèv’s Coaching Process
I want to say two things; One thing is that it is a slow process to properly transform in the depth of who we are. However, I know that sometimes a single piece of information will really help somebody make sense of a lot of things about themselves and about how they understand the world. That can be such a relief that it kind of changed everything in one go. There’s that bit right when we get information from our own transcendent wisdom or something that is so fundamental to us. It speaks to us in certain ways that it can really change. It doesn’t mean that we don’t do the work but it means that we feel there’s some form of grounding that we can hold on to that makes so much sense to us that we can keep going.
The second thing is the way I do things. I am a shamanic practitioner and shamanic healer but my program is about teaching people how to access their own transcendent wisdom by themselves so that they don’t always have to come back to heal because they can heal themselves. We all have this ability to heal ourselves, to transform or tap into different aspects of our consciousness in order to really foster that healing. The other part that I didn’t mention when I was describing what I do is that at the beginning, people might just lay down and relax. More often than not, they will experience either physical sensations or they’ll see certain things in the mind’s eye. They will experience some form of information through visuals or through feelings because it’s such a powerful tool and also because our transcendent wisdom is just waiting for us to stop and listen. As soon as we do that, when they lay down and not do anything then I can get in, and then it’s about finding more ways to tap into it when you needed to investigate, ask questions, get the healing that you need, and all that stuff which is what I teach as well.
In terms of fundamental practices which is the part that is online, anyone can start with it. Then there are the individual sessions where we address first of all specific things that are happening mental wellness-wise and also in their lives and all of that. This is where we tailor what we do and the teachings and the practices to somebody so that they have a more specific set of tools to heal themselves.
Tips for Personal Healing
The first thing I’ve said is to really trust that if you are healing, mental pain of any kind, what’s going on is that your soul is trying to tell you something about yourself and the only way it’s found to talk to you is through pain. In a very similar way, we will not listen to our bodies until it hurts. Believe that there is help out there. That would be the first thing; believe that you can get to a place where you feel profoundly happy because that’s what we’re here for. You might be in a position where you just need to expand the way you think or expand the practices to tap within you or expand habits. An expansion in that stretching sometimes might feel painful but it’s really just for you to grow and that would be its fundamentals but it is ultimately about the perception of what’s really going on. Trust in what’s really going on as well, which allows you to then go in. Now all of the tools are going to be out there, hopefully, that people will then have what it takes to go and look for the tools. Because ultimately after that, it’s just a tool. I will say that anything we make, we’ve just not approached this as a society, as a culture, as a species in a way that is light so we make it a massive deal. Its kind of like it doesn’t have to be such a big deal to go and get some of the tools or to get whatever it is you get for a sprained ankle that day. It’s the same with mental health. Once you realize that as well, it’s not such a big deal to go back to square one because you realize that you’ve just hit another little piece where you’re going to have to expand further. You’re not back to square one. You’re just on the next step. Actually, that said, you’re not back to square one, you’re just at the beginning of the next step forward and that’s important to remember as well.
We need to take responsibility. I like to add that responsibility is power. That’s taking your power back here and then because you can transform, you can heal, bless, take your power and then go do it.
Mèv Bertrand is the founder of Spirit Heart Light and the creator of Soul Coaching for Mental Wellness™, a ground-breaking approach to mental health that combines modern shamanic healing, Psychology, and Neuroscience.
She has seen first-hand the profound transformative impact of accessing different realms of consciousness to shift our inner reality, as well as the powerful effect on the outer reality we experience and create as a result.
Trained as a shamanic healer with a previous background and career in Psychology and Neuroscience, she pioneers mentorship programs with a resolute focus on grounding the work done at a spiritual level in this reality, integrating it within the brain and the psyche.
One of her favorite mottos is “Let’s get real!”: connecting to our Higher Consciousness and to the world of spirits allows us to gain incredible wisdom and perspective, and yet we have a responsibility to fully embrace our human reality, as bypassing this experience makes nonsense of the collective and personal purpose of incarnation.
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