The Transition Series: Erin Telford

photo by Melodee Solomon

photo by Melodee Solomon

Maria Christina Gabriel interviews me about the medicine of transitions as I moved from New York to the wide unknown. She is an energy healer, Reiki Master, Health Coach, Shamanic Practitioner and all around incredible woman!

Erin, you’ve been such a big support in my personal journey over the last
months. I can’t stop talking about the magic of your Breath Work Sessions and
how much I transformed with your gentle guidance along the way. It was
definitely an inner and outer journey for me. In your own words, could you tell us a bit about your mission and what your work is all about?

It is ever evolving as I am, and responsive to my personal journey. My energy around
my work since I left New York feels much softer. I just want to bring all the love and
presence that I have to people. When we are truly seen, loved and accepted for who
we are, even when we feel messy or unhinged or insecure or like we are losing it, it is a
very deep healing. I want everyone to know that nothing is wrong with them. We all
have a few core wounds that we will work with and continue to come back to throughout
our lifetime. This is normal. We are humans and we can ease the way through bringing
our gentle attention to everything, staying out of avoidance, resistance, judgment, and
dogma. And knowing we are fully capable of dealing with all of it with grace. We can all
find joy, even after trauma, even after loss, even after heartache. We are all doing our
best. I want to help people see that, provide new ways and possibilities for how to look
at things and cope with our emotional life.

photos by Melodee Solomon & Mikaela Gauer

photos by Melodee Solomon & Mikaela Gauer

How did Breathwork change you on a personal level? What’s the biggest
takeaway in your own experience?

Breathwork has completely altered my entire self-concept and healed me in so many
ways. It has changed and healed my relationship to myself. At one point in time, I felt
that my identity was iron clad. That there were things about me that were “just who I
was.” I realized that a lot of identity is subject to change. Things that I thought I could
never do or enjoy are now things that I love. There was a point in time when I couldn’t
bear the idea of receiving attention, having a lot of eyes on me, taking up space,
speaking in front of a large group without dissolving into tears and heart palpitations.
With Breathwork, I have been able to find comfort and security in my body and my spirit
to the point where I can sing a song acapella in front of 45 people, teach large groups,
and receive attention and love without shrinking or feeling like I don’t deserve it. I have
cleared so much grief and rage out of my body that I haven’t been depressed for a
couple of years. I still feel sadness and anger of course, but I know how to work with all
of my emotions in a constructive way. I feel safe and confident within. I trust myself.
My faith and relationship to Spirit and forces that are greater than me is clear and true.

You often work with oils and scents in a session. How do these support a
breathing class?

I think of the essential oil blends and the plants I use for smudging as assistants. The
essential oil blends I will use as needed depending on what I see is going on with a
person. You can usually feel or sense where someone needs more opening or
soothing. Usually, with a group, I’ll use “Ascension” or “Foresight” to tap them into their
internal experience, “Open Heart” if someone is experiencing a lot of sadness and
“Expression” right before the group does a big yell to open up the throat chakra.
I will use sage to clear and ground and move energy around the heart at the beginning
of a class. I’ll use palo santo towards the middle of the breathing to help the group to
clear their energy and I’ll use sweetgrass at the end of the session as everyone goes
into a restful space. Sweetgrass brings a very feminine, “sweet”, mothering kind of
energy into the room.

photo by Mikaela Gauer

photo by Mikaela Gauer

You are currently going through a transition yourself, leaving NYC after 13 years
in the city. How do you feel about this step? Giving it all up when things are looking good on the outside can be a scary and bold move all at once. What waves of emotions have you been facing along with the decision to move? How did you overcome doubt and anxiety?

This was a very interesting decision-making process for me because I made a
conscious choice to completely surrender to spirit as my boss. It felt like such a correct
move for me to make on so many levels that I did not experience feeling scared. I had
about one minute of “wtf are you doing?” when I was on the plane flying away from New
York but it passed very quickly. I never feel more alive than when I am headed out on
adventure. Excitement was the main wave of emotion. There was some anxiety but
that was more about the sheer volume of things I had to do to wrap up my business and
life-not anxiety about what was to come. I am less than two weeks into the journey and
already it feels even bigger than me and like a bigger mission than I could have

Facing the uncertain. Giving up control. Trusting the process. Finding that sweet
spot to be in when everything seems to get uncomfortable. You talk a lot about
finding a new way to deal with our emotions. What’s behind that idea and how
can we learn to break free from illusions and old patterns?

You have to have a certain rebel spirit (or cultivate one!) to break free from dominant
paradigms and make your own rules. Most of the systems that are in place in our
society about who we are allowed to be and what we are allowed to want and do with
our lives are outdated. At a certain point, you have to make a choice about whose
values and systems you are going to align with-your own or what everyone else is
doing. There is a freedom in realizing what is real and true for you.
In the realm of working with your emotions, recognizing that there are no negative
emotions, that everything that you feel in your body and your heart and everything you
experience is meant for your growth. If you take the weight and the stigma and
judgment out of the equation, you can work with yourself a lot more honestly and
gently. In the realm of mental health/illness, I see people viewing themselves as a
diagnosis or a label. Depression or anxiety are things that deserve our profound
attention. They are clues and cues from our psyche that something needs to be looked
at in a deeper, more conscious way. Many people ride out emotional discomfort,
softening the experience through numbing out (emotional eating, social media,
shopping, drugs or alcohol). What we haven’t been taught to do is to go into the belly of
the beast and DEAL with what is creating these states within, often very old and
unacknowledged pain. I want to help people see that nothing is wrong with them and
show them how to hold themselves with compassion and tenderness no matter what
they are feeling.

To me, transitions carry an important medicine. It’s often the times, when we have
no idea how to survive a certain pain or experience and then surrender inevitable
leads us to breakthrough. What’s your view on the medicine of transition and how
does it connect to breathing?

When you don’t have familiar or solid ground to stand on-whether you are changing
where you live, or a relationship or job is ending, or a loved one is transitioning-reality
as you know it is suspended. In this in-between place, you are pushed to dig deeper to
find new internal resources. You have the opportunity to cultivate more resilience and
grace within and figure out the lay of the land in this new territory.
With breathing, there is always the pause and a liminal space between every inhale and
exhale. This is a micro transition that we experience every minute of every day. We
have an opportunity to begin again with every breath and rededicate ourselves to our
lives and our intentions.
Breathwork increases your capacity to cope with intense physical sensation AND
intense emotional sensation. The bigger container you have for staying steady in any
experience, the more ease you will experience in both little and big transitions.

photo by Erin Telford

photo by Erin Telford

I have this small card on my altar with something you said to me in a session. It’s
still working its sweetness every time I read it: It can be pretty hard to be in my
human body, experiencing life as a human. Still, I can do it. Still, I’m guided. Still, I
have everything I need to make it through it. Personally, I feel your words carry
this sweet nectar, an essence that connects deeply with the heart. Observing the
evolvement of your writing how do you connect with your spirit and where is
writing leading you to next?

Usually, when I’m writing, something just comes through me. It’s definitely a
combination of Spirit and just grabbing an idea out of the sky. A string of words just
comes through for me and I write them down and hit publish. I don’t think about them
too much. I just receive the inspiration. I am getting ready to write my book. I have
been wanting to write it for a long time but it wasn’t here. I needed to feel that burst of
words coming through to know it was ready to be birthed. One of the many reasons I
left the city was so I could write it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes

Timing is a fascinating element. How did you know the time is right for a change
after feeling the desire for over a year?

I’m not going to say anything revolutionary here but you JUST KNOW. Some decisions
are quick and fast, some need a little more time to percolate. This one needed to brew
for a little bit. I had to feel the soul call and the resistance and I had to give myself the
time to let it build. Once I was clear about what my soul needed most for its evolution-
connection to the Earth and Sacred Love-I declared it to my community over Memorial Day.
Saying it and claiming it out loud really got things moving. Making a vision board
made it even more clear. Then I got an intuitive hit that the move was going to happen
in October. I started making plans to meet the Universe halfway and all fears about it
not working out or not being able to make money just melted away.

For someone who is totally new to breathing consciously what would you
recommend starting this journey?

There are so many different types of Breathwork. I clearly love the one that I practice
because I have seen what it can do for people. I would recommend working with a
practice and practitioner that you are drawn to. If someone is interested in releasing
stuck emotional energy, connecting to their intuition, healing old wounds, and
deepening their creativity and self-love, this kind of Breathwork is a great place to start.
You can always dip your toe in the water by trying out a little preview with a short
practice on my Resources page.