by Roberta Margison
Sebastien from Belgium has been at New Life since December 2013, first as a resident for five months, then as a volunteer. Before he came to the foundation he worked as an administration director at an English language school in Malta. Sebastien became a long-term volunteer at New Life in October, and recently qualified as a Reiki master and Asian Bio-Energetic Therapist. He hopes to give back to the community all the healing and support he has received here, and has been already been offering one-on-one Reiki sessions several times a week.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I had been drinking for more than twenty years and spent three periods in rehab over the last five years. I was in rehab for the third time when I found the New Life Foundation website online. I had always wanted to work with people and after completing the resident program for several months, I felt able to pursue a new career. I attended two Reiki courses in Chiang Mai and then a course in Asian Bio-Energetic Therapy (ABET) which is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are only ninety qualified ABET Therapist’s in the world. Basically, ABET is a combination of several oriental holistic healing techniques that are all non-invasive and help you to find the cause of your health problems and prevent re-occurrence by making small life-style changes. ABET sessions help to restore your natural energy fields which has a positive effect on your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
How did you hear about New Life and what made you want to come here?
My alcohol addiction counsellor arranged for me to go to a halfway house for three months after my third visit to rehab. During my stay I decided I needed to go somewhere totally different as I realised I had to do something to cure the cause of my drinking rather than just treat the symptoms and I wanted to find something spiritual and based on mindfulness. I was a “dry drunk” – someone who has stopped drinking but feels they are being deprived. I knew I could change my lifestyle by avoiding social situations where people would be drinking alcohol but I knew I wouldn’t be well in my body living like that.
I came to New Life Foundation to find and [get to] know my deeper self and learn about and practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga. I arrived on the 25th December 2013. It felt a little bit strange as it was very quiet so I went to bed feeling very jet lagged but missed the festive Christmas lunch! Within two days however I felt very positive. I often felt anxious about new situations, traveling and being alone so it was a new experience for me to feel so comfortable so quickly.
Did you know about mindfulness meditation before you came to New Life and what did you think of it?
I knew very little about mindfulness before I came to New Life. In rehab we did visualisations but no meditation. I think it’s good. It calms you. I’ve learned to take things as they are and not let the world get me down or let people tell me what to do. I originally came for two months but I’ve been here almost nine months now. My fear and anxiety about the unknown has gone and I’m much more confident and assertive thanks to mindfulness, meditation and life coaching.
What have been your greatest joys and challenges here at New Life?
My greatest joy is that I have changed a lot. I understand my inner problems and have learned to work on them. I am now able to do Reiki on myself which keeps me calm and grounded. My greatest challenge has been to remain mindful on a daily basis so that I stay sober because I want to, not because I have to.