This is part of a series of interviews I am conducting with practitioners of holistic medicine with the aim of answering this question: "How can we increase our quality of life?”
I find that people who are drawn to help others tend to be ignited with a deep passion and purpose. These interviews delve into that drive and aim to discover insight and supply tips for living life to its fullest.
Stewart Snyder is a Craniosacral Therapist practicing on the Main Line, Philadelphia. He has developed a unique style of Craniosacral called Bhakti CranioSacral Therapy.
Enjoy the interview!
Q: Stewart, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Its sounds like you have had an interesting journey. How did you end up practicing holistic medicine?
STEWART: "End up" is an appropriate phrase. It's been a bit of journey. Five years ago, I quit a really successful corporate career to be a writer. One of the first things I did was take Yoga Teacher Training. While everyone was blown away by the deeper teachings, I just sat thinking "Huh, someone took the way I've been living my life, wrote it down and called it Yoga." I learned about Craniosacral Therapy (CST) there and began that piece of the journey shortly after Teacher Training ended. It's the most fulfilling work I've ever done. Being of service to others and helping them feel happier feels like I've won the job lottery.
Q: Why did you make the switch from a successful Corporate job to working for yourself as a writer? Can you tell us about the challenges and gifts that came with that switch?
STEWART: This is a can of worms, really. I was always the guy everyone looked up to. I've had a strong "successful" career since my early twenties. I'd learn something on the job that would cause someone would offer me a job with more money or a better title. It was that way for 15 years. It worked... until I realized "success" was not more money. True success is about a fulfilling life... and what I was doing wasn't fulfilling anyone really.
It was really hard. We're raised to get an education, then get a job, then work for the weekend until you can retire, then try to enjoy your life while you're struggling through everything your life did to your health. Getting out of that mindset was the biggest challenge. Handing in a two-weeks notice with no other job lined up was the hardest thing I've ever done. It shouldn't have been, but when our head is wrapped into one way of thinking, our mind doesn't want to change it. Our brain just isn't designed to do that.
Honestly, the best part - the gift - started with failing at being a writer and finding sustenance doing a hobby. The realization that we don't really know what's going to make us happy, until we experience it, is true freedom. It gives you the permission to just try things that look cool... like teaching yoga... or CranioSacral Therapy... for example.
Q: Now, you developed your own style of CranioSacral Therapy. How did that come to be?
STEWART: Totally organically, really. I don't even really like to promote that it's my own creation. When I first started doing the CranioSacral work, I found that the biggest feedback came in the spaces where I was stalling, trying to remember the next step in the official protocol. In those spaces, what was really happening was that the body was accepting all the energy without me trying to control what was happening - without me trying to dictate the healing. The body knows what it needs.
I began to create places of stillness within the protocol whenever my intuition (their body, really) seemed to dictate it. It has been natural to draw on the concept that love and compassion can heal and transcend all things (Bhakti Yoga). So, that energy gets folded in.
Q: So, what is your mission with your healing work?
STEWART: You know, some people are trying to change the world. I just want to help our neighbors. What I mean by that is essentially, "doing good" in the world doesn't just come from large sweeping changes. It's in the little daily acts, too. I want to get Linda to the airport on time, help Eunice get her car out of the snow, let Tom out of the parking lot and into traffic. Those "little" things make someone's day and can do even more. Linda's flying to see her mom for the last time. Eunice is a nurse; getting to work to save someone's life. Tom is just trying to get home to raise his kids... to be the type of adult that lets someone into traffic. Showing up in the world isn't just about grandiose change; it's about contributing to the experience of someone else's life. Ultimately, I love helping people experience bliss in the human experience. This machine - the body & soul - is truly amazing and beautiful.
Q: What are 3 healthy habits or lifestyle recommendations you want to share with our audience?
- Sleep! Work, then rest. We need that rest part.
- Love this body. Use good fuel and make sure it all moves correctly.
- Some type of waking time absent from the world. Of course, I'm going to say meditation, but a walk in the woods works, too.
Q: Do you have a spiritual practice? If so what is it?*
STEWART: Ha ha ha. Yeah! It's called yoga. Every minute of every day.
Q: Can you describe what it means to live life like a yogi?
STEWART: Faith and Ethics. It's that simple. The core teachings of Yoga describe everything as being one - that we are to treat one another, the world around us, and all things as if they are ourselves. Looking at the world from the view that all things are divine is Yoga. Whether it's done through love, action, wisdom, or union doesn't matter as long as it's for the good of all things. Yoga was designed to be practiced in the real world, not shapes confined to a sacred space.
Q: What book do you or would you like to give away most?
STEWART: I always have a copy of the Dhammapada that can be given to someone who feels lost. It's a good place to start.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
STEWART: "Trust what you find in yourself to succeed." - L. Kilmister
Q: What are you currently most passionate about?
STEWART: The energy cycle of the soul... and good beer.
Q: Can you tell us what you mean by "energy cycle of the soul"?
STEWART: As the CST work moves forward for me, more and more subtle pieces become visible. Everything is energy. Energy moves in waves. The human body has an energy to it and thus a wave to that energy. Imagine sine and cosine graphs back in Math. Those waves can be all sorts of shapes, but the equation creates a pattern - length, height, amplitude. So, too, the human's wave can, and is, unique to the individual. Some high/low and excited. Some smooth an easy.
A wave of energy that encompasses all pieces of you - the body, the breath, the consciousness, the experience you give others. Sounds like a pretty good definition of the soul, doesn't it?
The way two waves overlay - interact - is how we resonate with others. It's why we feel like home with some people and why others feel like bad ju-ju.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time? What do you like to do for fun?*
STEWART : I think "good beer" answers this question, too.