Keyla Sereen Ohs understands the journey to health and wellness can be a long and challenging one. As the owner of Sereen Spirit Healing and Retreat Centre, Keyla has lived paths ranging from high-level athletics to imbalanced work choices. She is also keenly aware that our spirit can speak to us and offer guidance, if we are willing to listen to it.
Ten years ago, Keyla listened to that voice when she realized her life was literally making her sick. While struggling in a job that was causing her anxiety, bodily illness, and blackouts, she had a bad car accident that shook her deeply and made her determined to make some holistic changes to the way she was living. But then, resilience and resolve were nothing new to her.
Keyla had spent her formative years on Canada’s world figure skating team, during which time she developed the discipline required for elite performance. She also learned that focusing only on competition can pull us out of balance if we do not address the intuitive and emotional aspects of ourselves. Fortunately, the inner world was also not new to her: since childhood, she has experienced many powerful spiritual moments. After walking away from skating, went on to study psychology, bio energy healing, Reiki, and meditation.
Now, having embraced the shamanic path, she is ready to help you on your spiritual and physical journey to overcome your obstacles and discover your healthiest self. Her beautiful centre in West Kelowna is a safe and nurturing space for you to release and realign your energy. I was thrilled to get to know more about Keyla and her healing work.
I’m curious about a quotation on your website: “Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” How does this speak to your own journey and the insights you tap into to help your clients?
Well, I really do believe that fear is our ego’s best friend. We believe that if we feel fear we are somehow in danger, and should do whatever is necessary to escape the feeling and regain a sense of normalcy. Fear shuts off our emotional connection to ourselves, and subsequently dampens our intuition and inner knowing. It is only when we face our shadows — the parts of ourselves that we have turned away from and hold our deepest lessons — that we can eradicate old issues that hold us back and experience incredible, transformational breakthroughs. Often, when we choose courage over fear in any aspect of our lives, and we push through the resistance piece, we truly can achieve harmony in all aspects of our lives.
I’m personally familiar with sports injuries, but I find myself increasingly fascinated by the manifestation of emotional disharmony in the physical body, often in ways many of us don’t know or see. How are the mind and body connected?
Ah, sports injuries. I’ve had more than a few of those — fourteen fractures, in fact, including a fractured spine, broken rib, and dislocated shoulder. Figure skating is a beautiful but vicious sport.
The mind body connection in relation to health is a fascinating area. We are finding that prolonged, repressed emotional disharmony can show up as illness in the physical body. The longer it remains untended, the more severe the illness may become. Now, this is outside of environmental and genetic factors, although recent data shows that stress, which may be created subconsciously and repressed for decades, can actually turn on certain genes, activating a dormant genetic trait. It has also been proven that the clearing of traumatic memories and healing of emotional issues can turn off particular genes, resulting in remission and/or total healing.
I became fascinated with the mind-body link through personal experience. I grew up in a very high-stress environment: the pressure of being an elite athlete, the financial stress of this choice on my family, and a parent who was at times violent and unrelenting. During the peak stress times of my career, from the age of 14-20, I was hospitalized multiple times for ruptured ovarian cysts. During the most difficult times of this part of my athletic career, the cysts got worse and ruptured more frequently. This was a time when my focus was on athleticism, and I was just trying to survive. I was blocking my creativity (I just didn’t have time to spare for the expression of it), the relationship with my family was at its worst. As it was all going down, I was witnessing my passion for a sport I had once loved fading to nothingness. The cysts continued to rupture until, at 20, I decided to quit the sport and move out on my own to attend university. I left everything behind to begin again. And you know what happened? Once I left that environment, I never had another single cyst issue or rupture, EVER! This really made me start to think, Why had they just stopped?
As I started to research, I began to learn that in some of the Eastern ways of thinking about the mind-body connection, there are certain, generalized areas of the physical body that are directly associated with emotional traits. The ovaries, for example, are connected to the sacral chakra, which is an energetic centre of the body that is directly related to passion, relationships (often familial), and creativity. All of these areas were stunted and experienced some aspects of trauma during my athletic career. When I removed the stressors, the symptoms also went into remission. I say remission because it has taken a lifetime of commitment to understanding myself and unwinding the complicated relationship between my beliefs, my life experiences, and my healing. It is an ongoing process, one that never stops.
You offer a variety of modalities to your clients, and custom-fit the experience to suit the individual. How does it all start? What’s the first conversation often like?
As a shamanic practitioner, my values lay in trying to reconnect people back to themselves, and to the planet. Living a shamanic life means remembering our original relationship with the earth, learning how to take only what we need, and redefining what it means to be a part of something greater than ourselves. Many of the people I work with are seekers — they feel the call towards something bigger — they know they are here for a reason and are tired of not achieving their true potential. Others are living with lifelong pain or illness, often unexplained by the Western medical system, and they are frustrated and ready to do whatever it takes to heal. That is where I come in. Holistic and energetic medicine combines beautifully with classic Western medicine, often providing a full, complete picture.
It can start with a simple 30-minute Skype call to make sure we are on the same page, and so I can tune in and begin to understand the best way to serve the client. As an intuitive, I ask questions about their life experiences, reading the client’s energy as I do so, and listen beyond the answers I am given. I read between the lines, so to speak. As we talk, it is like pulling a thread — eventually, by giving people the time and space to be properly heard — and together we can identify what it is that is holding them back.
The next step is for them to come in for a session so that the energetic work can be done, and we can set the parameters for what it is exactly that we want to achieve. The client always has full management of the experience. I am not healing them, I am bringing awareness to their blocks so that they may heal themselves. My goal is not to have lifelong clients. I aim to help clients bring awareness and love to their traumas, provide tools to help them better understand their experiences, and show them the path to self-empowerment and healing. It is an incredible, magical process, and I am so honoured to do this work.
As a former competitive figure skater, you may appreciate this. A lover of walking, hiking, skating, biking, I’ve always found joy and meaning in motion. Despite the best efforts of friends to get me into yoga or meditation, I often struggle with stillness. What would you say to someone who, like me, just won’t slow down?
Well, I would first say, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Meditation isn’t for everyone, just like some activities work for some but not others. If you are willing to give meditation a try, I encourage you to try as many different forms as possible. There are many types — some are better suited for visual people, others for the more left-brained folk. You simply need to find the right fit for YOU.
That being said, when we sit in stillness, we are often alone with just our thoughts. And that can be more than a little uncomfortable, even overwhelming. Just as an athlete must practise thousands of hours to achieve excellence, it takes a deep commitment to be able to quiet the mind. The ego has all sorts of tricks to distract us, and it is especially difficult in this technological age. But there is something to be said about harnessing the power of your mind, and being able to direct it more consciously in ways that serve you, rather than allowing it to run on autopilot. I would give it another chance! And at the end of the day, when I am helping people build a spiritual practice, I am quick to remind them that things like walking, hiking, and being in nature are all powerful forms of meditation unto themselves. Perhaps your way of meditating is actually found in the activities you choose, especially if they bring you joy. And that is beautiful!
What do the words balance and well-being mean to you?
Balance to me is the execution of mindful, present ways of being, and an adaptability that comes from recognizing that if we are not in alignment, we may choose at any time to regain balance through our daily choices.
Well-being is the state that occurs if we do our best to maintain balance. It is the constant ebb and flow of life, our ideal state, and is derived from our understanding of ourselves combined with the support of community around us.
You’re holding a Candlelight Mediation and Women’s Circle in March, April, and May. Tell us about this event.
YES! These events are so magical. I hold one every month, and it is an opportunity to learn to meditate (or deepen your practice), meet with like-minded individuals on their own path towards balance and well-being, and experience a safe, sacred space. At the event, I lead a guided meditation, and then we have a brief silent period to either meditate quietly or journal. Finally, we close with a women’s circle, where attendees can share their experiences, ask questions, or help process anything that may be going on in their lives. It is a beautiful way to experience community, and I take pride in helping the people who attend to develop a deeper connection to their personal spirituality.
I also run a live Facebook group called “Live at The Altar” twice a week, where I take people through live guided meditations, and host a little chat on a spiritual topic each time. These happen on Tuesday mornings at 8:00 and Sunday nights at 7:00 (usually).
Share something about yourself many wouldn’t know: a fun fact, quirky perspective, and strange story.
My father’s nickname for me was Bug. When he passed away in 2011, I returned home after his wake exhausted and deeply grieving. On the inside of the corner window of my apartment there must have been 200 ladybugs. It was inexplicable. They hadn’t been there that morning, it was a time of year when there shouldn’t have been any at all, and the window was always closed! Since then, whenever I call on my dad for guidance, or simply spend time thinking about him, a ladybug will appear. It reminds me that though our friends, family and pets may pass over, they are always close by and with us.
Tom Kernaghan, owner of Oak Writer
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