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A Retreat to nature, by Dr. Liz Sparks

27 Nov 2023

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I started to realise that my deeply caring, hilariously inappropriate and wonderfully fun friend was going to die from cancer. I had walked alongside him for quite some time, every week we would meet on zoom, as he was at the other end of the country. We would explore heart-based mediations, distance reiki and shamanic journeys. We discussed the meaning of life, what we believed would happen after death and the anxiety around leaving his beautiful family.

I started to experience waves of grief each time we met online or spoke, and when we met in person several times during the last months of his life, I hugged him a little tighter each time. I wanted to do something to show just how much I cared.

I believe passionately in the integrative approach to healing, I know from my own experience how powerful the combination of approaches can be. I have dedicated my career to supporting others to heal, grow and recognised their own ability to create change and heal. I am a Health Psychologist with a PhD in Pain Psychology, I have also completed reiki master, intuitive coach certification, shamanic practitioner and written academic courses on mindfulness and compassion at a university.

When I suggested running a retreat day together for charity, to my friend and co-worker Julia Davies (Functional Medicine Practitioner), she immediately suggested Yes to Life. It made so much sense. Yes to life supports access to the integrative approach for cancer, they do exactly what I believe in.

Another close friend had completed her treatment for breast cancer a few months before, and joining her on her emotional journey through it all made me realise just how much the integrative approach is needed. The reiki, the acupuncture, the talking or meditation, creates a release and energetic support.

Wootton Park Wellness, where I run most of my retreats agreed to allow us to rent the space for a fraction of the cost (I am so grateful for their continued support), Veronica Winter, a very experienced yoga practitioner agreed to run a beautiful session for no charge and Julia taught a deeply illuminating session on living in harmony with your microbiome. I ended the day with a heart-based practice and sound journey, connecting with the elements. The lunch was made with love, by Lexi’s loving spoonful. Two excellent massage therapists Naomi Pegden and Karen Clarke gave back, neck and shoulder massages and donated a proportion of their fees to the charity too. Claire from Margaret Hills natural health shop ran a beautiful stall for the day too.

The day was a huge success, the feedback was overwhelming positive. Andy had died a month before and he had sent me flowers on my birthday just a week before he died. I dried the rose petals and used them in the center of the mandala that I created for the space that day of the retreat. I felt like I had somewhere to put some of my grief. Before everyone arrived that day I sat and spoke out loud to him, thanked him for his friendship and dedicated the retreat day to him.

We raised over £1,300.00 for Yes to Life and together Julia and I have decided to continue to donate to Yes to Life, primarily by giving a percentage of funds from our Online Foundations of Healing Course. Please do read more about it here Functional Health Online (

I am now keen to influence other practitioners to support this wonderful charity, to understand the importance of working together on helping people to access the integrative way forward.



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