Episode 31: Healing from Trauma with the Awareness 5 with Owen Morgan
Episode 31: Healing from Trauma with the Awareness 5 with Owen Morgan
Owen Morgan opens up about his repressed memories of childhood abuse and his recovery journey. He expresses gratitude for his pain, as it ultimately led to him to fall in love with what it means to be human. Owen is now the host of a successful podcast, The Awareness Space, where he continues to dive into the human experience with people all over the globe.
Check out Owen’s incredible work: https://www.theawarenessspace.com Instagram: The Awareness Space #Podcast (@the_awareness_space)
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Alyssa Scolari [00:00]:
Hey all. We did it. We hit 4,000 downloads on the podcast. Thank you so very much, and as promised, we are doing a giveaway. This time, we have not one giveaway, but two giveaways. Our dear friend Sheri from the I Would Love That shop on Etsy has donated two different types of mugs for the giveaway. One is called the Cup of Courage. It’s absolutely adorable, as is the other one, which is the Worry Monster Mug. If you are a coffee drinker, a tea drinker, a mug collector, you’re going to love this.
If you want to check out pictures, head on over to either my Facebook page or my Instagram page. Instagram is alyssa_scolari_lpc. There you can find the specifics of what you need to do to be entered in the giveaway. It’s pretty simple. I just ask that you leave a written review on the podcast, and then you can simply DM me or leave a comment on my post and just say that you want to be entered into the giveaway. There is also the date on my social media of when I will be picking a winner. I believe it is Monday, March 8th. So head on over, check it out. And as always, thank you so, so much for your support.
Hello, everybody. Happy Tuesday. It is Wednesday when we are recording this, but it will be Tuesday, March 2nd when this is released. Welcome to another episode of Light After Trauma podcast. This is episode 31. I am your host, Alyssa Scolari. And I have here with us today very special guest Owen Morgan. Owen is a wellbeing advocate, podcast host, and coach in training. He is passionate about exploring what self-awareness is and how we can use it to heal, transform, and live a life more fully. Owen has worked as a personal trainer and massage therapist for 10 years. He has also interviewed over 500 people on chat shows and podcasts, including therapists, coaches, advocates, and people with true stories of wellbeing recovery.
Owen has a history of childhood trauma, severe anxiety, and had a life-threatening illness. He hosts The Awareness Space podcast and is a video creator at the Awareness Reel. Owen truly believes in hope after trauma, which is something that I think just emanates and radiates from you, is this hope and this passion that you have for life after trauma and the hope that can come.
So, welcome on the show, Owen.
Owen Morgan [03:13]:
Thank you so much for that. It’s such an honor to be with you. I listen to your show religiously every week at work. I listened to literally two episodes last night. I love it so much. And I was like, “Oh my god, I’m going to be on it tomorrow! I’m so excited.”
Alyssa Scolari [03:24]:
And I love your show as well. I was on Owen’s podcast, The Awareness Space. If you have not heard it, you need to. It’s something you 1000% need in your life because it feels like a warm cup of tea after a long day. So I really like to put on my headphones and just listen to the amazing episodes that you have. You have some really fantastic guests, and you’re a phenomenal interviewer. So, I am really happy to have you here.
You do a lot. I don’t know how you manage all of this, and then also have another job as well. Can you talk a little bit about what takes up the most time? What are you most passionate about of all the things that you do?
Owen Morgan [04:14]:
Yeah, thank you. I sometimes don’t know how I do it. People are like, “How are you putting out so much content whilst working full-time and being a dad?” I’m like, “It’s just one thing at a time, isn’t it? You just focus on the one thing.” I’ve just had a load of video work coming my way, paid video work for clients. I’m so excited. I’m really wanting to push that. And that has to take priority. That is going to pay the bills. Oh, hang on a minute. This is actually quite intense, because that video is now taking over my ability to edit my podcast. It’s, again, one step at a time. I’ve burnt out five or six times in the last three or four years, full-on burnout, chronic fatigue level. I don’t learn. This time, I certainly am going to learn. And just remember that all I can focus on today was the podcast this morning, chatting with you. I’ll edit a bit of the video and then go to see my step-son. And that’s it. That’s all I can do.
We only get overwhelmed because we feel like we need to be attending to lots of things. Whereas if I just say, “Well, I have this today, and what can I fit in?” And I guess that’s it, really. And the podcast side of things, as you know, is very time-consuming. By the time you’ve interviewed people, and done post-production, and edited, because I don’t have anyone to do it for me, it’s surprising, isn’t it? But this job I got isn’t forever. It’s only because of COVID. So once COVID is finished, I can crack on with what I love the most.
Alyssa Scolari [05:30]:
Yes. And what is it that you love the most?
Owen Morgan [05:34]:
People, full stop. No, I absolutely, absolutely adore talking to humans, meeting humans. And my favorite bit is actually building bonds. I really love it, how many friends I’ve made out of this. And I can just message them whenever I need help, or they need me. And I think it’s so beautiful when you meet someone for the first time. I wonder where this is going to go? And then they become really good friends. And it’s so special. So that, plus sharing our messages together is always going to be my passion. My partner said to me the other day, she goes, “Do you think you’re going to podcast forever? It feels like you never get bored of it.” I said, “Yeah, probably. I get to about 90, I’ll be doing some kind of pensioner podcast about men’s pensioner health or something.” I never get bored of it, so I just feel so blessed I found something. Not everybody does, do they, find that thing?
Alyssa Scolari [06:22]:
Owen Morgan [06:23]:
Yeah, talking to humans and sharing their wisdom, that’s what I love.
Alyssa Scolari [06:27]:
Yeah. And you do. Again, that’s just something that absolutely radiates from you. It’s just this love that you have for the entire human experience.
Owen Morgan [06:36]:
Definitely. Plus, everybody compares me to a warm cup of tea, for some reason. People keep saying that. So I’m like, do I need to brand that somehow? Do some merch or something?
Alyssa Scolari [06:45]:
So I’m not the only one? Everybody keeps-
Owen Morgan [06:47]:
You’re not. It’s a British thing. Actually, I feel very lucky that I’m British, because our accent seems to really set all of the nationalities on fire. They love it. So I’m like, yes, British accent! Thank god for that.
Alyssa Scolari [07:00]:
1000%. I’m glad that you brought that up, because in the back of my head, every time I hear one of your voice messages, I say to my husband, I’m like, “David, it’s Owen! Come listen to his voice!”
Owen Morgan [07:15]:
Alyssa Scolari [07:15]:
Yes. It’s the accent. It’s phenomenal. And I have to imagine, when I’m speaking, can you tell that I have a very strong American accent?
Owen Morgan [07:27]:
That’s what I love about all the different versions of the American accent and Australia as well. It’s much more animated, I guess. It’s much more colorful and Disney-like, if that makes sense, and I really like that. I do kind of long to have the accent too, but I’ll stick with what I’ve got, I think, for now.
Alyssa Scolari [07:44]:
Oh yes. Oh yeah. I think your accent is way, way, way better. So, we digress. I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t talk about the accent. So tell me how you got into this type of field. How did you develop a passion for this? I know a little bit from what we talked about when I was a guest on your show. But if you wouldn’t mind sharing.
Owen Morgan [08:06]:
Yeah. Well, I think for me, a big part of this journey, all of the trauma that I had when I was younger, and how that then manifested in mental health problems in my 20s, and then how that manifested in me needing to sort it out and discover what was going on. And then by doing that, I think then it ignited this passion for learning about human experience. So I think the moment I realized that I had major issues with what I was going through, and wanting to learn about the brain and the nervous system and everything, that opened up a whole opportunity for me to discover more. And that’s when I got really hooked into loving learning about that. And then because of that, I then just built, built, built to where we are today with the podcast.
But there’s no way I would have just learnt that and went straight into podcasting. I love it. It was a 15-year journey, which is really, really great. But if I didn’t have all the traumas, you’re fully aware, it wouldn’t lead to the opportunities I have today. So I have to thank my trauma for guiding me in a direction that probably makes me even more connected and aligned to myself than somebody without trauma. So I look with gratitude for all the “bad stuff” in inverted commas that have happened.
Alyssa Scolari [09:14]:
Yes. And so what I hear you saying is you actually didn’t realize that you even had a history of trauma until you were in your 20s.
Owen Morgan [09:24]:
Yeah. 27 was when I discovered that I was abused as a six-year-old. And I was like, “Holy shit. Okay, right. Oh! Everything’s starting to make sense now, why I’m so depressed all the time, and blacking out, and claps of anxiety.” I think back now, the beginning, my intro, you said about anxiety, it’s like, wow, I haven’t had anxiety for five years, six years. I can’t believe I used to have it so badly. And now I can’t remember what it even feels like. I mean, how is that not an example of hope, right?
Alyssa Scolari [09:54]:
Yes, yes. It’s the best example of hope, to not even be able to identify with who you were back then, because it feels worlds apart. And you had mentioned, I know this about you because we’d discussed it on your podcast, your memory is the one thing that we have in common. Well, we have many things in common. But the one thing we have in common that I think is really special is your memories of your abuse were repressed.
Owen Morgan [10:26]:
Yeah, I just wanted to quickly mention, like you said, you have similar experiences. And I have interviewed so many people who’ve got the same experiences. And people say, “That can’t be a thing. You can’t just not remember stuff.” I’m like, “I’ve interviewed enough people to say that’s definitely a thing,” and how your body, literally, and your mind just go, “Nope, this is way too overwhelming. I think I’m just going to lock this in a cupboard somewhere for another day.” And that’s totally what happened for you, what’s happened for me. And it’s just the most terrifying but most liberating thing ever when you’re like, “Ah, right. Okay. Yeah, this woman, she was disregular, and she was really, really taking it out on me.” And I was able to then say that it wasn’t my fault, and there’s nothing with me. I’m not broken. That’s powerful, isn’t it?
Alyssa Scolari [11:12]:
It’s the most powerful thing. The most powerful thing. But I don’t think it always starts out that way. So when you first started to have the memories surface, was it more of a, “Is this real? How did I contribute to this? Am I making this up?” Did you have those types of thoughts?
Owen Morgan [11:35]:
Yes and no. Because all of it was done under hypnotherapy. I think it was a slightly different story, because the first thing I ever tried was hypnotherapy, so I was under hypnosis. It was about 10 sessions. But the deeper I went in, the more I went into my subconscious and explored down there with an amazing guide that did it with me, it was like a black and white film. It was very surreal. It was like, was that me? But it was literally black and white. I don’t know why I remember it. I just remember it wasn’t in color. It was really weird. But I remembered this visceral sensation of being in this room at a table. And I remember, it’s really specific. It was a piece of beef that was really fatty. It’s so specific, the memory. And then remember wanting to vomit, but then remember it being shoved into my mouth and stuff, pushed, punched into my mouth.
And it was like, “This is a really weird memory if it’s mine. It’s very visceral.” And then remembering hiding that piece of meat under a piece of carpet behind this little cabinet thing, chest of drawer thing. It’s too specific a creation to not have some resonance to it. And it was then, I was like, “Oh my god, I remember this child-minder when I was six and seven I used to go to after school. And she was just, whatever’s going on for her, whatever trauma’s she’s been through, on reflection, I was getting full-on abused on that, through force-feeding, being, I realized recently, locked in cupboards. I realized I had certain memories of being stuck under a staircase. It’s that kind of stuff, because I was naughty or I’d been bad. Which is why now, whenever, still to this day, if I miss up or do something I’m perceiving as wrong, I go straight into my gut and have this sense of dread, this really overwhelming sense of dread.
I think about it now, and it’s really affecting me. It’s like this final piece of the puzzle for me I’m going to work with a therapist or coach going forward with, because she obviously was full-blown teaching me a lesson for getting things wrong or not eating my dinner by locking me in a cupboard or whatever. So no wonder I’ve got a complex about getting things wrong. I think someone’s going to attack me if I get something wrong. And to this day, it rears its head every now and again in trigger format. And I think that’s a really important lesson. It’s slow, steady, and safe. It takes time, doesn’t it, to integrate and complete these experiences as a kid.
Alyssa Scolari [13:51]:
Yes. It takes so much time to even recognize that you’re having that response, and then to recognize where it comes from, and then to have to do the work to regulate your nervous system and to retrain your brain, so to speak, to have to say, “I don’t need to be ready for a fight. I’m not going to be locked in a cupboard for this, or this isn’t what’s happening,” because your body just automatically goes right back to that place.
Owen Morgan [14:21]:
Yeah, totally. And just to touch on what you said there, a really important message, is the quaff with our memories. We can’t always 100% believe them. Sometimes memories change over time, and our perception changes, the storyline changes a little bit. So it’s like you said, how can we deeply connect to the memories being this visceral, real thing and not something that we’re creating? That’s the hard part, I think, is knowing the difference. I don’t know how that looks, really, to be honest with you. You just have to be intuitive, don’t you?
Alyssa Scolari [14:48]:
Yes. And it’s ironic that you’re bringing that up, because I found myself speaking about this with somebody yesterday, a friend of mine, and just saying, when it comes to trauma, the one thing that I have learned, and I think this is so important, is that the specifics of the memories and the specifics of the trauma, don’t necessarily matter. Not to say that your story or anybody else’s story doesn’t matter and isn’t important. It’s that we don’t need to remember A to Z to know that horrible things happened to us, because our emotions and our physiological responses to present-day things are enough for us to know that we endured some really dark stuff. Does that make sense?
Owen Morgan [15:42]:
Yeah, I think it’s important to remember. And [inaudible 00:15:46] terms, the body has kept the score. A lot of it’s trapped in your body. And that’s not something you can really articulate with words a lot of the time. It’s in your body, and if you tune in and listen enough, you’ll know that there’s something about your body that’s crying out to be held, to be soothed out, to be integrated. And it’s just tuning in and listening, isn’t it? But you have to be held, don’t you, by someone who makes you feel safe. Without that, then it’s very difficult to access, isn’t it, I suppose.
Alyssa Scolari [16:11]:
This is one of my favorite things that I’ve heard you say in your podcast, and you said it when we recorded, is like, this idea of being held. Could you talk a little bit more about that? It really resonates with me very deeply.
Owen Morgan [16:27]:
Yeah. Well, as a self-confessed addict to hugging, I’m very aware of what it is to hold and to be held. And COVID has absolutely sucked. I haven’t been able to hug anybody. In any workplace that I join, within the first two months, I probably would have hugged most members of the staff in a very safe way, to be clear. And it’s just been so funny. At this workplace, I’m like, “This is weird. This is against my nature, to build bonds and make sure everyone’s okay. That’s what I do.”
But anyway, back to your point about being held, it’s come to me. Because the more people I interview and the more stories I hear of a therapeutic healing journey, the more I’m just seeing the common denominator being the key thing every single time. And in previous companies that I’ve run, I ran a global company for a while I hardly ever talked about called World Health Heroes, and it was about getting therapists to help people with low income and have to work through illness to have access to therapy.
Alyssa Scolari [17:16]:
Owen Morgan [17:17]:
Because it’s a big passion of mine. Even as a massage therapist, I get so annoyed that I can’t help lots of people with not much money, because I need to live. And it is a real disparity there. It feels like you can only get super, super healthy if you have money. And it doesn’t feel right to me. So anyway, I ran a company for a while doing that with therapists all over the world, and that was in previous times. But we helped numerous people. It was six people with ME and fibromyalgia. And they all picked someone different, someone they resonated picked. I think one had a spiritual counselor. One had EMDR. One had psychotherapy. Another one had more body work, breath work practices, a coach who did that. So they all went to see different people.
And all of them either had a marked improvement in symptoms, and some of them completely overcame it through that. And that obviously felt so special to me, because I had funded that, so it felt really special. But the point was, I was like, okay, six different modalities. They’ve all seen an improvement or complete healing on it. So what does that tell you? Resonate with a therapist, the therapist held them in a sense of safety, deeply listened. They were seen, heard, and understood. So when I talk about being held, it’s being held in a space that you are going to be seen, heard, understood unconditionally, and the person will deeply listen to and acknowledge your existence without, “Oh, you poor thing” and all that kind of stuff. More, “I’ve got you and I’m going to help you discover within yourself the healing qualities that you innately have.”
And I think held, rather than just being seen as something, held as in hugged or whatever, it’s this seen, heard, understood aspect. That’s what held means to me. I think when you are seen deeply like that by another human being, you may be ready to process some of these traumas you’ve had. But it’s hard to say how to find that person. I think you just have to get out and try and discover them for yourself.
Alyssa Scolari [19:14]:
And do you think that it is just one person? When you talk about being held, do you think that it’s just the therapist that does the holding, so to speak, or do you think there needs to be more than one person, we need to have a community of people that are holding us through processing our trauma?
Owen Morgan [19:39]:
Yeah, totally. Professionally or in a more personal sense, I think it’s important to know that different people can play a different held role. But I think the concept’s the same. They still need to see you, hear you, and a willingness to understand you. So that could be your partner for the first time maybe to meet the needs that your parents never did. That’s slightly different. That’s quite healing. But also professionally to deal with trauma [inaudible 00:20:03]. But for me personally, after hypnotherapy, I needed to move on from him. I needed to then work with somebody else that was more somatically trained, for example. I did an LP after that, so I worked with somebody really top down, and then I worked to bottom up.
But I think it’s hard to say how those steps look. But for me, I’ve had six, seven people who deeply saw me and have gotten me to where I am today, or at least given me the resources to see myself how they saw me. And I’ve met some people that didn’t hold me well at all. That’s not because they were bad. It was because they weren’t right. And on some level, sometimes they triggered me. That’s the only time I would say maybe they should have thought a bit more deeply about working with me, because they accidentally triggered me. But hey, we’re human. We make mistakes. But yeah, I’ve had six or seven people, is the answer to your question.
Alyssa Scolari [20:54]:
No. Well, all of that is so important. It’s very helpful for our listeners to hear that. I too have had therapists who have not been able to hold me and have done more harm than good, not necessarily because they’re bad, but because they did not have the tools that they needed to be able to help me. So I think that that’s a really important thing for people to hear, and I say this often, is that if you have one experience with a therapist, for all the listeners out there, and it doesn’t go well, and you find yourself deeply triggered, that does not mean that there are not other people out there who can’t hold you in the way that you are needing to be held.
Owen Morgan [21:33]:
No, totally. I think it’s a bit like dating for me, really. You go out there and-
Alyssa Scolari [21:37]:
Owen Morgan [21:37]:
… you go on a first date, and you’re like, “They’re great, and they’re really lovely, but I can’t quite feel a spark.” But in this case, the connection. I just see it as dating, really. Go out there and find a therapist that matches your needs, really.
Alyssa Scolari [21:48]:
Absolutely. It is like dating. It’s dating. Sometimes I compare it to clothes shopping, right, trying to find that right pair of pants that fits. It can be tough, but it’s not something to ever give up on, because you could have different healers in your life based on your needs throughout your recovery journey.
One of the things that I wanted to ask you is, how did you transition from being in a place of having these memories come back to you during your hypnotherapy to then saying, okay, I’m going to take this and I’m going to create this empire, if you would call it, The Awareness Space, and I am going to discover, you have this on your website, which is something I love, this concept of Awareness 5. Am I saying that correctly?
Owen Morgan [22:46]:
Yes, Awareness 5, yes.
Alyssa Scolari [22:47]:
How did you create that?
Owen Morgan [22:52]:
Oh, it was quite a journey. What am I, 37 now, so it’s been 10 years. Like I said, it started with the spark of wanting to learn about human experience. I know not everybody has that. You just want to go for the healing, work through everything they’ve been going through, and then crack on with whatever they were doing before, and that’s great too. But I think sometimes once you’re in that, it’s hard to get out, when you start learning about, oh my god, this is so cool.
And in school, I really struggled to learn. I had so much bullying, and I just hated school. I was terrified of being attacked after school every day. So it wasn’t a great place to learn. I think I was trying to catch up with that too. But my point is that the lust for learning is what got me through those 10 years. And actually, I started to outgrow the things I was learning. I was like, “Okay, yeah. I get that. That’s cool. I get the cognitive side. I get the top down stuff. Brilliant. I’m starting to learn what each section of the brain does. That’s cool. And the body, personal training, massage.” But then the more I got into it, I was like, but how does the body play a part?
And I started discovering that, reading books. So really, it’s just as simple as I’ve grown as I’ve learned to then be where I am today and wanting to have these conversations. And I always think, who am I? Classic impostor syndrome. Who am I to sit here on a podcast with no coaching qualifications and no therapy qualifications, thinking I can sit here and talk about what it is to be human. But then the more I look back at the episodes and listen, I’m like, god, I know quite a bit, actually.
Alyssa Scolari [24:14]:
Owen Morgan [24:15]:
Conceptually, I know quite a lot, and experientially, I’m getting there. So I think it’s really important that we don’t beat ourselves up about, if we’ve got a message to share, which I think pretty much everybody does, get out there and share it. And that’s why the podcast world now is so amazing, that anybody that wants to share something that means something to them can just do it now. It’s so amazing. You don’t have to get a TV contract or be on the radio. It’s just so exciting. And I wish I had a more exciting than “I just learned and grew,” but that is what happened, really.
And the more people I met, the more I felt held by peers and people in the same community as me. And now I feel like I’m invincible because I’m surrounded with, well, people such as yourself, who I know will be there for me, and I can just drop you a DM. And same with 20, 30 other people I’ve met. And I think that it’s a testament, isn’t it, to connecting to like-minded people who will be able to be there for you and meet your needs, should you need it.
Alyssa Scolari [25:10]:
Absolutely. That is the nourishment of the soul. What you’re describing, I resonate so much as well, which is, that nourishes my soul, is that connection. And the name of your podcast, The Awareness Space, right? This concept of awareness is very, very important to you. Can you talk about the Awareness 5, what it is, why is awareness so important?
Owen Morgan [25:39]:
Yeah, sure. The Awareness 5 is a fairly new thing. I was just trying to think, there’s so much information out there about daily practices and meditation and moving practices, yoga. There’s lots of things out there saying what things you can integrate into your day. It’s a bit like the mindful living, isn’t it? What do you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed? Because I think that’s where a big part of the transformation happens, because you live in a way that is intentional or with a sense of awareness. And I was trying to figure out what that looks like on paper.
And as I’m doing my coaching qualifications at the moment, if I’ve noticed anything about coaches, and I have lots of friends that do it, they’ve all got amazing anagrams or letters and numbers that mean stuff, or the free key principles. I was like, okay, every coach, it seems like, needs that thing that they use. So it’s like, well, I need on. So I was like, right. I’ll just take the word aware, and I’ll just break down the letters. I thought, well, what can I come up with? And actually, I thought, this is quite good, what I’ve managed to add to these letters.
Alyssa Scolari [26:37]:
Owen Morgan [26:38]:
I’ve added two other bits to the end of it, too, which you’re going to be the first person ever to hear this, as well as the audience. [crosstalk 00:26:44]
Alyssa Scolari [26:43]:
All right. Buckle up, everybody. I’m here for this.
Owen Morgan [26:48]:
I just really wanted to show people how I live my day, because by no means am I “healed,” in inverted commas, from all my trauma, because I don’t really think that’s a thing. I think it’s a lifelong journey. Anything could happen to you tomorrow, good or potentially “bad,” in inverted commas again. So we have to be aware that trauma doesn’t end after you’ve sorted out your last one, because who knows what’s next? And COVID taught us that, hasn’t it?
Alyssa Scolari [26:48]:
Owen Morgan [27:11]:
Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow when you wake up? The whole country could be locked down. You just don’t know. But anyway, I got off on a tangent. Just really want to quickly mention something before I say about the Awareness 5 that’s really important, because you asked me about my journey to today. Five years ago, I had a life-threatening illness which nearly took my life. It was a digestion-based issue, and I thought I was going to die. It’s really important to mention that. It was quite a kick moment. And I came out of hospital all guns blazing, going, “Right. I need the world to under”-
Alyssa Scolari [27:11]:
This is only five years ago?
Owen Morgan [27:40]:
Yeah, yeah. Five years ago. I’m 37 now. 32? Yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [27:40]:
Owen Morgan [27:43]:
So I think it’s really important that I did have this pivotal moment of coming out of hospital and saying, “Right. I need to rebuild my life. I need to be able to learn to walk again and just start again, basically.” And that’s why I served the World Health Heroes for a few years. I didn’t have any money because of my illness. I was self-employed. I lost all my money. I had no ability to be supported with the mental impact of a physical condition. So that’s what fueled me to drive across the UK and interview people on my chat show, and pay for people to be supported by my therapists that were members of mine. So that’s what led me to that. But I completely burnt out and got very ill in the process. So there’s a lesson for you. I was trying to save the world, I was being a martyr, and it nearly killed me, literally.
Alyssa Scolari [28:24]:
It will. It will.
Owen Morgan [28:27]:
So that’s what happened just before the illness, and then the World Health Heroes put me in exactly the same position. Burnout, martyr-based living again. I promised myself after I took a break, I would come back, do what I care about, not be a martyr, and just so it for me, do it because it brings me joy and it matters. That’s a really important message. I just wanted to say that quickly, because people will think I had all this trauma as a kid, then I went on this 10-year healing journey. But halfway through that, my body nearly conked out. So I’m lucky. Very lucky.
Alyssa Scolari [28:55]:
Well, that’s horrific and it’s horrible, but it also, I think, accurately describes the healing journey, which is, we don’t get it right. It’s not like we realize we have all this childhood trauma, and then it’s like, “Oh, okay. I’m on my way to healing, and I’m just going to be healing for the next 30, 40 years of my life.” It’s like, no, no. We want to help. We want to take what happened to us. We want to help. We help so much, we become a martyr. We burn out. We end up getting really sick. I had mentioned to you, I think a week or so ago, that I had been having some health issues as well. Nothing nearly as severe as yours, but my health issues were also a result of, I think, massive burnout. Burnout number one of my career. So, as horrible as it is, I also think you’re accurately describing what it is like for people to go through this process.
Owen Morgan [29:52]:
Yeah, I think entrepreneurs need to be really careful. It’s so easy to tip over that balance and trip into burnout. It’s hard, because you’re trying to make it work and make it sustainable. And I find having this job I’ve got at the moment has been really helpful, because it’s allowed me to just enjoy this, just lap it all up, because I’m not worrying about money. So there’s that too. But I think it’s just really important for people to know that when you don’t listen and you don’t tune in to the messages your body is giving you and your mind’s giving you, because it’s always going to be giving you messages. If your body’s hurting, it tells you. You feel it. But if you disconnect from that and just keep going, like happened to me, eventually my digestion just completely packed in. I had no digestive system. And I had the worst six days of my life, when all my organs started to fail.
And it’s because I wasn’t listening for a whole year and a half. I was just planning on massaging everybody I could, and having a job, and doing this and doing that. And my body just completely stopped working because I was not listening. It warned me so many times. I thought it was a gluten problem. I was like, “Oh god, I’ve got one of those gluten issues. You know what it’s like.” And it was my body saying, “You’re in fight or flight too much. Your digestion is no longer working properly. Just letting you know. You might want to go to [inaudible 00:31:03] for a bit.” No, no, it’s fine. [crosstalk 00:31:06]
And then eventually, the gluten issue got worse and worse and worse, and eventually, my intestines just stopped working. So it’s really important to really tune in and check in. And the reason I’m saying that is because it ties into the Awareness 5 really nicely. It ties up. And I’m trying to focus, because I’m being a terrible guest here and not answering your question, and going on for a terrible tangent.
Alyssa Scolari [31:27]:
No, you’re fine. Tangents are the story of my life. We love tangents on this podcast! It’s fine.
Owen Morgan [31:30]:
Yeah, yeah. Sorry, it’s because I do really long-form podcasts, so I just literally could talk for two hours. So I’m like, “Owen, give them the information they need in a nice, concise way.”
Alyssa Scolari [31:43]:
Oh, you’re fine.
Owen Morgan [31:45]:
Awesome. Right. I’ll dive into the Awareness 5 for you. Let’s get into it, because you might want to ask me about bits and bobs as we go. I’ll just read out each bit, sure, and then if there’s anything you find useful, then yeah, just let me know.
So, the Awareness 5 is an awareness practice to facilitate improved wellbeing that really helped me. Five techniques I use to support transformation in how I live moment to moment, and how I am in the world around me. A practice of self-awareness, self-resilience, and self-empowerment. Yes, I am reading this. I’m not that good. It sounds like I’m reading.
A means actual. What is really going on here? Stepping away from your instinctive narrative and default thinking patterns we always tend to adopt. Can I open to a deeper source of this experience? Can I take time before I form a belief? Because if you let those thoughts get carried away with you over and over again, you will start to believe it’s true, and then you start to form beliefs, and then you’ve got a longer journey back. So what’s really going on here, and being aware of that.
W is words. Thoughts aren’t facts. They are just unfiltered feedback. This is very powerful. We tend to believe our thoughts.
Alyssa Scolari [32:57]:
Oh, that’s so important.
Owen Morgan [32:59]:
Thoughts come in and flow through. If you’re doing any kind of mindfulness meditation practice, when people say, “Meditate and clear your mind,” it’s garbage. That’s not what you do. You let the thoughts come in, and you let them flow through. You do not attach, you don’t pass judgment. You’re not trying to block anything out. That’s not being mindful. In the thought comes, and in it goes again, nice and flowy. This is a story, quite often, that follows a body state. So now we’re touching on polyvagal theory here. Thoughts can be affected by which state you’re in. You might be feeling a bit fight or flight, or a bit shutdown. Your thoughts are generally more negative.
Can I see beyond my words and not get caught up in them? Very powerful. Can I see how my words also feed my body sensations? You’ll notice your posture starts to change when you start to think more negatively. You roll your shoulders. And if I’ve learned anything from massage, when people tell me at the beginning what’s going on for them, I can see their body holding it just purely by the way they’re saying it, so I try and break that down. Can I see how my beliefs are being created by my repeating thoughts? Lovely.
A is anatomy. Again, massage connections. What’s really going on with my body right now? Checking in with my body sensations in any given moment. I’m not just talking about when you’re triggered. I’m just talking about a couple times a day, just check in. Does it feel hot? Does it feel fizzy? Do I feel tight? Do I feel constricted? Do I feel open? Do I feel joy? Just keep checking in. Do I feel uncomfortable around a certain person that I’m around? Check in with your body. Your body will tell you if you’re not comfortable. Can I notice my neuroception around this environment and this person? How is my nervous system getting on with their nervous system? Are they dancing? Are they getting on well, or is it starting to be maybe a little bit edgy? Really, really important. Neuroception is one of my favorite things ever. It transformed my massage business. But that’s for another day.
R is reactive. Can I become aware of my triggers and glimmers? This changed my life forever. When I started to become aware of what triggers me and what brings me joy, I had so much more control over my life. And I could see my triggers as a compassionate observer. Say, “Hey, oh my god, I’ve just been triggered. Oh, okay. This is interesting.” Curiosity all the way. What sets me into fight or flight or shutdown? What helps me feel connected, safe, and heart-centered? Can I get to know my boundaries and limits, and the resources that I need to support my nervous system? So just being aware of what sets you off is really helpful. I’m nearly there, I promise.
And the last one is ego, which is my new favorite thing. So, can I see beyond perception? Perception is huge. How we perceive as ours in its entirety. Beyond the perception of who I am, coming from people’s expectations, opinions, and narrative about me, can I see past that? Seeing past the role I play in any given moment. Being the space of stillness outside of thought and self-judgment. If you had nowhere to be right now or no demands on your life to meet, how would this moment actually look? And the biggest question is, if I wasn’t called Owen, what does this moment look like? Because the name Owen alone is reminding me of who Owen is, and those experiences. And I’m a container of things that have happened to me, but I need to stand outside the container and say, “That’s the concept of Owen perceived by the world. But I’m actually being able to look at that.”
So that’s the Awareness 5. I got a bit excited. I talked too much about each one. But I leave it [crosstalk 00:36:19].
Alyssa Scolari [36:18]:
No. I actually can’t wait to go back and listen. Well, for the listeners out there, and I will link all of Owen’s social media and his website on the show notes. But the Awareness 5 is also listed on his website, theawarenesspace.com. And I actually can’t wait to go back, because everything that you talked about, I’m sitting here and I’m thinking, that is a great journal topic. That is a great journal topic. Because there’s so much exploration in all of those, so much self-exploration in all of that, that I think can really help people to take the best care of themselves. I really like that. And you came up with that. That is incredible. You came up with that based on your own personal experiences.
Owen Morgan [37:13]:
Yes, certainly. I think each of those five steps have helped me in the last 10 years, and they’ve all come together to where they are there, all bundled up. And I think all of them facilitate this sense of being this compassionate witness of your experience, realizing that you are experiencing every moment you’re in, but you’re also able to observe the experiences that unfold. And that empowerment alone could change the game, I think, especially from a trauma perspective. And I’ve learned this a lot from my clients over the years, too. And these five just came to me because this is how I live my life daily. So even though I may struggle to stick to a meditation practice or stick to any daily practice. I’ve always struggled to stick to it daily. I thought, “Right. Classic. Is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I just sit down and do this?”
But then when I really explored my life, I actually approach it from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. I use these five. It may just be one that day, where I just focus on body sensations for the day, keep it nice and simple, and see what I can learn about myself. Very empowering. And then you can try a different one the next day. But because I live this way, I think it gives me a sense of steadiness in my life, which I could get from a daily practice. But actually, I do it this way instead, if that makes sense.
Alyssa Scolari [38:19]:
Yes. I mean, this in itself, it is daily practice. And the way you put it, being a compassionate witness, it’s beautiful. It’s so important. And one of the themes that I see that keep coming up for you and the work that you’ve done is the emphasis and the importance that you place on the body/mind connection, and the power of touch, and the power of checking in with your body. Do you find lots of healing in being a masseuse?
Owen Morgan [38:55]:
It’s funny with the massage thing, because when you think about it, I was somebody that was physically violated as a young child and also in school, the bullying for three years. So it’s interesting that I would fall into a touch-based modality. But I started from personal training initially, and I got my confidence up to work with people. I had a lot of impostor syndrome. But actually, the more I worked with people, the more injured they were getting from other things not linked to me. I wasn’t injuring anybody. But they were coming to me with bad backs, bad knees, and all that kind of stuff. And I was like, I really want to help these people physically, so I did a sports massage training thing.
But actually, the more I got into it, I thought, actually, this is so beautiful, being able to welcome someone into a space and say, “I can see that you’re in pain.” And to be honest, a lot of it was emotional. That’s what was causing the physical issues. And hold that, and make them feel safe and calm, put on beautiful music, and I used the most amazing wax. It smelled so good. It was all flower extract stuff. It was gorgeous. And they would just sink. They would sink into this bench, and at the end, they would feel so connected to their body for the first time in a while. The men especially, it was so beautiful to see that unfold.
And I really, really started to fall in love with my ability to hold this space and make them feel that way, rather than just sorting out a dodgy muscle or fixing a back. And I never knew I wanted that. I never knew I wanted to hold a space. I always felt like I wasn’t worthy enough to help anybody with anything. That in itself was quite healing. But as someone that’s always enjoyed physical touch as a love language, it made sense to me that touch would be my initial offering, I think. Whereas now, I can verbalize it and hold space this way. But yeah, I adored it, and I’ve missed it a lot. But I’ve partly grown out of it too, so it’s also important to listen that that was part of my journey, but I think I may need to move on now with that and focus on a more coaching-based modality. But yeah, I hope I answered your question.
Alyssa Scolari [40:52]:
Absolutely. A lot of what you’re talking about makes me think of one of my favorite quotes of all time. And I just pulled it up as you were talking. It reads, “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too was a gift.” And throughout this whole time that we’ve been speaking, that just keeps popping up in my head over and over and over again, because what I hear is that you were given a box full of darkness by somebody, somebody who hurt you. And you took it, and you have created gift after gift after gift, in the form of holding space for others to heal through being a massage therapist, in the form of starting the, is it a foundation, organization?
Owen Morgan [41:47]:
Yeah, World Health Heroes. Yeah.
Alyssa Scolari [41:48]:
World Health Heroes, to help people who are not as financially well-off to be able to access quality care. Doing what you’re doing now, starting this podcast, just everything that you do is a gift that you’ve created. And the reason why you are so highly qualified and highly skilled at it is because of that box of darkness that you were given as a child.
Owen Morgan [42:16]:
Yeah, that’s a really lovely quote, and thank you for sharing that. Like I said, I just look back with gratitude, really. I think I wouldn’t be here today doing this if it wasn’t for all of those traumas. I know it’s a really cheesy thing to say, but it’s true.
Alyssa Scolari [42:28]:
I don’t believe it is. I think it shapes you into being a healer, which you are a healer. I always say this. You don’t have to be a therapist to be a healer. You have to be a human to be a healer. And a human being can be a healer, as long as you’re in touch enough with your own pain. And you’ve clearly done a lot of work.
Owen Morgan [42:50]:
Yeah, definitely. Even though I put a block up for a couple years about coaching, I’m finally actually studying, I’m hoping that will translate going forward. Because I’m like, “Oh, I’ll be a rubbish coach.” There’s still some sabotaging there.
Alyssa Scolari [43:01]:
Owen Morgan [43:02]:
As soon as I make it official, I’ll be like, “Oh god, I’ve really, really got to nail this.” But then realizing, actually, you can’t get it wrong. All you can do is guide in the way you think is right. And if it doesn’t feel right, then you just refer them to somebody else that’ amazing that you trust. You can’t get it wrong. You just refer. If you can’t help, then you refer.
Alyssa Scolari [43:20]:
You can’t. Yes, there’s no moment where you’re like, “Oh, I’ve nailed this.” It’s like, eh, you nailed it a long time ago when you decided to face your pain and work through your pain, instead of pushing it off and coping with drugs, alcohol, sex, food, what have you. It’s like, well, you nailed it at that moment. Anything else, you can’t get wrong.
Owen Morgan [43:45]:
No, totally. And I just think it’s being aware enough to know the pace you need to do things. And the two things I added to the Awareness 5, because it’s the first time I’ve done it, I’m super excited to say it, just say the words out loud.
Alyssa Scolari [43:56]:
Owen Morgan [43:57]:
Which is that the important thing to remember about any healing journey or any trauma recovery, or even integrating a new daily practice, is to hold it with the three S’s. I’m a proper coach now. The three S’s. It’s doing the Awareness 5 [inaudible 00:44:11]. It’s slow, steady, and safe. I’ve been saying this on the last five episodes of my show. Slow, steady, safe. Because if you rush it, you could traumatize yourself. If you dive in too deeply and you don’t take it steady, you could re-traumatize. If you do it from a place of unsafety, re-traumatize, or you will slip out of daily practice or not be able to keep it up. Slow, steady, and safe, the three S’s, really important.
And then the R’s. Why not have another three? Which I literally came up with about one hour and 28 minutes ago. [crosstalk 00:44:42] And it’s because I was listening to myself on someone else’s podcast, on Humble-U Media’s podcast. I was listening back to it, and I said these three R’s by mistake. I was like, wow, that’s pretty cool. I’m going to use that. It’s remembering, whatever we’re trying to do to become connected again in this moment, to reintegrate into society and all this kind of stuff, to feel whole again, to feel safe.
The three things we’re trying to do is to reintegrate all of these trauma experiences, so integrate into our system so we can process and release. Integration, recalibrate, so get everything back online and working as one, and re-regulate, so get into a place so that you can regulate yourself in any situation you are. It’s reintegrate, recalibrate, and re-regulate to give us a sense of wholeness. The end. That’s the last, my two new bits.
Alyssa Scolari [45:28]:
Wow. Yeah. I hope you did write that down, because that’s amazing.
Owen Morgan [45:33]:
Yeah, it’s right there on the screen, so I’m going to pop that on the website. I could only thank my guests for this, including you. The more people I interview, the more insight and wisdom I get from them. They pass that on to me, and then I’m able to articulate it in a way that makes sense to me. And I think that’s a really important message to just get out there. Communicate with people, and you’ll be surprised what they can invoke in you in a really positive way, can’t they?
Alyssa Scolari [45:55]:
Absolutely. I think we had this conversation, which is about podcasting and doing this type of work, is that we learn so much. At first, I thought I was creating this podcast to help other people, which I am. But I’m also doing this because it helps me. And I learn so much. Every conversation, I learn, and I grow, and I change, and I heal a little bit more. Man, your whole world just keeps rapidly developing, and growing, and changing, and improving. I am loving it. I am here for all of this success.
So, for your future, it’s more of this, right? It’s continuing to grow. You’re going to become, is it a licensed coach? Is that what they-
Owen Morgan [46:45]:
Yeah, yeah. It’s going to take a little while. It’s a fully-fledged, really decent course that I’m doing. There’s a lot of one-day or weekend courses, don’t get me started on that, which give you a certificate. But that’s for another day. This is a properly fully-fledged. It’s amazing. I’ve done the first few modules. The guy that’s written it, he’s fantastic, so I’m like, wow, this is amazing. Yeah, it’d be a life skills coaching qualification, and it’s a level four psychology, but I know it’s going to be a three-year university thing. So I’m not entirely sure if it’s an introduction. But if anything, it’s going to be useful, isn’t it, to my coaching.
Alyssa Scolari [46:45]:
Owen Morgan [47:19]:
So I’ll do that, and I’m going to do probably about 10,000 CPD courses in my lifetime. I want to do [inaudible 00:47:25] this year, polyvagal theory. That would just be immense. Any somatic-based stuff. So yeah, I think it’s really important for therapists and coaches, isn’t it, to just keep getting out there and learning these little add-ons. I think it just opens up your world more.
Alyssa Scolari [47:37]:
Owen Morgan [47:38]:
I think people have figured out already I love to learn, so if I can get up every day and learn something and share a space with a human, then I’m done. I’m done.
Alyssa Scolari [47:47]:
Yes. Then you’ve had a great day. That’s a great day in your book. Yep. I love it. Thank you so, so much for coming on. To the listeners out there, as I mentioned before, I am going to pop Owen’s website and his podcast link in the show notes. It is The Awareness Space. Theawarenessspace.com is the website. We’ll also link his Instagram handle. He is doing phenomenal work. Head on over, check out all of the amazing things that he is up to. I am so appreciate of you coming on the show. Thank you so, so much.
Owen Morgan [48:27]:
No, thank you for having me on. It was a joy to have you with me. And we’ve got a panel show coming up. There’s four of us. I’m really excited to do that.
Alyssa Scolari [48:27]:
Owen Morgan [48:36]:
That’s going to be amazing. That’ll be out in a couple weeks. But again, I just want to thank you for just being you, because every person I interview, I pretty much become lifelong friends with, it seems. So I feel like I’m just building up way too many friends that I can’t keep up with. But I just want to thank you for just being part of my life, really. It’s very special. Thank you.
Alyssa Scolari [48:54]:
Yes, yes. And I thank you. I thank you for the same as well. We’ve been scheduling so many things lately, and we’ve been in so much contact lately. And this morning, I was like, “Oh, I have a podcast interview today.” I said that to my husband, and he was like, “With who?” And I was like, “Our friend Owen!” And he’s like, “Oh, tell Owen I said hi.” I’m like, “I will.”
Owen Morgan [49:20]:
Alyssa Scolari [49:23]:
Yeah, no, it really is becoming a beautiful friendship. So, thank you. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.
Owen Morgan [49:30]:
No, thank you for having me on, and thank you everybody that’s listened through. It means a lot to me.
Alyssa Scolari [49:36]:
Thanks for listening, everyone. For more information about today’s episode and to sign up for the Light After Trauma newsletter, head over to my website at alyssascolari.com. The really great thing about being a part of this newsletter is that not only do you get weekly updates on new podcast episodes and blog posts, but you also get access to the private Facebook Com, as well as access to all sorts of insider tips, resources, and infographs that supplement what we talk about on the show. You also can connect with me and other trauma warriors. I’m super active on the Facebook community, and I look forward to talking with you.