It’s not everyday you hear about a conventionally Western-trained doctor becoming an energy practitioner. But after leaping from vet science, to medicine, to volunteer aid work in Africa, to studying emergency medicine, Fiona Enkelmann was burned out and needing space to reevaluate her life. Reluctantly taking up an offer by her sister to try energy healing therapy, Fiona discovered a world that would ultimately guide her to a new generation of general practice.
Fiona walked away from her emergency medicine training, transitioned to general practice, committed to studying Ingite Your Spirit therapy, and today works as a holistic doctor. This year she also launched The Healing Forum, a day dedicated to health, wellbeing, and exploring all things body-mind-spirit, and The Healing Series, wellness workshops in cafes across Melbourne, bringing together health and wellbeing professionals, including medical doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths and healers, who are passionate about inspiring and empowering others on their journey.
The courage to confront yourself, open your mind to new ideas and allow your heart to question everything you believe is often too frightening for people to even consider, much less do. But when we find the rare souls that have done, it in turn can make us all a little braver to consider the possibilities.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
I don’t remember getting fixed on any particular occupation. But I constantly daydreamed about having a life full of adventure and had a deep desire to save the world.
What did/do you study?
I had no idea what to study in university. Towards the end of Year 12, I remember sitting on the lounge room floor and randomly opening the university courses book to help me decide. It opened on Vet Science. I thought, yeah, that’d be awesome.
So I studied science after school as a way to gain entry to Vet Science, but different challenges and light bulb moments lead me to transfer into Medicine at Melbourne University instead. Halfway through these studies I took a year off to study life. This involved hitchhiking across Mongolia and Tibet, living in a remote village of Nepal, and trekking the Himalayas. It was packed full of adventure and life-changing experiences.
After completing my medical studies, I did a number of generalist hospital training years in preparation for volunteer work in Africa. After this, I decided to train in Emergency Medicine with the intention of saving the world through international aid work. But this wasn’t to be the case.
Another career change led me to General Practice, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve since studied Meditation and Ignite Your Spirit Therapy, a holistic counseling and energy medicine modality. I am now studying Nutritional and Environmental medicine, and call myself an “Integrative” and “Holistic” doctor as my passion is treating the whole person.
Above all of this, I am a committed spiritual aspirant and Disciple. I take regular trips to India for full immersion into ashram life and spend a lot of my time studying with my Guru’s Sri Shakti Durga and Sri Shakti Amma. They help me to live a heart-centred purpose driven life.
What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
The most scariest and significant leap for me was leaving Emergency Medicine training to become a Holistic General Practitioner.
To me, it seems that the more leaps you do, the easier it gets. So whilst I’ve done big leaps since this one, they’ve been way less scary and more grace-filled as I’ve learnt to trust and nurture myself along the way. You live and you learn!
What were you doing before you made your leap?
At the time, my husband and I were living in Darwin. I had just successfully completed the first part Emergency Medicine exams after 9 months of sacrifice (it’s not an easy feat). The ‘normal’ thing would be to continue on this path, as in a way I had seemingly committed myself to it.
However I wasn’t happy. I loved aspects of my work but I felt anxious. Stressed. Cynical. I was becoming a person who I didn’t want to be.
My sister suggested trying a modality called Ignite Your Spirit therapy. I laughed at her initially, as “I was a Doctor, and I don’t believe in that hippy ya ya stuff”. But as I felt rotten inside, I ended up giving it a try.
And it was life changing… My entire being felt like it could breathe again.
From that moment, I knew I needed to become a General Practitioner, study Ignite Your Spirit therapy and go on a journey of discovering more about what contributes to happiness and great health.
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
My parents. They are dedicated, hard-working and live with integrity. They’ve shown me that work is life. So it’s best to find something that you are passionate about.
My siblings. They are my personal cheer squad, always supportive and encouraging.
My husband. He keeps me grounded and on the middle path. He helps to remind me what is most important in my life.
My Guru. I am blessed to have a spiritual teacher who is an embodiment of love beyond the world. She guides me with such purity, joy and encouragement holding the biggest vision for me. It’s a sacred relationship that I cherish.
My patients. It’s because of them that I continue to ask questions, never assuming that one treatment or approach suits everyone. They help me to embody humility and continue to teach me about the strength of the human spirit.
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
Once I made the decision to let go of becoming an Emergency Doctor, it was an easy enough transition to General Practice training in Melbourne. Committing to Ignite Your Spirit therapy training was a bigger deal, and my lack of confidence was mirrored to me by a few of my colleagues who thought I was a bit mad. Over the years, I’ve sought out other holistic doctors and like-minded practitioners so that I didn’t feel crazy or alone on my journey.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?
There were months of increasing anxiety and symptoms of burn out. An uneasy feeling in the bottom of my stomach. The tremor in my hand. The dread of turning up to work. The sleepless nights. The critical voice inside my head going over and over my efforts.
Like most, I ignored these warning signs. That was until the universe orchestrated the perfect scenario for me to stop and take note. I was working as a resident in Intensive Care Unit and we had just finished our ward round. One of my patients had been improving and was almost ready for discharge to the ward. Everything looked good – all of his vital signs, his blood work, even he was saying he felt good – however I had a sense that something wasn’t quite right, and kept close to him. Unfortunately my gut feeling was right and he “crashed” before my eyes. In the panic of alerting my seniors and starting CPR, I completely decompensated. I wasn’t able to help, I couldn’t control my hand shaking, I couldn’t think clearly. I felt utterly out of control.
It was an experience that created immense shame. It made me question how I valued myself. If I wasn’t a competent doctor, a “perfect” doctor, than who was I?
Despite feeling like my world was collapsing around me, I’m proud to say I had the courage to keep turning up to work. But it was enough for me to take notice and realise that my heart was speaking differently to my mind.
How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
Sometimes there are leaps where I have few significant doubts and it takes only a pinch of courage to pull it off. I do what it takes to get out of my head and into my heart, as this is best driver of my life. Meditation, dancing, singing, chanting, having fun and walking in nature are all perfect remedies to help do this.
Yet, sometimes I’ve made leaps and not known where I’m heading. It can be freakin’ scary. I think the most helpful advice I’ve been given is that when you feel indecisive and don’t know what to do, focus on lifting your “vibration”. Do what it takes to lift your mood and feel good about yourself. It’s about building trust in yourself and the universe again. This is a great excuse for massages, walks in nature, holidays at the beach and spending time with people who make your heart sing. For me, I love reading inspiration books or having an IYS therapy session to gain clarity and feel inspired once again.
In my experience, it’s best to make a decision when you are in a better headspace. Compare this to a decision made when feeling stressed to the eyeballs and you have a completely different journey in front of you and outcome.
As Einstein said “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”
How did you fund your leap?
I’ve continued to work and study simultaneously.
What other leaps have you made in the past?
Starting The Healing Forum earlier this year has been a big leap for me. It’s been tricky as it’s a holistic health and healing “unconference”, which is a format that not everyone is familiar with. Right now I’ve just launched The Healing Series, which is about awesome workshops (anything about body mind or spirit) that are affordable, fun and friendly (20-30 people only) run in cafes across Melbourne.
Juggling this with family life, and my clinical work, has been a big classroom of maintaining balance and not losing sight of what’s important to me.
What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?
There have been heaps of big ideas that haven’t gone to plan. When this happens, I either dance around the hurdles or try to find the path where the energy seems to be flowing the most.
Recently I had to cancel The Healing Forum in NSW as ticket sales were slow, which was not according to my plan at all! My self-esteem took a hit but I also recognised many layers of teachings in the experience. Previously I would have taken this “failure” personally but try my hardest to have a more surrendered approach these days. Perhaps things not going to plan are actually a blessing?
What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?
My biggest fear has been not having enough in a material sense. For many years, I’ve been chasing security and looked in all the wrong places. I focused on property investing and had goals like “$300,000 passive income per year”. Which isn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t filling my cup with joy.
I was part of a property investing group and there was a lot of discussion around making sacrifices to meet your goals of financial independence. What I came to realise is that once my colleagues got there, the goals changed and the sacrifice continued. What many of them were chasing was security, not money.
That’s when I decided to work on my personal security, on a day-to-day basis, and my life has changed for the best.
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
You feel alive. Empowered. Free. Connected. Courageous.
There is nothing more exhilarating than doing what you love. As you give to a project that you feel is worthy, the flow back to you is like a nourishing illuminating hug.
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?
It takes energy and tonnes of self-love.
Do what you need to do to fill up. Resting, having fun, spending time with loved ones and not “doing” can be just as productive as pushing through, sacrificing and meeting deadlines.
It’s a real balance between yin and yang (being and doing). And I try to remember that the journey is MORE important than the outcome.
What might be your next leap?
I have a 101 ideas but nothing is clear in my heart. I’m thinking about extending my family so the leap may be putting my career and The Healing Forum on hold for a bit…
What are your favourite words to live by?
“Be yourself. There is no one better qualified.” — Shakti Durga.
Who do you admire who also made the leap?
I’m lucky as everywhere I turn friends and family are making the leap. It reminds me that we are in this together.
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
You’ve got this. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you take that first step.
Right now I’m:
Hearing: “Bliss” by Edo and Jo
Eating: Chocolate that my patient gave me (its sugar, dairy and gluten free – so definitely good for me!)
Drinking: Love Chai’s Ginger and Lemongrass tea
Reading: “Connect with the Divine” by Sri Shakti Amma
Loving: Life and yes, sauerkraut. It’s delicious.
The past few weeks I’ve known I need to reboot parts of my life, and this week I’m committing to shifting energy in my home, work and body. Here’s to moving my desk, organising some of my ‘stuff’, getting to yoga two more times and getting a project over the line. I can feel my cells filling with air just at the thought of it. What about you? What energy could you shift this week?
Much love, Kylie x
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