‘Make yourself number one’, says H Resort Seychelles spa director and life coach Steve Harvey
Holistic healer and life coach Steve Harvey, who is the director of the H Resort Seychelles' SeselSpa talks to SNA about investigating the link between physical pain and emotional stress. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The atmosphere of the SeselSpa at the recently-opened H Resort Seychelles, located on the popular tourist beach of Beau Vallon in the north of the main island of Mahé, is everything you would expect from a spa in a luxury resort.
Fountains tinkle playfully into crystal-clear pools, the scents of essential oils waft along on the calm breeze, and uniformed massage therapists glide along the pathways carrying towels.
But one thing that differentiates this establishment from the many hotel spas in the country is its director.
Holistic healer and life coach Steve Harvey believes in many things that modern medicine doesn’t begin to touch on; for instance that all physical pain is a manifestation of emotional pain and stress.
“That which exists on the mental/emotional level will always manifest on the physical, and until you deal with the mental and emotional issues the physical issues will remain,” he told SNA in an interview conducted in one of the spa’s cool, pleasantly-scented treatment rooms.
Indeed, Steve has impressive credentials; he has treated many people in his long and successful career, including celebrities such as Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Donna Karan, Jennifer Lopez and Hugh Jackman. He has studied Ayurveda with Deepak Chopra in Los Angeles, and he has travelled the world offering his services in the top resorts and spas.
In addition to the Ayurvedic medicines and treatments, which is one of the world's oldest holistic healing schools of thought, developed thousands of years ago in India, Harvey has drawn from other methodologies to enhance the treatment he gives to his clients, including applied kinesiology, Chinese energy meridians, the Emotional Freedom Techniques by Gary Craig and the Demartini Method developed by Dr. John F. Demartini.
|Harvey believes that each person tells themselves a story about something that is in disagreement with reality, which causes emotional distress and turmoil. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Harvey, originally from Glasgow, Scotland, was a dental technician for 17 years, but after immigrating to Canada and going through a divorce, he found himself thinking about finding a different career. Eventually, his second wife, Pat, pushed him to study massage therapy.
“My first response to that suggestion was, ‘boys from Glasgow don’t do that!’” laughed Harvey.
Eventually he capitulated and took a course, and found that he had a gift for connecting with the people he worked with. For years, he worked as a sports massage therapist, working with the Canadian national badminton team, until he met a South African doctor and healer called Bruce Hoffman.
“Bruce really turned me on to mind-body medicine, and he kept talking to me about different things which I found to be a whole new world,” said Harvey.
After going to study at the Chopra Centre in Los Angeles, Harvey said he began to see everything from a whole mind/body perspective and started to investigate why people didn’t always live up to other people’s expectations.
“You’ll hear parents say things like why can’t my middle child be like my eldest? And then I realised that they are a different mind-body type, and based on their mind-body type they are going to do things differently and form their own likes and dislikes based on that,” he said. “It’s like looking at a Volkswagen and saying why can’t you be a Ferrari?”
Harvey believes it’s his down-to-earth Glaswegian temperament and humour that allows him to connect well with his clients.
|Harvey (rear) and some of his team members, including his wife Pat (centre) who doubles as a yoga teacher at the resort's gym. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
‘Tapping’ into the body’s energy
When Harvey first started to study the concept that the body has invisible energy which is fundamental to the way in which it functions, he said he discovered the reason why often people seem unable to do the things that they know they should do in order to achieve their goals, such as eat healthily or do exercise.
“It doesn’t matter how much you want to try, it’s not happening. A simple analogy that I use is when you come home and you switch your light on in the bedroom and nothing happens,” he explained.
“So then you think OK, the bulb’s burnt out, so you change the light bulb, and then you hit the light switch and nothing happens, and if you’re Scottish like me you’ll say ‘I just wasted a good bulb’,” he grinned.
“So then you think the lightbulb’s not the problem, the breaker must be off, and you go to the cupboard and sure enough the breaker is off. So you flip the breaker back on, you come back out and hit the light, the light comes on, goes back off and the breaker trips again. Only then do you look and see oh, there’s too many appliances plugged into the one outlet.”
According to Harvey, the appliances in his analogy represent the stresses of life: physical, mental, emotional, chemical or nutritional stresses, and that bringing too many of these stresses into the body’s energy field would cause a disruption.
Harvey uses his own approach called ‘Stepping Stone Sessions’ which combines the use of ‘tapping’, otherwise known as EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, while counselling the client to question their own minds.
|The spa uses locally-inspired products and treatments developed by Jenny Gilbert, holistic healer and homeopath who is based at The Station in Sans Souci. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Investigating ‘the story’ to break the cycle
For clients experiencing marriage problems, struggling with self-esteem problems and other addictions such as smoking or overeating, Harvey believes each person tells themselves a story that is in disagreement with reality, which causes emotional distress and turmoil.
"If we have body image issues… again, people think that being overweight is a physical issue, it’s not. It’s an inside job. Because until you come along with a story that says I’m too fat, there is no problem. It’s only when you believe the story,” he explained.
“It doesn’t mean to say that [the weight] has got to be there forever. You could change it. But if you’re beating yourself up thinking ‘I should be this, I should be that’, how does it help you? It doesn’t.”
“Who would you be without the version where you sit looking at yourself in the mirror telling yourself that your body should be different?” asks Harvey.
According to the spa director, people with body image issues are looking for approval and acceptance from outside instead of looking for the love and acceptance which has to come from within, and until that shift comes from within, it will keep coming back.
Often, people who are unhappy about their weight will go on crash diets that will help them to lose weight, but these successes are rarely sustainable in the long term, leading the sufferer to pile the weight back on.
“It’s all about looking at the story that keeps these issues going. And afterwards we can break that cycle,” he explained.
“You’ll see people moving from one relationship to the next, and people say why does she keep attracting these losers into her life? Because the story is ‘I don’t deserve better’, and you’ll keep attracting these people so you’ll say ‘see? I was right! My story is right, I don’t deserve better, there’s my proof’.”
|Making yourself number one once in a while and investing in your health and well-being is a must, according to SeselSpa director Steve Harvey. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
A Seychelles-inspired spa with a loving touch
Harvey speaks of helping people who were ready to end their relationships, or someone who had given up on being able to move their arm again or another person who has had a fear of flying, rendering them unable to travel.
“You can’t put a price on the satisfaction you get from helping people like that,” he told SNA, adding that not all clients who visit the spa are looking for his holistic therapies.
“Some people just want to come into the spa and have a spa treatment, which is fine,” he said. “I think we must meet people where they’re at, and a lot of people have never been exposed to this way of thinking… people may come in and just have a facial, or they may have a massage, and it’s not to say that it’s anything less, it’s not. It’s amazing to experience the power of touch, because we typically live in a touchless society.”
Tasked with the mission of coming to the Seychelles to find a concept for the H Resort’s spa, Harvey told SNA that he wanted to develop a unique approach that would be unique and authentic to Seychelles.
“I didn’t want a Thai spa or a Balinese spa,” he said. “You don’t go to Thailand to get a Balinese treatment, and you don’t go to Bali to get a Thai treatment, so why would you come to Seychelles to get those two treatments? I really wanted the focal point to be locally-inspired as much as possible.”
Harvey worked with Jenny Gilbert, a South African-born holistic healer and homeopath who has been based in the Seychelles since the late 1990s, to create a signature fragrance for the resort and spa, which includes notes of clary sage, star aniseed, frankincense, ylang-ylang, eucalyptus and ginger.
The fragrance is present throughout the spa, from the rooms down to the refreshing face wipes presented to guests at the spa, and eventually it will be incorporated into all the hotel’s amenities as well.
Harvey also brought in Gilbert’s Nourished By Nature – Abundantly Seychelles product line for their spa treatments, which uses mostly locally-grown ingredients.
Not just about pampering
For Harvey, it was important to make this spa a place of healing and education, not just a place where you could be pampered for an hour, but rather a place where you could open yourself up to making big changes that would be beneficial to your entire sense of well-being and happiness.
Certainly, this place is not akin to a big spa, which Harvey likens to factories with spa ‘technicians’ that process people in and out of their doors.
“We look not only at the physical but we also investigate the emotional components and also we look at the diet and whether the person is eating a lot of toxic foods,” he said. “These are the things we need to consider, as educators, so that people don’t just come in and get a massage and away they go again.”
Steve’s wife, Pat, is the spa’s resident yoga teacher, and she gives regular yoga classes both to clients of the resort and Seychellois residents alike, and Harvey is investigating the possibility of giving regular wellness talks to the Seychelles population, which has in recent times been hard-hit by obesity, diabetes and cancer.
Harvey stressed the importance of local people in Seychelles being able to put themselves first and look after their health, and thinks that everybody, particularly mothers, should start worrying more about their health and well-being.
“The problem you see especially with mothers is that they put everybody ahead of them and they say ‘I’ll take what’s left over’ and then they wonder why they get treated badly, it’s because you’ve not been making yourself number one. If you don’t make yourself number one then don’t be surprised if society doesn’t make you number one,” Harvey told SNA.
The spa offers facials, massages, body scrubs, wraps, manicures, pedicures and waxing, and offers half- or full-day programmes for clients to come in to enjoy a relaxing spa experience with a healthful lunch and organic juices.
He also offers one last parting shot of sage advice for all those who argue they don’t have the time or the money to visit a spa.
“Every human being lives their own life according to their own hierarchy of values,” he said. “Whatever you rank as most important you’ll always find the time and energy and the money to do it, but if it’s not important to you, you won’t, and it’s got nothing to do with the price.”