The Sacred Nest was dreamed and created by me, Cynthia Bartolo, and opened in May 2017. To understand the different layers of the unique place that I have created, it is necessary to first understand the different layers of me and my journey…

The Scientist…

I originally trained as a Food Technologist, graduating in 1995 with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Food Science and Technology) from RMIT University. After 15 years working as a Quality Specialist in the Food Industry for both small and large multi-national companies, I left the industry to delve into research after my daughter was experiencing learning difficulties at school. I decided to try diet intervention and chose a simple natural diet, removing processed foods and sugars. I was astounded when I saw how significant the improvement was in her mood, interaction and behaviour.

I wanted to find out more about how what we put into our body from the environment (i.e. food) affects the body and brain, so in the years that followed I attended numerous conferences relating to childhood development and gut health. I made many connections within the research community, and spent 18 months working as a volunteer at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute(MCRI) working on a clinical trial treating children and adolescents with chronic constipation. This led me onto further studies in the field of Neuroscience, with a special interest in the areas of brain plasticity and the Enteric Nervous System (Gut-Brain Axis).

In 2017 I was accepted into training and became a Certified GAPS Practitioner. GAPS or Gut and Psychology Syndrome, is the work of Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, who is a Neurologist and Nutritionist. She was one of the first people to look at the link between the gut microbiome (or gut bacteria) and the development, learning and behaviour of children with difficulties such as Autism and ADHD. With this new knowledge and my years of experience in the food industry, I am passionate about guiding individuals and families to make more positive choices with their diet.

During most of this time up until 2014 I was suffering from chronic lower back pain which was limiting my mobility and interaction with my kids, and I was exploring surgical options. It was then that I was introduced to NeuroPhysics – a unique form of therapy that combines movement and exercise with neuroscience and meditation principles. As a first-hand example of brain plasticity at work, I was able to become pain-free and mobile again within a few weeks, which improved my overall health and wellbeing. I am currently completing my studies in this field to become a NeuroPhysics practitioner myself, as well as another form of therapy which also uses advances in neuroscience to improve posture, mood, learning, strength and overall health via the plasticity of the brain.

During this journey I lost 25kg and have regained mobility, strength and posture – and best of all improved my mental and emotional health. I am passionate about guiding others to do the same, not just for themselves but for their families, environment and community.

The Mother…

After spending the first 9 years of my daughter’s life running from one therapy to another, and investigating different forms of treatment and diet regimes, I found myself burnt out and not enjoying life. Worst of all, I was not enjoying my two children. The fleeting moments where I felt that I was truly alive and connected to them and the world around me was when I found myself showing them the natural beauty of a leaf, a flower, a butterfly. When I would allow myself to see the world like a child again – in awe of the beauty of nature. I slowly began to realise that it was when I slowed down that I truly began to connect with myself and my children. It was around that time that my daughter started asking to take ballet lessons… which soon replaced all of her other therapies. I began to see that my daughters love of music and dance was a strength that I could build on, rather than focusing only on her challenges. This is the philosophy that Sacred Nest has evolved into, rather than just a place of rehabilitation and treatment.

I have also learned from experience that focusing on healing my children ahead of myself was the biggest hurdle to all of our healing. The Sacred Nest is as much a place for parents as it is for their children, as it is in each child’s own family nest that the most impact is made. If we, the caregivers, are burnt out and disconnected, what more can we expect from our children? In 2015 my marriage ended – but I was fortunate enough to be in a state of wellness where I was able to maintain enough emotional and mental strength to ensure that the separation was as amicable, calm and stable as possible for my children. My children have two nests now rather than just one.

The Naturalist…

It is through my own journey of self-discovery, acceptance and healing that I have ‘remembered’ my connection to the natural world. I am passionate about finding tangible examples of this connection in nature, and I have collected several visual examples from the environment that I display in the nest to help children and adults understand this universal connection.

I believe that optimal health is achieved when the physical body is in balance with the natural environment. Our senses are constantly receiving information from the environment, which directly impacts us and how we function in the world. Our environment includes so much more than the air we breathe… it includes the foods we consume, the flavours we taste, the sights we see, the sounds we hear, the odours we smell and the sensations we feel. If our environment is out of balance with what the human species has evolved to tolerate, we too become out of balance. Some of us sense this imbalance more than others, which I have come to believe can be a blessing rather than a burden.

As Albert Einstein proved many years ago, everything we see around us, as well as everything that we cannot see with the human eye, is made up of vibrating particles or atoms, which contain energy. I believe that some of us, and increasingly more of our children, are more able to sense these vibrating particles than others. This is something that I continue to ponder as I meet more and more children like my own, who are labelled as ‘sensitive’, and what their sensitivities could be telling us about the modern environment that we have created. And most importantly, how can we better understand this sensitivity and harness it to create positive changes for our children and the world around us.