Welcome to The Sacred Nest website and to this page which outlines a little bit about me, as best as I can summarise in a few paragraphs.
As a mother and carer of children with additional needs, I have gained valuable insight into what is truly important in life, and a lived experience in the aspects that compromise our health, happiness and overall wellbeing. This insight and experience, coupled with my diverse qualifications, inspired me to start The Sacred Nest business in order to educate and support others in the areas that have helped me to balance my challenges as an individual, a parent and a carer. This balance is helping me to live a more fulfilling life, with better health and wellbeing – which I am passionate about helping others to achieve for themselves.
The sections below will provide an overview of my academic and personal qualifications, as well as what has motivated me to create The Sacred Nest business and services.
Cynthia Bartolo, Founder
For those who are academically minded, I hold an Applied Science degree in Food Science & Technology from RMIT University (1995), with over 15 years of experience as a Quality Assurance Specialist in the food industry. I worked for both small family-run businesses and large multi-national companies. My experience in the food industry provided valuable experience on modern food manufacture including food processing environments, food hygiene and safety, food additive ingredients, food labelling and allergen control.
In 2013 I left the food industry to follow a new direction in gut health research after my daughter was experiencing health issues related to food intolerances as well as significant learning difficulties. I attended many research conferences and seminars, and after meeting notable gut health researchers I was welcomed into the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) as a volunteer research assistant for ‘The Healthy Bowels Team.’ This team was led by Dr. Bridget Southwell, who was conducting a double-blind, randomised controlled trial (RCT) on a treatment for chronic constipation in children. During the 18 months in this role, I gained valuable insight into the research process, as well as learning more about the gut microbiome and its impact on the health of the gut and the entire body. Most fascinating was the research demonstrating how the state of the gut impacts mood, behaviour memory and learning via the Gut-Brain Axis. To further understand the science behind these more recent discoveries, I undertook a unit in Neurophysiology at University of Melbourne in 2015.
In an effort to implement changes in my own gut health and for my children, I read several authors works on diet intervention and in 2017 after personal experience and successes I undertook training in the work of Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride in order to attain certification as a GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Practitioner. I have more recently also completed a post graduate qualification in nutrition to compliment my other studies, gaining the Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition from Deakin University in 2020.
Being a scientist with an analytical mind, and a mother and carer of children with additional needs, allowing time for myself to rest physically and mentally was not easy. I had tried various forms of meditation in the past but did not find anything that resonated with me or allowed me to relax my mind fully. After reading and studying how the nervous & sensory systems work to understand my children better, I realised how important it was to allow the mind and body to rest. When the brain is overstimulated by excess sensory input that it is unable to integrate, this leads to an imbalance in the nervous system. Sensory input can come from either the mind, body or external environment. The resulting imbalance creates feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and tension.
Unfortunately, overstimulation is commonplace in the modern environment. Over a long period of time, this excess energy and stress may manifest as illness, pain or injury. In my case, long-term stress caused me to experience these emotions and also manifested as chronic back pain. It was only through learning to experience ‘stillness’ in different forms that I was able to overcome these symptoms. By allowing myself time each day to be still long enough for my body to calm down and come back into balance, I was able to regain a sense of calm and control.
After experiencing a Therapeutic Touch (TT) treatment with Jane Hall, who was to become my teacher and mentor, I enrolled in Foundation (Level 1) TT course in 2015, followed by Transpersonal (Level 2) TT in 2017. In 2018 I embarked upon an 18-month Mentorship Program with Jane and gained my certification as a qualified TT Practitioner in 2019. TT has helped me to learn how to become more ‘grounded’ and in tune with my body and intuition. I am still amazed at how being in this state helps me to not only calm and balance myself and my own energy, but also to affect the mood and energy of the people around me, particularly my children. My journey with TT has led to a wealth of personal discovery and healing, which I now use to guide me in my practice.
In 2018 I also embarked on a 2.5 year teacher training course through the Stillness Meditation Therapy (SMT) Training Centre in Kew. This training was run by Pauline McKinnon, founder of the Meditation Association of Australia. SMT was developed by psychiatrist Dr. Ainslie Meares in the 1950s, and has been continued on by Pauline who was a former client of Dr. Meares and continues his passion. The core of SMT is to simply ‘let go’, there is no trying or striving. It is a simple yet profound technique which promotes mental and physical rest, in turn allowing the brain and body time to come back into balance. With regular practice I was able to gain more mental clarity and resilience to deal with the challenges in my day.
I have no doubt that my ability to remain resilient and positive in my role as a carer is attributed to my experiences with Therapeutic Touch and Stillness Meditation Therapy. I am passionate about sharing this experience to help others lead more healthy and enriching lives for the benefit of themselves, their families and their community. And through educating others on the importance of nature in restoring our balance, hopefully this will lead to a benefit for the natural environment as well.
- Bachelor of Applied Science (Food Science & Technology), RMIT University, 1991 – 1994
- Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition, Deakin University, 2019 – 2020
- Certified Gut & Psychology Syndrome(GAPS) Practitioner, Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, 2017 & 2018
- Quality Assurance Specialist, various Food Industries, 1995 – 2013
- ‘Healthy Bowels Study’, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), 2013 – 2015
- Neurophysiology (single unit), University of Melbourne, 2015
- Stillness Meditation Therapy (SMT) Teacher Training, Pauline McKinnon, 2018 – 2020
- Therapeutic Touch Foundations & Intermediate Training, Therapeutic Touch Association of Australasia, 2015 – 2017
- Therapeutic Touch Mentorship, QTTPA, Therapeutic Touch Association of Australasia, 2018 – 2019
- Radiation Assessment and Shielding, Geovital Academy, 2016