Building a haven for mind, body and spirit in the heart of Clare
Eileen Clair turned her passion for life healing into a thriving business that makes a difference.
'Every thought we think is creating our future," so says Louise Hay, one of the founders and leaders of the self-help movement. Her book, You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984, was one of the first to advance the notion of the connection between the mind and body - and has since sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.
Her work focuses on the use of positive statements or affirmations as a way of changing our thinking and attracting into our lives better health, more happiness, improved relationships, greater prosperity and improved self-esteem. To date, several thousands of workshop leaders and coaches around the world have been trained in her work and her profound teachings.
One Irish woman who knows more than most about the work of Louise Hay is Eileen Clair. She is one of only 14 people in the world who is qualified to undertake teacher training on her behalf.
Based near Kilrush, Co Clare, Eileen runs her own Holistic Healing Centre. Here, she and her team of highly skilled and experienced therapists provide treatments that cater for the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare of an ever-increasing number of clients.
The demands of our modern lifestyle together with the challenges of recent years has made her work more relevant than ever before.
"Our target market is men, women and children of all ages," explains Eileen. "Our work can be divided into two main areas.
"Firstly, we offer a range of treatments for those clients who are suffering ill health or who wish to improve their general health or overall lifestyle.
"And secondly, we provide instruction and training to those who are already working in the area of complementary medicine and who wish to qualify in additional therapies or to get involved in the area of self-empowerment," she adds.
Outside, the single story building blends inconspicuously into the surrounding countryside like a regular home, while inside the spacious layout and beautifully decorated rooms create a warm and tranquil atmosphere. As we start our tour of the centre, Marie, the receptionist, greets me warmly and as she runs through the list of healing and relaxation therapies on offer, I can immediately feel my body begin to soften and unwind.
There is deep tissue, hot stone and sports massage as well as ear candling, reflexology and reiki. Bio-resonance testing is also a key service offered by the centre and works on the magnetic energy field around a person's body that helps identify the optimum way to restore their health. Eileen and her staff then combine the results of these tests with a mixture of complex homeopathy, allergy and food intolerance testing, and nutritional supplements.
"When clients visit us, we assess any imbalances they may have and then prescribe natural remedies and supplements to correct these, helping to restore harmony to the person's system," explains Eileen.
"Whether a person is dealing with an old injury, hormonal imbalance, low energy or stress, we see our role as supporting them on their journey back to full health, regardless of what age they may be," she adds.
There are also lots of inspirational books, posters and CDs on display throughout the centre - and the subtle combination of the fragrance of essential oils together with the soft healing music that is playing in the background all help make this place a real haven of peace and serenity. While it has a spa-like aroma and feel to it, the centre is more soothing and soulful.
Over Eileen's shoulder, I spot a poster on the wall, with a well-known Chinese quotation: 'Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.' It's a powerful reminder of the constant striving we all do and just how fast the pace of life has become.
It also serves as a reminder that we all need to take greater care of ourselves and our bodies. In many ways it is the essence of what this centre is all about.
Not everything in the centre is based on physical therapies. There is also meditation, Heal Your Life workshops, coaching and advice on nutrition and holistic dietetics, all geared to help clients achieve a more positive lifestyle.
"Our two-day, non-residential workshops are based on the Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life philosophy, where clients have the opportunity to get in touch with their emotions in a safe and guided environment," explains Eileen.
"Most of us need help to both recognise and deal with negative thought patterns that may be affecting our lives and to replace these with more positive thoughts. Once these blocks and difficult past experiences have been identified and let go, real growth and healing can then take place and our lives and health improve as a result," she adds.
To explain the impact of her work, she recalls feedback she received from a participant of a recent workshop.
"I had done a lot of work on myself up to that point," the woman told her. "That work had taught me how to live with my past experiences. This workshop however, taught me to let go of these past experiences altogether," she told Eileen.
Eileen Clair grew up on a small farm on the Sheep's Head Peninsula near Bantry in West Cork. Her mother died when she was only five, an experience which had a huge impact on the young Eileen.
After school she joined the ESB in Cork and at night studied marketing which secured her a role in the organisation's marketing department where she remained for the next 12 years.
Throughout her life she had always been interested in the area of healing and in 1987, began her first trainings in holistic medicine, yoga and nutrition. When her father was later diagnosed with cancer, her interest in the subject grew even deeper.
"When he finally passed away on my wedding day, I took it as a very strong message to look at how best to live the life I have been given," insists Eileen.
In 1990, she and her husband, Michael, moved to west Clare where they bought a small farm. Two years later, she converted one of the outhouses into a small treatment room and began offering reflexology and nutritional advice to locals.
"When I opened the centre 20 years ago what I was doing was considered alternative. Today, it is largely accepted as mainstream," explains Eileen.
In the beginning, however, not everyone was convinced.
"The builder who renovated the place even changed the original plans so that when it was not successful I could change the premises back to a house to rent," she recalls with a laugh.
It took time for the business to grow - but gradually, clients began arriving. As they left looking and feeling better, word about the centre soon spread. Combining the running of the business with being a mother of four small children, however, was no easy task. Instead of seeing that challenge as a negative, Eileen believes that it greatly enhanced her ability to relate to people in similar stressful circumstances.
Having two children with dyslexia and seeing how difficult it was for them to navigate their way through the educational system, helped strengthen her resolve to develop her children's self-esteem rather than focus solely on their academic advancement. She tells me that the Heal Your Life Empowerment for Teens programme was recently launched worldwide, and she is personally committed to helping bring this training to Ireland.
"It would be great if we could get this programme introduced into Irish schools, especially into Transition Year classes. It would have such a positive impact on our young people," she insists.
For the past seven years, Eileen has also been providing seven-day residential Heal Your Life teacher and coach training courses for those wishing to pursue a career in the sector. Today, her courses attract participants from all over the world, including Europe, Canada and America. The number of those attending has also doubled over the last two years, an indication of the increased level of interest in this area of work globally.
"In our last coach training, 70pc of those on the programme had paying clients within one month of completing the training," she explains. "A lot of people in this space, start out working on a part- time basis initially and build from there," she adds.
She feels that her own career experience in marketing proved a major benefit to the success of her business.
"A lot of people who decide to get involved in this line of work have little understanding of what it takes to run their practice as a business," explains Eileen.
For that reason, marketing is now an integral part of the training to help people develop the skills to both market and promote their businesses effectively.
As she looks to the future, her son Robert is currently studying health and fitness in Tralee and she is hoping that he will soon join her full-time in the business.
Eileen Clair has a genuine and authentic passion for helping others. She has a real gift for helping people realise what they want in life and how to recognise and then remove any blocks that might be holding them back from achieving their full potential.
Her commitment to the area of health and healing was further strengthened by the loss of her own father. How rewarding it is now for her to be able to run a business that is not only successful but also takes care of the health and well-being of others. Eileen Clair not only makes a living from what she does; she makes a difference. She helps change the lives of hundreds of people every year and through those she teaches, many thousands more.
Eileen's advice for other businesses
Be clear about your 'why?' and 'how?'
"It is very important to be clear with yourself as to why you are going into business. What is it that you want to achieve and how willing are you to put in the effort to be successful?"
Set boundaries between business and personal life
"Your business life and your personal life can often be in conflict. It's important for your work and for your long-term health that you set boundaries and achieve a work/life balance."
It's your business - so trust your own instincts
"Do not listen to others who say it cannot be done, or that something can only be done in a certain way. While it's wise to seek good advice, always be willing to trust your gut and your own instincts."s
Sunday Indo Business