My journey to becoming a therapist and founding White Oak Natural Health began when I started practicing yoga at university in Oxford. I had experienced a number of sports injuries and unexplained health problems as a teenager, and had found little help from mainstream medicine. Yoga gave me a tool to change the functioning of my body, to improve my breathing and my sleep, and began to reveal to me the subtleties of the intersection of consciousness and physicality. In time, I began to explore other forms of physical practice, including Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Pilates and breathwork.
These practices sustained my need for physical engagement while I continued to explore the life of the mind, going on to pursue postgraduate research in Cultural Studies with the London Consortium. Central to my research was an interest in the ways in which the intellect is founded on the physical and emotional aspects of the self, and how the Western scientific paradigm differs from the sciences of other civilisations. It was also during this time that I began training seriously in Gao-style Ba Gua Zhang with the Zheng Wu Men class in North London.
After receiving my Doctorate, I taught freelance in various universities in London, but found myself dissatisfied with academic life and increasingly drawn to a therapeutic vocation. I had always thought I might pursue this path in addition to my academic research, but now I found that I had to make a choice between the two!
I travelled to Northern Thailand during a break from teaching in the autumn of 2007, and trained intensively in Ancient Sen Healing Massage with Master Ajarn Poo of Chiang Mai. This was a time of dramatic personal healing and insight for me, and I realised on returning to London that my time as an academic was coming to an end.
It was around this same time that I began training in Hichibuku Therapy, the traditional medical practice of Bujinkan Ninjutsu, with Shohan Peter King of the British School of Traditional Japanese Medicine. My training continued with Peter over the next 5 years, and in 2009 I also began studying for a BSc at the London College of Traditional Acupuncture, completing my studies at the reknowned International College of Oriental Medicine in Sussex.
Since then, I have been fortunate enough to continue my training with Joan Duveen of Study Centre Pa Kua in The Netherlands and Andrew Nugent-Head of The Association for Traditional Studies, and to begin training in Classical Shang Han Lun Herbal Medicine with Arnaud Versluys of ICEAM. I am also a Level 1 certified practitioner of Fascial Stretch Therapy, and I continue to explore movement, meditation, martial arts and Daoist practices.
Over this time, my approach to therapy has undergone a subtle shift – increasingly, I think of the practice of these therapies as more of a conversation with the client than an intervention from above. I believe deep healing can only come from the client themself, and this takes place only when the therapist approaches them as an integral being, whose boundaries and sense of self are to be treated with the utmost respect. When this is the case, the bodymind begins to relax and release old traumas, and the healing process can take place at a more profound level.
I am particularly keen to provide a holistic suite of approaches which addresses a client’s needs from the various levels of the physical being and also includes the emotional and intellectual self. I am a proponent of self-actualised health, and will often offer tuition in Qi Gong, breathwork or stretching alongside the therapy, or will guide a client in understanding and planning for their lifestyle and nutritional needs.
I’m excited to be able to share the knowledge and skills I’ve accrued over the last decade with my clients, and I consider the opportunity to help people achieve their optimum health to be a great privilege. I look forward to hearing from you, and helping you to begin your healing journey.
Stephen G. WheelerÂ BSc (Hons) Oriental Medicine,
MA MRes PhD, Lic.Ac., MBAcC