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Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author and therapist Julia Hollenbery about her life, her career, what inspires her, and The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m an embodied spirituality teacher, a therapist and mystic, supporting people to envision and embody their potential, so they can feel confidently at home in their self, life and body. My transformative work, with countless clients over 25 years, blends dialogue, touch, energy, alchemy and ritual. My unique gift is to see people in a way that they’ve probably not been seen before, profoundly, with acceptance and love. I bring a deep wisdom for healing and wholeness.
I’m passionate to share that sensual pleasure is the essential nourishment that we all need, to create happy relationships, productive work and vibrant health. My book, ‘The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being’is being internationally published by Findhorn Press. It is warmly endorsed by a range of 15 scientists, therapists and spiritual leaders.
My expertise combines professional qualifications in Grinberg Bodywork, Craniosacral Therapy, Family Constellations and Kashmiri Tantra – with informal training in many spiritual schools – with my innate wisdom, personal journey of healing and experience working with past and present clients.
I’m a facilitator at Skyros, Conscious Café, MindBodySpirit, a SourceTV Evolutionary, and a transformational speaker at many wellbeing events.
I’m a mum, living and working in London. I love dancing wildly and spending time in forests and oceans. I enjoy life in a delicious relationship.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
As a child I knew that I would write a book. I was amazed my brother (whom I did not get on well with then) also knew and surprised me by saying that he would be interviewed on the radio about the book that I would one day write…
When did you take a step to start writing?
I began writing the first part half a lifetime ago, a raw emotional draft, knowing that in the future, when I would be healed and evolved, I would write the second part… Only one early poem, made it into the completed book.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
It’s hard to answer, because I was always thinking around this theme. And there was a moment when I just decided it was time now to write my book. The great outpouring began… It’s three years from that moment to publication!
What made you want to write The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being?
There was no choice. I always had this big sense inside me and was always powering to get there, to be able to achieve this bigness. I kind of knew I had a job to do, to deliver a message – but for a long time, life was hard for me and I found it difficult to speak or to make a mark. I often doubted I’d make it.
I wrote it because as a child, I saw, felt and knew that so much more beauty, loveliness and pleasure was possible than I saw the people around me living. I couldn’t understand it when I heard that people just had to do things that everybody hated doing, and that no one wanted to do. It made no sense…
I wrote for those people who couldn’t see, understand or respect me, who insisted the world was only one way, when I knew that there was so much more than that limited but popular perspective.
I wrote for all those people, who like me, have at times felt unseen, disrespected and misunderstood. I have struggled to feel good enough, worthy enough, safe enough – and I have found my way. I wanted people to know that healing and transformation is possible. They too can make the tremendous journey from fear and sensitivity, into happiness, fulfillment and destiny.
And I’ve written for everyone. People who feel stressed and overworked, parents who feel overwhelmed, lovers who feel victimized, people who feel lonely, those who deny themselves the foods they really want to eat, seekers who are on a non-stop quest to improve, etc., None of us were brought-up to put our own selves and our enjoyment of life first. Most of us learnt that that was not good and selfish.
In the book I talk about deep and receptive pleasure. That enriches us and everyone around us. And can ripple positively outwards uplifting the world…https://sirenstories.co.uk/
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being?
It required dedication to dig-deep and find what wanted to be expressed. It was a time-consuming and passionate mission to articulate and deliver it.
It was obvious to me what needed to be in the book. I must have written everything out at least five times, before the rigorous process of refining. The first six ‘spiritual’ medicines I knew exactly what they were, but the seventh, the medicine of potency, I really had to reach for… finding it has changed me.
Writing was a 5-dimensional process that felt as if life was co-creating it with me, with lots of synchronicity and a kind of total immersion in the process. And at other times I had to pause. I couldn’t keep going. I had to wait weeks, sometimes months, until the energy for writing rose again, and I’d write again.
Towards the end, I felt overwhelmed by the incomplete task. It was a lot of material to hold. I had to be determinedly aimed and ruthlessly focused to finish it.
What was your research process for The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being?
I guess it was my life experiences, my fears and frustrations, all of the books, movies, people and conversations, thoughts, insights and knowings that I’d had. And my decades of working with people also informed what I wrote. During the actual writing I often had to go back to check passages from my favourite books I’d remembered, quotes I loved, articles on the internet, etc
How did you plan the structure of The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being?
I remember working at first with colourful sticky notes, putting out the 7 medicine topics. It was obvious what the topics were. Finding their right order.
And in other ways, structure was hard, because I had to write it all out long-form, in order to find the essence of what I wanted to say, what wanted to be said.
Then, much later, I could see the emergent rhythm of the whole book, the quotes, philosophical discourse, poetry, practical exercises, illustrations, my story, etc.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being need?
I did many rounds of editing, and then at a certain point, I needed to hand it over to a professional editor to complete it for me. That was a good choice.
Later, the publisher’s editor worked on it. She was instructed to keep her editing minimal to preserve my text. Her work was very helpful for ensuring continuity and correcting small details that had been missed up until then.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Do it. Find your unique way, your rhythm and location. It seems to me that writing is a ritual activity. It has a particular gestalt, for me that was in bed writing on my laptop, in the park writing on my laptop, or in a café writing on my laptop. Particular foods and times of the day seem to matter. Writing needs a defined time and space. So choose or create or find yours. There is no one way to write, spontaneously or at a fixed time or place. But it does need to feel good to you. Then you can – and no doubt will – write!
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Oh yes, I’m already thinking of writing about female sexuality and also the spiritual enfolded within life.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes, absolutely proud of myself for writing, for turning my internal felt knowing into a tangible, physical, colourful object that others can read and understand. There was for me, so very much inside, for such a long time. It is worth the effort, to have a sense of destiny fulfilled, soul-task done. To hopefully reach and help a lot of people. For me it has been a process of making the invisible visible, the silent audible, and the mysterious into material.
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‘The Healing Power of Pleasure: Seven Medicines for Rediscovering the Innate Joy of Being’is being internationally published by Findhorn Press Autumn 2021 and is available now wherever books are sold.
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