Sarah Salcedo-Rubin, 36, is the epitome of calmness and peace. She speaks in a soft, soothing voice, and seems totally at ease in her body. As a Reiki Master and yoga teacher, she guides her students toward spiritual, physical, and emotional healing. But she didn’t always have the healthy, centered life she has today, and her own path to healing wasn’t easy.
Several years ago, she was overweight and extremely stressed. “I worked in the sales department of a pharmaceutical company for seven years,” she shares. “I was not happy with my job. I was also a single mom; my son was three years old then.”
The stress took a toll on Sarah’s health. “I was getting a skin infection over and over again,” she recalls. “Ironically, I was drinking medicines but they weren’t helping me. My illness kept coming back. So I thought, maybe there was something I wasn’t addressing.”
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Sarah turned to the Internet for answers. “I Googled emotional and spiritual healing. Tapos, lumabas yung Reiki,” she says. “It is a Japanese kind of self-healing meditation where you get quiet and focus on your breath. In Japanese, ‘Rei’ means God, while ‘ki’ means energy. Reiki, put together, means God’s energy or divine energy. It is the highest kind of energy that can flow through us. So when we’re tired or stressed, it means our energy is low. Reiki helps us replenish that energy through our breaths.”
Luckily, Sarah found a healer in Manila, and after several sessions, she discovered the reason she was getting sick. “I was really angry but I wasn’t releasing it, so it was coming out of my skin,” she says. “I was angry about my job because I didn’t like it, but I didn’t have the courage to quit. I was also angry that I was a single mom, but I chose not to get married because I’ve seen so many broken marriages—you know, yung kinasal lang sila kasi kailangan.”
Sarah’s son, Jacob, was the reason she wanted everything to change, not just in terms of her health, but in terms of her relationship status as well. “I didn’t want Jacob to grow up without a dad,”she says. “So I explored meditation and I discovered The Secret [a video and book by Rhonda Byrne], which talks about the law of attraction. It says that when you really want something, you should focus on that. What I wanted was a daddy for Jacob, someone who would accept him like his own son. And someone who would never cheat on me, because that was the issue with my ex.”.
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Her weight loss struggle After learning Reiki in 2008, Sarah combined meditation with physical activity, particularly running. “That’s when I got better,” she says. “It helped me to release my anger issues.”
From 140 pounds, Sarah’s weight dropped to 120 pounds, but it didn’t feel as satisfying as she had hoped. “When I lost weight then, I felt a sense of emptiness,” she says. “Kaya siguro hindi siya lasting kasi I was doing it just for vanity’s sake. I felt hollow after because my intentions were just focused on losing weight, but not enough on loving myself just as I am.”
Things turned around when Sarah met Robert, the guy she had been praying for. “This is my physical proof that the law of attraction really works!” she says.
The happy couple got married in 2009, and in 2010, Sarah gave birth to their daughter, Nicole. It was also in 2010 when Sarah finally decided to leave the corporate world and devote her time to teaching Reiki. When White Space Wellness Studio opened its doors in 2011, Sarah held Reiki sessions there. And since White Space was primarily a yoga studio, she began to take up yoga as well.
Over the years, the pounds Sarah lost came creeping back, and her weight reached 165 pounds. “My husband and I were not mindful of what we were eating,” she says. “If you see him, Malaki din siya. May habit kasi kami na kumakain lang for fun.”
In 2015, White Space offered yoga teacher training (YTT), and Sarah’s teachers encouraged her to join, saying she would make a good yoga teacher. “When I started YTT, I was at my heaviest,” she shares. “And then, because I took yoga seriously, I started losing weight. Yoga helped me strengthen my willpower. Kasi with yoga, you really have to watch your breath and hold your poses. So while Reiki helped me to Zen down, yoga helped me find my fire again.”
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Since she started taking yoga seriously, Sarah has lost 35 pounds. “In terms of my fitness goals, I’m not done yet,” she says. “My ideal body weight is 115 pounds, but I’m still at 130.”
Though Sarah is now more mindful of what she eats, she admits that there are still times when she succumbs to temptation. She says, “The temptation to binge eat when I’m sad or stressed is still there, but now I’m able to watch it better.”
Sarah believes that mindful eating, coupled with exercise and meditation, is a more lasting approach to health and wellness. She likens her healing and weight-loss journey to that of a spiral.
“Kasi when you heal, it’s not really a straight line,” she shares. “Kunwari you get over an ex. It’s not like you’re done, and you’re healed, that’s it. The real journey is a spiral—it looks like you’re going back to the same point but on different levels. It’s the same thing with any healing journey. So my issues of anger before, nandoon pa rin. They still trigger me, but my reaction is different. Lighter na siya.”
This story originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines magazine.
Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.