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In pursuit of happiness

In our occasional series looking at people who have taken a very different career path since moving to France, Gillian Harvey meets happiness coach Nicky Peet, 48, in Nantes

What does your job involve?

I teach people to heal their lives by tapping into their inner creativity using Reiki, Chios therapy and art.

I help clients to discover that everyone is creative in some way, and that we can use our creativity to help both express and heal our emotions. I also run colour workshops where we study a colour, focusing on memories, emotions and language associated with it, after which we consider how to use each colour in our lives.

For anyone who hasn’t come across Reiki before, it can seem a little unusual. Practitioners of Reiki use a universal energy to help others to heal – a sort of ‘feng shui’ for the body. Chios therapy is similar to Reiki but focuses on different colours of the chakras (energy channels) in the body.

How did you end up doing it?

Becoming a Reiki master and transformative artist was definitely not something I planned in advance. But I do feel in many ways that I was destined for this role. In 2011, I received a spam email about Reiki and I felt compelled to find out more. Luckily enough, I was able to find a Reiki master quite close to my home in France who was able to offer me proper training.

What did you do before?

In the UK, where I lived until 2001, I worked in a hospital laboratory as a technician, running blood tests. I hated my work – I was unfulfilled and felt there must be more to life.

I’d always dreamed of moving to France, since the age of 10. I can’t explain it – but I always felt that France would be the place for me. Then, in 2001 my then-husband found a job in France and my dream came true. I left my job and was able to explore new avenues.

What attracted you to your role?

I love it when people come to a workshop, convinced that they aren’t creative, and I’m able to set them off into a whole new journey. In a way, it’s showing people how they are masters of their own destiny.

As well as working with individuals I work with groups. People sit and close their eyes whilst I channel Reiki to them – almost in a meditative way.  This helps to inspire people, break down barriers and remove any fears they have of not being good enough.

After 15 minutes or so, we begin painting and it’s incredible to see the difference it has made to people’s creativity and confidence.

What qualifications or training did you need?

There are three levels of Reiki training and in 2013 I reached ‘Level 3’ standard which means that I am able to both practice and teach Reiki. I have also qualified in Chios and colour analysis. People sometimes confuse the ‘energy’ Reiki or Chios practitioners use with spirituality – but you don’t have to be psychic or have a ‘gift’. The energy is a natural energy that people feel in tai chi for example or feng shui. With the right training, anyone can practice.

Where do you work?

The workshops take place in my home, but I also go to people’s houses or occasionally run workshops at different venues. Sometimes, I speak to a person on Skype. The way that Reiki works means that I can work from anywhere and reach out to anyone.

Your favourite part of the job?

I can make a real difference to people’s lives. One client I worked with hadn’t slept through the night for years. He used to survive on just three hours sleep. After just two sessions, he was able to sleep for seven to eight hours each night. Another woman I worked with had an autoimmune disease, she was self-conscious and hated going out in her wheelchair. I helped her to overcome her fears and embrace life again. Often, I keep in touch with clients and it’s lovely to see their progress.

What is the hardest part of the job?

It’s hard when people aren’t open to the idea. Although my French is fluent,  these therapies haven’t become mainstream in France yet, and people are often reluctant to try them, but changes are happening. I know I could help so many more people if I was able to tap into the French market.

What do your friends and family think about what you do?

Those who have known me for a long time can see how happy I am now. I think when you’re unhappy in your work or with your life, it shows – no matter how much you try to hide it.  They can see that creativity and Reiki are right up my street.

What’s your busiest time of year?

It’s often with the changeover of seasons: people suffer more in autumn and winter. Lack of daylight can worsen depression or insomnia.

Any plans for the future?

I’m hoping to start running retreats so that people can come and stay at gîte complexes in France. I’m also looking at developing online workshops.

Is it well paid?

It depends on the amount of business you have. For the Reiki I charge €40 per hour, for colour workshops €20 per person per hour. I supplement my income with English teaching but I’m hoping to build up the therapy side of my work as this is where my heart lies.

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