Having worked as a Registered Nurse and embodying her own spiritual and healing journey for more than years, Tammy Cho realized healing is more than just medication, surgery, and symptom management. Her own trauma and life experiences led her to journey through traditional and non-traditional therapies. Empowering individuals to connect to their bodies, heal their past and build emotional resilience to achieve balance, alignment, and authenticity, Tammy uses a unique face and body analysis system to help people to discover their own body healing blueprint, allowing them to embody self-love, acceptance, and compassion. Ricepaper Magazine interviewed Tammy as part of its Asian Canadian Creatives series.
Ricepaper: During the pandemic, many of us who work from home or artists who primarily spend time in their studios in solitude, all experienced some degree of being overwhelmed, burnt out, and experiencing anxiety. Where do all of these feelings come from?
We have often heard of the body, mind, heart, soul connection. Yet, oftentimes, we focus more on the mind chatter or the challenges and discomfort in our physical bodies, than our heart and soul. When we do not connect with our feelings or even repress difficult feelings like a trauma — whether consciously or unconsciously — the feelings and memories of fear, pain, or grief for example — become held or trapped in our bodies over time, creating what I call “stuck emotions” in the body. Events that occur outside of us, whether it is hurt from a relationship or isolation during the pandemic, stimulate the memory of these stuck emotions and are expressed through the nervous system and results in the feelings we experience. In fact, the amount and degree of the feelings from external events actually point to the feelings that may be held within ourselves.
Ricepaper: You faced a traumatic childhood and adolescence. Can you share more about your experiences and how they shaped who you are and why you want to help others with your practice?
After entering into this world with a family of seven girls, when I was just ten days old my mother left me and my sisters behind to an emotionally and physically abusive father. Like in many Asian family’s my dad wanted boys, not girls. I tried really hard to keep my dad and my grandma happy. My ability to please worked well, unfortunately, my dad’s and grandma’s affection towards me turned my sisters against me and I was often soloed out. I was bullied at school. I didn’t develop a lot of social skills because I didn’t have a lot of friends and I stopped going to birthday parties because we could not afford birthday gifts. It felt very lonely and helpless. Even at that very young age, I thought that the only way to lessen the abuse was to please everyone. I got very good at it and made the Honor Roll all through high school.
In my teenage years, I was so desperate for love and attention, I did anything to belong, even if it meant giving my body away. My gut feeling told me not to go with that crowd and not to agree to do things, but I ignored my own feelings. Because I didn’t listen to my intuition, I was date raped twice and turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and disconnect from the painful feelings. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I often wondered to myself, “What is the point of me being here?” and “Would it mattered if I stayed . . . ?”
Well, because I believed my grandma was the only one who cared and I didn’t want her to go through the pain of losing me, I stayed. And I did well for myself, I graduated from university and became a registered nurse, married a loving husband, bought a house, and owned real estate properties together and we had a beautiful and healthy baby daughter. My friends told me that I have a great life and should be happy, but inside I felt down, anxious, and alone.
I learned to put a strong shell of protection around me and numbed my feelings and my body. I used alcohol to calm my nerves. On the outside of my shell, it showed that everything was good, I looked to be so put together and social, threw parties often, helped with everyone’s problems; but a part of me did not feel good enough and kept on pushing myself to do more for others at the expense of myself. Just to feel good enough. I constantly felt overwhelmed and unhappy with life.
Until the day my daughter turned 6 months old.
For the first time, my daughter intentionally hit one of the hanging toys dangling from the baby Einstein play mat. The community nurse who was sitting next to me said, “Did you see that?” and I responded bluntly, “Yah, kids do that”.
But the reality was I couldn’t feel anything for my baby daughter. Not even love.
So, if you’ve been struggling emotionally – perhaps feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or just lacking a true love for life and the world – I’m here for you. Sometimes you can’t see the problem because you’re still in it. If it wasn’t for that community nurse pointing out my lack of connection to my baby and awakening me to a new awareness, I would not have even known I was emotionally disconnected from my own baby. Essentially, I was turning into what my mom had done by emotionally abandoning my baby. This awareness activated a part of myself that said, “I will not do to my child what my mom did to me.” I knew I needed to start getting some help.
From that day forward, I spent tens of thousands of dollars on seeing various psychologists and counsellors, naturopaths, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture in addition to regular massage therapists and chiropractors. I spent even more money on various personal development workshops in Vancouver and in the United States to really focus on mastering the mind. I spent a ton of time trying to figure things out in the mind and at the intellectual level, but I can tell you that the answer is not in figuring it out or doing more. The answer is to look within to feel and live from the heart.
Because after experiencing that emptiness and unfulfillment, and after learning all this psychology training (which didn’t work) I was drawn to see intuitive healers. I noticed that they can see, feel and understand me. I took a full dive into intuitive healing work and immediately started feeling better about myself. I started taking various intuition courses, energy healing courses and entered the world of shamanism. I naturally had the ability to do multiple healing modalities and it also became clear to me why I felt different pains in my body. I was feeling and taking on all the dense energy from people and patients around me. I was not only processing my own energy.
I was actually processing the energy of those around me. This journey was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to discover my own empathic, intuitive abilities. Because of my commitment to change and to no longer accept my life the way it was, I have honed my intuitive healing skills and became a practitioner of body, mind, heart, soul connection, and discovered the missing piece of the puzzle. I discovered that it does not matter how much you master the mind or do energy clearings. Until you actually return back to your body to feel and process through the emotions and release trauma from your body, you will subconsciously block yourself from feeling and receiving the beauty, happiness, and purpose of life.
I started my practice not because I see myself better than others, but because I feel I can help individuals on a deeper level. I feel the truth needs to be spoken over the silence of pain in the world and I’m making the choice to step up and help others break free from this self-harming cycle to create a life of peace, fulfillment, and self-love. The life I know you deserve.
Before I knew this, trying to achieve goals or applying personal development felt like pushing a big boulder up the hill, leaving me overwhelmed, burned out, and beating myself up. Now that I released the “emotional boulders”, life feels naturally in flow and I can love and connect with myself more deeply.
Life is a journey and we are not meant to do this alone. If I didn’t have someone highlighting the steps for me, I would not be able to come as far as I have today.
Today, I am awarded a deeper, more loving connection to myself, my husband, and my two beautiful daughters. With my open and expanded heart, I am able to receive intuitive messages clearly which ultimately allows me to live my best life. Full of happiness, abundance, joy, fulfillment and so much more. I feel freedom and peace in my whole being and in knowing who I am. I feel so grateful and honoured that I am now able to support others who were struggling like I was. I am reminded often that I am called to do this work.
Ricepaper: Many people who have stories to tell — whether it’s visually or writing — but never get around to doing so due to one reason or another, and can never quite break free and do something that they truly love doing. What was your story and how did you find your true calling after being a nurse for eighteen years?
I started from a place that I didn’t even know what was my passion. At one point, I was told by a mentor we cannot know our passion because we are not allowing ourselves to feel the more painful parts of ourselves. And I can say that this was true for me, however, at that time, I could only understand within my intellectual capacity at that time. There was so much hurt inside of me that it also blocked my ability to see myself and feel the good parts of me. But I did not give up.
As small as that light was inside of me, and despite all of this pain, I knew that something was missing and I kept looking. I stopped investing in teachers that showed me how to do things external to me and started investing in mentors that showed me how to explore inside of me because this is where our truths lie. How emotional hurts and trauma works is that it keeps those voices inside of us so strong that “we are not good enough”, “they can do it but not me”, “what will others think of me”.
True freedom comes from walking through the pain to the other side. And this is exactly how I found my path, in one of my moments of healing myself, the truth of my passion and purpose came through me from a deep place within myself and I knew I had to do it. It was a deep knowledge within myself that I could not explain and I knew it was right.
The beauty of this is that once you allow yourself to connect more deeply and feel more as a way of life, a way of self-care, you will begin to connect, love, and accept those parts of you that have been calling you to do what you love. That burning desire to do what you love inside of your heart and soul, that same heart that gets so inspired when you see others outside of you do it, becomes stronger than that voice that tells you you are not good enough.
If you already know your passion is in the arts, know you are farther along than me and I am here to tell you it is possible for you. Do not give up on yourself! You must keep taking the steps forward! You are worth it!
Ricepaper: Can you tell us about your growing up in Canada as an Asian female? How did your experiences as an Asian-Canadian shape who you are today?
Growing up as an Asian female, honesty felt very belittling and restrictive to me. I often felt I was not good enough or unwanted because I wasn’t a boy. I understand this is common in the Asian culture however it does not make it right. My dad ended up having seven girls with hopes for a boy he did not get. It also seemed to feel that I had to be a “good girl” and live according to my dad’s rules and expectations or I would get in trouble. Life was like “walking on eggshells.” I didn’t realize it right away but living in this environment subconsciously told me that I was not good enough. And that I cannot trust myself or be trusted. And that I needed someone outside of me to give me permission all the time before I could do anything. This turned into a big reason why I did not believe or trust in myself to follow my dreams or even allow myself to feel my passions.
It’s funny that you ask how these experiences “shaped me.” Our emotional experiences do exactly that. It shapes our patterns, conditions, and tendencies, and literally the physical shape we are in. Now, I have the tools to take these past experiences and create transformation in myself and for my clients.
Ricepaper: You believe that a people’s emotional history is written into their bodies. Can you explain more about this?
We have often heard about this body, mind, heart, and soul connection; however, psychosomatic therapy really brings this together in a very tangible way. Your physical body holds and records the emotional events and trauma in cellular memory and the way this is expressed in the body is shown in how we hold our body, how much and where extra tissue is held in the body, how we choose to stand, how we choose to walk and how we talk. This cellular memory created within the body internally affects the mental, emotional and physical structure of the body formations, actions and reactions expressed externally.
In Psychosomatic Therapy, we use face and body analysis to help bring the unconscious to the conscious level, to be transformed and to be addressed. Imbalance in the body is a physical disease. Imbalance in the mind and heart is a mental and emotional disease. And Imbalance in our soul consciousness is a loss of purpose and direction. The body, mind, heart, and soul are not separate — they are all one. Working through challenges at a mental level alone without addressing the physical or emotional level will feel like you are hitting the same wall and spinning in your wheels.
By diving in deeper, you can not only change your life but the shape of your body and potentially shift health challenges.
Ricepaper: You practice facial analysis. What is that and how can that help people?
Facial Analysis is a visible, tangible way to discover your strengths, challenges, and internal conflicts as it is reflected in the story of your face. Your specific facial features and even facial lines actually mean something and my clients have found this to be a powerful way to reveal unconscious patterns and highlight challenges that they do not have clarity on or at some level of awareness but have chosen to not look at. It is a tool that helps highlight core issues quickly and efficiently so that these issues can be addressed.
I walk people through a powerful process where they get to experience how their inner worlds (which is the left side of the face) and their public appearance (which is the right side of the face) compare and ultimately help bring these different elements of themselves into alignment. For some people, it is the first time they have actually seen their true selves. My intention of the face reading experience is to hold a “safe container” for people to develop a new relationship with themselves. I feel blessed to support people to truly see and understand themselves so that they can stop running away from themselves.
Interestingly, back in the “olden days”, Chinese doctors were not allowed to directly assess the patient’s body, so they used face reading and tongue assessment as a way to determine the body’s health. I go back to this ancient practice and connect with my Chinese roots this way.
Ricepaper: You have an upcoming workshop, “3 Misconceptions That Keep You Stuck with Low Energy, Overwhelm and Burnout”. Why do we get “stuck” and what can we do to overcome this? Can you tell us a bit more about what to expect from your workshop and program?
My masterclass highlights misconceptions that keep us stuck and struggling as individuals but I believe what also keeps us stuck as a society. I feel it is especially powerful for Asians because we are often told that vulnerability is not okay and this belief often keeps us stuck in a certain way of thinking, being, and acting. This is a big piece in why we get stuck and also how to overcome it. Vulnerability is the shortest path to our power and the change we actually want to create in our lives. If you are an advocate for mental wellness and ready to be a leader of your own life, I invite you to join me for my upcoming free masterclass called 3 Misconceptions That Keep You Struggling with Low Energy, Overwhelm, and Burnout (And How to Return to the Balanced, Aligned, & Authentic YOU).
The most important thing is to be open-minded and willing to take the next step.
The transformation I create in my program Uncover YOU provides a path to remove you from this overwhelm and burnout cycle while at the same time returning you back to a deeper connection with yourself. The program points to three key foundational components: unlearning old paradigms, uncovering the root cause, and unlocking emotional resilience. When you do not allow yourself to authentically express yourself, then you are forever hiding your inner gifts… and a part of you (if you allow yourself to slow down to feel it) will never feel fulfilled and happy. I believe everyone is here with a purpose and no one else can do it the way you can do it.
To learn more about Tammy’s work and her insight, you can visit her website Path To the Heart.