Welcome to our second interview in the Life Changer feature, where we will be talking to people from a wide spectrum about a key moment in their lives.
Our first guest was Club Chaplain John Toller who told us about a dark moment that changed his life but our second guests story is very different and one of new direction and its no understatement to say an awakening to new ideas.
Our second guest is Ken Morton, a holistic therapist from the North East although our paths crossed nearly fifteen years ago at St Andrews United, Ken is one of the reasons I got involved with Junior Football.
Hi Ken and thanks for being our second guest for Life Changer, first of all tell us a bit about yourself?
Thanks for having me and for the opportunity to talk. I’m now 47 years old but was born and brought up in Fife and although I now live in Aberdeenshire, I have always still considered myself a proud Fifer. I’m fairly well travelled and have moved quite a bit over the UK, mainly for work, and having previously worked in the hospitality industry and finance sectors I have been fortunate to engage with many different people from all walks of life. I lived and worked in London for 7 years but never found a place to settle. Work took me North to Aberdeen and for the last 5 years I have now settled on the Aberdeenshire coast. My involvement with football was originally as a committee member at St Andrews United but now I hold the position of Assistant Secretary with Formartine United of the Highland League.
Moving north to Aberdeen would have been fairly life changing in itself but that’s not the whole story?
It was a major change although I didn’t realise quite so much at the time. Often when we don’t create opportunities for ourselves then we can get stuck where we are which I have observed in others can lead to problems with our own health. Being able to adapt to change is for me one of the greatest skills I have and it’s because I had moved about the country quite a bit that when the opportunity to the move to Aberdeen came around, I was not phased at all by it. I just thought “why not?” It was no different to me moving to London. The advice I give to others to change their life is to change their state of mind and that in turn alters their perception which leads to the creation of opportunities.
What I didn’t realise at the time was that moving to Aberdeen would have such a profound effect on the rest of my life going forward. I look back now and see the opportunity that I grasped had paved the way to open the doors to the rest of my life.
It’s not always been rosy as in 2014 I went through a dark period in my life. I lost both of my parents within 3 months of each other and that was really the catalyst for change in my personal life and it made me realise what was and wasn’t important. Things happened so fast that my brain could not cope with the speed of what was evolving in front of me. People often ask, “How did you cope?”. It was not easy I needed time for my brain to catch up and I felt as if I was alive but watching myself from a distance. I needed a lot of space, so I left everything. My house, my job, my relationship, my family I just wanted to get away and process things in my own time in peace and quiet.
The realisation that I could “go either one way or another” was a pivotal moment and believe it or not it came in a hotel room in Essen, Germany where I was on one of my overseas football trips. I could either go into self destruct and ruin my life or take the opposite route and create change within myself and others.
I began to get all this information downloaded into my brain and set out on a quest of personal development. I took an interest in natural health and healing and the first thing I quickly realised was that I knew nothing about it so I needed to educate myself, that is still ongoing to this day, but I began to read a lot of books about health, nutrition, wellness, psychology, mental health and how we as individuals have the amazing power within us to help ourselves. Many people are not aware of this and how we can take responsibility for our own health and how we can help others with this wisdom.
I soon realised that each individual on this planet is wonderfully connected to each other and all parts of our bodies are connected. Our bodies are made up on many different levels and to look at just the physical body would be dismissing the emotional body, intellectual body, sexual body and the spiritual body. This is where my passion for holistic health was born.
I studied Complementary Therapies for a year and whilst I was studying I decided to set up my own business called KM Therapy. My course taught me more about how the different systems within the body all interact with each other. From a medical perspective it’s a great base for information however I knew that my real passion lay in alternative and natural medicine.
There is a book I read called “It didn’t start with you” by Mark Wolynn and it explains how inherited trauma can shape your life whether it be anxiety, depression, phobias or chronic pain. It draws on scientific evidence and reports claiming that any trauma that may have happened in your parent, grandparents or even great grand parents’ lifetimes, if not resolved will carry on through your family timeline. How is it resolved I hear you ask? It’s resolved naturally and the releasing of surpressed emotions. This book was another pivotal moment for me and one that now spawned the next step in my life. I have now trained in Counselling and i am now going on to do a Diploma in Psychotherapy.
A bit like a disease being hereditary isn’t it, an injury can be carried forward?
Yes exactly, there is an interesting case study in the book by Rachel Yehuda, a professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience who is an expert in PTSD, and research on Cortisol, which is the stress hormone. She details the effects of stress and how emotions are submerged within the body and how these emotions are passed on to us inside the womb before we are born. This is how trauma is passed on through our family timelime. She did quite an extensive study of holocaust survivors and the results were fascinating. It’s interesting to note that many of us are completely unaware of why we do certain things, why we act in a certain way or say certain things. This research gives compelling answers as to why.
So, going back to your decision to take the holistic route, how did you feel at the time of what was a major change, were you comfortable or was their an element of trepidation?
A bit of both really to be fair, I remember that there was an overwhelming feeling that it was something that I had to do so I was comfortable with that. It wasn’t just a flippant decision as it had been building over many years, it was just a matter of time. I gave up my full time job to go and study full time so that was a brave decision to do when you have a family and other responsibilities so there was a slight element of fear but there was an overriding factor of knowing that it was just the right time to do it so that superseded any lingering doubt. I was seeing a life coach at the time and she always said to me “Listen to your heart because your heart will be 100% correct”. Again, many people are unaware of our amazing connection between the head and the heart so I asked my heart if it was the right choice, it said yes, and I just went for it. I am also of the impression that if you wish to make something work it will. The law of attraction was deep in play at this point, what you think you will become. Often when we instigate change in our life other things tend to mould around you and evolve as you evolve. Once the decision was made there was no going back.
Looking at it from a football club point of view, Forest Green Rovers down in England have gone down the vegan route and have had some success with it, do you think there is a place for holistic medicine in football also?
Yes, I think it has and for the past year or so I have been thinking how I can integrate what I have learnt into a sporting environment. I was fortunate, last year, to spend time in the Amazonian Rainforest with the Peruvian Shipibo tribe where I used various plant medicine to educate myself and learned how various plants and tress can help humans naturally without the need for pharmaceutical intervention, so I believe the answer lies holistically. There is a big emphasis at the moment about talking about mental health within sport and I strongly believe that much more can and should be done. I’ve not yet come up with a definitive answer as I am constantly looking at ways that can help and I hope to develop a programme to offer sport in the future.
I certainly believe that it is a lot tougher these days growing up than we had it as youngsters, don’t get me wrong we had problems, but we were never under the pressure they are now. We seemed to be conditioned differently as to the direction we would take in life but rejection, injury and illness are a much bigger player in 2020.
Most certainly. The age group 12-16 and beyond a bit, is the time when we are really growing up and hormones are going everywhere so looking at it from a football point of view, if you are getting told no your aren’t going to make it, you could link that to issues later on in life. When we grow up the word “no” is seen as a negative. As an infant we are constantly being told “no” by our family, friends, teachers society etc, and when you’re young you often have no idea why. When you get to ages 14,15 16 and your told that you aren’t going to make it at a club then your sub conscious brain reverts back to those feelings early in life when being told “no”. If it’s perceived in infancy as a negative then it’s going to be received still as a negative in your teenage years so rejection can have a major impact on a young person’s life. Words are extremely powerful and are projected and perceived by every person differently.
You mentioned that you have your own business and also how you want to integrate what you have learned in to sport and specifically football, is that the way you see it going or do you see a more wide ranging holistic approach in the future
I think if I just sit back and say it will go that way, we could be waiting for 20, 50 , 60 years even. Football has always been a massive part of my life but at the moment it’s waiting for the right time for it to be successful. There is plenty of weight given already to the mental health side and that is fantastic to see. I think with the right programme, the right individuals driving it and the right way of application can really benefit youth players and already established players. Having seen the benefits for myself with the boost that an under 20s player gets when he trains and joins his bigger first team players then that gives me great hope that I can make a difference.
We have seen ourselves that there is still a reticence for clubs to get involved in something new. We were the first club in this area at our level with a chaplain, we are heavily involved in players mental health and wellbeing, so we have seen the, sometimes, apathy towards new ideas and to be fair holistics has always been looked at with, at best, questioning eyes by the mainstream, how does that sit with you?
For me it is important to encompass all viewpoints and not just the mainstream view. I wish to integrate all the information available to me – that is the holistic view. Without getting too political, there seems to be a reluctance by the mainstream to dismiss the holistic view despite tons of scientific evidence. I hope for the future that both sides can work together but I feel that is still a long way off. In the meantime, I will keep working to devise a plan to help others that is my goal.
Thanks for joining us Ken and telling us about your Life Changer and for what has been a very interesting and thought provoking chat.
If you would like to get in touch with Ken his website is www.kmtherapy.org.uk