Born in Rota, Spain and raised (mostly) in Oslo, Norway, Sylvia moved with her father, a devout capitalist who worked in shipping and investing, her mother, a stay-at-home mom, and her brother, who was into engineering and cars, to the U.S. at the age of 13. Within three years, she managed to get herself kicked out of several boarding schools and into the more important role (at the time) of traveling Deadhead—traipsing across the country on the heels of the Grateful Dead. Always into music, art, and space as a child and knowing that someday she wanted to do something that’d make a difference (to others, to the planet), she knew she’d end up having an impact at some point, she just wasn’t sure how.
By the time she reached her late 20s, the how became clearer. Although she’d studied goldsmithing at the Rochester Institute of Technology and later earned her BA in anthropology and her BFA in art history from the University of Colorado, these were more avocations than life callings.
Having experienced significant relief from alternative health care modalities, she realized she could help others as well—first through acupuncture, which had helped her, then through Acutonics, which transformed her. Certified as an Acutonics practitioner in 2004, that same year she also became an Acutonics instructor.
She co-founded Operation Tikkun Olam, which created vibrational vessels to support successful relationships between humans and planet Earth. She oversaw the foundation and design for all the sound structures installed through this effort—structures were installed at power plants, corporate offices, and private estates. She also spearheaded Inward Bound, a project that provided Acutonics for stressed teenagers trying to complete their high school education. She was also the organizer of the theoretical Pandava Series: A New Hope, a conceptual approach to medical marijuana strains that incorporated traditional herbal classification strategies. She is currently Chief Strategist for the Oriental Herbal Company (OHCO) and President of Jupiter’s Belle Inc., her private healthcare practice.
Her Year From Hell: I met Donna and Ellen in 2003. Things that took place then had a certain quality. For me that was a year of crisis. A year from hell. I was in this period of my life where it was just one shit-storm after another. It culminated in a trip to San Francisco primarily to work at an acupuncture convention. I went there cold. I’d been out of acupuncture school for about 3 years (from Southwest Acupuncture College, SWAC, in Boulder) and was doing regional work for the Japanese American Acupuncture Foundation (JAAF) and Dr. Miki Shima, D.O.M. The accumulation of training in the field to this point had been left-brained to my detriment. In the trajectory I was on—the divine kept slapping me in the face. I was recovering from a recent bout of West Nile virus and my back was out to an extreme. It was a critical event.
ACU…WTF? OMG!: We get there, and I gimp into the convention center to set up our booth. About 10 booths down are Donna and Ellen. At first glance I was like, what is that? Who let these people in here? This is bogus. Moreover, it irritated me that their booth was busier than ours. Yet, it really captured my attention because one of my specialties at that time was pediatrics and infertility. I kept seeing this little girl around six, who kept running up to their booth. Her mom would drag her away and then she’d be right back at their booth. I thought, with great humility, that kid knows what’s up. So, I went up to them and asked for a demo.
I told them, ‘my back hurts, can you guys do something about it?’ And Ellen—not Donna—gives me the demo. Ellen’s expertise and training are not in the field of acupuncture—yet when she set these things on me I’m like, Oh, my God! I have this seriously mind-blowing and utterly complete ‘moment’!
Please, Ma’am, May I Have Another: So, after that, I’m 80 percent better. Then, like a perfect idiot, I go to a bunch of the other booths for their demos hoping for 100% relief. I end up getting over-treated. The next morning I’m in even more pain! My body is in a critical crisis, I can’t stand up straight. Hunched over sideways, I go back to Donna and Ellen. “Can I please experience this again?” The rest is history. I bought into the whole system. In a one-pointed mental frenzy I tried to master the manual (Acutonics There’s No Place Like Ohm) on my flight back to Denver and started working on my patients with the forks the next business day! It was an epic awakening and a life changing weekend.
Cleaning House: Prior to moving to Boulder, I attempted to attend IAIA very briefly, returned to RIT, dropped out to go live in Crested Butte, CO, but really since I was about 16 I’d been a huge Deadhead with zero direction. Eventually I realized that I needed to go back to school. I moved to Boulder…, where I continued to party. And I ended up cleaning houses. Then came the physical crisis. I was suddenly in this state of physical, spiritual and emotional bankruptcy. The crisis really came to a head when my brother died.
I went to a couple of doctors; but nobody knew what to do with me. Someone suggested a neurologist which was a major reality check. Something was signaling to me that I was headed for significant physical disaster and I took notice of the cosmic memo. Someone I cleaned houses for suggested I try acupuncture. I did a year of that. Acupuncture had a huge impact on me. I realized that I needed to go back to school. Acupuncture school.
Getting through acupuncture school proved to be quite a task. My parents had no interest in helping as their conclusion was that I had settled for the Wild Wild West. As far as they were concerned, I was 2000 miles away from anything that resembled civilization. When they heard I wanted to study acupuncture, their only comment was “Why? You’re not Chinese!” Even while attending SWAC, I think there was a silent rumor that I was the Least Likely to Succeed out of my class. An upgrade from my high school yearbook which declared I was Most Likely to be Deported from Earth.
In my first year of Chinese Medical school, I was called into the admin office and asked to withdraw from the program. They said I had embarked on a journey in the wrong field. At the time I dressed and carried accessories around like Elle Woods, so in hindsight I can understand their mundane concern regarding my future as a health care provider. However, this was not my first time around the Disciplinary Committee block. In response to their insult, I claimed emotional shock and trauma and asked for a series of badly needed professionally provided acupuncture treatments which were promptly granted to me.
Four jobs later (record store clerk in the company of audiophile freaks, house cleaner, Chinese herbal pharmacist and costume shop sales girl), while fulfilling my higher education at an accelerated pace, in three years of which I took only five days off total to rest, I had my M.S.O.M. On reflection, I can safely say that at that point, my life was just starting to become interesting.
Turn Around: I had a full turnaround. Three years later when I met Donna and Ellen and then they approached me to teach—that was a big deal. When somebody asks you to teach something that’s theirs, that’s a powerful compliment. It means they trust you to convey their vision. Becoming a teacher was in my mind, the least likely outcome of my life primarily because my public speaking anxiety was off the charts. But Donna and Ellen saw how I worked and explained things to people. And because their modality had such a profound effect on me, I accepted the invite. Teaching for them was a deep commitment.
There’s More Than Tonic in Acutonics: What I do now is quite empowering. When I started my acupuncture practice, I had in many ways been taught to enable people to become comfortable in their dysfunction. If a patient leaves and they’re happy, great. Boulder was a very competitive market. But with Acutonics, I learned that is not the full spectrum of living. Acutonics has the ability to go deep into the cellular structure and bring things up. We spend a lot of energy pretending it isn’t there. But it is.
From Vinegar to Honey: When I went back to Boulder and started practicing Acutonics, I initially lost about 80 percent of my patients. People in Boulder thought I was insane. I was going crazy alright, but from an established norm which was not sane. Once I started incorporating the gongs into my practice it was like flies coming to honey.
My practice has since become super-dynamic. I spend way more time with my clients now. We talk about everything that’s going on with them and life, with their body, their spirit, their state of mind.
Talkutonics: As far as intake, I still rely on my training in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I’ve also added medical astrology. I understand and apply astrology from a medical point of view, which makes a big difference both in theory and practice. I primarily use the forks and gongs, some acupuncture mostly according to what the astrological chart reveals and what the client most needs.
Now I carve out more time to spend with my patients, more of a relationship. We’re able to go so much deeper: what is the story at the root of this disorder? I’ve gone from spending a half-hour with a patient to two hours. It’s amazing. People trust me and tell me what’s truly going on.
Smaller Classes, Deeper Questions: The coolest thing are the questions that my students ask me. The better I became at teaching the material the more mature and more dialed in the questions became from my students. That dynamic quality—I haven’t experienced it in any other setting. The challenge of giving the best answer became really rewarding. Which is why I teach really small classes. (I prefer a ratio of one to four.) I have to be able to really dial in to what they’re asking. I’m 100 percent a different teacher now from when I started teaching. And it’s one of the things I learned from Jerry Garcia. At first, he had terrible stage fright. But he learned how to focus on just one person. On their energy and to make them comfortable. To build that energy in a room. To spread it to other people.
Stay Fluid: There’s a certain fluidity with Acutonics. If I can trust that then the classroom takes care of itself.
Acutonics and Athletes: I’ve treated world-class athletes. And fundamentally, they’re not any different from any of my other patients. Human beings are human beings. The spirit that motivates us is the same. But how it expresses itself is different. For most athletes, there’s an enormous emphasis on the external. This is generally-true in society but especially so in athletes. Ironically, they’re not necessarily the healthiest people. But the momentum and passion of athletes makes them appear to be more dynamic than a yogi sitting in Samadhi. In a way they are each working on something. The athlete is working on the physical plane and the yogi’s skill is through the systematic unfolding of consciousness.
Remembering Yourself Deeply: Before Acutonics with most athletes I worked on, I was just fixing a lot of climbing injuries. But since Acutonics, the athletes who come to me, are interested in the synchronicity of these two kinds of activities; the combination of a deep meditative state and physical strength. These two abilities combined are what makes a phenomenal athlete. Pete Takeda is one example. He’s a world-class mountain climber and we’ve had some of the deepest, most interesting conversations in my practice.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks to Arjuna. He says: the greatest warrior is one who can stand in the midst of a battlefield and still remember himself deeply. In many ways this is the opportunity Acutonics provides in my practice. Athletes who are very, very good athletes, tend to have a particular warrior mindset which evokes those passages in The Gita. Acutonics, and my practice, attracts people who want to find meaning when they’re staring into the abyss. It’s that whole Nietzschean thing, “For when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” Acutonics helps with that.
Getting Lost in the Crowds: I’m pretty boring when not working. I like my plants and chillin’ with my dogs. I prefer reading to most other activities. I am fascinated by words and writing. I really love to get lost while walking the streets of New York City. Manhattan is still the greatest island on the planet. There’s nothing more relaxing than to go walking the streets there. New York makes you feel like nobody so that you can become somebody. It demands character development. I highly recommend it. I’m also visiting my parents more frequently. Turns out they’re pretty cool.
Like Micro-dosing—Only Without the Dosing: Acutonics creates a powerfully informed altered state. And it’s one I prefer to all others. Most clients come in for an improved quality of living. Acutonics gives them that. The treatments are like micro-dosing—they can put people in an altered state allowing them to make informed choices about how to live their lives best.
The New Normal: People are definitely more receptive than they were when I started. And now that we’re really in this world of light and dark, we have to understand that people like the one who’s in charge today, he normalizes a kind-of insane pathology. Which means that on the other end, what we’re doing is also becoming normalized, and it’s not insane. It keeps the balance.
Separated at Birth: When I first met Donna, and one of the reasons I felt so drawn to Acutonics and wanted to teach her work, was the feeling and general conviction that she and I had somehow been separated at birth.
"The first time I had your (Acutonics®) tuning forks placed on my body, I felt as though every cell, every tissue, every atom in my body was dancing for joy! Something in me came alive that had long been sleeping. Thank you, thank you, thank you for enabling the music of the spheres to be resounding my body."
- Sage Berrett
Learning Enhancement Specialist and creator of the Art of Balance, Inc.