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Deep Healing with BodyTalk

by Shelley Poovey

Marylene Smeets was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003. At the time, her doctors told her there was no cure for MS, an autoimmune disease that causes a slow deterioration of the myelin sheath of the nerves. MS results in partial or total loss of muscle control, including tremors, double vision, and memory lapses.

The year she was diagnosed, she tried MS injections for six weeks, but when they started hurting more and more, her therapist said, “Your body is trying to tell you something.” This rang true for Marylene. Could it be possible for her body to heal by tuning into the messages it was sending?

By the time Marylene walked into my office, she believed that her body did know the story of why she became ill and that it was capable of healing itself. Her previous BodyTalk practitioner had gone on sabbatical, and she desired to continue the work they began. At the time, she wanted to focus on a combination of lifestyle changes, stimulating the body’s ability to heal itself, and uncovering the root cause.

During the first year, a recurring theme of gut inflammation kept coming up, well before any ties between gut health and MS were known. Marylene continually posed the question, “Why gut inflammation? I have a neurological disorder.”

As a BodyTalk practitioner, I knew that her body was taking us exactly where it needed to go but explaining that to Marylene felt incredibly challenging. I was aware that her experience with BodyTalk was limited to her own sessions, and without any scientific research to validate what was coming up, I was left asking her to trust the BodyTalk principle that session priorities may not always seem related to a diagnosis.

Our process challenged my own perceptions too, but when a landmark study was published linking MS to inflammation in the gut, we both dropped into a deeper level of trusting the work we were doing. Marylene started writing letters to her body, asking it questions, and bringing those questions into our sessions.

It made it so much easier when the difficult questions arose, “Is my double-vision a symptom of MS? Or could this be a sign of my body having completed a cycle of healing?”

We realized that instead of trying to answer these questions intellectually, we could bring them into each session, allowing the formulas to work with the questions through priorities—not problems or problem-solving. This basic concept helped both of us stay grounded during our three-year journey together.

Marylene Smeets (left), author of Merciless Gift, and her longtime BodyTalk Practitioner and friend Shelley Poovey (right)

What does healing look like? For Marylene, each BodyTalk session seemed to be informing or validating her intuition as well as the recommendations from her team of practitioners, helping guide her process. Over time, sessions uncovered early childhood trauma as an underlying factor, catalyzing an unwinding process of layer upon layer of locked emotions that seemed to be at the root of her inflammation.

My work with Marylene taught me to appreciate that what comes up in a BodyTalk session can be outside of the known, established paradigm—things other modalities and treatment protocols are unable to uncover; things only a person’s innate wisdom knows; things unique to them.

In Marylene’s case, unresolved sadness and anger came up around the death of her father when she was ten years old. All of those locked-up emotions had finally surfaced, ready to be released.

That was eight years ago. Marylene continues to receive clean scans and is thriving and living her purpose, sharing her miraculous story with others: Sometimes healing is messy. Healing has no defined timeline. The healing journey is unique.

Marylene’s journey took her into the depths of childhood trauma—somewhere she never expected to go—but also into the realm of the mystical, which brought healing and resolution to these inner conflicts. As she followed signs and synchronicities, had major breakthroughs and incredible setbacks, there were moments she came in for sessions feeling completely lost and hopeless. To be honest, so did I. However, we both remained committed. We felt we were truly onto something even in those darkest moments.

Working with Marylene taught me that trusting the body’s wisdom by simply following the BodyTalk Procedure and Protocol charts while educating clients about the science and philosophy of BodyTalk is critical to its effectiveness. It helped me deeply appreciate that part of being an effective practitioner is walking alongside our clients, providing critical support that is so rare to find anywhere else.

Merciless Gift —
Opened in New York

Marylene’s book is currently out in Dutch (Genadeloos Geschenk – Uitgepakt in New York) and you can pre-order the nearly-completed English version. After her life-altering MS diagnosis and a time when she had difficulty even walking, Marylene has been symptom-free for years and wants to inspire other people dealing with illness and disease.

“I think there can be a strong link between physical complaints and specific mental problems,” says Smeets. “If your own immune system attacks your body, as with MS, for example, it can be a reflection of being too hard for yourself. I have become much softer for myself since my diagnosis.”

You can find Marylene on Instagram at @marylenenyc or learn more about her book and pre-order the English version at

This article was originally published in the International BodyTalk Association Global Newsletter.