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Transforming Lives Through Mind-Body Resilience – Exclusive Interview With Erica Skone-Rees

Erica Skone-Rees is a master of transformation, turning personal trials into powerful healing tools. After navigating her own health crises with traumatic brain injuries, mold toxicity, and Lyme disease, she didn't just recover—she developed a roadmap to deep healing. Today, as the founder of Woven Path Wellness, Erica combines her expertise as a certified mindfulness meditation teacher and Safe & Sound Protocol practitioner, integrating holistic wisdom with cutting edge neuroscience to guide others from survival to mind-body resilience.

Photo of Erica Skone-Rees

Erica Skone-Rees, Mind-Body Regulation Coach & Educator 

What led you to become a mind-body regulation coach, educator, and the founder of Woven Path Wellness?

I find myself in this seat due to a long and challenging personal journey with health conditions and chronic stress. These experiences left me stuck in survival mode for a significant part of my life. I've faced various crises, from natural disasters to mysterious health problems, each causing physical, emotional, and mental stress, demanding resilience and adaptability. It feels like every event has been an initiation, or a masterclass that has prepared me to guide others through their own challenges and support them with the tools that have best served me. I founded Woven Path Wellness to highlight the multifaceted approaches to healing. Each person's path to wellness is unique, and I wanted to create a space where we can shine a light on the different modalities and paths available. My heart's work is to support, encourage, and share the tools that helped me move out of survival mode and back into an enjoyable quality of life.

How did your personal experiences with health challenges and chronic stress shape your approach to coaching?

Eight years ago, my husband and I bought our first home. We were thrilled—a beautiful single-family house that seemed perfect. But within a year and a half, I was bedridden, and we had no idea why. It took an entire year and visits to 18 different doctors before we discovered the root cause: toxic mold hidden in the walls. The mold wasn't visible, but it was there, and I was breathing it in every day. The impact it had on my body was debilitating and terrifying. I experienced a wide range of symptoms affecting every system of my body. I had respiratory issues like chronic sinus problems and developed asthma, neurological symptoms such as sensitivity to light and sound, balance issues, cognitive difficulties, and memory problems. It caused hormone imbalances, leaving lasting effects on my endocrine system. I also developed allergies and sensitivities to foods, fragrances, chemicals, and smoke. 

The constellation of symptoms was so diverse that it baffled our traditional Western medical system, delaying a correct diagnosis. Once we finally identified the mold, we immediately moved out and began remediation efforts. However, my body was too sensitive to handle detox and typical medical protocols. Despite minor improvements with the help of functional medicine doctors and naturopaths, my health continued to suffer. I was stuck in survival mode due to years of physical, emotional, and mental stress, leading to complex trauma and chronic illness. Even after removing the toxic exposure, I remained chronically fatigued and hypersensitive, unable to work, drive, or walk unaided. My social life and relationships, including the one with myself, suffered greatly. 

As a student and teacher of mindfulness, I knew it was crucial to work with my thoughts and emotions, and that rewiring my limbic system was necessary. The emotions during this time were overwhelming—grief, fear, and frustration, to name a few. I used all the tools in my toolkit: somatic practices, mindfulness exercises, meditation, and mantras, went to craniosacral therapy, osteopathy, did DNRS and more. While these helped, they weren't enough to significantly improve my symptoms. I delved deep into research, learning about mycotoxins, the nervous system, and the cascade of issues chronic inflammation, CIRS and MCAS cause. 

The breakthrough came when I learned about the vagus nerve and polyvagal theory. Combining all my previous skills with this new focus into my daily routine made my body feel safe enough to begin healing. It was the magic key that shifted me from chronic illness to a path of wellness. And it felt like a miracle. Within a week my shortness of breath eased, dizziness went away, and within a month I was on my feet more than on the couch. I enrolled in a music therapy program called the Safe and Sound Protocol, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, the father of polyvagal theory, and I began to see changes at an exponential rate.

These personal experiences profoundly shape my coaching approach. I understand the complexities of chronic health challenges and how they affect our internal dialogue, personal relationships, careers, lifestyles, and more. I know the importance and impact of physical, emotional, and mental aspects of chronic stress. My journey taught me the value of a multi-faceted, compassionate approach to healing, which I share with my clients.

Becoming certified as a Safe and Sound Protocol practitioner was a pivotal step because of the profound positive effects it had on my health. This program is grounded in neuroscience and helps to reset the nervous system and rewire the brain. By weaving neuroscience with ancient wisdom traditions, I help clients achieve deep, lasting healing. I have witnessed many others transform their health and lives through this program and my support. It is a true gift to see my pain turned into purpose.

What does a personalized approach to working with clients look like in your practice? How do you support clients in navigating chronic illness and finding balance in their lives?

In my practice, I start by truly understanding where each client is at and what they need. I aim to empower them right from the start, helping them tap into their own healing capabilities. Using techniques like mindfulness, meditation, breathwork, and vagus nerve toning, I customize a plan that resonates specifically with them. This approach helps clients become deeply attuned to their nervous system, allowing them to respond to their body’s signals with wisdom and compassion. My goal is to make every client feel supported and equipped with the tools they need not just to manage symptoms but to enhance their overall quality of life.

Can you explain the importance of nervous system regulation in maintaining overall well-being?

A healthy nervous system is like a rubber band, flexible enough to stretch into action mode when needed and then return to a state of relaxation and calm. When we're in that place of rest and repair, known as the parasympathetic nervous system, healing occurs. Our digestion improves, respiration is optimal, and our body's systems function harmoniously.

Conversely, in action mode, or the fight-or-flight response, our body contracts. Digestion stops, heart rate increases, breath becomes rapid, and the brain becomes hyper-vigilant—essential for immediate reactions. Chronic stress, whether mental, emotional, or physical, can trap us in survival mode, preventing us from returning to the restful state necessary for healing. When stuck in survival mode, our body remains in a state of contraction, leading to discomfort, overwhelm, and dis-ease.

I’ve had to learn many times how to move out of survival mode and back into regulation. Regulation is about seamlessly transitioning between states of action and relaxation, not being stuck in one. This ability to regulate our nervous systems and navigate between these states is what I aim to teach others, helping them heal, find their balance, and thrive. Nervous system regulation was my key to healing from physical illnesses like traumatic brain injuries, mold toxicity, and Lyme disease, as well as moving out of trauma states from experiencing natural disasters like fire, flood, and earthquake.

What is vagus nerve toning, and how did it become a key part of your healing process?

The key to my healing was through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body, running from the brainstem through the neck and into the gut. It acts as an information highway between the brain and the body, playing a crucial role in regulating the nervous system. Its health is essential for overall well-being. 

Dr. Stephen Porges, the founder of Polyvagal Theory, discovered that the vagus nerve is integral to how our bodies manage stress and maintain balance. When the nervous system feels safe, the body functions optimally. Vagus nerve toning makes the body feel safe by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing inflammation, enhancing emotional regulation, and improving gut-brain communication, all of which promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. 

These exercises, along with music therapy like the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), help the body shift out of fight-or-flight mode and into a state of calm. During my journey of healing from toxic mold exposure and Lyme disease, I experienced a range of debilitating symptoms and remained stuck in survival mode despite various treatments. It wasn't until I discovered vagus nerve toning that I began to see significant improvements. By combining these exercises with my existing mindfulness practices, I finally moved out of chronic illness and towards wellness. The Safe and Sound Protocol was the key that opened the door to healing, enabling all other treatments to take effect.

Can you describe the Safe and Sound Protocol and its role in helping individuals move from fight-or-flight to rest and repair?

The Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) is a music therapy program developed by Dr. Stephen Porges, based on his polyvagal theory. This theory highlights the vagus nerve's role in regulating the nervous system. SSP uses specially designed music to stimulate the vagus nerve, helping the body shift from fight-or-flight to a state of rest and repair. 

I discovered SSP through my doctor and decided to try it. The results were incredible—my physical symptoms reduced, my fatigue lessened, and mt mast cells became less reactive. This therapy helped me gradually re-engage with life. 

This profound shift inspired me to become a certified SSP practitioner so I could bring this transformative experience to my clients. In my practice, I've seen SSP transform lives. In fact, after witnessing such significant changes, family members often seek out the same experience. Multiple times, I have guided entire families through SSP, deepening their collective and individual healing.

SSP helps people with chronic anxiety, depression, dysautonomia, mast cell activation syndrome, Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), insomnia, chronic stress, trauma and more. SSP enables people to move out of hypervigilance into a state of calm, making them more tolerant and responsive to other medical protocols when necessary. Working with the vagus nerve is a bottom-up approach, starting with the body to help it feel safe, which then allows access to rewrite the limbic system. It calms the body, regulates breathing, improves digestion, and reduces anxiety. This creates a foundation for deeper healing. 

In my coaching sessions, I combine SSP with other practices like limbic system retraining and mindfulness exercises. This holistic approach helps clients unwind layers of stress and achieve profound transformation and deep lasting healing.

Where do you find inspiration?

My mom truly inspires me. Despite being a polio survivor with lifelong physical challenges, her positivity and determination to live life to its fullest are incredible and a continuous source of inspiration. Nature also inspires me daily—it teaches me to move at its pace, to slow down, and to immerse myself in the experience of awe, wonder, and gratitude. Being amongst the Redwoods or by a body of water is my favorite, safe place for grounding and regulating my nervous system. I'm also inspired by a wide range of teachers—people and animals alike. My dog Koda teaches me about love, rest, and levity every day. Art and creative expression has always been both a lifeline and a source of inspiration for me. It allows me to transform emotions and energy, to express myself, and to connect deeply with the world around me. I am grateful to say that inspiration is always within reach.

What’s on the horizon for Woven Path Wellness?

Thanks for asking! I'm excited to share that this summer, I'll be hosting the Amplify Play Summer Solstice Retreat in Oakland, California. Play is so essential for nervous system health but our responsible parts often dominate our lives. In this daylong retreat we will turn the volume down on those voices, reconnect with our inner child and amplify the spirit of play. We actually have a few spots open for anyone who is in the area and wants to join. 

In the fall, I'm launching a Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) group program, which I am incredibly proud of and looking forward to. This program will combine vagus nerve music therapy with individualized coaching and group sessions where we learn about the nervous system, tools for regulation, shared wisdom and experiences, and support each other's healing journeys. I love facilitating group work and believe there is real power and wisdom in the collective. 

I also co-facilitate the Lyme Alliance Empowerment Circle for SDLA & BALF, which is a free monthly resource for those navigating tick borne illnesses. Throughout the year I lead various classes, and retreats, including therapeutic art classes, meditation retreats, and corporate wellness workshops. 

photo of Erica Skone-Rees

Follow Erica on her Instagram and Linkedin, or visit her website for more info.



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