Updated: Jun 21, 2020
Mindfulness is a buzzword you may be seeing around the health and wellness industry, but what is it and how does it initiate healing? I interviewed Roxanne Nelson, owner of Mindful Healing Practice in Philadelphia, for this month's installment of my Wellness Entrepreneurial Success Series. Roxanne is a 36 year old Certified Hypnotist, Reiki Master Teacher, and Certified Yoga Instructor who specializes in trauma sensitive yoga.
What is Mindful Healing?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. As such, Mindful Healing incorporates the theories of mindfulness with energy medicine, wellness principles, meditation, yoga, and acceptance to reduce stress, and initiate positive changes in health, attitudes, and behaviors.
Why is Mindful Healing Important?
Mindfulness is now the subject of scientific studies that prove that this practice can be a key element in reducing stress and improving overall happiness. People who practice mindfulness might see an improvement of well-being, physical health, and mental health, according to a Harvard Health Article. (For these and other benefits, check out this article, interviewing more than forty professionals from the mindfulness trade.)
The Path to Mindful Healing
Roxanne Nelson, an alumna of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at Jefferson, started her business, Mindful Healing Practice, in October of 2016 after completing training in hypnosis. She was first introduced to alternative healing practices in 2012. A former dental hygienist, Roxanne had conversation with a patient named Anthony Perpetua, about Reiki, the Japanese technique that promotes healing. She did not know anything about it at the time, so he used Reiki on her arm to show her the subtle energy. She felt it. In 2014, she had her first Reiki attunement, the ritual that opens the flow of Reiki energy and connects recipients to the universal life energy and its source.
After her attunement, Roxanne practiced on her family while working with different Reiki masters and learning as much as she could about the healing energy of Reiki. Once she started her business, she realized she could incorporate Reiki into her therapeutic healing practice. In 2017, she added in the additional benefits of yoga when she became a 200-hour certified yoga teacher. As a yoga teacher, Roxanne focuses on trauma-sensitive yoga in underserved communities, such as among Holocaust survivors, mental health facilities, recovery programs, and group homes for adolescents with autism. Her passion for teaching stems from her hope to extend yoga, mindfulness, and breathing to the people living in these environments as part of their toolkit for coping with the dynamic world in which we live.
"I meet people on their spiritual path and encourage them forward."
Roxanne credits Mr. Perpetua as the "guru" who helped her find her path. He picked up on her energy and encouraged her. He planted the seed. She finished her Reiki master training with him as her teacher. She likens him to the root of the tree, while she's a branch.
"I've always known I've been a healer and I have an innate ability to connect with people and to hold space with people - I'm not holding space for people, I'm holding space with them - we're connecting together, and that is something that has to have both parties involved." She said she's been doing it her entire life, but through her business, she can help more people.
Her passion is sincere and forthcoming. When I asked her what her greatest reward was on this career path, she welled up with tears. "Watching people go from a place of despair, or feeling so unable, unequipped, incapable or undervalued, into beautiful blossoming butterflies. That metamorphosis is such an incredible thing to bear witness to, I'm just in awe."
A Day in the Life
As part of my Wellness Entrepreneurial Success Series, I've been asking business owners to share their rituals, routines, and wellness practices to show that there is not just one model of success. We all have different ways to fill our cup while holding space for -or with- others.
Many motivational gurus will tell you that you must wake up early to be successful. Roxanne does not agree. She wakes up as late as possible, usually around 8:30 a.m. She shared that she loves sleep, but she also has narcolepsy, so quality sleep of no fewer than eight hours is essential.
Her special routine is a glass of celery juice every morning, followed by teaching a yoga class or seeing a client, taking a Jiu-Jitsu or yoga class, and then meeting up with a friend for lunch. As an extrovert, she loves to be around people and make connections with others. Her husband jokes that she's never home. But she feels most successful knowing that she is making a difference in someone's life or encouraging change. In fact, she said that no day is complete without the basic tenets of bathing, breathing, yoga, giving her body the food and physical movement that it needs, and empowering or encouraging someone else in their journey.
"I feel the most successful when someone comes to me who was referred by someone else, who exclaimed how significant their life had become after working with me."
Another component of mindfulness is nutrition - eating well and thoughtfully. Roxanne is in the process of transitioning to veganism. She is currently eating only one animal-product per day, and trying to steer clear of eggs and dairy. She is doing this because she feels that her liver needs more cleansing, despite the fact that she doesn't drink or use drugs. But when she eats a plant-based diet, she notices positive changes in her skin, her focus, and her sleep.
What it Takes
While anyone can practice mindfulness, it takes a lot of work to be a mindful healer. Roxanne shared that her greatest skill she's had to develop is the ability to relate to people. She has a history of trauma, growing up in a household where alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness were prevalent. It took years of therapy and yoga to help her learn how to convert her experiences into an opportunity to relate to other people's trauma. She can now look at someone and genuinely say, "I understand." In so doing, she nurtures a sense of comfort and safety within her clients who are in a similar space.
Her greatest challenge isn't related to the work at all, but rather, to the logistics of running her own business. She has a hard time cutting people off, like a traditional therapist or counselor would, so many times her meetings run late. She also struggles with keeping the financial boundaries she's set, such as charging people who cancel at the last minute. She's working on holding people accountable to respect the time she has set aside for them.
Roxanne is a member of my online mindfulness community, Mindset Matters, a network of women holding one another accountable to a standard of positivity. We both feel that it is important to fill your own cup when you spend so much time holding a cup for others to fill; hence, her membership in this community of peers. I asked her what she gets out of it, in addition to the aforementioned benefit.
"When I'm in Mindset Matters, I don't feel that I'm comparing myself to others. I'm more willing to add something to my life rather than try to compete. I ask my husband the questions posed in the group, and we discuss our answers." Practicing mindfulness can extend beyond one's own experience and into a shared experience. It's about finding awareness in every moment.
[Mindset Matters] allows me to be with other women who are willing to be empowered and are empowering, rather than ranting and complaining like you see on Facebook or Instagram.
Roxanne is a lifelong learner who is excited to pursue a Bachelor degree in Psychology after she completes her MBSR course. Her long-term plan is to build a wellness community or facility, incorporating the other wellness professionals she works with and refers business to, such as an acupuncturist and a flotation therapy pool center.
If you have additional questions regarding Mindful Healing, or if you'd like to work with Roxanne, you can reach out to her on her website www.mindfulhealingpractice.com, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-237-4184 to set appointment or for a free phone consultation.