If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city
The body keeps the score. When we think back through our stories and experiences, it’s easy to focus on the mental and emotional aspects of what we’ve been through; however, we cannot overlook the fact that our bodies have been through every life tragedy and pleasure, right along with our minds and souls. I (Anthony Crosby) knew a man who suffered from painful neck jolts whenever he would wear any shirt that was constricting to the neck; it turns out the man was abused by his father when he was young, and the beatings would often start with his father grabbing him by the shirt collar and pulling him towards his fist. Once this man was able to come to an understanding of how his body had been storing all that trauma in his neck area all his life, he was able to find healing from his physical pain. The body keeps the score, and today we’re joined by a woman whose primary goal with her business is to assist people in their paths to find true healing in their lives. Aleece O’Brien is the owner and operator of Heartwood Wellness, a practice which uses transformative therapy to bring balance and health to the body, mind, and spirit. Aleece specializes in foot zoning (an in-depth foot massage treatment that helps work signals in the feet to bring balance to the body) and Ayurvedic body therapies (a holistic healing system originating in India, based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health with treatments geared toward specific health problems). I sat with Aleece for several minutes as she educated me on the history, benefits, and how everything in her practice is designed to work. Auras, meridians, chakras…there is so much that goes into what Aleece does to help people at Heartwood. I would recommend taking some time to learn from her; she’s a great teacher!
In the meantime, why don’t we have Aleece tell us why she started pursuing alternative wellness in the first place! “I am here because of my family and my health. When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition, and in my twenties, I started having a lot of problems with allergic reactions. It took them about three years to diagnosis me; they were telling me I was having allergic reactions, but when I would go in for testing, I wasn’t actually having any allergic reactions to anything specific. When they finally were able to diagnose me, it was with a rare blood disorder; they started flying me back and forth to an oncologist in Oklahoma because there are not a lot of oncologists in the United States who deal with my issue. While I was over in Oklahoma going over different treatments, they ended up finding cancer as well. So, there I was being diagnosed with all these things at a pretty early age, things woman traditionally gets when they’re in their forties and fifties. I’ve always taken really good care of myself; I’ve always been very good with my diet and exercise.”
“With my rare blood disorder, I’m not able to take a lot of narcotics, antibiotics, or prescriptions. So, after most of my surgeries, they would bring in acupuncturists and block certain meridians (set of pathways in the body along which vital energy is said to flow) to help with the pain so I could get through it. They then set me up with a natural path who put me on a lot of different natural supplements to help me get through what was going on. It was then when I realized how amazing it was for people to have so many options for taking care of their being. I came out of one of my surgeries with a knowing that I needed to get more into acupressure. One of my friends was doing foot zoning at the time and told me I should do it; I signed up. I showed up to one of my classes, not looking very well; you could tell I was struggling. This older couple came up to me and told me they didn’t know why, but they were there because of me! I was just happy to have some friends! I loved that class; it’s what got me into what I’m doing now.”
“Before I was out of school, I had the yoga group here in town to offer me a space, and I started doing foot zoning part-time; I was the only one in Elko who had a business license in Elko for this sort of thing, so I didn’t know what it was going to look like. I just started doing it and got pretty busy, pretty fast. I needed more space, so I ended up moving around a bit before coming here (Aleece’s current business location in the Blohm Building). However, I still wasn’t where I needed to be emotionally; most people who have the health conditions I have don’t leave their houses because it is such a big lifestyle change. The older couple I mentioned before, called me up one day and invited me to this class they were doing in Salt Lake City. I went over to visit them; I didn’t care what we were learning! At this class, a woman comes out with a beautiful white hair, no makeup, and comfortably dressed. She starts talking about all of our bodies and how we also have a mental, spiritual, and emotional body; I’ve always believed that, but it didn’t click until I took that class. Because I wasn’t taking care of the emotional, mental, and spiritual part of me, it was manifesting in my physical body in these different ways. It wasn’t until I started working to take care of those other aspects of myself, for about six months, when I started noticing a huge shift as I began to feel stable, and as if I was coming back home to myself in a different way. My health has been my biggest blessing in my life because it got me to where I am today.”
Thanks for sharing with us, Aleece! Now, let’s talk about Heartwood Wellness. What is your goal for every one of your customers who walk through your doors? Are they usually open/receptive to your methods? “Everyone is so different and unique with what is happening within themselves; my goal is to help them come back home to themselves, love themselves, and wake up to what their true potential is. We get stuck in many ways. Right now, I do foot zoning and Ayurvedic bodywork, but I will be moving into the counseling/practitioner part of things as well as I’m still going to school. When someone comes in, he or she can expect to pick what kind of body therapy he or she wants. I have a lot of miners who come to me; at first, they’re kind of skeptical about it, but once I explain it to them…I think everyone knows there’s more to us than just our physical bodies. I’ve never had anyone say they didn’t like the experience; they almost always come back! I’m not a healer; the healing comes between God and the person on their own time. I’m just assisting by doing the detective work to find out what exactly is throwing them off. Is your physical issue strictly physical or is there an emotional tie to it? Linking the emotional and mental issues with the physical gives us a chance to figure things out. It’s just breaking things down and digging a little deeper than just taking a prescription and being on our way.”
Aleece, why do you think the Elko area should know about what you’re doing at Heartwood Wellness? “I’ve seen so many things happen in my practice. I’ve seen people open up their minds in different ways. Many people don’t know there are different options out there. When I was going through all of my health stuff, it was so frustrating. Trying to find what works for you is a challenge in itself, but I would tell people not to lose hope. Find what works best for you and brings you the most peace.”
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See you around a local business, Elko!