Anyone I’ve ever asked about my mother-in-law, Johanna Pillischer, hasn’t hesitated to tell me what an exquisite person she was. Johanna was an artist, trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and a bodyworker, certified in Rubenfeld Synergy and the Alexander Technique. A mutual friend described her as warm and open-hearted, “like a bodhisattva,” the Buddhist deity that represents an ideally awakened, compassionate being.
I never got the chance to know Johanna before she succumbed to breast cancer in 2001. Still, I think of her often, imagining how we would connect around our shared passion for spirituality, health and self-development, and all the things she would have taught me. I reminisce with her sister about their experiences in the 1960s, learning yoga when it was still a new age trend. Knowing what a beautiful and sensitive man Johanna raised in my husband, Matt, I’m wistful that my son, Asa, will miss the experience to know her.
It’s early on a Sunday morning, but the lobby at Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Newtown Square facility is already abuzz. The space is teeming with women in stylish athleisure-wear; banquet tables are adorned with balloons and centerpieces. As guests make their way to their assigned seats, only the number of heads that remain fully covered by knit caps and scarves reveal that this is no ordinary Main Line brunch affair—this Wellness Day event is hosted by Unite for HER, a cutting-edge women’s health organization, and the attendees are Philadelphia-area women that have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The “HER” stands for Healing to Empower and Restore, and Wellness Days are one of the organization’s signature programs. This interactive, one-day workshop will introduce these women to the range of services and education that will be provided to them over the next year through their fully-funded “wellness passports”.
For millennia, the Jewish people and other religious groups have marked holy time. They have marked the passage of time with rituals, and have used ceremonies to formally acknowledge life cycle and important events. Rituals help people recognize and sacralize life experiences.
There are the traditional rituals for Shabbat and holidays, and life cycle. Yet, in this abundance of ritual, there is a noticeable absence of ceremonies stemming from women’s creative impulses and affirming women’s life experiences.
In the Bible, there are a number of examples of women’s life cycle ceremonies. The story of Hannah (Samuel 1:21-28) illustrates a woman’s weaning ritual. The women of the community go to lament the daughter of Yiftach (Judges 11:34-40) each year. A red thread is wound around a newborn (Genesis 38:28). Today we live in an atypical era with a lack of these types of women’s ceremonies. We feel the cravings in our souls. The forces of modernity and the predominantly (male) secular culture have obliterated the existence of authentic women’s rites.
In The Lotus Project: The Art of Being a Woman, Bucks County-based author Lyn Hicks offers a fresh perspective on the intricate and beautifully complex female body, mind and spirit. Drawing from personal experiences, ancient wisdom, current research and time-honored practices, Hicks eloquently and articulately reminds women of their gifts and encourages readers to connect with their deepest selves.
Much of the book focuses on having women honor their nurturing, empathetic, emotional side instead of fighting it. Hicks also encourages women to use their sexual and creative energy for self-development and empowerment, and gives them permission to be alluring, playful, meandering and sensual. This energy can help women to feel more authentic, inspired and alive.
At the (In) Fertility Center, in Mansfield, Dr. Brit Reed helps women conceive using natural, effective, non-invasive protocols. For the past seven years, her focus has been on working with pediatric and prenatal clients because more women are seeking care and education for fertility challenges and pre-conceptive wellness. Reed’s therapies and lifestyle education have proven successful for women to conceive when their bodies are healthy and capable. To this end, she designed and opened the (In) fertility Center in September 2016.
Reed provides a free, 15-minute consultation to discuss whether the patient is a good candidate for treatment. Her program consists of 17 unique, advanced alternative therapies. Six, 90-minute treatments are tailored to each woman’s needs, including travel time. The experience may last only a few intensive days if she is coming from a great distance, or be spread out over a few weeks if the client lives in the area.
Since 2002, Reed has devoted her career to understanding the natural healing abilities of the body and offering proper education, support and direction for clients. After receiving a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 2009, she went on to become a diplomate in prenatal care.
At its 10th anniversary celebration in March, the Healing Consciousness Foundation (HCF) honored Connie Cifelli, a two-time breast cancer survivor (or, rather, “Thriver”, as they are known within HCF) with the 2017 Geri Thompson Award. The award honors women that have promoted the mission and values of HCF for the betterment of others affected by breast cancer.
Cifelli began receiving services from HCF during her first bout with the disease, and worked as a volunteer after the cancer resolved. When she had a recurrence, Cifelli returned to start the Wellness Warriors Program, and to offer holistic nutrition counseling for other HCF women.
“I never lost faith, but you can become consumed with fear,” Cifelli says. “Because of the foundation’s programs, I was able to get back in the right frame of mind. I became really passionate about empowering other people.”
The goal of anti-aging medicine is to maintain the body’s health and vitality as it ages. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and weight loss are both parts of an anti-aging treatment plan that can improve people’s lives in a variety of ways.
The ABC’s of BHRT
It’s important to note the difference between bioidentical and synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Because synthetic hormones do not match the molecular structure of human hormones, they often result in unpleasant side effects, some as severe as cancers and cardiovascular issues. Conversely, bioidentical hormones, derived from natural plant sources, provide an exact match to those produced by the human body, offering relief from symptoms while minimizing the potentially dangerous side effects.
As Marla Viturello, of Philadelphia Professional Compounding Pharmacy, states, “The value of customized BHRT is critical in restoring balance. Because these prescriptions are naturally derived and can be compounded in different strengths and dosage forms, patients can benefit from a regimen designed for their distinctive needs.”
When it comes to salon services, we know how good they can make us feel. A little pampering can go a long way, but at Nu You Skin Care and Wellness Center, it goes far beyond skin deep.
Owner Gerry Christopher is a licensed esthetician and certified oncology esthetician who has been offering oncological facials to those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for several years.
“I began offering this service since cancer runs in my family,” she says. “It’s so important to me to help relieve the stress of what the body goes through during cancer treatment, and soothing the skin is a big part of that.” Christopher explains that not only is the skin the largest organ of the body, it is the largest organ that helps rid the body of toxins. “When you’re putting chemo through the body, it has to come out somewhere – and that’s the skin,” she says. “The skin on the face is especially sensitive because it’s exposed, has lots of blood vessels, and is thinner than on other parts of the body.”
Some people wish to do Past Life Regression Therapy (PLRT) work but have anxiety about the process and what they will learn about themselves. For many, anxiety about the unknown is a normal response. Knowing more about what kind of professional should be sought and what the process involves will help people as they consider this kind of therapy.
PLRT is powerful work, and healing and transformation usually continue after the session for days, weeks and sometimes months as the experience and healing are integrated. For this reason, it is important to work with an experienced professional, preferably someone that has the background and credentials in PLRT and psychotherapy to assist in any issues that arise during or after sessions.
During a PLRT session, a therapist guides the participant to retrieve and (re)experience past life information that comes to them by way of all six senses. As that process unfolds, a slow unraveling of what occurred in that lifetime will come into awareness, bit by bit, in the form of mental pictures, emotions and intuitive insights as the journey of that lifetime becomes increasingly clear.
It goes without saying that people need connection. Whether it be through our environment, community, friends or family, being engaged helps us thrive. However, in today’s bustling world, even connection to one’s self has its challenges. Shiatsu is one method that can help us reconnect.
The word “shiatsu” means “finger pressure” and is a specialized form of acupressure that follows meridians and pressure points in the body. It originated in China about 6,000 years ago and works with the energy of the body or chi. “Bringing the energy into balance nurtures the person on the cellular, emotional and spiritual level,” says Shirley Scranta, owner of the International School of Shiatsu, in Pipersville. “It is the integration of all these aspects that help keep a person healthy.”
Scranta explains that during a shiatsu treatment the practitioner takes time to assess the areas in the body where the chi is not flowing and then treats it accordingly. “Moving the chi is done by a combination of stretching, rotating the arms and legs and applying firm pressure,” she says.
An enormous amount of information exists on the subject of headaches. Unfortunately, sometimes that information isn’t completely accurate, nor does it tell the whole story. That can be a big problem, especially for women with chronic headaches.
According to research published by Columbia University in The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine, women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines, 18 percent versus 6 percent, respectively. In the United States, those numbers are even worse. A study by AMPP Advisory Group shows a staggering 43 percent of American women are affected by migraines. And yet, in spite of this, there is a preponderance of research involving animal pain studies that use male subjects to study this predominantly female disorder.
During an allergic response to a substance—be it food, dust, pollen, animal hair or body tissue, as with autoimmune disease—it may seem logical to perceive the substance as the culprit. However, if the substance were the culprit, everyone would have reactions to the same things, as is the case with substances that are considered toxic.
The real reason we have allergies, sensitivities or other adverse reactions (such as terrible symptoms of PMS) is a result of confusion within the body’s control system. The problem lies in an immune system that erroneously perceives that a substance is causing it harm. This confusion can extend to any substance, including foods that are nutritious and healthy, everyday environmental exposures and even the body’s own chemistry.