Photos by Derek Bell
As we welcome a new year, the age-old tradition is to turn over a new leaf, or better yet, blow old habits into a pile on the side of yesteryear’s road for removal. We set new goals, make plans to save more money and a good portion of the population always wants to become more health conscious. With a fail-proof plan in mind, we put the wheels in motion with hopes of maintaining our new-found motivation. While some of us stick to the script and follow through with the promises we make to ourselves, life has a way of making some of us stray from the path and regress into the practices we had hoped would be lost at the bottom of a compost pile.
Downtown Rome now offers a unique solution to help us stay the course – especially in the arena of health and wellness. Six integrative minds have come together in one place in hopes of opening the door for Northwest Georgians to live more healthy and productive lives. And with over two years in business under their belts, the Healing Arts Center of Rome (318 Broad Street) welcomes V3 to their space to share more about the six disciplines they offer their clients.
Now, Healing Arts Center of Rome (HACR) does not suggest that regular doctor’s visits be forgone and replaced by less-traditional healing techniques. Instead, the goal is to build a bridge between a doctor and HACR’s services, providing preventative methods for improving overall quality of life through services proven to be healing in nature.
Susan Mosley, owner of Acupuncture on the Spot, says her career in healing started in healthcare services. “I started when I was in high school. I then went on to get my bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from Georgia State University and I worked in that field for many years. I became a traveler and I still work in respiratory therapy for Atlanta area children’s hospitals. I have lived in Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Utah, Maine and California while working for different healthcare facilities,” she explains.
She recalls her first exposure to acupuncture in California, where it was being used to treat children at Packards Children’s Hospital. “The kids were bone marrow transplant and cerebral palsy patients, and the acupuncture was giving them instantaneous results without any negative side effects,” she says. “You insert needles into points of the body that affect other areas of the body. Acupuncture has been used to help everything from infertility and migraines to digestive and emotional problems.”
Mosley began to explore the ancient Chinese arts of healing in an effort to help people live better, healthier lives. “I decided to change my focus from treating illness to promoting wellness,” she says.
In addition to being an acupuncturist, she is a certified Chinese herbalist and a certified personal trainer. She obtained her master’s degree in Oriental medicine from the Santa Barbra College of Oriental Medicine, a four-year process involving many different areas of focus. Now, as owner of Acupuncture on the Spot, she pairs her unique services with helping her clients to develop healthy eating habits, exercise and, of course, conventional medicine.
“We are working with Dr. Mumber, here in town, to help some of his oncology patients cope with the side effects of the chemotherapy and cancer treatments, like fatigue and nausea,” Mosley says.
Additionally, she offers group classes where she teaches Qigong, an ancient form of Chinese moving meditation. “Qigong is similar to Tai Chi,” she explains.
Group acupuncture clinics are available on a weekly basis but, first, you might want to know – does it hurt?
“Not at all,” says Dr. Vincent Mendes, the chiropractic spoke in the HACR wheel. “I have been an acupuncture patient for a long time.”
Mendes’ professional journey began at Berry College, right here in Rome, Ga. “My initial degree was in animal science because, at the time, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian,” he says.
“Then, halfway through the program, I decided I wanted to work with people. I loved the animal science department at Berry, so I finished up my undergrad there and went on to Life College to get my doctorate in Chiropractic. I have been practicing since shortly after graduating in 1998.”
While Mendes is a critical component of the HACR operation, he does not see his clients at the studio. He, instead, operates out of his home, located at 201 East 3rd Avenue, in the Between the Rivers Historic District.
“I was a chiropractic patient as well, and I loved the idea of correcting a problem at the source. A chiropractor’s entire outlook is to try and help the body to use its natural resources to heal,” he explains. “When you correct a spinal misalignment, you are not just getting rid of a neck or back ache. You are also allowing the nervous system, which his housed inside of the spinal cord and extends to the peripheral nervous system, to function better by removing any irritations to the nerves.”
Mendes highlights the importance of the body’s ability to communicate with the brain as a major factor in the process of getting well. In essence, as long as there are no kinks in the nervous system line, the information can flow between the brain and problem areas, allowing the body to heal with very little outside influence.
In addition to spinal adjustments, Mendes does muscle work and recommends home exercises that will help the patient’s body hold the adjustments until his or her next visit.
“It’s nice to be affiliated with a group like the Healing Arts Center of Rome because I can ask my patients if they have ever considered attending a yoga class,” Mendes says.
And as he finishes, Beth Hughes, founder and owner of the HACR and Breathe Yoga Therapy, chimes in, “Most of the time it is fitness that brings my clients to the mat, but other things keep them there.”
Hughes is also a Berry College alum with an undergraduate degree in early childhood education. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in educational technology leadership from George Washington University and is currently working on a second master’s – this time in yoga therapy – at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is in the first class of this kind and, upon completion of the program, will be the only person in the Southeast who holds this degree.
Hughes offers some insight into why yoga therapy is much more than stretching and breathing. “I focus on therapeutics,” she explains. “I work in small groups or with people one-on-one. We not only focus on the position of the body, but we concentrate on their energetics and the breath. I also try and help them connect with their emotions, their minds or thoughts, and – if they choose to – with their spirit or ‘bliss’ body. All these things come together in yoga and we call them the Koshas, which means sheaths.”
Although many associate the benefits of yoga with the stretches, Hughes says the meditation is just as important to one’s overall health.
“I like to have potential clients come in and fill out an intake package so that we can review it and see what is going to work best for them,” Hughes says. “It may be that someone else in the HACR is more suited for their issues, and we will develop a plan that works best for them.
“We are hoping to bring health and wellness into our clients’ lives using the philosophies and tools of yoga,” she continues. “If you go to iayt.org, which is the International Association of Yoga Therapists, you will find the standards for yoga therapeutic education. There you can also find some research behind the development of the profession.”
After observing and gathering information from her clients during her weekly classes, Hughes tailors an at-home plan for them to incorporate into their daily schedule. They meet on a weekly basis to discuss progress and make adjustments.
Nothing feels better after a yoga class, or any other physical activity, than a good rubdown to relieve tension. HACR has recently added Licensed Massage Therapist Casey Reemsnyder into the fold, and he is excited to be a part of a community of professionals who are focused on wellness.
Reemsnyder earned a business degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and, long before he welcomed clients to his massage table, he worked for an airline.
“I was fortunate to be able to see many places and cultures around the world, but there are places that have a special energy to me,” he says. “My experiences at places like the Great Pyramid, Sedona in Arizona, the Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, and Tibet were a big part of my decision to move into massage therapy work. Each time I would visit a place like that, it would open up an area of me – kind of touch my spirit – and it started me on this whole different path. I was in middle management for Northwest Airlines and during their merger with Delta when I began my transition into massage and energy work.”
Reemsnyder now holds a degree in massage therapy from Providence Institute in Tucson, Ariz.
In addition to covering the basic areas associated with massage therapy, he has added some different modalities into his sessions for clients. One lesser-known is the modality of Chi Nei Tsang (CNT).
“This technique was developed by monks in ancient China and was used to strengthen their bodies and purify themselves,” Reemsnyder explains. “It is basically transforming the energy of the internal organs. So, if you think about your gut as a second brain in the body, all of the fascia – the connective tissue – originates in the navel and can affect all areas of the body. We use soft pressure to spread apart the tissues and release restrictions around the internal organs. Depending on the client, this can include deep tissue manipulation as well.”
Cranial sacral, Swedish, therapeutic deep tissue, and myo fascial work round out Reemsnyder’s massage menu, offering many ways to melt away the things that can cause one to feel below par.
Energy work, like Reiki, is something Mary Evans, owner of Touch of Love, knows all too well. Evans, who is also part of HACR, specializes in energetic body work, laughter coaching, and the Universal White Time Healing elements of health and wellness.
She is a Shorter College grad with a bachelor’s degree in human services. “Having spent most of my life teaching in one capacity or another, I thought human services was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I found very quickly that energy work was a more profound way for people to change the things that were not working in their lives,” Evans says. “I had two specific medical conditions I was being treated for and my body was not responding to the treatments. I had a friend who started giving me Reiki treatments and, after a couple of months, these conditions didn’t just go away—they were healed.
“What I do here at the Center is facilitate and empower people to release and dissipate limitations in their minds and bodies,” she continues. “I do that through energetic body work and through possibility coaching.”
Evans has taken workshops and intensive trainings in Atlanta, Florida and California from experts in the field, and bundled all of her lessons into one room at HACR.
“I started with Reiki, which is energetic touch, and then I studied Universal White Time Healing,” she explains. “It is similar to Reiki, as far as releasing stress and facilitating healing, but it is different in that it continues to work in the body up to 28 days after the session is over. It is a hands-on technique, although it can be done remotely. My preference, though, is hands on and touch focused.”
Evans’ third and favorite method is Access Consciousness energy work, which is also hands on. “The Bars, one of the many energetic body processes of Access Consciousness, are 32 points on our heads and, when lightly touched, they release thoughts feelings and emotions associated with almost all areas of our lives,” she explains. “So much of what we store in our minds affects the way we feel, and we are often not aware that we are carrying these thoughts, feelings and emotions around. Yet, we are reacting and responding to the world around us based on these deeper emotions and feelings.”
For those interested in learning more, Evans will provide a free, one-hour consultation to explore the needs of a potential client.
And rising from her table is the sixth member of the HACR team, Ellen K. Thompson, who was able to secure some much-needed time with Evans before the interview.
Thompson is the founder and wellness coach for Happy Owl Personal Empowerment – HOPE for short. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., and a master’s in humanistic and transpersonal psychology from the University of West Georgia.
“I have been a facilitator for over 20 years,” she says. “I’m also a certified wellness and health coach. I provide individual sessions for four to six weeks on wellness coaching.”
For clients interested in exploring mindfulness together, Thompson is offering a group called Mindful Living. New comers to her group can sign up for her Intro to Mindful Living group which focuses on the basics.
Her program is customized to meet the needs of her clients and she focuses on everything from emotional issues to physical needs, stress management and personal empowerment.
“Most of my clients want to get more active, so we will develop a plan to allow for a 30-minute walk daily,” she explains. “I also help them start to practice mindful eating, teaching them how to eat rather than what to eat. So, being more mindful and being in the present moment is helpful in many ways for promoting wellness.”
Thompson studied mindfulness in grad school and has researched-based materials proving that her techniques help to reduce the effects of hypertension and other stress-related illnesses on the body. All of her work with clients is relaxation and wellness based, adding yet another aspect of healing to HACR.
“There are other places like this, where the owner will rent the spaces to providers, but they don’t often work together like we do here at the Healing Arts Center of Rome. I think that is the one thing that makes us unique,” Hughes says. “Yes, we do have our own individual business plans, but there is an overall understanding that the people who work here have to be willing to work with the other providers we have here.”
For a services directory call 706-331-4631 or visit the center online at www.healingartscenterrome.com