Between the pandemic, climate change, and the multitude of tragedies the world has endured within the past two years, many individuals are finding themselves lost and in need of guidance. Joy Adler is a leader in holistic health, healing, and wellness who wants people to understand they have all the tools they need to improve their physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
The past year has taught humanity a lot about the importance of health and healing. Between the pandemic, multiple climate change related disasters, economic decline, and overall sense of unknowing, many people are finding themselves struggling for balance, when it comes to living their lives in a normal and healthy way.
The world has been enduring this big pause that has been changing the way we all live our lives. People are overwhelmed, and have been forced to face these internal battles through isolation, while also being forced to worry about their future. To help cope with these feelings, more individuals are reconnecting with nature and the space around them as a means of appreciating what they do have, after nearly two years of loss, uncertainty and tragedy.
This reconnection is also causing a lot of people to reflect on how compressed they were in their “normal” pre-pandemic lives. Many are starting to realize that they’re enjoying the freedoms that come from isolation, as it allows them to make new choices such as refusing to go back into the office, offering them more time for life balance without commuting as much, and taking more time to focus on themselves. Many have begun hitting the reset button by adding holistic healers to their self-care teams.
Joy Adler is a leader in holistic health, healing and wellness, and has been working in the field for nearly three decades now. Her private practice, “Alternative Healing Arts,” works with individuals to treat their body, mind, and soul as one entity. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Adler about the importance of healing the self, especially in the context of the pandemic and climate change.
“Joy Adler uses her knowledge and training of psychology, energy and the arts to assist others in working through their physical, emotional or artistic blocks to express their greatest longings in their lives and careers by releasing trauma or fear, and to attain optimal health.”
Adler is the Dean of the Advanced Studies Program at The Barbara Brennan School of Healing Science in Florida, and the Dean of BBSH in NY. She is a Brennan Healing Science practitioner, Holistic and Pastoral counselor, Certified Hypnotherapist, Yoga Teacher, Ayurvedic Nutritional Counselor, Soundhealer, and award-winning singer/songwriter. All of these hats have provided Adler with a repertoire of healing methods that can benefit a multitude of individuals who are dealing with pain on any level (physical or emotional).
Adler also comes from a family of healer’s, which taught her to be extremely empathetic and compassionate to those who need help: “My mother’s family came from Portugal, and to be honest with you my mom didn’t really fully understand the ‘American social template’ if you will. She came from a culture where everyone took care of their own, they lived with their extended families, and would always be helping out one another when it was needed. So she brought that sensibility with her from her family from Portugal and when I was a little girl I remember going from house to house with my mother and tending to community members who needed it. My mother and grandmother were both healers, and after being with her so much as a young child and witnessing how her empathy and compassion for these strangers actually worked to heal them, I knew I was meant to do the same, but I was interested in the science of healing, and research to back what I saw so early on.”
Adler attended the Barbara Brennan School of Healing on Long Island, NY, after reading a book by Brennan while she was learning about massage and anatomy. Brennan is very well known for her extensive knowledge in holistic medicine and healing in general. To this day she is still named one of the top 100 most spiritually influential people of her time.
“I have a scientific mind, and needed to know the logistics of how my mom was able to heal sick individuals through her compassion, as well as knowledge of natural remedies. I remember when I started my schooling at one point when I was studying massage therapy I realized I had that same desire to learn more about the science and anatomy of the human body, before understanding how the art of massage works to heal certain things. I also knew I wanted to combine that logic with some level of counseling so that I could do what my mom was doing for the greater good.”
“When I was learning about massage and anatomy I ended up reading one of Brennan’s books, Hands of Light and found out she had a four-year School of Healing on Long Island that I knew I had to attend. Brennan was a scientist as well, so she knew the importance of proper research especially when it came to holistic healing. This was really important at the time because a lot of people had so many misconceptions about what holistic medicine actually was and the practices it involved, so the fact that Brennan had this amazing science background helped elevate the field so more people would take it seriously.”
“Brennan’s goal was always to treat the person as a whole, whether it was through herbs, nutrition, energy work, counseling, massage therapy, etc. because diseases don’t just appear in the physical body, they also appear in the form of emotional wounding that’s held in overtime and can create abnormalities like chronic pain, body tension, and ultimately, disease.”
This is why connecting with the body, mind, emotions and spirit as one entity is so important when it comes to holistic healing. It allows the individual to see the full scope of their trauma so that they can work on accepting and alleviating that weight from themselves.
“We use our bodies as a storage locker for things we don’t want to feel, but overtime the body is going to begin sending red flags in the form of pain or physical ailments as a means of telling us we need to heal in all aspects of our being.”
Adler discussed how Brennan enforced the idea of unity between the physical and emotional body when it came to healing: “Brennan’s School of Healing Science teaches all of its students that when we look at a part of the body any kind of chronic disease or symptom is present, and compare it to the anatomy of the human energy field, we can begin to unravel the beautiful miracle of someone’s life, and help them open up in areas where they’ve been closed off.”
After Barbara Brennan started her school, the field of holistic healing became more commonly accepted and practiced. Massage, energy work, body-centered psychotherapy and holistic health has expanded exponentially throughout the medical fields in the US.
“Brennan’s vision as a scientist was to get the field of holistic healing medicine to be taken as seriously as traditional science, and she did just that. Students can now attend her school and receive a Bachelors of Science degree in healing, and receive a full four-year education in the process of healing individuals through their body, mind, and spirit. The School also just celebrated its 40 year anniversary, which goes to prove how much this field is actually helping people.”
“Brennan’s retired now, but her original goal was to see her schooling all across the globe which I made my personal responsibility as a means of honoring my mentor and all she’s done for me and the world of healing in general. We currently have school openings in Germany, Japan, France, the UK, and I’m proud to be moving our NYC program to the Capital Region of Albany, NY this Fall.”
Adler discussed how in her own teachings and practice, she works on the mind, body, emotions and spirit as one by getting to the source of an individual’s pain/trauma, and where it landed in the body before doing anything else.
“I personally really enjoy working with an individual and finding the nucleus of a disease. The nucleus of the disease refers to an unhealed childhood wound and/or trauma. If you can get back to the root cause of where that pain originated from, then the body doesn’t need to manifest a red flag to get our attention into where we need the most healing.”
“I attract people who are realizing they need to work on healing themselves in order to find harmony in all aspects of their life. For example, say a parent comes in who realized that their general anxiety is beginning to impact their child. The parent coming to see me already knows that in order to create a more balanced home life for their kids, they need to work on themselves and find out what the cause of that anxiety really is so that they can work on healing it, and create a more relaxed atmosphere for their children.”
“I also work with a lot of people who repeat certain relationship patterns based on their past experiences, whether it be from a first love, or from witnessing how their parents’ relationship developed growing up. Either way, there’s always this need to dive into the past to gain greater clarity as to what the individual is experiencing in the present.”
“I always remind everyone who comes to see me that they are the greatest healers that they know. They have the magical elixir within them to heal themselves. I mean, one time I had an 80-year-old client who was in a bit of an emotional rut when it came to aging, so I suggested she write a stream-of-consciousness blurb about how annoying it is to get older. She loved this exercise, and it helped her to find her humor with the aging process. The amazing part about that type of exercise is that you don’t get bored, time passes, and as you examine the thoughts that pop into your head you begin to realize you have the answers within, you simply need to take the time to access them. This helps you recognize that you do actually understand yourself and know exactly what you need to do to better your overall physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. In this particular instance it helped my client to better embrace the aging process, rather than use her life energy resisting against it”
“As we’ve gone outside more during the pandemic, many people are beginning to understand that protecting the Earth is a crucial part of protecting ourselves as well. Nature is a spiritual force greater than all of us, so when we recognize that, and reconnect with the natural world, we not only discover what we need to do to heal ourselves, but the world. Being outside fuels our immune system, which is exactly what we need to fight Covid, or any illness or disease.”
“Many clients that I work with in America, know that not only is it expensive to live here, but because they’re used to living such fast-paced lives, they didn’t even realize how much they were overworking themselves, pre-covid. The amount of individuals I know of in a typical fast-paced job environment who told me how much they appreciate being able to spend time with their kids, now that they work from home more, is staggering. They are processing this tremendous guilt from always working that they didn’t even realize they were carrying, that’s also been preventing them from being happy or fulfilled and having balance in their everyday lives. Now, however, we’ve been given the chance to literally stop and smell the roses, and gain a greater understanding for the things we appreciate.”
Adler explained how nature is a huge aspect of this reconnection that humans are enduring right now: “When individuals take the time to nourish their own souls, and spend time with the ones they really love out in nature, they have the opportunity to tap into the creativity, pleasure and play they probably haven’t experienced since they were a kid. That reintroduction to the simple pleasures in life helps us focus on what’s actually important, and heal the disconnect that got us out of alignment with the Earth’s needs.”
Climate Change has reached crisis levels all around the world, which has added another large layer of stress and anxiety to humanity, especially on an individual level. Adler explained how human connection to nature is a major aspect of holistic healing; “it is where we derive a well-functioning immune system. So when the Earth is hurting, we are as well.”
“Human beings stopped being stewards of the Earth a long time ago, and we have to turn that around. The UN has literally issued a mayday when it comes to the irreversible effects of climate change that the world is already enduring. So how does that macrocosm of global warming/disaster impact the microcosm of our individual journeys of self discovery?”
“Taking in those moments of nature, and a force greater than ourselves, give us the opportunity to reflect on what actually matters in our lives. We aren’t thinking about paying bills or going to work, we’re living in the present moment, connected to the earth, restoring our balance by absorbing the world around us as it is naturally. This creates internal space inside of us for spontaneous insights to emerge that compel us to participate in things we’re actually passionate about. Being outdoors more- since the pandemic, has aided many in gaining a new perspective”
“When it comes to reversing climate change, however, we all know it’s the lawmakers and government officials who really have the power that we need to communicate with. It’s up to us as individuals to give voice to how much we care about reforestation, sustainable energy, for example, as well as preservation of our natural areas in the world in the meantime.”
“America is an exhausted nation. After this year we all found that having more space to breathe, and appreciate life, is not something that should be viewed as a luxury, but a necessity.”
“After last year, so many individuals began focusing on themselves, and through that have realized that they have the tools to create optimal healing from whatever hard time they’re going through. People are making new choices for their health, which in turn is leading to changes in their happiness.
People aren’t going back to the office, they’re realizing that they were on a hamster wheel of 9-5 and commuting and are ready to hit the reset button. We have a very fractured society when it comes to meeting people’s health needs. Healing itself though is an ancient practice, so what I do is really all about supporting people in modern times using techniques that have always worked. There’s something in nature for every malady, in Europe, for example when individuals receive a prescription more times than not it’s a homeopathic remedy as opposed to a pharmaceutical.”
Adler then went on to explain how the field of holistic medicine, and her specific practice, actually works to heal the body, mind, and spirit as one single entity.
“Treating the body, mind, emotions and spirit all at once is an integral part of what I do. When I’m listening to a client tell their story I often interrupt when they bring up some sort of emotional or traumatic experience and ask them where they feel that in their body. For instance, if I’m talking to someone who recently lost a loved one, I’ll ask them where that grief resides inside of them. Where do they physically feel it when those moments of sadness, longing, and grief appear, because that connection could be the key to the individual’s healing.”
“Connecting the dots from the physical pain, to where they feel the emotional aspect of it comes with the breathing. I’ll ask my clients to take a deep breath and tell me where they feel it most. That physical sensation of ‘feeling lighter’ that we all relate to after working through an emotional trauma and taking deep breaths is your body literally telling you that you’re on the right track, and to keep doing what you’re doing in that moment to feel better.”
“After they make that connection between the body and the mind, they can focus on the spiritual connection, which is often where the most healing needs to be done. For some people, a spiritual connection may not mean anything to them, so we present it in the form of a question: When do you give yourself time and space to just live in the present moment and feel a connection to any kind of force greater than yourself? As we’ve seen throughout the past year of the pandemic, more and more people are going outside and connecting with nature, which is a spiritual connection in itself.”
“The issue is a lot of people get disconnected from those bigger forces, especially in times of emotional and physical hardship. That overall trauma can almost always lead to a loss in faith. We saw it this past year with so many individuals losing their faith (in whatever way that means for them) due to the amount of devastation and pain the world has been enduring. But if people can reopen that connection to a force greater than themself, they open the opportunity to understand why they feel so much emotional and/or physical distress, and can release some of the anxiety by getting grounded in the present moment. Simply going out for a walk can help immensely, this also recharges our immune system, and calms our central nervous system.”
“The thing about healing is its body-centered awareness, and holistic health brings us back to those ancient remedies that center around the specific maladies these individuals are dealing with; ancient remedies for a modern world. So we’re just plugging into what’s always been there and reminding people of their inherent healing capability from within without having to look outside of themselves. Of course we need modern medicine, which is why we work as a bridge with the medical field in addition to the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing to better people’s lives.”
“In the same way that general medicine isn’t my field, holistic healing isn’t commonly practiced in traditional medical settings. This divide, however, has led to a greater collaborative effort between these two sectors of medicine so that experts in both fields know how to refer their patients when disease appears and certain treatments don’t work.”
Adler explained how the connection between multiple medical sectors has created almost a new field of medicine in which patients are receiving treatments and therapy for all aspects of their life: We need to be a bridge between the alternative and allopathic. “I want to be clear that there is a functional medicine aspect to what we do. Our graduates from the Brennan School work alongside a lot of functional medicine doctors, or as an adjunct/referral which actually leads to a greater understanding of how they can also benefit one another”.
More doctors in a traditional medical setting are looking at the emotional aspects of certain injuries and diseases in their patients, especially when traditional forms of treatment don’t work. I’ve been sent a lot of patients from functional medical physicians who know that I can help a patient overcome a more internalized layer of whatever they’re going through; aka discovering the nucleus of the disease. More traditional doctors are beginning to recognize the value of this.
We act like an adjunct service, meaning supporting a client to understand the root of dis-ease, which can then aid them in opening to greater healing and to glean the message their body is sending them. This awareness, and any emotional release, can greatly improve their wellbeing even further and create an overall sense of fulfillment in terms of physical, emotional, and spiritual health.”
I was really curious as to the commonalities between Adler’s patients, especially within the past couple of years, and whether or not there is a single source that a majority of people can trace their trauma and emotional distresses back too. While Adler explained to me that obviously everyone is different, all human beings do have one traumatic experience in common with one another; birth.
“Interestingly enough, the root of a lot of our trauma as human beings stems from birth and infancy. We don’t remember our births, and yet things like anxiety, depression, insomnia, chronic headaches, etc. can all be traced back to the trauma that sometimes occurs at birth.”
Adler explained further how while we may not have actual cognitive memories of our birth, our cells in our bodies still carry the trauma: “Very often, when pain is in the body, I’ve found that it can be rooted back to a traumatic birth experience. It sounds obscure, but just because we don’t have a cognitive memory of our birth, that doesn’t mean our bodies don’t remember that entire experience and what it was actually like to go from the safety of our mother’s womb into this big scary world. Our cells have memory, our organs have memory, and they all remember what it was like to go through birth and how painful it was, it just takes growing up for our minds to better understand that connection, and healers can assist a client in feeling and releasing old, stored emotions of anxiety from those first experiences that may linger.”
Adler also discussed how all human beings are creative, or artists in some way, but many of us have neglected the creative parts of ourselves and our interests that are there to help us be fulfilled.
“If you want to be optimally happy, you need to know which plates to spin in the air simultaneously, metaphorically speaking. You need to find the aspects of your life that bring you joy, and create a space for them internally that will help you remain happy in your everyday life-pursuing your interests.”
“People often disconnect themselves from their creativity and art, which is something I always try to encourage. I often discuss this when it comes to healing addiction as well, because addiction is just something that’s distracting us from our actual art and inner creativity. You replace that addiction with the things you love to do, what you’re passionate about. I find that when clients do this, they have all of this energy available to them suddenly when they realize that they do have a gift and they just need to tap into it. We all have gifts, but the logistics of everyday life, and being on that hamster wheel distract us from reaching that full potential, so at times we may use addictions to medicate us from feeling that distraction.”
For Adler, her creativity often takes the form of music and writing, especially singing: “Another amazing aspect of what I enjoy doing is creating music for healing. Obviously with Covid, music performances and singing had to come to a full halt, but I was able to use the pandemic as an opportunity to record my music so that I was still engaging that creative artist part of me that keeps me so emotionally fulfilled.”
“Through my music I always hope to inspire, and to help touch and heal people where they are open to receive the energy we offer in concert. I hope it encourages them to use their art in their unique way as well. I don’t care about ‘performing’’ per se, I want to sing and create with my group, The Souls of Evolution, to help uplift others, to refresh their spirits. This helps for my own balance and to encourage them to tap into their passion for music and focus on healing themselves.”
Adler claims that being able to spread her knowledge to future healers has been one of the most rewarding aspects of her career as well: “I feel like the reason I’ve always been so passionate about this work too is because I’ve really seen the field develop into something amazing throughout the past few decades, and now I’m just so passionate about training the next generation of healers to take these practices into the world and help spread the positivity and relief that they can bring.
I literally train healers from all over the world who go into their communities and spread the joy and positivity that comes with these practices. Knowing that individuals in countries all over the world are receiving this full body healing fulfills me.”
Adler concluded our interview with a very important message to our readers, and how they can work to better heal themselves as we continue to endure the hardships of everyday life:
“I think it’s important that we, as people, take time and space every week to just dream and let life happen. I call this hammock time. Doing this allows us to recharge ourselves on a weekly basis, and separates us from that constantly moving hamster wheel of work, the pandemic and any other stressors in our lives. Connecting to our art, our interests, and our creative side, is crucial for living a fulfilling life. It will help optimize our immune systems as well because tapping into that creative side grounds us in our passion in terms of what’s important in our lives, and lets us focus on our personal well being more than anything.
I invite readers to think about the ‘plates,’ or passions, in their lives that they need to spin to reach an optimal level of happiness and emotional/physical fulfillment. For example, I know I need to be working one-on-one with others as a support, teaching the new generation of healers, and creating musical healing events to satisfy my creativity on all levels. Every single person on this planet has gone out of balance at one point when it comes to their overall happiness and wellbeing. It’s nothing that we should ever feel ashamed about, being a human being is so hard, and the past two years have truly proven that, so don’t let the moments where you fall off track deter you from finding that balance again. Consider what “plates” you need to be spinning.
Say to yourself: ‘my responsibility as an individual is to make myself happy and to notice when my life is getting out of balance. If one of my plates happens to drop or stop spinning, it’s my job to take a step back and figure out what I need to do to get that plate spinning again while keeping every other one balanced as well.’
“Understanding who you are and what makes you feel personally fulfilled is our personal responsibility as humans. When people come to see a healer, they either drop all of their plates and don’t know what to do, or don’t even know what they want to be on their plates in the first place. However, more times than not, they already have the tools they need to heal. Remember, as my mentor Barbara Brennan says “all healing is coming home to the self.”
To learn more about Joy Adler, her practice, and what it means to heal your mind, body, and spirit, click here! To learn more about how Joy uses music specifically for healing, check out her music website here!
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