Illuminate offers healing for mind, body and soul
MIDDLEBURY — Samantha Isenberger has been a practicing massage therapist since 2008. As she was building her practice she rented different spaces and moved to several locations around Middlebury, but she had a vision for a space she could one day call her own.
In August of 2015 she realized that dream and moved into 211 Maple St. in the Marble Works.
The space had recently been vacated by Otter Creek Kitchenware & Electronics, a business that moved up to Merchants Row for more foot traffic. Some may have called it an odd transition to go from a kitchenware store to a massage space, but it seemed a perfect fit for Isenberger. With a fully functional kitchen also in the space, Isenberger could operate her other job of baking for Stone Leaf Teahouse in the same location. (Isenberger and her husband, John Wetzel, own Stone Leaf, which is also in the Marble Works district just a few paces away.)
A comfortable room for massage and an infrared sauna were built into the open space, but otherwise the space needed very little work before Isenberger could move in.
“It started out with just me doing massage and baking in the space, but I knew it would evolve into a more integrated space for well-being,” she said.
Soon enough, she had her first partner. Andrew Noethiger is a local percussionist, gong and sound enthusiast who hosts “sound baths” or “sound immersions” in a variety of locations around the state.
Isenberger met Noethiger and invited him to host a sound bath in her space that fall. A sound bath is a type of therapy where the subject lies down and has a series of singing bowls placed on and around their body; the sound of the reverberating bowls is said to lower stress and take one into a deep meditative state, among other benefits.
Since he first came to Illuminate, Noethiger has hosted a sound immersion at studio almost every month, attracting between five and 15 people each time. During the hour-long immersion participants sit or lie on the ground with mats, cushions, pillows and blankets and relax as the rhythmic experience resonates through the mind, body and soul. Noethiger transitions and blends the sounds made by several different gongs, bowls, bells and chimes, each filling the space with a “sonic soundspace” that seems to penetrate and cleanse the body.
Through her own pursuit of herbal healing and knowledge, Isenberger met and studied with Emily French, an herbalist who also operates Sweetgrass Herbals. French offers herbal consultations, classes and clinics for healing through plants. On Wednesdays at Illuminate, French offers a community herbal clinic, inviting participants to join for an accessible way to learn more about healing through herbal medicine.
Like Isenberger, French believes strongly in the exponential healing power of an integrated approach to well-being.
“One of the key components to the collective is that we all believe that each modality supports the others to aid in well-being,” Isenberger said. “There’s no sense of competition or protection over one form of practice or another because we understand that each is supporting another element of health.”
Isenberger and Melissa Mae are the two massage therapists at Illuminate, offering integrated massage, reflexology, sauna sessions and guided meditation. Massage primarily focuses on healing through muscle tissue.
Rachel Edwards, another member of the Illuminate collective, is a practitioner of Chinese medicine who offers acupuncture to target organs and healing through a different yet compatible modality. Edwards also offers a Tai Chi Chuan class on Tuesday evenings at Illuminate. The class offers fundamentals of Tai Chi Chuan as well as similar exercises and meditation.
And Tom Jackson offers a mind-body skills group to focus on healing through the mind. Jackson’s eight-week class teaches practices to reduce stress, increase self awareness, stimulate creativity, develop effective coping skills and cultivate emotional and mental balance.
In total, Illuminate houses five regular practitioners, including Isenberger, who owns and manages the space. Noethiger’s monthly events would make six, plus John Wetzel, who keeps an office for Stone Leaf Tea in the space as well.
Together, these practitioners cover well-being by focusing on healing through mind, muscle, organ, plant and energy. Isenberger is encouraged by this balanced group of practitioners and the range of healing methods offered in her space.
“Each person is very skilled at what they do and we came together very organically, which I feel very grateful for,” she said.
Each regularly refer their patients to other practitioners in the collective and stay aware and attentive to each others practices so they can comfortably suggest other services that could benefit their clients.
“I hope that sometime in the future we will be able to offer joint consultations for patients where two or more providers could meet collectively with a patient to discuss the best course of care, but we’ll see how that develops over time,” Isenberger said.
For now, the schedule is fairly full, but each practitioner is accepting patients at Illuminate and routine classes welcome new participants anytime. For more information on Illuminate and any of these practitioners or classes, visit illuminatemassageandcollective.com.
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