Guest Series: Mary Heavens Wellness Journey

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What a long, interesting and introspective trip it’s been. My journey with wellness began 17-years ago in the Fall of 2002, when I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.

A  freshman in college and away from home for the first time, I was in for some immeasurably frightening and confusing times. Unfortunately, the fears weren’t centered around being homesick they were in the vein of panic attacks, severe brain fog, dizziness, blurry vision, anxiety & loss of ability to read. A truly terrifying and destabilizing time, which lead me to take a leave of absence from school to pursue treatment.  Instead of acclimating to collegiate life, I was frequenting my Lyme doctor’s office 3-4 times a week for iv therapy ( antibiotics, ozone treatments & vitamin-c drips). Trading in my pencil case for a make-up case full of prescription medications to treat & manage multiple Lyme co-infections. This became my daily life for a year straight. It was this very time that I began to truly cultivate my sense of faith and trust in all process. I had to be truly present and living moment to moment, because nothing was certain nor was it promised. Insert deep breaths here. (As a side note, I do feel it’s important to share that this was not an immediate diagnosis, it took a myriad of months & tests to determine. A fall full of brain scans, blood tests, neurologists, immunologists, cardiologists & psychiatrists. This is Lyme. )

After a year of getting a really well-rounded western medical education via all the treatments and avenues I traveled (which was very fascinating to me), I was able to resume school  at the University of Rhode Island and graduate a year later than originally anticipated. Post-graduation, I entered the corporate fashion world, where I would soon learn to navigate the emotionally challenging charge around this industry & these type of work environments. I also was not completely in the clear, health wise. After being on several antibiotics for over a year, my gut microbiome was completely decimated which led to a slew of digestive issues, chronic sinus infections & severe fatigue. Unimpressed with the ‘solutions’ doctors & specialists provided, I really took my health into my own hands. I would spend hours daily researching holistic and natural cures for chronic fatigue, brain fog,  understanding the mechanism for how we get sick and how we can heal.

My complete love affair with health, the human body & wellness had been completely fostered. This ultimately beckoned me out west to San Francisco, an epicenter of holistic healing, to experience a new pace of life.

Fast forward to my move out to California, life in San Francisco would soon prove to also be a beautiful struggle, because geography doesn’t solve anything. Wish I truly understood what this meant before  I zigzagged my way through my 20’s, but this experience was meant for me. While living in SF, I developed a back injury during a workout class, which would soon escalate into full blown body inflammation. In this time, I discovered Bikram Yoga (a style of hot yoga), which was a saving grace for me. Unbeknownst to me, the real silver lining would be the yoga instructor that introduced me to the work of Dr. John Sarno who wrote ‘ Healing Back Pain.’ This book was  the prelude to me truly understanding the concept of mind body medicine, that would later become the framework for which my Acupuncture Graduate program would be based on. Long story short, I read this book, began to understand how the mind and body are inextricably connected and my back pain completely disappeared.

Yes, my pain was physical, but the emotions were dictating my overall stress response, which incited inflammation in my entire body- hello, pain! Understanding this was a complete game changer and I was hooked, wanted to know everything and more. 

Upon my return back to the East coast, I began to further develop my spiritual practice and started receiving frequent Acupuncture, which was also so supportive to me during my bout with Lyme. I fell completely in love with it and could no longer deny that I was time to make the shift the from corporate to wellness. What really solidified things was a trip to an esoteric bookshop in Manhattan a week before my 30th birthday( 5 years ago). I picked up a book off the shelf, called – ‘The Web that Has No Weaver (this happens to be a quintessential text for understanding Chinese medicine).’ The moment I opened it, I knew that I was supposed to go to Acupuncture school. I was ready to trade in my 9-5 for a 24/7 career in healing Within the next week, I applied for school gave my notice at my job & the rest is history!

Well not entirely, Acupuncture school is very rigorous academically and emotionally. Some days felt like my brain was going to explode and often questioned whether it was the ‘right path’ for me. Going  through this Master’s Program felt like a major initiation, which can be very confronting. Lots of uncertainty, self-doubt and lack of self-love was revealed to me. These are core wounds that can be shown to us in difficult times. What’s important about them making themselves known is that, once they’ve been revealed, they can be healed. In order to process these emotions and manage the weight of this undertaking, I found breathwork. In my breathwork & Acupuncture studies, I became obsessed with the nervous system and how suppressed emotional trauma lives in us at a cellular level, ‘ our issues are in our tissues.’  This propelled me to receive official training, so I could further my at-home practice & facilitate one-on-one sessions / breathwork healing circles. This practice has been very grounding, healing & helps to get me out of my thinking brain and into my body. 

In case you are wondering, Breathwork is an active form of meditation that swiftly brings us out of our busy minds and back into our bodies. It connects us with our heart centers, strengthens our intuition, removes emotional blocks and helps us cultivate a deeper sense of self-love. It is an incredibly moving therapy that can increase mental clarity, release stress from the body & improve sleep/digestion.  It is wonderful to experience and see what comes up for you! 

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In short, I  am delighted to have had the opportunity to share this with all of you, because being a human is hard. What I can honestly say is that, if you are going through it, keep going, there is light & new life waiting for you.  Through all the trials, murky moments, dark days, there is so much opportunity. You are so guided, supported and loved. We’re in this together! What changed my life is when I began to harness the truth that my body is a messenger and that things are happening for me, not to me. It’s been a long and windy journey to get here, it hasn’t been simple, its not linear, but it’s mine. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be loved, may you be at peace. 


Mary Heaven

(Find out more about Mary & her practice by clicking here!)