~The following recently appeared in All About HER, a regional quarterly insert of The Floyd Press and other area newspapers.
Enter quietly ... A place for meditation and contemplation ... reads the chalkboard easel in front of the Living Light Center in Floyd. Inside the spacious main room, incense burns, soft music plays, and a koi fish fountain trickles water as Shirley Ann Burgess, the center's founder, explains how she decided on the name Living Light. "I believe that beyond the personality there is a beautiful light in everyone. The center is about making space for that light to shine," she says.
A mother of three with eighteen years experience in body work, Burgess teaches yoga, is a reiki practitioner and a licensed massage therapist trained in Rolfing Structural Integration, a form of bodywork that reorganizes connective tissues and can positively alter a person's posture and body structure. She recalls sitting in a women's circle years before the center opened and setting her intention. "My vision is to have a center that will provide tools to empower the individual and their health and healing process," she recalls saying.
In Burgess's manifested vision, which became a reality in June 2008, colorful exercise balls and yoga mats invite movement. Local art adorns the walls and folding room dividers suggest versatility of space. There's a sitting area, a desk, a kitchenette, and a massage table set up in small adjoining room. Everything seems placed with an eye towards calming aesthetics.
The sense of calm that permeates the Living Light Center extends beyond the building and onto its surrounding property, where a cedar sauna, a hot tub, and a meditation garden look out onto a view of Buffalo Mountain, Floyd County's highest peak. The garden features large stone croppings - representative of the "stillness within" - placed in the center of a sea of gravel that will be raked into wave patterns. A work in progress being designed in the Japanese tradition by local artist Lora Giessler, the garden will soon be available to the public for meditation and contemplation, Burgess says.
Drawing on Burgess's expertise and the skills of other practitioners, the Living Light center offers a range of holistic healing modalities, including Swedish massage, shiatsu, hot stone therapy, reflexology, acupuncture, quantum bio-dynamics, cranial sacral therapy, naturopathy, breathwork, meditation, pilates, and yoga. Along with ongoing yoga and pilates classes, a reiki circle, and a women's circle, the eco-friendly center hosts workshops and guided hikes on the Buffalo in May and October.
Everything from a 15 minute chair massage to a 90 minute table massage followed by a hot tub is available at Living Light. Massage, sauna, and hot tub packages are offered by appointment or for walk-in traffic on Fridays and Saturday from 4 - 6 p.m. "We're geared towards working with the residents of Floyd and surrounding areas and visiting tourists. Farmers, lawyers, professors ... singles, couples, and groups ... children from infancy to people in their 80's have used our services," Burgess explains.
A leader in Floyd's growing holistic health care movement, Burgess believes in an "integrated health system" where doctors and practitioners communicate and work together. She'd like to put Floyd on the holistic health map. In May she initiated a first meeting to bring interested parties together. Approximately twenty people, mostly practitioners, attended. "Everyone from doctors to chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists," Burgess remembers.
Known as the Floyd Holistic Health Network, the group meets regularly and is currently working on a directory of holistic health providers and their locations. In January, the network is scheduled to do a series of public presentations and demonstrations under the sponsorship of Floyd's Jessie Peterman Library.
Outside the Living Light Center, Burgess stands by the hot tub and sets the scene of an upcoming event: A day hike to the Buffalo with a catered picnic lunch, followed by a massage and a dip in the hot tub, where participants can soak, reflect back to the Buffalo, and enjoy the fall foliage while sipping tea.
"Yes, we serve tea," Burgess says. "It's really all about the client. What their needs are and what they want." She explains that the idea behind Living Light is to provide the encouragement and space for people to nurture themselves, so that they will then have energy to nurture others. "We want people to slow down. Go inside. Not feel hurried," she says. ~ Colleen Redman
Post notes: Shirley Ann is also a soccer mom who raisers goats. See the completed meditation garden. HERE. The last photo is of a Mother and Children's Night Out at Living Light. Scroll HERE for more Floyd Press stories.