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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Interwoven Local Communities Uplift and Empower

by Gisele Rinaldi Siebold

Within a three-dimensional human being lies an intricate connection of body, mind and spirit that is unique. As individuals, we share threads of life with others, weaving the fabric of small groups, which then have the opportunity to gather and form a multicolored, woven tapestry that becomes a larger community.

The Lancaster-Berks Pennsylvania Natural Awakenings community is a good example of this model of community formation. Individuals and small groups from the disciplines­ of local farming, healthy foods, yoga, fitness, holistic health and wellness, body work, energy work, spiritual growth, self-awareness and the arts have collectively formed a larger and loosely connected community that supports and serves the collective good of the group and the public community at large.

The Farming Community brings the goodness of the earth to the table. Regenerating the soil and offering a nutrient-dense bounty, local farmers take their role seriously. Striving to care for the land, the animals, those working in the fields and those being fed, reverence for the process motivates the farming torch to be passed from one generation to another and inspires exploration for new farmers as well. Children are growing up in farming families, planting and growing the food they eat on urban plots, and in schoolyard and community gardens, understanding how delicious food tastes when it’s grown with their own hands in healthy soil.

For people who want to make a difference, the Rodale Institute, located in Kutztown, is an outlet for people in the region, and beyond, to be inspired. And it was created to be a resource for the public. “We are trying to change the world, and we need partners to make that happen, so we welcome everyone—families, school groups, visitors, educators and farmers––to come and discover what we are all about,” explains Diana Martin, director of communications.

“The way we treat the soil is in reality the way we treat ourselves,” says Jeff Moyer, chief executive officer. “We don’t have to feed people for 20 years or 50 years, we may need to feed people for 10,000 years, and we need to improve the health of the soil in order to do that.”

The Healthy Food Community works with local farmers and producers to provide the opportunity to purchase fresh, flavorful, in-season produce, dairy, seafood, eggs, meat and poultry. Eating fruits and vegetables in season brings an appreciation for the food’s authentic taste, eaten when it’s grown, quenching hunger and fueling the body’s desire to innately appreciate eating what each season provides.

“We care for the future of the Earth and its environment just as much as we care about the health and well-being of our customers,” says Patricia Haverstick, owner of Lemon Street Market, in Lancaster. “We strive to cultivate food, health and community.”

We cozy up in autumn and winter to soups, stews and chilis made with Pennsylvania-grown meats and veggies, crisped, roasted hearty greens and cobblers made with orchard apples and cherries, along with vine-ripened pumpkin pie. Succulent berries and lighter fare are enjoyed in spring and summer when they grow naturally. Our palates are excited to experience these seasonal items at their peak as the growing season calls for them.

“People hunger to have an experience of human interaction,” shares Sharon Landis, owner of Zest! specialty cooking store and cooking school, in Lititz. “It’s a journey of learning.”

The Yoga Community ripples its life-changing offerings throughout all age groups. Through the practice of yoga, children, teens and adults are learning how poses build quiet, inner strength and patience, and how meditating and slowing down help us understand that being is worth as much, if not more to our wellness journey, as doing.

“Classical yoga emphasizes all of the tenets of a healthy lifestyle including nutrition, body awareness, stress reduction and time-tested philosophies promoting mindfulness and kindness to others,” says Roberta Strickler, RYT-E-500 teacher.

“Yoga is spirituality and relationship,” shares Dr. Sudha Allitt, co-founder and director of Kula Kamala Foundation & Yoga Ashram, in Reading. “When life, and the relationships held within that experience, is based on the practice of yoga, a more complete feeling of happiness, wholeness and wellness are experienced.”

The Fitness Community empowers us to find strength in choosing to move, whether at a Pilates studio, core training facility or open gym, taking part in barre, cycling or dance classes or by experiencing urban walking, rural exploration or forest bathing. With concerns about brain health making headlines, moving regularly circulates blood flow, encourages active participation and strengthens not only our bodies but our minds as well.

“We are a vibrant community with a passion for movement,” says Cara Dienner, co-owner of Elevate Fitness, in Akron. “Regardless of body shape or size, moving with confidence strengthens us within, both physically and mentally.” 

We’re uplifting our human selves with each breath and step we take moving forward, not because someone is telling us to get physically fit, but because it feels good to inhale deeply, exhale slowly, perspire readily and move freely.

The Wellness Community cares for the health of the body, mind and spirit and encourages us to set aside time to go inward for reflection and make connections with others in meaningful conversation. We’re setting down our devices and making eye contact. We’re growing our capacity for good by strengthening the bonds we have with one another. We’re caring about the human spirit as an amazing source of vibrance that can positively influence our health.

“Everything is energy, and every cell, every organ, every thought, every word, every layer of our energy field, our very being as a whole, all have their own healthy frequency,” explains Lana Ryder, sound and energy practitioner and owner of Soundwise Health. “Every part of every flower, every plant, every food, every place, all have their own healthy frequency. When we understand that everything has frequency, we are able to make healthier choices with regard to what we hear, what we see or watch, what we will eat and drink, what we want in relationships and what we want to surround us.”

The Holistic Community is finding ways to uplift our health using nutrition, fitness and exercise, functional medicine, Ayurveda, herbs, naturopathic medicine, halotherapy and ways to boost the immune system. Strengthening the foundation upon which all else is built and returning to nature suggests avenues to consider when looking to improve our health.

“As a community, the more we understand about how we get nutrition from the foods we eat and how to further our own knowledge of what our bodies need to thrive, the more likely we are to be able to make educated decisions regarding our health care, and the healthier we’ll be,” shares Jeannie Peck, traditional naturopath, licensed health professional and owner of Health By Design, in Leola.

The Bodywork Community is shining light upon the healing power of touch through massage, reiki, Eden Energy Medicine, physical therapy, Traditional Chinese acupuncture, CranioSacral therapy, reflexology and other forms of therapy. Health benefits abound and relaxation is a welcome side effect.

“Combining ancient practices with contemporary scientific understanding enables application to physical and emotional issues, promoting joyful living and wellness,” shares Deb Gallagher, registered nurse, certified Eden Energy Practitioner and owner of Restore Your Energy, in Lancaster.

The Spiritual Community supports learning through story or past experiences of ourselves and others in order to strengthen relationships and deepen connections. “I find it so exciting that communities of spirituality and faith are exploring how ancient wisdom and practices connect within and across faith traditions,” says David Peck, the parish priest at Saint James Church in downtown Lancaster.

From regenerative farming to sound journey meditations, the communities that intersect through Natural Awakenings magazine create strong, real, creative connections that are life-changing and sustainable. Respect and gratitude for the Earth, its land and ecosystems and the people who are walking the journey together in our surrounding areas has created love overflowing.

A community brimming with love sows the seeds of positivity and strength for a new dawning, a renewed sense of hope, the possibility of a brighter tomorrow. By uplifting ourselves and opening up to display our brightest threads of positivity, we find the strength, courage and motivation to reach out and uplift our fellow weavers as we unfurl the tapestry of community that we are all so capable of creating. It is in this uncovering that we shine the light on the darkness and illuminate our capacity for amazingness.