A Life Worth Reading
Apr 29, 2015 08:47AM
● By Linda Sechrist
Bookstore shelves filled with biographies, autobiographies and memoirs offer evidence that stories of life’s adventures and transformational moments are of interest to others. If reading isn’t a personal pastime, then a closer study of the individual’s visible life can often reveal evidence of their quest and most significant life-changing experiences that can be learned from. For Heather Burch, co-owner of Shangri-La Spa, in Bonita Springs, and Brigid’s Crossing, in Naples, the surface reveals clues that even Sherlock Holmes would consider quite elementary.The first pivotal moment in Burch’s life occurred at an early age, and her passion for nutritious eating and serving healthy, organic foods at Shangri-La is the result. Burch recalls that even as a child, her concern for her mother’s health took precedence in her mind. “By the time I was 10 years old, Mom had grown weary of taking medications for her heart problems and suddenly announced that she was throwing them away. That’s when we began eating only healthy foods. My parents cleaned out the kitchen pantry, read and applied what they learned from books by Adelle Davis, a well-known author and nutritionist who advocated strongly for supplementation and a healthy diet without processed foods. Shortly thereafter, mom became a healthy and carefree woman who is now 88 years old,” says Burch.
Burch’s keen interest in natural health is obvious in her affection for Shangri-La Springs, as well as the variety of health-oriented programs she chooses to offer there—multiple forms of yoga (ashtanga, vinyasa flow and yin), Nia, qigong, Reiki, acupressure, crystal bowl sound baths and transformational breath classes. The venue gives her the opportunity to follow her father’s advice, which provided the second transformational moment that took place at Unity of Naples during her mid-20s. Burch clearly recalls the simple moment in the Sunday service ritual that changed her life forever.
“Everyone was holding hands and singing, ‘Let there be peace on Earth,’ when something indescribable flooded my body. I was so moved by the feeling that I began to cry and couldn’t stop for three hours. My very wise father leaned into me and said, ‘You are a smart woman and very good at what you do, but don’t you think it’s time to follow the path of your heart?’” Unsure of the meaning behind the comment, Burch slowly began to reorganize her life to make room for quiet time in nature. “One of the first things I did after easing out of real estate and finance was to go hiking with a friend at Glacier National Park and the Grand Tetons,” explains Burch.
Burch’s love for the beauty of natural landscapes is evident in the way she nurtures, celebrates and preserves Shangri-La, a United Stated Department of Agriculture Certified Organic property. “The first time I came here, I knew I was stepping on sacred ground. I hope everyone who attended the Planet Earth Festival in March felt that, too.”
Burch’s heartfelt desire to commune with nature is the result of reading books by Tom Brown Jr., America’s most acclaimed outdoorsman, renowned tracker, teacher and author. “I learned wilderness survival skills from Tom, and then decided to try them out for a few days in the state of Washington. I enjoyed my first time so much I returned. What I thought was going to be a two-week trip lasted for two months. During that time, I became so comfortably immersed in nature that I experienced a state of oneness. Life was deeply different after that,” she remarks.
While it may not be realistic to think that every individual can be read like a book, it’s definitely possible to see if a three-dimensional, spirit-led life contains a deeper and richer story worth pursuing. Burch’s, which is full of even more such experiences, would require several volumes.
Shangri-La Springs is located at 27750 Old 41 Rd., in Bonita Springs. For more information, call 239-949-0749 or visit ShangriLaSprings.com.