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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Southwest Floridians Shine a Light on their Mentors

Jul 31, 2019 11:43AM ● By Linda Sechrist

Today, it appears that the transformative power of a one-on-one mentorship frequently eludes the majority of individuals. The result of this short supply of the physical presence of a wise mentor capable of imparting the kind of deep wisdom and insight needed for personal and spiritual growth is that thousands of individuals adopt authors and workshop leaders as mentors. This substitution has been particularly helpful to individuals seeking to learn and grow within the areas of alternative and integrative medicine, as well as in spirituality and consciousness.

Authors and Workshop Leaders as Mentors

A single, sound piece of wisdom or metaphorical story from an author or workshop leader seasoned in their area of expertise can change an individual’s frame of reference forever. One "Aha!" moment holds the potential for catapulting us into a new way of thinking faster than years of study or daily spiritual practice.

This month, Southwest Florida health practitioners, spiritual teachers and healers tell Natural Awakenings readers how authors and workshop leaders have impacted their lives and provided the inspiration and knowledge that forms the foundation of their work today. We get snippets about how mentors that aren’t physically present in our lives can still help us grow in everything from developing a healing path that integrates medical, esoteric and natural methods; how focusing on an individual’s needs strengthens servant leadership, the link between the spiritual and emotional bodies, and the connection between underlying stresses and specific illnesses, food as medicine; how the discovery of purpose can serve as life’s compass, the power of energy work and breathing exercises; how Chinese medicine addresses physical imbalances; and how critical thinking can lead to understanding what it means to be truly human.

booksDona Parker, owner of Tree of Light Whole Body Rejuvenation Center, in Naples

Dona Parker’s list of books read on health and nutrition is long. She cites The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and Thomas Campbell II as the most impactful, and notes that the teachings of a powerful spiritual leader became a serious catalyst for change. “He made me think about finding the true meaning of my life and how my actions and thoughts affected my whole being. This led me to realize that I had a bigger purpose as a humanitarian.”

Tree of Light of Light Whole Body Rejuvenation Center, 806 Neapolitan Way, Naples. 239-692-9367.

Alvina Quatrano, founder of Art of Holistic Massage, in Naples

Alvina Quatrano names Inner Bridges: A Guide to Energy Movement and Body Structure, by Zero Balancing originator Dr. Fritz Frederick Smith, M.D., and Waking to Eden, by Dr. Michele Doucette, as two books that most influenced her career as a massage therapist. “Dr. Smith’s down-to-earth style and descriptions of energy, while divinely inspired, were so simple that I thought, ‘Well, I know that!’”

Quatrano says, “Michele’s healing path after a miscarriage opened up my mind to integrating medical, esoteric and natural methods, as well as nature, into my practice. Michele sees a healing journey as a spiritual practice that can embrace the tarot, I Ching, process acupressure, Zero Balancing, chiropractic, massage, dance, song, flower essences, art, love, prayer, science, community, work, gratitude, ancestral healing, astrology and fun.”

Art of Holistic Massage, 732-266-5276.

Charles Caccamesi, owner of Acupuncture Care of Naples

Charles Caccamesi, AP DOM, wrestled with picking one book out of the many he considered seminal. “I chose The Silva Mind Control Method, by Jose Silva and Philip Miel. It gave me interesting tools to work with. Practicing creative visualization helped me enter a state of mind where I first applied their methods to art forms such as guitar improv, tai chi and photography. This generated a creative connection to source, allowing my imagination to thrive. I used speed learning to sharpen my memory for exams. These tools created focus and intention in my acupuncture practice long before the book and film The Secret.”

Acupuncture Care of Naples, 501 Goodlette Rd. N., Ste. D100, Naples. 239-877- 2531.

booksCindy Carfore, owner of AHA! A Holistic Approach Center, in Fort Myers

A very small book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, left a big impression on Cindy Carfore’s life. “The four simple, yet powerful agreements were very profound—Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally (my biggest challenge). Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. Some of these came easier than others. Once I was truly able to achieve acceptance of them, I was more at peace. The shift didn’t happen overnight, but when it did, it freed up energy that I was expending mentally, physically and emotionally. I still remember the sense of wonderment and awe at the simplicity and the power of the agreements when it finally clicked.”

AHA! A Holistic Approach Center, 15971 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. 239-243-8423.

Jeffrey E. Berger, Amare Global Wellness Partner

An Anthony Robbins Business Mastery 2016 workshop changed life for Jeffrey E. Berger. “Wanting to exit corporate America, the workshop began to solidify my belief and mindset necessary to change and create a business for myself. It began with ‘attitude’ and how I perceived, approached and reacted to things. Adopting a positive attitude has had a profound impact on how I’ve responded to things in and outside of business. Learning about the power of listening to and appreciating personal stories led me to become a servant leader, focusing on an individual’s needs. It’s the soil in which real relationships begin to grow and flourish.”

Amare Global, 716-579-2150. [email protected].

Laurie Barraco, owner of Mystical Moon, in Bonita Springs and Fort Myers

Laurie Barraco’s most influential book is Beyond Common Thought, by Jacqueline T. Snyder. “It’s about consciousness and connecting to source directly through raising one’s consciousness by becoming more in tune with one’s thoughts and belief systems. I learned from Jacqueline that we often complicate the path to self-awareness with ego’s distractions. I’ve read this book at least 10 times, and each time I uncover another morsel of soul truth.”

Mystical Moon, 8890 Salrose Ln, Ste. 107, Ft. Myers. 239-939-3339; 8951 Bonita Beach Road, Ste. 255, Bonita Springs. 239-301-0655.

Lisa Doyle, owner of Blue Star Biofeedback, in Fort Myers

Certified Biofeedback Specialist Lisa Doyle’s most beloved book is Anatomy of Spirit, by Caroline Myss. “It remained by my side during a previous health crisis. I learned from Carolyn about the links between the spiritual and emotional bodies and the underlying stresses aligned with specific illnesses. It affirmed for me that we humans are 98 percent energy and perfectly designed and powerful enough to have energetic breakthroughs to healing.”

Blue Star Biofeedback, 239-851-4729.

Deb and David Martin, owners of Lotus Blossom Clinic, in Fort Myers

Deb and David Martin chose a 2013 workshop. “In Qi Revolution, a three-day seminar led by Jeff Primack, we were introduced to the high-phytochemical food healing system that Jeff writes about in Conquering Any Disease. Within a week, we were studying and personally utilizing the information. Within six weeks, we were designing classes for patients and the general public,” say the Martins, who were drawn not only to the roots of this food system based on Chinese medicine, but also to the scientifically validated information and research studies regarding edible plants, their phytochemicals and their specific effects on the body systems, explains Deb.

The Martins also learned qigong, a Chinese energy movement practice, from Primack and began a daily practice. “The three-day Qi Revolution seminars are filled with qigong, powerful breathing practices, food-as-medicine information and key headliners from other important representatives of natural health practices,” says David.

Lotus Blossom Clinic, 6710 Winkler Rd., Ste. 2, Fort Myers.

Dr. Marsha Armstrong, Guided by Divine Grace, in Naples

Dr. Marsha Armstrong felt spiritually guided to is A Course In Miracles published by the Foundation For Inner Peace. “At the time, I was unclear about how to be the conduit of the divine energy that flows through me. There was no one that I knew who could help me understand what to do. I was directed to the chapter in this influential book that simply gave me the answers that I was looking for: ‘I am here only to be truly helpful.’ ‘I am here to represent Him Who sent me.’ ‘I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do, because He Who sent me will direct me.’ ‘I am content to be wherever He wishes, knowing He goes there with me.’ ‘I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal.’"

Guided By Divine Grace, 4851 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste 200, Naples. 941-500-9022.

Monica Dabney, AP, in Naples

A self-professed book worm and seeker of knowledge, Dr. Monica Dabney selected Rooted in Spirit: The Heart of Chinese Medicine, by Claude Larre, S.J. and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallee (translated by Sarah Stang). “This book reflects the academic discipline that focuses on the study of China, primarily through Chinese thought, language, literature, culture and history. It is an interpretation of chapter eight of the Huangdi Neijing Lingshu, the ancient classic on needle therapy. The root of the spiritual aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is based on the Tao. From it, I derived much information and a deeper view into the root cause of my patient's diseases. The knowledge within the book transcends time and space, providing a beautiful and deep view into the spirit or source of a person's imbalances causing illnesses and how to address them from a Chinese Medicine Doctor's perspective.

Monica Dabney, 305-967-0626,

Terri Evans, DOM, owner of Tai Healthy Aging Center, in Naples

Terri Evans cites a life-changing critical thinking workshop led by Dr. Stephen I. Ries she took in the 1980s at the Human Development Institute (HDI) in LaGrange, Illinois. Evans fortunately found her mentor and eventually became a certified critical thinking instructor for HDI, where Ries was a professor. Under his mentorship, she taught his workshops in Illinois and then moved to California to continue teaching. “This was the springboard to ‘The Way’, my workshops that have been evolving since the 1980s. I’ve had many great teachers and mentors, but Dr. Ries was the most profound. Everything I learned from him provided a solid foundation for all I’ve since learned, as well as my passion to pass along to others the gifts shared with me so they can also reach the depth of in-sight and discover what it means to be truly human.”

Tae Healthy Aging Center, 11983 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 100A, Naples. 239-430-6800.

Rev Denise Schubert, spiritual director of Open Path Retreat Center, in Cape Coral

Spiritual Liberation, by Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, was inspirational, educational, practical, deep, pragmatic and empowering to Rev. Denise Schubert. “One of the most impactful aspects was the book’s title. Liberation means to be freed from addiction to the world, from the past, and our own limiting thinking. It occurred to me that the only true liberation is a spiritual one rather than a human one. We can be arrested, addicted, jailed or chained, and yet inherent within us is the truth of our freedom. When we find this, embody and express it, we are liberated. In the Beloved Community chapter that I felt was especially moving, Dr. Beckwith connects the deep message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—how can we move in this world as ourselves and simultaneously as world citizens— with what it means to be a ‘spiritual revolutionary’ today. In my opinion, all of us could be asking ourselves this question every day.”

Open Path Retreat Center, 2307 Bolado Pkwy., Cape Coral. 239-297-0129. OpenPath.Live.

Beth Rinella-Brown, owner of Goddess I Am Healing & Art Center, in Naples

The student, Beth Rinella-Brown, was ready when her spiritual teacher, Panache Desai, appeared at Unity of Naples. “He was there presenting a Discovering Your Soul Signature: A 33-Day Path to Purpose, Passion & Joy workshop on his book of the same name. He became a mentor and a friend; someone I’ve really grown with and who has taken me from where I’d gotten to myself to places where I thought I’d never be. That could be because he’s good at asking questions that make me stop hiding behind my excuses, to continue being more authentic and transparent in all I do.”

Goddess I Am Healing & Art Center, 600 Goodlette Rd., Naples. 239-228-6949,

According to author and leadership guru John C. Maxwell, “One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help individuals navigate a course to their destination.” Although friends and peers will share their wisdom and perceptions, it is respect for the experience and insights of a mentor that an individual is more likely to accept and apply. While we're wired for blazing our own trails, seeking the fresh perspective of a mentor makes success more likely, perhaps reflecting the meaning of the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”