Friday, November 30, 2012

Donations to the Frederick Food Bank

It is so nice to reflect on all the things we are thankful for.  However, there are plenty of people (even in our own community) who are not as fortunate and even struggle to put food on their tables.  As a way to help and give to those in need, Healing Circles Wellness Center is starting a non-perishable food collection.  There will be a collection box in the waiting room, and we encourage everyone to take a look in their pantries, or add a few extra food items to their next grocery list and help us give back.     

We will be donating everything to the Frederick Food Bank.  We do not have an exact end date for this, as we hope to continue to contribute during the winter season. 

 What can you donate?  Any non-perishable food! !  However, they are in dire need of canned fruit and canned meats.   You can also donate outdoor winter items such as new socks, hats, gloves, etc. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask any of our clinicians.  You can also contact the Frederick Food Bank directly and speak with the coordinator, Sarah McAleavy at or 301-600-6263.

We thank you in advance for your open hearts.  May we all find love and joy during this holiday season.  

Drop in Meditation Group for January/February

Drop-in Evening Meditation Group for January & February 2013

Need a mid-week recharge? Join Pam McDonald for a rejuvenating Wednesday evening meditation

Upcoming meditation dates: Wednesday, January 16th and February 6th and 20th

At each gathering, Pam will share a short inspirational reading followed by a guided meditation.

Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Cost: by donation                   Time: 6:00 – 6:45 p.m.

RSVP’s appreciated. For more information, please call Pam at 301-712-9015, x1022 or email at On the web:

30 Day Meditation Coaching Begins February 4th!

30-Day Meditation Coaching Program with Pam McDonald begins Monday, February 4th!

Pam will guide you to discover and experience meditations that fit your needs and lifestyle. The meditation coaching package includes:

  •  4 weekly, 45-minute meditation practice and coaching sessions at Healing Circles
  •  4 digitally recorded meditations to keep your practice going
  •  Daily emails to inspire and strengthen your practice
  •  Personalized coaching and instruction to fit your needs

Dates: Register now for the February 2013 coaching series! It starts Monday, February 4th with an introductory email.

Meditation practice times:  Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. 

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Special Offer: Receive 30 days of supportive meditation coaching for only $100.

To register, please call Pam McDonald at 301-712-9015, x1022 or email at On the web:

An Integrative Approach to Anxiety: Herbs

An Herbalist's Approach

Anxiety presents itself in many ways and can be caused by many circumstances.  It can dominate someone's body acutely, causing heart palpitations, nausea, and insomnia, or it can be a constant background noise that causes frustration and impatience.  Anxiety can be caused by internal or external circumstances, and reflects the complex interaction between the mind and the body.  Like many complex interactions, the experience of anxiety can turn into a self-perpetuating cycle with no seeming endpoint.  If the experience is not corrected, it becomes habitual.  Herbalists and nutritionists are trained to support the body's needs while techniques are being used to modify the mind-body connection. The very act of supporting the body can often nip anxiety in the bud, but usually the person will need to follow through with conscious effort to modify the mind patterns of anxiety. 

Here are the specifics: 

When someone is experiencing anxiety, many of the physical symptoms result from holding tension in the body.  Depending on which muscles are involved, the person may experience tense, wiry neck and shoulder muscles, jitters or tremors in the extremities, nausea, IBS, or heart palpitations.  Herbal medicine is wonderful for helping the body to relax some of that tension!  There are herbs known as antispasmodics that send relaxation signals to the muscles.  In turn, the muscles communicate to the brain that the body has become relaxed, and then the brain is able to change the patterning that caused the anxious sensations.  Certain herbs have affinities for different areas of the body, and an herbalist is trained in knowing those specialties.  

A good herbalist doesn't just compensate for tense muscles, but looks to support the health of whole body and address all of the manifestations and causes of anxiety.  The main class of calming herbs is known as nervines.  These herbs calm and soothe the nervous system which controls the immediate communication between the brain and the body.  This is an important function of herbs, and every client of mine is given some sort of nervine to help deal with the stresses of everyday life.  Again, nervines have special areas of the body where they like to work.  We have all heard of chamomile tea for soothing the stomach.  St. John's wort seems to work best with nourishing the structure of the nerves themselves, passionflower works well for those who can't seem to get out of the circular thinking of their brain, and skullcap tends to be best for those who hold tension in their neck and shoulder muscles.   Herbs have personalities just like people, and herbalists serve as a sort of dating service to match the right herbs with the right people.  

An important class of herbs known as adaptogens is the key to surviving in our modern society.  Adaptogens help restore normal functioning of the endocrine system and the whole body, and help the body adapt to stressors.  They specifically work with the pituitary and adrenal glands, the "stress" glands of our bodies.  They help to calm excessive secretions and increase deficient secretions of stress hormones, helping communication to work more smoothly.  These herbs can have profound impacts on blood sugar balance, sleep, libido, and brain function.   Two notably calming adaptogens are holy basil, which impacts blood sugar, brain function, and mood, and Ashwagandha root, which impacts sleep, libido, nervous irritation, and brain function.

We can't leave this discussion without talking about the brain-gut connection.  Many people are unaware that you have a second brain in the nerves of your digestive tract.  This brain operates independently of our head brain, but communicates with it constantly through our nervous system.  If you experience anxiety for no external reason, most likely the anxious signals are coming from your gut!  The nerves of the gut can signal irritation to the brain and cause anxiety.  These nerves can be damaged by infections, overuse of antibiotics, alcohol, and sugar, food allergies, and stress.  Many of our anti-anxiety herbs exert their actions on the nerves of the gut because they come in direct contact through the intestinal tract.  Herbs that contain mucilage, like licorice root and marshmallow root can help anxiety just by soothing the frayed nerves in the mucous membrane of the intestinal tract.   

The experience of anxiety can be caused by and can cause nutrient deficiencies.  An herbalist or nutritionist knows to make sure the client is getting enough B-vitamins and magnesium to ensure the healthy function of the nervous system.  Magnesium in particular is a common deficiency in this modern society, and it can be incredibly calming and help with sleep issues, muscle spasms, and heart over-excitability.  Good sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables like kale, nuts, fish, and beans.  Magnesium is needed for over 300 functions in the body, including the production of calming neurotransmitters like serotonin, and a deficiency of this mineral can cause anxiety.  A nutritionist will also make sure the person is not depleting these nutrients too quickly by consuming too much caffeine, sugar, or alcohol.  Hydration can also be a factor in anxiety, as cells become dehydrated they may send distress signals throughout the nervous system.  Many people are sensitive to inadequate levels of hydration.  

Susan Hirsch can help you with your herbal needs. Contact her for more information.

An Integrative Approach to Anxiety: Reiki


Reiki is a gentle, hands-on energy healing modality that helps the body and mind relax, release and promote healing. A Reiki treatment is usually about 45-60 minutes in length and involves lying on a massage table fully clothed and receiving the healing energy from a Reiki practitioner. The practitioner uses a variety of gentle hand placements on or above the body to promote deep relaxation and stimulate the body’s natural healing capacity.

The Reiki healing approach can be easily taught to clients empowering you with a tool for self-nurturing. Reiki is beneficial to helping you manage anxiety as the energy is gently soothing and calming to the mind and the body. Within the peace-filled energy of a Reiki session, you may gain insights into your anxious thoughts or learn new information about where you may be holding stress in your body. Kristi Hallman and Pam McDonald are Reiki Masters at Healing Circles that are available to help you experience and learn this healing system. 

An Integrative Approach to Anxiety: Meditation


When you are anxious, tense or worried your mind feels bombarded with lots of negative thoughts. It can be difficult to concentrate on your work or to focus on making day-to-day decisions. If you remain in an anxious state and keep believing your negative thoughts, the anxiety only gets worse. One approach to reducing anxiety holistically is to include a daily practice of meditation in your routine. Meditation can help reduce anxiety by teaching you to be the watcher of your thoughts so that you become aware of when you are starting to think or feel anxious. By learning to become more present to your inner world of thoughts, you gain more control over your mind and can choose to think neutral or positive thoughts. Learning to integrate a meditation practice into your daily routine can help preempt an anxiety attack by helping you to stay focused on the present. Simple techniques such as progressive relaxation, watching the breath, repeating a positive phrase, focusing on the good in your life are meditative practices that help wire your brain to be more resilient.

Many research studies confirm the benefits of a meditation practice for those who tend to be anxious and/or depressed. There are lots of ways to meditate and it is easy to learn. Some of the clinicians at Healing Circles integrate mindfulness practices into their work with clients. Pam McDonald, LCSW-C offers a 30-day meditation coaching program to support clients in getting started on a meditation practice that fits their needs. The coaching series and an ongoing drop-in meditation group are offered regularly at Healing Circles.

Clinician in the Spotlight for December 2012

Clinician in the Spotlight:
Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C

Kristi is a psychotherapist providing individual and group therapy to adults and children. Utilizing a wellness model, Kristi offers an integrative approach to counseling which seeks to serve the whole person. Kristi believes that by focusing on individual strengths and supporting the mind, body and spirit, you create balance, health and resiliency.

Kristi received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She has provided a continuum of therapy services and trainings in a variety of settings including schools, treatment foster care and counseling centers.  Kristi specializes in anxiety, depression, stress management and parenting issues. She also has extensive experience working with children struggling with ADHD, executive dysfunction, school difficulties and Tourette Syndrome. While many individuals struggle with the aforementioned issues, Kristi recognizes that we are all inherently unique and tailors her services to each individual's needs.

Kristi views the therapeutic process as a partnership. Her empathetic and straight-forward approach assists in building a strong therapeutic relationship with her clients which is an essential component to the healing process. Kristi provides a warm and comfortable space where clients feel accepted, supported and empowered.

To contact Kristi:
(301) 712-9015 x1012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Clinician in the Spotlight

Clinician in the Spotlight:

Anne Brown, Holistic Health Coach

When Anne joined the Healing Circles Wellness Center, she was thrilled to add a “Primary Food” angle to the Center’s amazing list of therapeutic expertise.

Unnatural, processed foods and drinks, if taken on a daily basis, poison our bodies and affect our health, sometimes in a dramatic way. Changing our eating and living habits does not happen overnight. Anne has a step-by-step approach to implement gradual changes, making sure that, as clients progress, they feel so much better that the old addictions necessarily fade away.
Based on a decades-long no-nonsense and natural approach to health and wellness, Anne has learned from experience that most people recover amazingly well from chronic pain and illness, if only their bodies are adequately fed and treated. In order to share her passion and help people suffering from diabetes, digestive problems, arthritis, allergies, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, ulcers, gout, vertigo, and many other ailments, Anne got her degree as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) of New York. IIN is the world’s largest health coaching school and bases its teaching on Bio-Individuality — each person has unique food and lifestyle needs — and a holistic approach including not just a varied and high-nutrient diet, but also a focus on relaxation, physical activity and spiritual harmony. The purpose is not to create a list of restrictions, or to measure calories, proteins and carbs, but to create new eating and living habits that are surprisingly rich, pleasing, and fun.

For those who want to treat their suffering at the source, to recover their health, energy, and high spirits, the support of a health coach, if essential, also needs to be adjusted to the person’s unique requirements. This is why Anne offers individual consultations, individual and group coaching programs, and classes. You can learn more and reach Anne at 301 712 9015 Ext. 1026 or or .

Write It Down: Return to Joy

Write It Down: Return to Joy

By: Christy Van Horn, LCPC
Expressive Arts Therapist 

Have you ever thought to yourself, “If only I could do this, AND make a living?”  Then the thought becomes, “That’s ridiculous. I have a family to feed and need the insurance.”  Now back to your regularly scheduled life.      

I see and hear the symptoms of depression and anxiety daily.  The stories connected to the symptoms have begun to share a common theme, too.  Familiar statements like, “I struggle to get up in the morning?”, or, “ I can’t focus at work,” and “I don’t know why I feel fine until I open the door to work”  Of course,  I keep my ears open for any biological reasons for depression and medications can help bring balance.  However, I think there is another element at work.  What if the feelings of lethargy, irritability, and low motivation were  less about clinical depression, but rather a wakeup call from your Inner voice, reminding us of that we deserve something better?   And, what if we too, know that we are not living our fullest life on all 8 cylinders?  Well, You might have figured out by now that “little voice” does not go away!   The symptoms of annoyance and frustration return as resentment and depression, and you end up seeking help for what you might think is  damage beyond repair.  While this is never true, before there is inward self- implosion, there is an easier question to ask:  “Where can I begin to build a bridge between these two voices that will balance our survival needs and our soul’s needs?”  They are not separate, and as you make one change, everything shifts towards your greatest happiness. 

If this resonates with you, I would like to introduce author Henriette Klauser. In her book, Write it down, Make it Happen, Knowing what you want and Getting It,   Klauser, lays out a clear and easy path to changing your life through the simple act of writing! No exceptions.  She helps any reader realign with their inner voice and truest desires.  She understands the normal blocks that prohibit us from listening to our dreams,  and offers skills to move through our resistance.  Importantly, Klauser explains that you will find your own way of writing that works for you, whether journaling, writing on scrap pieces of paper, or note cards.  There isn’t a wrong way.  Just the power of writing is a step of bringing them to fruition.

As she guides you into rediscovering and manifesting your highest life and desires, she weaves in stories of celebrities who used this technique without even knowing!    Before he was a famous actor, Jim Carey wrote a check to HIMSELF, for  ten million dollars.  He then folded it and put it in his wallet from that day forward. Of course we know the end of the story, as he has more than doubled that paycheck with each movie he makes.  And, before she was Suze Orman, the financial Guru to Oprah and more, Orman was a waitress not earning more than four dollars an hours.  She began a job at Merrill lynch terrified that she wouldn’t make her quota.  She continued to write over and over “ I am young, powerful, and successful, producing at least 10,000 dollars a month,” (2000, p. 18),  Well, you know the rest of the story! 

If you hear your inner skeptic coming out and asking, “So, if this really worked, why haven’t we all become millionaires or a singing sensation on tour?”   I can relate, and this is a totally valid question.  In my mind, there are two important points to help address this, which I wish Klauser would have identified more clearly.  

As a culture, we are becoming more attune to how our thoughts manifest our reality.  You may be noticing more talk and literature describing the Laws of Attraction and Manifestation, and even The Law of Abundance.  While so important, these are only a three of 12 Universal laws, not including sub-laws.   Take the Law of vibration for example.  This explains that all, and thoughts and feelings have a certain vibration; that we will attract that which matches our feeling, or vibration.   While this is also proved in scientific communities, Suze Orman’s, experience is an example of this law in action, as shares, “I replaced a message of fear, and my belief that I was inadequate with a message of endless possibility” (2000, p. 18)  If you are not seeing the results you would like, there ask yourself what negative thought or belief may be  in the way to moving into your highest life.    

As to why we are not all millionaires, well, as you begin this process, your highest self begins to come forward.  Your truest dreams and desires shift to align you with you highest good.  What you thought you wanted, fame and to be recognized, might be clarified in the need to be valued for exactly who you are.  What that tends to look like in our society, is fame.  Ask any performer or celebrity, it comes at a dear price, including the peace of independence and autonomy.  Perhaps you are meant to be on stage, and sharing the spotlight with Justin Bieber, or Taylor Swift.  Well, you catch my drift!  But maybe the openings point you in a new direction, to leading retreats and seminars to help people tap into their highest life.   A great gig, if you ask me!

I also feel it important to clarify one more point: As you begin your process, remember to include intangible needs and wants.  It’s easy to focus on getting a great job with a salary and benefits, but take it a step further to include things like a healthy work environment, as well as great boss who respects and values your work.  As  you script the interview process, add things that describe how you want to feel,  i.e.,  “ I am feeling calm, and articulate.  I  have a great connection with my interviewer, and we even share  a laugh.”  With this step, you will manifest your perfect job, and the things that you didn’t realize actually make a good job, GREAT.  If you forget this step and find yourself in a job that compensates well, but with a boss who must check every detail, don’t be discouraged.  At least you know the process works, and what you really want!

If you return to the statement of,  “If only I could do this and make a living, ” has anything shifted?     What would it feel like to wake up and jump out of bed to greet the day?  You love your new job so much, that you have no idea where the time went!   AND YOU ARE GETTING PAID FOR IT!!  You have already experienced a shift to higher vibration into your best life of joy and abundance, away from fear and limitations. Today, write it down and watch what happens.  See if your feelings of depression shift and anxiety turn to excitement! 

Christy can be contacted at (301) 712-9015 ext. 1034 and

December Wellness Wednesday

Wellness Wednesdays: Balancing Life Wellness Series

Wellness Wednesdays:  Balancing Life Wellness Series
Topic: Less Stress, More Joy! Create a Holiday Season that Nurtures Your Soul
When:  Wednesday, December 12th  at  7:00 pm
Cost: $10.00 in advance/$15.00 at the door

The holiday season brings high expectations, over-committed calendars, and commercialized excess for many while also conjuring up feelings of loneliness and loss for others. Join expressive arts therapist Christie Van Horn and psychotherapist Pam McDonald for an evening designed to transform your holiday stressors into simplified but meaningful new traditions that will nourish, not deplete your soul.
This workshop will be experiential and fun. We will explore the big holiday stressors and how to manage or eliminate them. We’ll reminisce about your favorite holiday memories and create new ways to bring more of the meaningful joy you remember into your holiday season this year.  You will leave this workshop with tools you can use for better self-care, less stress, and your new intention to create a holiday that is uniquely your own. 

Click here to register through Paypal

Ongoing Midweek Meditation Group

Need a mid-week recharge? 

Join Pam McDonald for a rejuvenating Wednesday evening meditation

At each gathering, Pam will share a short inspirational reading followed by a guided   meditation.

Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

By donation                   

6:00 – 6:45 p.m.

Upcoming meditation dates: Wednesday, November 7 & 21.

RSVP’s appreciated. For more information, please call Pam at 301-712-9015, x1022 or email at On the web: