By Tom Kernaghan
Relax, release, and recharge. If this sounds straightforward and doable, then you already have an idea of how Jolanda Himmelstein works and what she offers. For Himmelstein, a multi-skilled holistic practitioner and owner of Health Flows, balance and well-being do not have to be complicated or out of reach. It is about addressing whatever is keeping our energy from flowing nicely. But then, she has been on the path of supporting people for years.
After growing up in Switzerland, Himmelstein studied in Germany, Taiwan and China, and also taught in Hong Kong and Singapore. Her passion for Asian culture and her life as a mother inspired her to explore the mind-body connection and how to encourage a person’s innate healing powers to bring balance to any disharmonies. She has certifications in sound therapy, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Access Bars, foot reflexology (RCRT certified) and is an experienced Qi Gong teacher. Fluent in four languages, Himmelstein originally loved working with children and adults as a language teacher. Today, describing herself as a “global citizen who endeavours to listen to the voice of her heart,” she offers illuminating classes and workshops to help others get in touch with themselves and pursue ongoing health and well-being.
In preparing for this profile, I noticed one term kept popping up: “gentle.” This appears to be not only an essential element of your approach but also something clients seek and appreciate. What, in your experience, is not gentle in people’s lives that they seek your services?
As we all know, not every experience in life is a gentle one. That in itself needn’t be a problem, as we sometimes grow stronger in the face of adversity. It only becomes a problem when a person loses a sense of who they are and believe what others say about them. This happens often during childhood. When people internalize others’ harsh opinions or judgments, they tend to become unkind towards themselves through their thoughts and actions, often unaware of the root cause of their behaviour.
I believe in creating a safe environment for my clients and students where gentleness is a crucial element. Any challenge that a client brings—be it physical, mental or emotional—can be seen as a hardening, a stagnation of energy. A gentle approach will encourage the innate healing powers within an individual to become stronger, similar to warm sunshine encouraging the frozen water in an icicle to melt and the water to flow again.
Your services all serve to restore health through awareness, harmony and transformation. One discovery in particular piqued my interest. The translation of Jin Shin Jyutsu breaks down into “human being,” “creator,” and “art.” I love this language connection suggesting people create their own lives through one or more of the modalities you offer. What’s the first thing you look for when an individual comes to you?
When I meet a client, there is more than one consideration going on at the same time. Firstly, I am always excited about meeting another fascinating human being who is led to my practice and ready for more harmony in their life. Simultaneously I learn about the obvious reason why a person comes to see me, such as a severe pain somewhere in the body. I observe and listen with all my senses to pick up some indication of the hidden reason behind that physical discomfort. Often there is an imbalance in the person’s life they are less conscious about, which needs support. This helps me decide which kind of treatment to start out with. Usually I receive more information on how to help an individual during the course of their treatment. This can lead to choosing some sound healing during a hands-on modality, for example.
Having lived in many cultures, you must have found some deeply common aspects of being human that connect us, even as our individual expressions of them vary. Fundamentally, how would you define or describe balance and well-being?
Allow me to answer this with a metaphor from my Qi Gong classes. We can find balance when we fully exhale what we no longer need and, reaching the turn of the breath, welcome the new breath to freely flow into us, with all the goodness from the earth and the universe (heaven). If there is no resistance anywhere in this process, we are living true to our heart, we are at peace and thus at home in well-being. Clothes, customs and beliefs can differ depending on culture, but essentially human beings are in similar situations, experiencing some hiccups, metaphorically speaking, and striving for balance and well-being.
I’m curious about your decision to move from Europe to Asia. What inspired you to embark on such a journey? Was it something about life in Europe that motivated you, something fascinating about Asia, or both?
It’s all a matter of perspective. For some of my friends in Switzerland, studying in Germany seemed unimaginable. Others felt living in Asia was a big deal. To me, none of those moves, which were motivated by a good university, Chinese language studies, and following my boyfriend (later my husband), were any different from someone choosing this career or that partner. However, it did take a great deal of effort to apply for immigration in Canada (especially since we needed background checks in half a dozen countries where we had lived), uproot our family in Hong Kong and move to Kelowna. But then again, it was just another stage in life. Personally, I am very grateful for all the stages that led me here to the beautiful Okanagan! I have happily put down roots in Kelowna. Will there be another move some time? Who knows?
As you may know, we like to finish our profiles with a fun fact about our members. Would you care to share something personal about yourself most would not know?
Over 20 years ago, when I lived in Singapore, I was on TV playing in the Pyramid Game, a local quiz show. I lost in the first round, but people recognized me in the street afterwards. All in all it was a very interesting experience!
This column was submitted as part of BWB Well-Being Wednesdays.
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