‘Wholeness’ center advocates the ‘art of slowing down’
In a fast-paced age hounded by traffic gridlocks and an obsession with success and multitasking, what does it take to be truly happy and healed?
For raw foodist and healing practitioner Pi Villaraza, chief executive officer of IASIS Wholeness Center in Angat, Bulacan, people have been missing the true essence of living in a bid to get everything done all at once, and be ahead of everyone else.
“It’s like we lost something important. Everyone is just doing what they are doing and they don’t even know why they are doing it,” Villaraza told INQUIRER.net in an interview.
“And I think the most relevant thing that people are missing is context or essence or point. It’s like coming to a place in the mind where there’s meaning, significance like I know why I’m doing this. It’s related to my purpose, it’s related to my vision. That’s severely lacking in the world today. People lost the point,” he said.
Inaugurated only in February last year, IASIS, the Greek word for “healing,” is a wholeness center at Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm that specializes in self-diagnosis and healing-by-design programs. The healing systems at IASIS, which focus on journeying into oneself, are inspired by the ways of healing practiced by Hippocrates, Greek healer and Father of Western Medicine.
Villaraza said anxiety is becoming a serious problem in a fragmented world where everyone is getting more competitive. Asked about IASIS’s relevance in this day and age, he said it aims to teach people the “art of slowing down.”
“Anxiety is the chief reason why people get sick, and it’s also the reason why we get judgmental, too worried. Anxiety by definition, almost clinically, is when you look too far ahead. It’s when you don’t live in the present moment kasi nagpa-plan ka na ng step no. 3, and if it doesn’t go your way, everything crashes. So there’s a psychological, emotional, energetic imbalance… People are getting sick because their body is not happy,” Villaraza said.
“Slowing down will be the best two words to explain it… Slowing down is very much what we do. When you look at the food and the healing practice that we observe here, which is unique, a lot of it has to do with accessing parts of the mind… I think the word is insight—the ability to think in ways when the information starts to connect in a meaningful way,” he added.
“I think one of the things missing in other wellness centers in the world today, not just in the Philippines, is the ability to understand the mind and how does it work,” he added.
‘Bringing people back to heart’
Villaraza said what is lacking in wellness centers in the world today is the ability to understand how the human mind works and how to “bring people back to the heart.”
“When people go back to the heart, you know what’s the most important, what’s the most valuable, what’s essential. How to open the brain actually deals with how you handle anxiety. Ang anxiety kasi panic button eh. It’s part of the autonomic nervous system that either responds to danger or something threatening,” he said. “We tell people it’s okay to feel with your feeling. Become more authentic. Become more natural.”
IASIS offers therapeutic massages, detox treatments, and healing and energy workshops. The center, through its “Nourish Café,” also specializes in raw food and vegetarian diet headed by Daniw Arrazola, one of the country’s first raw food chefs, offering meals and even desserts that don’t taste like they were made of purely organic vegetables.
Asked what makes IASIS distinctive from other wellness centers, Villaraza cited the importance of “emotional mapping” and tracing the root of a certain problem, which not many centers are doing.
“What we do is we slow down the problem-solving scenario, and we look at the main thing that’s causing it at the very core. We are going to the heart of healing. What is pain? What does it mean when you say suffering? One of the main important frameworks that we have to look at in science and medicine is what we call the pain-avoiding cycle. It means that the more you experience pain, the more you avoid pain, the more your body closes up, the more it becomes painful,” Villaraza said.
“Healing needs to go deeper, and a lot are doing it on the symptomatic level. Happiness as the ultimate cure. It doesn’t mean we get rid of everything else, we do all of those. Pero to deepen it, our goal is not just to bring people to normative states. When you look at our tagline, it’s a ‘wholeness’ center, we don’t even call it as wellness anymore. How can we use the problems as an opening to transform?” he added.
‘Movement on authenticity’
Despite being relatively new in the industry and in the local scene, Villaraza, who just came in with a partnership with a bio-integrative medical practitioner in Cebu, said today is a very exciting time for IASIS as doctors are becoming more interested with their healing systems.
“What happens here in IASIS is there’s collaboration now between doctors, healers, life coaches, nutritionists, all for the art of slowing down. So when you bring that together, parang going back to basics but with a science-based approach,” he said.
Villaraza, who started his work in Palawan, said they are eyeing to work with institutions and companies like business process outsourcing centers in Metro Manila “where stress is mostly happening” by conducting activities in the form of workshops, talks, and publishing guide materials.
“We’re too agenda driven, we’re too worried, and we’re losing the quality of living… We’re trying to educate the market… Let’s help people catch up with themselves kasi ngarag sila eh. How do you bring them back to their child-like innocence but with an advanced way of thinking? It’s like heightening the intelligence level of the body and a lot of it has to do with heightening energy, reverberation,” Villarasa said.
“How do these normal places like schools learn how to heal? How to educate these institutions to be a whole centers in themselves? That’s a viable way to help this country. It’s gonna be very hard to do it in a place like the Philippines where there’s little hope and a lot of despair despite being one of the highest ranking in happiness index. If we can start with one person, one group at a time, then that is the dream,” he added, noting that the goal was to set up IASIS more as a model.
Despite the challenges, Villaraza said what pushed him to continue doing what he was doing was seeing actual results and the joy of touching other people’s lives.
“What motivates me is I see it working, that the people are very receptive despite the fact that it’s actually quite hard to introduce something new. The joy of being able to touch lives one person at a time. It’s very satisfying, to help people in the deepest most profound way possible, to touch the heart and to remind them of the heart might be one of the most satisfying experiences,” he said. RC
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