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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Spirited Community: Local Leaders Do Good to Benefit All

Dec 10, 2018 03:04AM

The region covered by this magazine is large and diverse, inclusive of busy cities, leafy suburbs and farm towns. What all areas of the territory have in common is a plethora of terrific individuals who have made “doing good” their raison d’etre. In so doing, they have inspired and continue to inspire many others along the way. They are leaders of spirit and heart, blazing trails for others to discover.

This month we invited some noteworthy holistic community leaders to speak directly to our readers about what community means to them, what gets them excited about what they do and what they look forward to in the coming days. This feature is not exhaustive but simply a snapshot of the great work being done all over our area. We could have doubled the size of the feature and still had more names on our list to invite for submissions!

Each day, as you make your way through life, know that all around you are people like the ones featured here. They are people who represent organizations dedicated to the improvement, happiness and integrity of our world. We are never alone and the people surrounding us are truly remarkable. Take the time to acknowledge the spirited leaders in your life. These are people who make you feel excited, hopeful and purposeful about the things you do or want to do. The primary thread that binds community is no longer location, but a sense of shared ethos and mission. Find people who resonate with you, get to know them, collaborate with them and then shine your own light, bigger and better because you were able to cocreate within a soulful community! 


Eilis Philpott
Soul Healing Journey, LLC • Academy for Soul Healing
203-767-5954 • [email protected] • SoulHealingJourney.comAcademyForSoulHealing.com

How do you define “community”? 

Community is a group of people who are bonded on a very deep level. They are our soul family and often can give us the love and support that our family of origin cannot. They may come from many different walks of life but somehow feel a connection they cannot logically explain but feel intensely. 

How was your community started?

My community has grown from my desire to teach. I received the energy of the 13th Octave (joining with Source while still in a human body), and then a few years later the 13th Octave LaHoChi in the early 2000s. I knew part of my purpose and mission was to spread this powerful, all-encompassing energy to all who were ready to receive it. I also needed to share the information and the energies of all I have learned from this lifetime and many others. To this end, the Academy for Soul Healing came about, and in 2019, I am teaching A Year of Healing in Norwalk. I was shown a vision of what the Academy is to be. In this vision, I see that rather than many of us having individual pieces of the puzzle, we are moving into the integration of all we have learned and remembered in this and many lifetimes, to make the puzzle whole and complete. It is the integration of many modalities in their purest form being used to support the growth and expansion of humanity, individually and on a global scale.   

What makes you feel most inspired about the community you have been instrumental in building? 

Over the past two years, many of my students are now stepping forward into their roles on a larger scale. Many feel so connected with their fellow students that they can give and receive as never before. In 2019, many of them will take their personal and joint spiritual journey to new heights when they attend A Year of Healing. I accidentally started this community. I didn’t fully realize the impact of connecting like-minded people and it’s such a joy to witness.

What do you most want Natural Awakenings readers to know about the community you represent and its mission/members?
When I teach any class the modalities I know, the information, techniques and processes students learn are only the surface layer of what is going on in those trainings. Some students want to be practitioners and learn the “how to.” Others don’t necessarily want to be practitioners but want to clear whatever is getting in the way of living their truth. There are many layers below the surface—just like an iceberg—that will be happening for each and every person attending every class I teach. The above surface level is the “doing” part of the training, while below surface there will be so much more happening.

We are transforming Earth into a planet based on love and to do that we have been and are continuing to clear out anything not of love. We are also learning how to accept and acknowledge ourselves as the divine beings that we are, right here, right now.


Unity Center of Norwalk
3 Main St., 2nd Fl (above Ford Dealership), Norwalk
203-855-7922 • [email protected] • UnityCenterPS.org / UnityCenterNorwalk.org
Facebook.com/UnityCenterforPracticalSpirituality • Twitter.com/UnityNorwalkCT

How do you define “community”?
A community is a group of individuals who have the same values and are on the same or similar search for a higher understanding.

How was your community started?

It began as a fellowship in Norwalk after breaking off from another fellowship in Bridgeport. It has evolved as members’ minds and hearts have opened further and Divine Ideas have stepped into play. The individuals have become more committed to a spiritual community that they are passionate about.

What makes you feel most inspired about the community you have been instrumental in building? 

It has led me to a greater expression of myself. I have witnessed the teachings in action through the individual expression of the group. This community is creative. They have allowed themselves to open to their creative selves. They are singing, not just in church, but in professional venues. They have opened cabaret rooms and gotten themselves cast in shows. Others have opened businesses and therapeutic healing venues.

What do you most want Natural Awakenings readers to know about the community you represent and its mission/members? 

Our mission is to continually discover, demonstrate and educate that our “source of good” is God within. Whether you call that power God or another name, it must be recognized as a power within each person that leads to amazing demonstrations of confidence, poise and joy. 


Christel Autuori, RDH, RYT, MA, Director
Institute for Holistic Health Studies Western Connecticut State University
[email protected]WCSU.edu/IHHS • 181 White St, Rm. 103, Danbury

How do you define “community”?

A community is a group of people who share common interests, values, passions, practices, and ideals.

How was your community started?

The Institute for Holistic Health Studies at WCSU began in the early 21st century by the efforts of now retired faculty member Dr. Jeannette Tedesco. It has been growing and attracting interest from the WCSU community and the greater Danbury community. The institute offers workshops, programs and lectures in the holistic and integrative approach to health and wellness.

What makes you feel most inspired about the community you have been instrumental in building? 

I am inspired most by the excitement and passion that our WCSU students have for the holistic and integrative approach, which encompasses and intertwines the best of Western medicine and non-Western modalities. The students are open-minded and eager to embrace and practice this multidimensional and integrative approach. Many of our students, upon learning about meditation, Reiki, aromatherapy, naturopathy and other non-Western healing modalities, become interested in pursuing a career in the field of holistic and integrative health.

What do you most want Natural Awakenings readers to know about the community you represent and its mission/members? 

The IHHS programs, lectures and workshops are open to everyone. Nearly all of our offerings are free of charge and open to the public. We invite educators, practitioners and professionals to join us in sharing information about the holistic and integrative approach to health and well-being. 


Miriam Zernis
Sita’s Light Kirtan
[email protected]SitasLight.com

How do you define “community”? 

To me, community is being with others who have no fear of being themselves. They express their true essence through dialogue, spiritual practices like meditation and chanting, and joyful celebrations of life passages including milestone birthdays, childbirth, retirement. A community is also what happens when someone is ill and/or facing death, and the offering of comfort and love through the process. 

How was your community started?

My community of kirtan, or devotional chanting, started many years ago as an offshoot of my traditional yoga training. I felt others could join me in the raising of energy and vibration of body, mind and soul, even on a small level. At first, we gathered in small spaces like living rooms in private homes; that has now evolved to yoga studios, sacred spaces and even during retreats, complementing other spiritual work. 

What makes you feel most inspired about the community you have been instrumental in building? 

I am always inspired by the look on people’s faces after they participate in chanting events with us. The peace and joy is the reason I continue, because to me it is a form of service. Anything we can do to uplift others brings us to our highest good as humans. For some, that means charitable works; for others, volunteering in a senior center. To me, it is to gather in community to sing with others and spend even just an hour from time to time in the love and support of each other on the journey of life. 

What do you most want Natural Awakenings readers to know about the community you represent and its mission/members? 

Kirtan is for everyone and transcends all boundaries of religion, race, age, gender or any other labels we isolate ourselves in. It is an invitation to open the heart and sing, meditate, sit quietly, dance or just breathe in a safe, non-judgmental and loving space with others who crave the same freedoms to connect to their soul’s longing. The outcome is often a deep sense of peace that can nurture and protect us all from the trials and tribulations we may encounter in our day-to-day lives.


Stephanie L. Besson 
203-491-7581
[email protected] • StephanieBessonLMT.weebly.com • CTWellness.weebly.com

How do you define “community”? 

Community to me is a safe place to be seen in our authentic selves in order to grow into our highest personal potential. Communities that are a fit are not about what they give to us but what they bring out of us. 

How was your community started?

Our online community known as CT Health and Wellness Practitioners, as well as our community that meets for our Soulful Connections Gatherings, was started because of a mission to bring practitioners with different knowledge bases/skill sets, different traditions, and modalities that collectively practice from a place of compassion together. The goal is to offer the best of health and wellness to our larger communities. 

What makes you feel most inspired about the community you have been instrumental in building? 

What inspires me the most about our community is when authentic connections are made.

What do you most want Natural Awakenings readers to know about the community you represent and its mission/members? 

I’d like people to know that our community is about creating relationships that are close to our hearts and that can last a lifetime or more.


Doris Hanley
203-470-4666 • [email protected] • DHanley.JuicePlus.com • DHanley.TowerGarden.com • Shred10.com

How do you define “community”? 

I define it as a group of individuals that feel a sense of connection to one another for a multitude of reasons—whether it is similar interests, values, locations or beliefs—there is a common thread that binds them.

How was your community started?

When someone is in alignment with themselves, people who align in a similar way appear. My own life experiences led me down a path of self-awareness, self-improvement, and a quest for better health and life balance. I have a strong connection to mind-body-soul balance. As a result, I attract those types of people into my life. I believe in layers of community. For instance, my personal quest for “taking healthy back” was something I quickly realized many people were also pursuing. I was surrounded by health and wellness practitioners who had so much to offer. My own team, called Team Energy, shares a mission of “inspiring healthy living around the world.”

What makes you feel most inspired about the community you have been instrumental in building? 

It has been my experience that the people I attract want to improve themselves in some way. The quest for personal growth might be the thread that binds us. Personally, I believe that everyone deserves to live up to their potential and have the health to enjoy it. I build teams of loving, supportive, dynamic people who are making a positive difference in thousands of lives at this point. That inspires me. When I first set out on my own healing journey, I felt alone and unsure of myself. Once I took my own “power back”, taking healthy back was so easy.

What do you most want Natural Awakenings readers to know about the community you represent and its mission/members? 

Being a part of Team Energy has been the key to becoming the best version of myself I could imagine. Our team believes that we should all follow our dreams, believe in ourselves and lead with our hearts. We help people take healthy back one person at a time. We believe that financial and nutritional fitness go hand in hand. Striving for mind-body-soul balance makes room for many more blessings to come your way.

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