Andrea De Souza – Holistic Practitioner
Transforming the stereotype through Holistic Healing
The saying Your Health is Your Wealth has become synonymous with the association of well-being and holistic health. There is now a growing trend towards ones inner and outer well-being dealing with the whole body i.e. mind, body and spirit. Practices such as Yoga which is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline have become fashionable as a practice that deals with the breath control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures and is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Holistic and well-being retreats are also the trend as people seek to experience a whole body transformation and healing.
The word Holistic derives from the Greek word Holism meaning that which focuses on the total entity and the interdependence of the diverse parts of this totality. Holistic has to do with the healing systems that are considered alternative.
Now based in sunny Barbados and looking to find people and businesses who offered holistic treatments as well as a place for me to offer my own services, I was referred to Andrea De Souza, a Holistic Practitioner who has her own Sanctuary. At the time Andrea was organizing her first Moonlight Bazaar which is now held as a monthly event on full moon Saturdays to promote holistic health and well-being offering a range of services from Reiki, Massage, Arts and Craft, to Crystal healing etc. Below, Andrea talks about her reason for hosting such events and her aspiration to cross the bridge between people’s perceptions about the holistic world.
I caught up with a very busy Andrea in order to find out more about her work as a Holistic Practitioner. I also had a Chakra reading from her which proved to be incredibly revealing, accurate and insightful. Sometimes we just need someone else to see into our lives to offer well-meaning and much needed guidance, insight and nurturing, which I definitely received. It came in a one paged report detailing each aspect of my emotional, physical and spiritual self and how balanced or out of balance I was.
Esther: What is your definition of Holistic?
Andrea: Holistic is a way of life, encompassing everything about your entire being and the environment around you. It opens your consciousness to a universal way of living, where everything becomes more connected. When you live holistically, you recognize the inter-connectedness of all life and the importance of the micro- and macrocosms.
Esther: What do you call yourself and why?
Andrea: In the past, I used to simply call myself a ‘Massage Therapist’. I have since evolved in my personal and professional capacities and now use the term ‘Holistic Practitioner’ to denote my practice. This term allows me to continuously broaden my scope of practice and not feel limited by a title.
Esther: What modalities do you offer and why did you choose these? Andrea: I currently manage and operate from Ajna Holistic Sanctuary, Upton, St. Michael, Barbados where I offer a wide range of therapeutic and rehabilitative massage services that range from gentle relaxation therapy and prenatal massage to chronic pain management and injury rehabilitation bodywork. I incorporate both Eastern and Western philosophies in my work and use a very integrative approach with my clients. I thoroughly enjoy working with the body as a physical and energetic system and am always amazed at the impact that professional bodywork has on the recipient.
My other interests and services fall into a more spiritual category, where I offer personal readings (using Oracle cards), energy clearing, as well as chakra readings and balancing (using a crystal pendulum and gemstones). I also offer workshops in various metaphysical topics such as meditation, working with crystals, sacred goddess teachings and much more.
Esther: Why did you go into this field of business?
Andrea: I started with Therapeutic Massage in 1998 at the National Holistic Institute, Emeryville, California, after completing my Bachelors of Science in Biology at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. I have had a strong scientific influence from both of my parents who are in the medical field, which led to a natural progression in health studies. Being more creative in nature, I wanted to pursue a healing modality that would feed my interests in both the holistic and creative arts. Massage therapy seemed to be an excellent platform to start with since it required a thorough underpinning knowledge in the health sciences. Within a short time-frame, I progressed to Yoga, and gradually added more skills to my trade through continuing education courses and workshops, both local and abroad.
I am the president of the Association of Holistic Bodywork Practitioners and the co-director of Peacehaven Holistic Therapy School Inc. (since 2004). In both capacities, I continually strive to introduce and maintain a high standard of practice to the health and wellness industry. I am also very involved in policy making for the health and wellness sector with various public service institutions such as the Barbados National Standards Institute, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council, and the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries.
Esther: How has the Barbadian community embraced or understood what you do, as Barbados has a very Christian tradition? Andrea: For the most part, everyone has been open to my services, and truthfully I have only recently started to actively market the metaphysical/spiritual aspect of what I do. In part, because I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but also I needed to be more self-accepting of my talents before I offered them to the public.
I will make it clear that I do not project my personal spiritual beliefs onto my clients, but it certainly guides my process as a practitioner. Most of my clients follow traditional Christian paths, and it is obvious to anyone entering the sanctuary that we are open to alternate spiritual beliefs. There has never been any disrespect from either party with regards to religion or personal beliefs during client or student interactions. Everyone is welcome at the sanctuary and I only provide the services that are mutually agreed upon between the client and myself.
Esther: Would you say that what you do is unorthodox? How do you consider engaging the community to experience what you do? Andrea: In some ways, yes, it can be seen as unorthodox, simply because I use tools that are outside of the norm. For instance, tapping into my higher consciousness to perform oracle or pendulum readings is not something that you see every day in this society.
Education is key in changing the perception that the root of this work is evil. All the underlying principles can be found in basic universal tenets that are used in Chemistry and Physics. Once people recognize that everything in the universe is simply energy in different forms, it becomes much easier to accept and digest.
I have also started a once monthly, full moon event called the ‘Moonlight Bazaar’, which highlights and showcases our local artisans in the holistic and creative arts. This novel experience aims to bring an increased awareness of art forms not normally seen and appreciated in society.
Esther: What do you think are peoples’ fears around anything with the suggestion of “Holistic”?
Andrea: I believe it is the gross misrepresentation of the term that sends people running in the opposite direction. I also think that people are afraid of the unknown, even within themselves, so the thought of taking personal responsibility for self is scary.
Esther: Can you share a personal experience of you personally using or receiving a Holistic therapy?
Andrea: I use holistic therapies on a regular basis, in the form of physical application such as yoga and massage bodywork, as well as on a more spiritual level with mediation, dreaming, crystals and other ritual work. There is a marked difference in my attitude and relationships with others when I’m focused on my spiritual path. It puts me in a more receptive mode and I feel better able to handle life’s challenges.
Esther: How would you say such treatments support or help people? Andrea: Everyone handles challenges differently and it is up to the individual to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses. For some, just having compassionate, human touch is enough to bring their mind and body at ease, while others seek external validation for what they intuitively know to be true. We all want to feel supported on some level, and as a holistic practitioner there are a myriad of ways that I can accomplish that goal with my clients. All that is required is an open heart and an open mind to allow the healing to begin.
In conclusion Ajna is Sanskrit for the 3rd eye chakra, so therefore the sanctuary is aptly named to represent a place for conscious awareness and spiritual healing. The strap-line “We rise by lifting others” is a wonderful juxtaposition in terms of how Holistic therapies are often viewed and yet when we peel away the fear they offer so much more.
Andrea can be contacted at
Written by Esther Austin, Intuitive Healer, Broadcaster and Animal Communicator