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Alejandra Villalobos-McAnderson: “You’re never stuck.”

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes mental health as “a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking and behavior.” The World Health Organization pronounces mental health as more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities, but an integral part of overall health, and there is no health without mental health. In the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that 1 in 5 adults experience mental health problems each year.

Troubling family dynamics, whether interpersonal, economic or social, throughout an individual’s life can have an immense impact on the root causes of mental health. But Alejandra Villalobos-McAnderson, owner of Villalobos Vitality, calls upon her deep family heritage—her lineage and ancestry—to help others in need, especially those attempting to improve their mental health. A licensed holistic energy medicine practitioner, mindful leadership and corporate energy coach, Alex guides athletes, entrepreneurs, high-performing business leaders and many others to embrace intuitive and powerful leadership practices. She refers to herself as an Energy Medicine Woman, a healer, with generations of learnings to call upon.

“I began as a Reiki master but I noticed that my healing techniques started to evolve past the boundaries of Reiki. It wasn’t only bodywork but a lot of healing. I started to be more comfortable with my roots, connected to my ancestors working with the elements, the land, reconnecting with nature and using those energies,” said Alex. “My grandmother is a healer and uses herbs and knows about plants and home remedies. My mom heals through the Catholic Church and does retreats with hands-on healing. It’s in our bloodline but it has manifested through me in energy work. I can read energy in my clients’ bodies or their businesses. Humans are energized beings and energy is always flowing. When people come in to talk about their business, I can feel where it’s stagnant and whether it’s management or marketing. I can feel where the flow stops in the business and we work together to get it moving again.”

Alex’s Energy Medicine method is based on the practice of Reiki, which the National Institute of Health describes as the goal of directing energy to help facilitate the person’s healing response. It’s based on an Eastern belief in an energy that supports the body’s innate or natural healing abilities. Alex refers to it as harnessing a higher power by connecting with a person’s life force energy.
“In energy work, we don’t believe we have only one body. We have a mental body, an emotional body and an energetic body. Most of the time people are in the mental and emotional, and we’re not taught to release. We have these big emotions and they have nowhere to go, so they get stored in the body. We wonder why our shoulders are aching or our backs hurt. Our body is always talking to us,” she commented. “When clients come in, we begin to clean it out. It’s like a check-in or pit stop on where you are on your path, what are you doing, where have you fallen off and what do you need to do to get back into alignment with yourself, your purpose and your soul. I try to plug people back into their hearts and souls.”

Guided meditation, energy work, crystal healing, spirit guides and oracle readings can be some of the tools used by Alex to address a client’s mental health in her energy sessions. This work can help people realize that positivity can replace negativity in their lives.

“You are more powerful than you were led to believe, and you’re never stuck. There is always a shift that gives us an opportunity to change,” she remarked. “You must find your medicine, that’s a part of life, but it’s not done on your deathbed. Let’s heal and thrive while you’re still here.”

Alex was born in Mexico and moved to California when she was six years old. Now, she calls Shawnee, Kansas, home with her husband, Brandon, and sons, Brandon, 14, and Cruz, 8. About three years ago, she started Villalobos Vitality and focused on soul healing through energy medicine, but this was not the career path Alex had initially envisioned for herself. She intended to land in the corner office in the finance industry, but her desire to be a people pleaser left her feeling she was always chasing something that was not there. Alex realized she was doing far too much for others and not enough for herself.

“I was always chasing something because something was missing inside myself. I didn’t have the self-love from within. Being an immigrant, I felt that I always had something to prove. I was a great worker, but when is enough, enough?” revealed Alex. “What we’re really chasing isn’t the outside world but what’s within. I found my power and my voice, and I’m never giving that up. I’m connected to the divine and speak to benevolent beings, angels and guides. I said that if this is what I’m supposed to do, I need guidance and support and I need to be led. The success of my business in this small period of time is proof that this is divinely orchestrated.”

Alex was able to root herself in a loving family with special skills who contributed to her success today; however, many of her clients were not so lucky. Childhood traumas or haunting memories can make them feel unworthy or unloved, which plants the seeds of dysfunction as an adult. Alex describes this as running on “programs” that no longer serve them.

“Soul healing means going back to any past traumas and wounds that are hidden in the subconscious mind that are stuck in the body, in the dark closet that we throw things into,” she advised. “Sometimes it’s hard to go into that dark closet because it feels overwhelming. But when someone guides you through past traumas, memories or beliefs that need healing, you can get through them. It’s easier to release and heal and put yourself into better alignment.”

What you do not heal in yourself will be passed down to your children. Alex refers to it as their “personal inheritance” from you. While most are concerned with transferring wealth to the next generation, Alex stresses that the key focus should be on how you are building a mentally healthy child who contributes to society.

“Many times we think that the biggest legacy that I leave my children is mostly monetary and whether they will be financially safe. But think about what things have been passed down from generation to generation, whether that’s an addiction or poor mental health. It just keeps going until someone, and usually that’s someone who’s deemed different or a black sheep, says no and that behavior ends with me. Truly, the biggest gift you can give your kids is your own healing and dealing with trauma,” noted Alex. “Children are walking with wounds that don’t belong to them, and they become adults that feel unworthy. It’s interesting to see the generational mess and to help my clients cut those cords and set themselves free.”

Working with a mental health provider or energy healer such as Alex can be a critical tool to employ as one begins the journey of healing. According to Alex, knowing that you want to take that step is critical to your success because you are acknowledging that programs from the past are influencing and running your current life.

“Look at your stuff because the first thing is awareness and you can start to become the ‘observer’ instead of the responder that reacts. Many times it’s these programs running our lives and we don’t know why we respond the way we do. Ask yourself, ‘Why did that trigger me?’ Now, you take back the power. You can ask the right questions and become the co-creator of your life with God or your higher power,” Alex stated. “Now, others may say that ‘Oh, it’s on me?’ It’s easier to blame others but it doesn’t have to define you. First, think of it as a character in a play and we have the lines and the drama. As you heal, you see that you become the director and then you realize you are the playwright and the creator. You are getting to decide how this play goes and what you want to experience.”

Reflecting on the goodness that nature can bring to a person is one tool that individuals can use in their mental health healing. Alex also points to improving breathing skills with breaths coming from the diaphragm, not the top of the lungs. She also stresses the importance of body movement and soothing music. On a group basis, she recommends healing circles in which communities of people come together and release negativity. Overall, the key is to find opportunities to take care of yourself.

“The biggest thing is to know is that you’re never stuck. Your body and mind can heal. In “The Book of Joy, they talk about the difference between curing and healing. Curing is finding resolution to the disease, but with healing, regardless of what is going on around you, you still feel good within you,” noted Alex. “The biggest thing in teaching people to heal is that you have no control over the outside world, but if you have inner peace and connection with your inside world, and the tools that allow you to recharge, reconnect and rejuvenate, then you don’t feel like you’re flopping in the wind. You are centered and connected and there’s power and resilience in that. In my sessions, it’s not a brain thing, but a heart thing.”

Hair and makeup by Shannon Hughey of Hello Lovely / Shot on location at Villalobos Vitality located in Your Wellness Connection