This is part of a series of interviews I am conducting with practitioners of holistic medicine. I find that folks who are drawn to help others in this less-conventional field truly are ignited with a deep passion and purpose. These interviews were created to delve into that drive.
Sharon Hicks is a Zero Balancing Practitioner, Yoga Teacher, Occupational Therapist, and Artist on the Main Line, Philadelphia. She is founder Sharon Hicks Therapeutics™ along with a rehab affiliate and Research Fellow at the Main Line Health System.
Enjoy the interview!
Q: Where did you grow up?
SHARON: I was born in Chicago and moved to Bala Cynwyd with my family when I was 5. I have lived on the Main Line ever since then. Throughout the years, I frequented Jamaica West Indies, my maternal homeland. Although I did not grow up there I have always considered Jamaica a home away from home.
Q: How did you end up doing what you do?
SHARON: It was a series of amazing experiences which led me to where I am now. My father used to take me to the Chicago Art Institute on Saturdays when I was about 3 years old. And when I was sixteen he took me to an intensive meditation course, this was my first introduction to the concepts of controlling the mind, positive thoughts, and “relaxing for survival”. Later, after graduating from Tyler School of Art I had the good fortune to be hired by the Barnes Foundation’s director of education Violette de Mazia, as her personal secretary. I spent many years directly learning in the presence of one of the world’s finest art collections and at the same time not just learning about art but learning to be really present with art. It was de Mazia who introduced me to the concepts of the “here and now” and “learning to see” the art in art and the art in life. I believe it was this experience that led me down the road of life-long learning and led me to vision therapy which along with my earlier meditation background led me to yoga. I’ve studied with pioneers in the field of vision and been able to follow my interests. As I became aware of the interconnection of art, yoga and vision I began to tie it all together for a holistic approach, Personal Vision™. My journey led me back to school with the knowledge that occupational therapy would become an umbrella for my background experiences, would support my desire to keep learning, and to help others. When working as an OT became demanding on me and my own health, I further explored the healing arts, ways to care for myself and for my patients. I was drawn to Svaroopa yoga, Zero Balancing, and most recently Wisdom of the Earth medicinal essences. While vision seemed to be a connecting thread in my earlier years, Muktananda has been a connection in my recent years. Unknowingly, I was drawn to his disciples, or they were drawn to me. The creators of Svaroopa yoga and Zero Balancing both studied with Muktananda; a yoga student and client of mine had studied with Muktananda; and most recently I discovered my Wisdom of the Earth teacher also had meditated in Muktananda’s Ashram where he singled her out in a crowd of over 100 people to provide her with Shaktipat. Perhaps the universe is guiding me to do what I do, or this is all part of a divine plan.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
SHARON: I’ve always had a yearning for harmony. My love of art and contemplation came to me through my father while my passion for helping others came to me through my mother. Like many people I’ve had my own share of challenges. It is my own healing and learning journey that provides me the tools to help others. At the same time I believe in giving back that which has been given. We all have gifts and I endeavor to use mine to help others.
Q: What is your mission with the work you do?
SHARON: My mission is to support and facilitate vision, body, spirit, and life holistic harmony.
Q: What is your goal when you are working with your clients?
SHARON: My goal is always to be as present as possible with my clients and to support them in their process of healing, learning, creativity, and/or growth. I am interested in helping people realize their potential and meet their own meaningful goals.
Q: What are some habits/ lifestyle recommendations you want to offer the world?
Slow down and be present, with people, with nature, with yourself
Cut back on electronics, cell phones, computers, TV
Look and listen from a place of not knowing, from an open mind
Take time for your own self care, schedule it in every day
Q: Do you have a spiritual practice? if so what is it?
SHARON: My practice includes meditation and yoga, painting and art making, walking in nature. Just being still or focusing on an uplifting thought or word, processing emotions, self expression, any process that goes beyond the necessary functional stuff, to include what matters to the heart, I consider spiritual. I consider the process toward harmony to be spiritual in nature. It takes awareness and practice to live from a place of love, peace, light, joy, and truth, our highest self, our spirit. The thing about spiritual practice is that its form continually changes; it’s keeping the intention to live from that higher self and from the heart, continually realizing the oneness of everything.
Q: What does your morning routine look like?
SHARON: Most days I wake up at 6 a.m. and use 30 to 45 minutes just for myself in stillness. This time is used to meditate, for gentle yoga, for self care, self reflection, and sometimes self expression through writing or drawing. After that I have my breakfast, shower and get on with my day.
Q: What book do you give away most?
John Dewey’s Art as Experience is a book that was very meaningful to me as a young artist and one that I’ve given away.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
“To see is to perceive what is significant in a given situation from a particular point of interest" – Violette de Mazia
“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts—such is the duty of the artist” (Schumann, 1810/1856).
Q: What are you currently most passionate about?
SHARON: I think I am currently most passionate about helping people to de-stress. I see a lot of people who have had life changing trauma or have a chronic condition - they have several things in common: their nervous system is stuck in the fight and flight, their mind is busy, yet they have a hard time concentrating, they don’t sleep well, they also may have physical pain or dysfunction. Teaching people to relax and care for themselves is really at the heart of what I do. Meditation is huge. I am currently passionate about Zero Balancing because when teaching someone to relax is just not enough, or when pain is not going away, ZB quickly brings a person to a deep relaxed state and also helps to release tension and trauma.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
SHARON: Whenever I have free time I go to my studio and paint.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
SHARON: I like to take walks with my family and I especially like to walk on the beach. Making art is fun for me. I am also passionate about learning and any kind of experiential class is fun for me.
Q: Who is/are your hero/s
SHARON: My mother is my hero. After she worked as a physical therapist for 20 years she completed medical school at age 50. She is a nephrologist who essentially saves lives every day. She is now turning 80 and still loves her work. Her passion for helping others is an inspiration.