Johanna Oosterwijk began her career as a registered nurse (RN) in the Netherlands, working in a community hospital and with the Red Cross. In the early 1980s, she moved to the U.S., intending to have her nursing degree transferred so she could practice medicine. However, a year after relocating, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which put those plans on hold for several years.
Oosterwijk, the mother of three young children, was devastated. She describes that period as the darkest time in her life, recalling the isolation she experienced as a result of radioactive
iodine treatment, cut off from everyone, including her children, for three days at a time. After her therapy was completed, she took things one day at a time until she had reached the milestone of being cancer-free for one year.
That is when things began to change. “I thought if I could just live five more years, I would be happy,” she recalls. “For the first year I lived in a daze, but then I had an awakening. I told myself I wasn’t going to die—I was going to live!”
Oosterwijk began a quest to discover alternative treatments and healing methods for the disease, particularly those that integrated the body, mind and spirit. “I knew I needed to do something,” she says. “I became more aware of controlling my life, and once I did that, a lot of things began to open up, allowing me to take a step and move forward in my life.”
She realized that as individuals, we create our own illness, and yoga, meditation and energy-work, for example, have a major impact on healing. “We are all energetic beings,” explains Oosterwijk. “If we can change the frequency of illness, we can get better.”
Through her discovery of alternative modalities, the former nurse was inspired to help others benefit from these integrative healing techniques—first as a Reiki master and later as a clinical hypnotherapist. About 20 years ago, she started her own practice, Shambhala Wellness, from her home. Since then, she has added other modalities such as Polarity Therapy, reflexology, Quantum Biofeedback, HypnoCoaching and wellness coaching to her practice. In 2008, she completed her Doctor of Naturopathy degree at Trinity College of Natural Health, in Indiana.
After years of working out of her home, Oosterwijk was ready to expand and create a wellness center with multiple alternative therapies under one roof. The recession had just hit and she wondered how she would be able to open a center in such tough economic times. “I just told myself that if I’m ready, it will all fall into place, and it did,” she notes. The following week, she found a beautiful old house that was perfectly suited to her vision.
In early 2010, Shambhala Wellness Center officially opened in its new location in Denton. There, she created a friendly environment that welcomes all. It is decorated like a house, not an office, and highlights art from local artists, antique furniture and comforting accessories to enhance the total wellness experience.
The center is dedicated to serving clients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs through alternative and integrated healing. Numerous practitioners offer a variety of services, including massage, nutrition, psychology, hypnotherapy, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), wellness coaching, Reiki, medical aesthetician, Quantum Biofeedback, yoga, meditation and others. Shambhala Wellness will be expanding their services beginning in the Spring of 2013, with the addition of a new building adjacent to the current location, offering chiropractic care and nurse practitioner services.
The beauty of offering a plethora of modalities under one roof, she says, is that the practitioners refer clients to one another. “Every individual is unique. What works for one person may not work for another, so we’ve created a space that offers something for everyone.”
Oosterwijk’s dedication to helping others extends beyond the walls of Shambhala. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have been traveling to Nicaragua on missions. It started when a group of children came to her husband’s rotary club. The children would travel around in a van, singing and raising money for the country, but they needed a driver. Oosterwijk and her husband drove them, but it wasn’t enough for her. “I knew I had to do more; I wanted to go there,” she says.
During her first trip, she was stunned by the problems of poverty and disease. Kids were living in and eating out of a dump. They had doctors, but no money for buildings. Now, she and a small group travel to the country and employ locals to help build clinics and schools, in an effort to improve the health of these impoverished communities. It is an effort, she says, that simply “opens up her heart.”
After many years of helping others on their path to wellness, Oosterwijk says that she is inspired by the results. “I see people start to change. I see how much they love their life, and it makes my heart sing. I know I’m on the right track, and this is where I need to be.”
Shambhala Wellness Center is located at 215 E. University Dr., in Denton. For more information, call 940-380-8728 or visit ShambhalaWellness.com.