Energy hygiene techniques: Cleansing your energy field with sage, palo santo, meridian treatment points, brushing techniques, breath, sound, or movement, can be extremely supportive to a dysregulated system. When you are feeling “off,” or when you would like to prepare for your day ahead, take time to practice one of these ancient techniques so that your aura or biofield (the energy that exists within you and around you) are taken care of and readily washed through.
The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Michelle Shlafman.
Michelle Shlafman is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in Holistic Psychotherapy. She has been practicing in the field of mental health for over a decade and blends evidence-based research with integrative modalities to support client progress and effective therapeutic outcomes. Michelle is extensively trained in Energy Psychology, mindfulness techniques, trauma-focused healing (Brainspotting, TIR), and Usui Reiki.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
Everyone used to call me Dear Abby. When I was a little girl, others would share personal stories and experiences with me, asking for support and guidance. I had originally thought I would have studied a profession in the medical field, but I slowly found myself connecting to my roots in mental health. Both my mother and father were therapists, which is how they originally met, yet I never considered the possibility of a career in therapy. When I was approaching my junior year in undergrad, I finally switched my major from Biology to Integrative Health Sciences, and finally found Psychology was a perfect fit for my future.
I began seeing clients in 2013 during my Master’s program at Stetson University, where I graduated with a degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. During that time, I worked for a community-based agency providing individual, group, and family services for children, young adults, and families. While living overseas in 2015, I had the privilege of traveling to different parts of the world, which helped me better understand multicultural sensitivity and emotional experiences. I moved to Atlanta in 2016 where I have been holding space for clients, supervising clinicians, and offering holistic workshops.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
There are some experiences in life that you can’t quite plan for. Before moving to Atlanta, Georgia, I needed to secure a position as a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor (LAPC). I found a wonderful holistic center that hired me as an independent contractor and had everything in place for my new career. Two months into me starting my work as a new associate licensed clinician, the owner of the practice sadly passed away. Because her assets were frozen, I had to find another job placement. I happened to stumble upon Perspectives Center for Holistic Therapy through divine chance and had an interview with the founder of the practice, Laurie Patrice. The second I found this practice- I knew it would be my second home. Shortly after the interview, I was hired and have been a practicing therapist here since March of 2018. It is truly amazing how everything works out just as it should. Through this experience, I learned that what I want for myself may or may not be externally guided by the outside forces of life. If my experience is guided by external forces, then the amount of control I have lies within myself. I realized I can’t necessarily control things that happen around me, but I can control my reactions to them.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
One of my greatest mentors and teachers is Laurie Patrice, LPC, CPCS. She has guided me in my journey as a clinician for the last four and a half years. Laurie has gifted me with her wisdom and continues to share her expertise when I need additional consultation and support. I grew into myself from the nurturing energy of Laurie. It was as if she gave me space to find my authentic self and therapeutic identity. Laurie allowed me the space to find my own boundaries as a therapist and provided significant amounts of scaffolding for when I was unsure about how to approach a client’s situation. She was always there for me. Because of her encouraging support, I decided I’d like to supervise and mentor upcoming clinicians. I strive to hold for others the same values and principles Laurie has held for me.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Successful leaders possess authenticity, integrity, and a humble spirit. A leader significantly benefits from functioning within an authentic frame of mind to allow those supported by the leader’s guidance, to feel comfortable enough to show up as themselves. In addition to authenticity, leaders who function from a place of integrity, demonstrate honesty and trust within the relationship. The foundations of most relationships are based on trust. Finally, embodying a humble spirit permits others to make mistakes and learn from those experiences and lessons to grow. Growth is the primary element of any journey, and successful leaders are responsible for guiding others to be their best selves.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
My primary focus of holistic support is helping clients find unique strategies to regulate their nervous systems and energy fields. I utilize a comprehensive approach that incorporates concepts such as nutrition, foundations of health and wellness, energy psychology, meditation/breath support, and mental health guidance. I have attended numerous trainings throughout the last decade of my work as a licensed professional counselor and have acquired several certifications along the way. My certifications include Diplomate in Comprehensive Energy Psychology (DCEP) and Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS). My training includes Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR), Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Guided Hypnotic Meditation, Brainspotting (BSP), Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Thought Field Therapy (TFT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
I have supported thousands of clients in finding a greater sense of well-being, hope, and joy in their lives. Blending these therapeutic techniques with focused attention on the body’s health and the nervous system ultimately generates a greater possibility of longevity through acceptance, reactionary awareness, inner peace, and a balanced environment.
Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.
Moving through chronic pain has been a major source of suffering, acceptance, and inspiration. In life, most of us experience suffering, which can take months to years off a typical life span. I have searched for ways of supporting both myself and clients and have found that a magic recipe to longevity and inner peace is finding magic in acceptance of wherever an individual is at in their journey. Humans tend to resist what they don’t want in life, often creating complex stress and continuous angst. Over time, dysregulated nervous system patterns due to stress and suffering hijack our immune system, and cell structure, ultimately creating unwanted inflammation in the body and brain.
What I have found in the process of fostering acceptance and inner peace despite how challenging life may be, is that scaffolding measures such as counseling, chiropractic care, acupuncture, a healthy nutritional lifestyle, exercise, sunshine, sleep, water, and breath, significantly enhance an individual’s ability to gain more clarity in their life, have better regulation over emotional control, and bring awareness to the areas that need additional support.
My path has guided me to alternative forms of medicine, which have given me a better understanding of not only how important the world of Western medicine is, but also the holistic practices that should be implemented daily to tend to our energy, our soul, our mind, and our body for enhanced health, vitality, and longevity.
Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)
Most people who enter therapy find that the clearest answers to living an abundant life of happiness and health often come from the simplest acts of moment-to-moment awareness, rest, nutrition, exercise, and connection. Showing compassion and kindness to yourself and others are also key elements of a balanced lifestyle that anyone can experience.
To live a long and healthy life, it is important to implement these specific practices during your daily routine with consistency and intentionality.
1. Checking in: Invite yourself every morning, afternoon, and evening to check in with yourself by asking “What is it that I need at this moment to provide well-being to my mind, body, and soul”? You may find yourself answering with thoughts such as “I need a glass of water,” “It would be good for me to walk around the building,” “I want to feel socially connected so I’ll call a friend,” “I need to take a nap to feel better rested,” “I’d like to close my eyes while sitting for a mini brain break,” or “I’d like to eat a healthy snack.” Whatever your responses might be, take note of them and see if you can create a little time to give yourself what your system is asking for.
2. Regulating your emotions: Complex stress can create disease, mental health challenges, and social complications in connecting with others. Learning how to control your emotional reactions can eventually create a healthier immune system and functioning brain. To better regulate your emotions, it’s important to track your thoughts and the somatic feelings that go along with those thoughts. For instance, if you feel angry at someone, ask yourself what you are angry about and where this energy is stored in your body. The more we understand our emotions and triggers, the better we can address what to do with them next , such as releasing them through movement, breath, or journaling.
3. Foundations of health: Nurturing everyday behaviors helps you sustain a long and balanced life. Eat nutritious foods, less processed, and reduced sugar. Exercise your body four days a week for at least 30 minutes a day. When doing this, ask your body what it needs- whether it be stretching, cardio, yoga, or whatever else brings you joy physically. Get enough sleep and take time to wind down at night. Drink enough water for your weight to hydrate all areas and promote healthy brain function and digestion. Spend 15 minutes in the sun at least three days a week to soak up vitamin D. Focus on your breath and make sure you come back to the breath throughout the day to ground you. Take care of your body. Support your mind through counseling as needed. Get massages when you feel your body is asking for love and touch.
4. Body care: Chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, myofascial release, and reflexology are several of the wonderful alternative practices of body medicine that can help you live a longer life. When our spine is happy, our organs are happy, and when our organs are happy, we live a longer, healthier life.
5. Energy hygiene techniques: Cleansing your energy field with sage, palo santo, meridian treatment points, brushing techniques, breath, sound, or movement, can be extremely supportive to a dysregulated system. When you are feeling “off,” or when you would like to prepare for your day ahead, take time to practice one of these ancient techniques so that your aura or biofield (the energy that exists within you and around you) are taken care of and readily washed through.
The blend of all these practices produces a healthy and vibrant immune system, clarity of the mind, and alignment of the body and spirit, guiding you to live a longer, healthier, happier life.
For a video demonstration of these techniques, please visit: https://youtu.be/ooioTysPsf4
Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?
As silly as it may sound, I would suggest learning to smile in the most challenging times helps bring meaning and happiness to life. Oh, and don’t take life too seriously either! We often imprison ourselves in concrete judgment of what we think is, but really is not. Our perceptions are not fixed, rather they are fluid and constantly changing in one way or another. I would encourage you to attempt to see the beauty in what is in front of you, practicing gratitude and appreciation for things that bring you joy. Allow yourself to use discernment rather than judgment, which helps create distance from emotions such as anger or hate and instead invites a deeper understanding of whatever situation you may be facing. Love others and yourself as much as you can. Love is one of the main answers to all of life. The more we love, the more we live; the more we live with intention around kindness and well-being, the healthier we feel and the longer we live.
Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?
Nature versus nurture is always a primary debate in most life scenarios. I do agree that both styles influence how long we live our lives and what kind of lives we choose to move through from birth till death. Epigenetics is a concept that may significantly impact the idea of nature on longevity. In the study of epigenetics, individuals are predisposed to the emotional, physical, and spiritual patterns of their parents and their ancestors’ bloodlines and DNA. If a parent or ancestor has had significant trauma, chances are the trauma may find its way into the personality and subconscious mind of an individual in the present time. This affects longevity because choices may be predisposed to either a fear-based response or on the opposite side, more empowered strengths in determining healthy chances of survival. Nurture, on the other hand, can help create an empowered space for individuals to learn practices of self-care and mindfulness practices to choose healthy behaviors for their mind, body, and soul. Both nature and nurture are important aspects of longevity and impact on the length of time an individual lives.
Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?
I entered a “dark night of the soul” in September of 2021. I had a severely pinched nerve in my neck, which created excruciating pain for several weeks until I received a nerve root block injection. I thought my life was over and begged anything above me to take my pain away. Little did I know this experience would bring me into a dissertation topic for my doctoral program. As a gymnast, my body has suffered many longstanding injuries, including that of my lower back and as I have aged, disc degeneration in my neck. I live in chronic back pain and often neck pain as well. Pain really changes our perspective on how we see life and what is important. Over the years as my body has sensed more pain and inflammation, I became curious to research the connection between anxiety, mindfulness, and pain (suffering). I was so moved by my own experience of suffering that I decided to research pain and mindfulness as my dissertation topic for the Ph.D. program in Counselor Education and Supervision that I’m currently attending at Mercer University. I now consider myself an expert in pain management and anxiety due to my own lived experience, which I’m still moving through each day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom”. — Victor E. Frankl
This is the standing quote at Perspectives Center for Holistic Therapy. I appreciate this quote so much in that it is a beautiful reminder we can choose to be empowered and supported in life through awareness, patience, and unforeseen circumstances. There is a silver lining to many troubles we face, and each brings the gift of a better understanding of the self.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d love to bring nervous system awareness through energy medicine and mindfulness to the surface of the conscious mind. I would help teach others to be so self-aware of their body’s interoceptive qualities that they would be able to sense a reaction before it would occur and know how to handle any emotions or physical sensations that would arise. This would in turn create more peace and understanding in not only the lives of individuals themselves but in those around them as well.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
Feel free to follow me on my personal website: www.michelleshlafman.com . You can also check out the amazing services Perspectives Center for Holistic Therapy offers: www.perspectivesholistictherapy.com . In addition to the accessible websites, you can follow me on social media: Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/shellyshlafman , Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/michelleshlafman/ , Tiktok- https://email@example.com?lang=en , and Insight Timer- https://insighttimer.com/triosevene .
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.