Richard Wallace has been in a motorcycle accident that led to a near-death experience, had more than 40 bones in his body broken and has been struck by lightning.
But he never takes pain medication.
“I function just fine every day," he said. "That started me to think that if I can do this, other people would benefit, too."
Those experiences led him toward natural healing practices and training in shamanism. After 10 years of training with Native American masters, Wallace said he's been a practicing shaman for 20 years.
This week, Wallace and his partner Antoinette Sidari opened Awakenings Holistic Center at 2995 W. Main St. Road, Batavia.
"We feel people need some options," Wallace said. "We have a holistic cancer program because a lot of people don’t really have other options. They go to a doctor and a doctor tells them this is what we’ve got to do and we’ve got to do it quick, and a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that being the only option. People often research buying an automobile more than they do their own health care."
Wallace and Sidari met in 2008 and found they had traveled a similar spiritual path. More than a year ago, they began planning a business around holistic healing. After looking at several locations in Western New York, Wallace decided to convert the workshop building behind his house into the center.
"There was just nothing else around," Wallace said, explaining why the couple decided to open the center. He said even similar businesses in Buffalo and Rochester are more limited in what they offer.
Among the services offered by Awakenings are amethyst bio-mat treatment, integrated energy services, holistic cancer treatment, shaman services, meditation and soul coaching.
The store offers a variety of books on holistic healing, crystals and aromatherapy supplies.
"We approach the issues that people have not just as a medical approach, where usually you get five minutes with a doctor and he writes you a prescription," Wallace said. "We approach it with mind body spirit, because it could be an emotional issue, it could be a physical issue, so we take the time with people to see what the problem is."
After Wallace's motorcycle accident in 1985, he said he was sent home from the hospital with an undiagnosed broken neck. That led to a near-death experience, which changed his life. He said at that point, spiritual teachers began to enter his life and he "followed the call of my Native American roots" into shamanism. He studied with the White Brotherhood for 10 years. He became an ordained minister in 2005, and was ordained again in 2009 as a priest in the Order of Melchizedek.
Sidari's printed bio says she began her spiritual journey a decade ago that "turned ionto a miraculous journey of transformation back to her true self." She's studied healing arts.
She is a certified hypnotherapist.
During her spiritual journey, she has studied the teachings of Buddhist, Hindu, Vedic, Peruvian and Mayan traditions.
Wallace said there is no licensing for what he and Sidari practice.
"A lot of what we do, like what I do, as a practicing shaman, there is no piece of paper that goes with it," Wallace said. "There’s years and years of training and lots of experiences, and practice. I would rather have that than a piece of paper."