Accessible Health at Jersey City's Radical Wellness

The wellness community I've unearthed in Jersey City never ceases to amaze me. For a small city, Chilltown is jam-packed with resources to live a better life. I have very much needed these resources over the past few months and I've found this community to be extremely forthright with information, people, stores and healers to help me. This morning was no different. There is a small herb and essential oil shop on Brunswick Street in The Village neighborhood of Jersey City called Radical Wellness, which aims to make wellness and alternative healing options easy and affordable for all. It's a tiny but beautiful shop that has been open for about a year now.

Radical Wellness is directly on our walking path to and from The Lil' Brick Schoolhouse, where the World's Cutest Human spends three mornings per week. So, I've passed this shop six times a week for the past six months, and it didn't take long before I had to pop inside and see it for myself. I was dazzled by the shelves of essential oils, herbal teas, crystals, supplements, candles and more, and was immediately greeted (hosted, really) by co-owner Jimmy Benito.

Jimmy, a former real estate maven in Jersey City, opened the shop with his business partner David Najjar, of Najjar Group. After a life-changing wellness experience in Arizona a few years ago, Jimmy committed to a life -- but more importantly to a career -- in wellness. He now runs the shop (which was formerly a Najjar Group conference room, although it is technically a separate property) full-time.

Jimmy is the most kind man, who, with David, first helped me after I got out of the ER in April. Since I didn't have any answers at that point, I could only describe symptoms. They recommended a variety of products that might help, and I also purchased a list of products that my sister, a health coach in Australia, advised for my healing. I left that day with their "Eater's Digest" in-house herbal tea blend, Manuka honey, MegaFood energy powder and a few essential oils. Neither Jimmy nor David were pushy or salesy in any way. They simply pointed out possible resources and let me choose.

I've been enjoying all of the above since my first visit and although I don't know what precisely to credit as I've been healing and feeling better, a combination of diet, acupuncture, and products such as those that Jimmy and David offer have done the trick.

Last week, though, I woke up feeling incredibly off. My energy felt like it belonged to another person; it was certainly not familiar to me. I tweeted as much against my better judgment (I try not to post my feelings on social media). Jimmy immediately responded, asking me to come into the shop for a bit of quick energy work.

I felt such relief and comfort that a neighbor had not only seen my message, but offered to help when I wasn't even asking for help. I wasn't really even complaining (or meaning to, anyway). I was simply noting (in a ridiculously public forum) how off my energy felt. I vowed to take Jimmy up on his generous offer, but that, of course, took me two weeks to accomplish. I made it back in to Radical Wellness this morning.

While I actually felt pretty good today after an invigorating crack-of-dawn bootcamp class, I never feel entirely great these days. My energy and spirit have been off-kilter for a while, since my health problems began this spring, and even before. It's been an extremely stressful year (behind the scenes of all my Jersey City lovin', which -- unlike the rest -- is unwavering).

To fix this, our family made some huge decisions recently that have offered both immense relief and excitement, but still some tension. Big time change carries some level of stress, if only in the preparation and process.

In short, it feels my heart, my mind and my spirit are a bit of a jumbled mess right now. Which is where Jimmy came in to save not only my day, but many of my days to come.

After dropping my daughter off this morning, I popped back into the shop and sat down to chat with Jimmy. I brought him up to speed on the latest and greatest and he asked me to rate my stress level on a scale of 1-10. He asked me not to think about it too much, but rather to sit in the feeling and say the first number that popped into my head.

"Seven," I said. "Or eight." It's probably been an 11 recently, so to me we were already in an improved place.

Jimmy then led me through a tapping exercise based on the Emotional Freedom Technique that leverages the energy meridian points in your body that are used in acupuncture. This exercise, both through the tapping and through positive affirmations, removes the emotional barriers that can create energy blockages that stand in our way. While it can feel a bit silly at first, it is shockingly effective.

When we were done, Jimmy again asked me to tune into and evaluate my stress level.

"Four," I said, without thinking too long and with much relief. "Let's do it one more time," Jimmy said. "Let's try to lower it a bit more."

When we were finished, I could honestly say it felt like my stress had dropped to a two, perhaps even a one. It was not gone, but it was not overwhelming or even really affecting me. Jimmy had helped me to reframe and reposition what is going on in my life, and move the energy in my body to complement those thoughts. It was really quite incredible and encouraging.

Jimmy and I chatted for a bit longer and I refilled my Manuka honey stash, and tried a few new products -- including an in-house essential oil blend that we had used during our tapping exercise and some VibesUP crystal bracelets -- before I headed out.

I left Radical Wellness feeling as though I wanted to skip down the street, as opposed to my usual (these days, at least), dragging-my-feet-through-the-concrete feeling. I came home chatty and chipper and I could see the confusion in my Love's face until I explained what I'd just experienced with Jimmy. The confusion in his face melted into gratitude, I could tell.

I cannot recommend the experience, the expertise and the resources enough. Jimmy made a huge difference in my life in a short amount of time, and I'm confident he and Radical Wellness can, and will, do the same for many others in Jersey City. We are very lucky to have them.

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