Community Center Offers Holistic Healing and Inspiration
Dan King and Rita Hickman
INSIDE, a holistic and artistic community center in McHenry, is a stomping ground for local songwriters, musicians, healers, seekers and other creative types. Along with their sister organization, Inspire Massage, which offers massage and wellness programs for women of any age, they are putting a new face on what it means for people to connect with themselves and grow with their community.
Rita Hickman is the founder of Inspire and co-owner, along with Dan King, of INSIDE. She is a shiatsu massage specialist, holds national certification for therapeutic massage and bodywork and holds a master’s degree in elementary education, among other accomplishments. A former teacher, she transitioned to massage because of her interest in cultural medicine and desire to continue building a positive community and encouraging people to connect. “Shiatsu takes all aspects of you and ties them together. It’s a great umbrella for all the holistic treatments,” says Hickman.
Inspire Massage is housed at INSIDE, which welcomes artists and holistic practitioners and has a strong focus on music. King, who has been there for two years, describes Inspire as “the seed that grew into INSIDE.” King, with a management background, has been dabbling in music since he was a teenager. He was introduced to holistic wellness in the 1990s and uses all these interests in his work at INSIDE. Their offerings are very broad, as is King’s taste in music. “I like everything from the Sex Pistols to the Supremes. If it sounds good to me, I like it.” Some of the more popular programs include drum circles, gong meditations and shamanism. They also offer kirtan chanting experiences, rock and pop performances, Feldenkrais, meditation, guided visualization, and specialty classes. One is titled Let’s Get Together and Talk About the Law of Attraction.
While INSIDE is a very flexible space and welcomes new practitioners, they don’t sell any retail products or promote any one practice or religion. “It’s a space where communities can come together under the umbrella of holistic arts. It’s a space for people to grow. We are accepting of any belief or background,” says Hickman. They get much of their business through word of mouth from people that have attended a performance or taken a class and tell their friends about what a great time they had.
INSIDE is always looking for new practitioners, leaders, healers and teachers. “Practitioners come from all over. We have brought in people from Canada, Thailand and right here in the community. We want to make sure they’re a good fit for our clients and customers. Our community is interested in diversity and looking beyond themselves and their minds,” says Hickman.
Because Hickman and King have a partnership, the space is very energetically balanced. “We balance each other’s strengths and challenges. It’s very energetically clean, not male or female dominated,” says Hickman. Most of the clients at Inspire are women, and it’s an even mix of men and women at INSIDE. Especially at INSIDE, Hickman sees older generations mentoring younger generations. “We want people to be able to be vulnerable. It’s important to get to all the underlying things. Shiatsu, meditation and women-only classes can support that,” she says.
At more than 1,300 square feet, the space can house a variety of practices and workshops and is very adaptable. “We’re not locked into any one idea and are always looking to expand and grow,” says King. Besides classes and workshops, INSIDE and Inspire also offer tools and resources for healing. “We especially focus on body/mind tools so people can help themselves. People come in needing to deal with grief, loneliness or stress. We can’t fix or change someone, but we can offer them the resources to do the work on their own. It’s pragmatic, but also somewhat spiritual. It’s very powerful to lead instead of instruct,” says King.
INSIDE has rental space available for private events and can assist with catering, set-up, promotion and logistics. They are always looking for people that have a vision to share, whether teaching a class, leading an energy circle, creating a support group or hosting a party. “This is a place that can transform you if you are ready and willing to grow. It’s a beautiful community,” says Hickman.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Chicago, and the chair of recruitment for the Chicago Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.