We had the chance to sit down with Sandi from Waves Wellness Center in Bristol, Rhode Island about her business and her practices.
Sandi has been in the holistic healing industry for about twenty-five years, both in her profession as a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner using a number of different modalities and in her personal life as a yogi. Although she’s always known that she wanted to help people, even when she was a young child, she didn’t quite know that it would be Chinese medicine. Originally, she thought she might become a doctor, even taking pre-med courses in school for a few years. After two years, though, her path changed and she found herself moving toward Chinese medicine as a way to help people.
Sandi specifically uses holistic methods to support clients through any ailment they may have, using TCM practices within her life coaching work. “I’ve been coaching for almost as long as I’ve been doing TCM, and people always ask me, ‘What’s the most common service that I provide?’ Because everybody would think it would be something like a bodywork modality or reflexology, like that. My largest number of clients is actually in coaching.”
Life coaching can often be conflated with therapy in the western psychotherapy sense, but that’s not the aim of this work. “When we do coaching,” Sandi said, “it’s not just like a therapeutic approach. When my clients come to me, it’s mind-body-spirit coaching. It’s everything: we do nutrition, we do lifestyle, we do relationship building, we do emotional intelligence development. And it makes a difference, because it’s not just somebody listening to them. We all need to be listened to and heard, but sometimes it’s really helpful to have different kinds of tools and tactics than are available with western talk therapy. And I strongly support balancing eastern and western medicine – medication, having a therapist, these are great tools. But I feel like there’s a lot missing in western medicine. I have clients who go to doctors every day, and they just don’t walk out feeling like they got what they needed. When they come to us, they walk out and they feel safe being heard and understood. They have real concrete tools, tactics, and plans for how to go forward. And they can and should go over these plans with their doctors – I feel very strongly that we always want to make sure that people are safe.
“But it doesn’t matter what you come in with – I have clients who have been dealing with PTSD or chronic pain for years and years, children who have severe seizures, wedding parties who are having family conflict – when people come to me, I have very specific questions that I’m asking, and I don’t care if you come in with a fused cervical spine because you were in a car accident or if you’re dealing with prostate cancer or if you argue with your mother. When you come in and work with me, I want to know how your sleep is, I want to know your trauma history. I want to know your medical and prescription history. And I want to know what your goals are. And then I start to think about how we put the puzzle together that is going to work for you. What pieces are missing? What pieces don’t fit?”
Each person gets customized advice and methodology based on their particular issues – and that advice is often based in writings from ancient texts. “I know that the title of the Tibetan Book of the Dead sounds kind of dark! But it’s really about how to live your life properly. And then in Buddhism, we call it the Eightfold Path, which is how to properly live your life again. It’s funny, there’s this thing that people say, ‘there aren’t manuals on how to live.’ Actually, there are, and they’re called the The Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Eightfold Path,” Sandi said with a laugh. “It will tell you how to live a healthy, emotionally balanced, psychologically balanced, physically balanced life. You know, one of the things I was taught by a former instructor of yoga therapy was really advanced emotional intelligence. And if you go back through the history of Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, all these ancient spiritual practices, one of the most common threads you find is this very advanced self awareness and emotional intelligence.
“I’ve had so many clients tell me that they get so much further with our work than they do in talk therapy. And because my hands aren’t tied by the Western mental health industry, I can help people create very strategic, goal-oriented plans for their mental health for their week, for their business, whatever it is, and they get results.”
Things have changed a bit for how the business works since COVID-19 started, in terms of client norms. “Clients would really frequently commit to, say, six month treatment plans, but now, we’re seeing less of that and more people wanting to start with maybe three sessions,” Sandi explained. “And once they come in, most people find that they’re making really visible progress and stay, but that’s a big difference. The structure of our time together is different when we might only have three sessions. The first three sessions are us getting to know each other and getting familiar with how I work and my communication style. And it’s me getting to know them, their body, and their pain signals, because most people don’t communicate openly about their pain. As they become more comfortable with me, they’ll divulge more, and I’ll be able to provide a more accurate treatment plan for them. So those first three sessions, even if they’re bodywork sessions – let’s say you came in for reflexology, and you’re asleep on the table for an hour because it’s very relaxing and very peaceful in our space. You know, you’re sleeping and I’m observing how you fall asleep. I’m observing if you don’t fall asleep and why, I’m looking for if your anxiety bubbles up ten minutes after you finally find relaxation on the table.
“I actually start observing clients from the moment we start talking, which is really helpful because even if a person doesn’t tell me a lot with their words, I can learn a lot just by paying attention to them. And then when I make the plan, I’m making a plan based on the person it’s for. If someone comes in and says they need help with stress, I’m watching and paying attention so I can understand, why are they stressed? How are they processing their stress? Then in my training plan, after I talk to them and have started to get a gauge of where they’re at and what their patterns are, then I can start addressing daily routines, hydration routines, food routines, anxiety and stress routines at work. Sometimes clients will bring things up months into working together – huge things, like tons of stress of work that they’ve had all along. And the picture I might have of that person probably includes some offhand mentions or signals of stress at work, but if they haven’t said anything directly, I never want to presume. So when I create these plans and I only get three sessions with you, I’ve got to do a lot of work to try and figure out how to get the most beneficial results and the easiest strategies to get the best results possible for you based on what I know. And oftentimes, two or three sessions can be a lot, but it’s definitely not everything.”
When asked what people should know about Waves Wellness Center, Sandi said, “What people should know is that, no matter what it is you’re trying to work on, even if we can’t help you, we can help you find the the right services or practitioners to get you where you want to be or where you’d like to go. No matter what you come in with, you’ll leave feeling better, with some sort of concrete step forward.”
Book a consultation with Sandi at Waves Wellness Center for any and all of your ailments. You can find the shop at 190 High Street in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Sandi Anderson is also a published author:
and several (as of 2022) upcoming books: Harnessing Herbs Book, What’s Your Dharma?, AUM-Ology, and Gua Sha – “How to” on Ancient Natural Beauty.