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Inspiring Conversations with Kevin Barker of Karuna Healing Arts & Palaka Botanicals

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Barker.

Hi Kevin, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I grew up in a small town in Michigan. Most of my youth was spent outside in the woods where I would play, hunt, fish, and be immersed in nature. The stillness that I experienced then had a big impact on me. Growing up gardening with my mother and family sparked my love for plants. I also had a deep love for indigenous cultures and fitness from a young age. Despite all this, I never imagined I would one day be totally immersed in Ayurveda, Herbalism, bodywork, and other eastern healing systems.

I was first introduced to Ayurveda, herbs, and Chinese medicine by a teacher around age 18. After experiencing how much better I felt from making some diet and lifestyle choices according to Ayurveda and taking herbs I was hooked. Although Ayurveda and Chinese medicine were so foreign to me as a small-town midwesterner they felt so familiar and I had a sense of coming home. Soon after I knew this work was my calling and have been studying and practicing these systems ever since. When I was 19, I read the Autobiography of a Yogi, which changed my life. It opened me up to yoga, my spiritual path and deepened my desire for truth. I have studied all around the country and have spent time studying and sourcing herbs in Nepal and India as well. I have always been independent and never felt fully fulfilled working for other people. I have always liked the idea of being an entrepreneur, It has been a dream of mine for years to have my own herb company and it’s so great to see it coming to fruition.

When I first moved to California, I lived in San Diego for a little over a year. I have been living in Topanga for around two years now and love it here! Out of all of the places I’ve lived and traveled Topanga is one of the best. It’s so nice to have clients come from the city and experience the beautiful nature in Topanga that many are often missing in their daily lives.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
The journey has been both smooth, beautiful and also filled with challenges. I’ve been blessed with a lot of support from my mother, sister, great teachers, friends, clients, and my beautiful partner. Like many practitioners on the path, I have had some tough health challenges to overcome. These challenges have also been a blessing and a teacher as they have helped grow my understanding of health, healing, and compassion. Starting an herb company from the ground up has also been very time-consuming but rewarding. I have literally spent years testing and sourcing the most ethically harvested medicines possible.

We’ve been impressed with Karuna Healing Arts & Palaka Botanicals, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My bodywork and consultation business Karuna Healing Arts is located in Topanga and I also do house calls throughout LA. In my health consultations for people, I incorporate herbs, nutrition, lifestyle recommendations, and more. My diverse education and background allows me to see through many lenses and help people get to the core of their health challenges. My bodywork practice is also eclectic and unique. I combine many different modalities such as Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu, marma therapy, acupressure, hot stone, cupping, energy work, ayurvedic therapies, to name a few. I view every session with my clients as a sacred ceremony and do my best to step out of the way and allow spirit to do all of the amazing healing that it does. I believe this is what makes me different from many other bodyworkers and also what many of my clients report back.

My herb company Palaka Botanics will soon be fully launched! I sell Ayurvedic herbs, Chinese herbs, and essential oils. All of the products are of the highest quality available, everything we have is organically cultivated or ethically wild-harvested and has gone through extensive testing. Our Shilajit is made in small batches and goes through the traditional purification process which takes close to a year to do, then third-party tested in CA. Most of our Chinese herbs and mushrooms are potent 10:1 powdered extracts and are sourced from herbs grown in the best conditions possible. I have close connections with our suppliers and I’m so happy to be able to support the amazing communities that supply us with these valuable medicines.

What matters most to you?
Some of the things that matter to me most are truth, health, freedom, spending time in nature, family, community, plants, and being of service to others. I think we’re all here to learn, grow, experience love, go beyond our perceived limitations, be of service, and be caretakers of this beautiful earth that we are intimately part of. In our journey through all of this, knowledge of truth and experiencing love, health, joy, and true freedom are essential.

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