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Meet Yerasimos Stilianessis of Healing with Yerasimos in Santa Monica and Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yerasimos Stilianessis.

Yerasimos, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Well, I can probably start this story at my birth and the events surrounding that but I’ll fast forward a bit.  I would have to say that when I first read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, as a teenager living in New Jersey, I became very curious about this idea that as human beings we had the potential to evolve beyond the parameters set forth for us by whatever culture we were born into and the manner by which we were conditioned and expected to live within that culture.

What really stayed with me was that while being influenced by our parents, teachers, peers, and the zeitgeist at any particular time would impact our development and sense of identity, ultimately we had the freedom to choose what kind of life to create for ourselves and how that journey of creation would unfold.

And because that seed was planted at a somewhat early age, I was eager to water it whenever inspiration came knocking on my door. So, that’s why during my time in college at Boston University I decided to study abroad as far away as possible, spending four months living and traveling in Australia. I also made the choice to wander around Europe for three months after graduating because I felt like the rich history of that land had something to teach me.

When I returned from that trip, I put on a suit and tie every day and worked in corporate hotel management for a couple years before I realized I no longer wanted to pursue that path as I yearned for more creativity, adventure, and autonomy. So, I packed up a suitcase full of books and went to spend the summer of the 2004 Olympics in Greece, which is where my parents were born and raised, and where much of my family still lives.

After my time there reflecting on life up until that point, I decided to follow through on a childhood fascination and occasional hobby of mine so I moved to New York City to begin the process of pursuing a career as an actor.

It was during that time that I embarked on a more focused inner exploration that would lay the foundation for much to follow. My first acting teacher was heavily influenced by Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, two psychologists that in my opinion were pioneers with their work called, “Voice Dialogue, Relationship, The Psychology of Selves, and the Aware Ego.”

Using their consciousness model as a framework, I dove deep in a quest to not only understand why my personality developed the way it did and how my upbringing impacted that process but also to expand my consciousness to embrace those parts of me that had been disowned into the shadow of my psyche.

All this supported me as an actor as I developed a deeper connection to empathize with and play more types of “characters,” but most of all, this work provided much greater and more nuanced levels of self-awareness that served as a benefit in many areas of my life.

As this self-awareness grew, I became more curious about the role the body played in influencing one’s mental and emotional states. I was beginning to see even more clearly that my nutrition and lifestyle choices were impacting my thoughts, emotions, and energy levels in quite noticeable ways.

Keeping in line with answering the call of inspiration, I enrolled in a year-long program at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, associated with Columbia University at that time, to get certified as a holistic health coach. I met some wonderful people there and was exposed to a whole host of different philosophies around nutrition, with one basic tenet being the concept of bio-individuality, which explores the idea that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to health when it comes to nutrition. As the saying goes, “one person’s food, is another person’s poison.”

Shortly after finishing this program, I was hit with the travel bug once again and decided to take my savings and embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the globe. While studying abroad years prior in Australia, I met a bunch of people who were in the midst of this kind of long-term travel and I vowed to myself that one day, I would also find a way to do that. It’s interesting that in the United States, taking time off to travel like that isn’t really encouraged or even talked about, but in places like the United Kingdom and Australia, it’s much more common.

Anyways, I took off solo with my first generation Kindle in hand and began my journey. From driving over 11,000 miles throughout the United States and Canada to living in a treehouse in the jungle of Peru working with shamans, I learned a lot not just about myself, but about how other people on this planet lived; people from different walks of life that held distinctly different value systems.

So, to make an already long story a bit shorter, I made the decision to move to Los Angeles after spending a few more years in New York City post travels. I felt the call for more sunshine and the Pacific Ocean, so I packed up my things and drove across the country once again, this time with my older brother who was already living in the City of Angels.

While I was still engaged as an actor in LA pursuing that path, my parallel interests in health, healing, and human consciousness were starting to occupy more of my time and I found myself spending more energy in that arena. I felt that there was still something beyond nutrition and psycho-spirituality that could have a profound impact on a person’s life and I was curious to continue my education.

Not too long after my arrival on the west coast, I was introduced to this ex-Navy Seal and alternative health practitioner that took me under his wing and trained me in a Chinese meridian based form of bodywork. For me, that was life-changing as it seemed to crystallize so much of what I had learned up until that point, but most of all, I was able to personally experience a much deeper understanding of the role the body plays in any healing process and how the body truly is the hard drive for our experiences in our lives, storing traumatic events, repressed emotions, and lost memories, as well as all the stress and toxicity from our lifestyle choices and interactions with our environment.

So, after several more years of private training, working with clients and continued self-study, including also graduating from IPSB at Life Energy Institute, here I am today, answering your questions…

And that’s my story in a nutshell…

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road, that’s for sure. I had various health issues when I was a small child that found my parents driving me in and out of New York City often to see specialists. It was a very stressful time for all of us and was quite scary for me as I hadn’t even turned 5 years old yet.

And, while I couldn’t have asked for more loving and caring parents, who have provided many opportunities for me, let’s just say they didn’t always agree with or even understand my life choices.

My parents are both Greek immigrants, so there is a level of practicality that came along with them creating a life here in the United States. I know on some level as I was growing up, my parents had those stereotypical expectations for me that I believe many immigrants have for their children when they arrive in the USA; that I should become a doctor or a lawyer.

It didn’t take too long for them to realize that I wasn’t going to be following that path. After some time, they were able to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t really listen to outside opinions when it came to my career trajectory and that I would continue marching to the beat of my own drum.

That being said, it wasn’t always easy. Taking a more alternative route and bucking the status quo has its share of challenges. I dealt with insecurity at times and questioned whether I was living up to my potential.

And because as humans we have a tendency to compare and contrast our lives to those around us, there were moments when I wondered if I was making the right decisions. Being subject to the projections of others, even old friends of mine who it seemed couldn’t relate to my worldview and the path I was choosing for myself, sometimes felt like an added burden.

Not only that, when I left my more comfortable life in New York City for Los Angeles I was faced with various obstacles early on.  I didn’t have the same level of support since most of those closest to me were still back east and because of that I also felt disconnected from any sort of community.

I also got involved in a couple short-lived, and yet very painful romantic relationships that I entered into from a place of lack and neediness, wanting some sort of connection and validation as I was going through these vulnerable times. And add to that my experience of financial anxiety, along with confusion about what exactly I was doing with my life and I guess you could say I entered into a mini “dark night of the soul.”

Though, if you ask me if I would change anything about my life if I could, or if I had any regrets about any of my choices, I would say no.

There is a great Rumi quote that struck a deep chord inside me the moment I first read it and it has never left me.

“You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”

Each and every painful experience, no matter how big or how small, has impacted my life in ways I could never measure. It has humbled me to life’s mysteries, yet has also empowered me to go into the world with more compassion and share whatever gifts I have picked up along the way, doing what I can to inspire others to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Healing with Yerasimos story. Tell us more about the business.
“Healing with Yerasimos” is what my business is known as. Though to be more specific, I am a transformational bodyworker, teacher, and guide for optimal health. My focus is on supporting my clients to release trauma, stress, and toxicity from their bodies, nervous systems, and lives. Now, while people come to see me with different concerns and goals in mind, my intention is to empower everyone I work with to take control of their health so they can live with more vitality and peace.

My aim is also to educate and show my clients what function the body serves in the healing process, and how it indeed acts as a warehouse for their life’s history, storing unhealthy stress and toxicity along with traumas from the past that limit their self-awareness and prevent them from moving through the world with presence and a clear mind.

My integrated approach utilizes deep bodywork and other more subtle techniques along with coaching to provide the opportunity for my clients to become free of these restrictive elements and experience real transformation on a mental, emotional, physical, and energetic level.

From a bodywork perspective, there are two main modalities that I use in my practice. The first one is an unconventional technique where I use my feet along with deep, rhythmic pressure and walk on different parts of the body that correlate with the Chinese meridians (electromagnetic channels in the body).

During this process, conscious breathing is incorporated relative to the level of sensation that is felt in the body. As pain increases, the breath should speed up and deepen. While supporting the optimization of tissue health, this process helps to release stored trauma, bring repressed emotions to the surface, and increase physical self-awareness.

There is another dynamic technique I utilize that is also Chinese meridian based where groups of muscles and associated fascia are isolated and moved through isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions with resistive force. While increasing joint stability, strength, and flexibility, this modality supports meridian health by reducing electromagnetic stagnation and improves the flow of blood and lymph.

There are also other psycho-emotional benefits from this work as well, as different parts of the body correlate with different aspects of the psyche.

Some feedback I often receive from my clients includes:

I feel more emotionally balanced and peaceful.
I have more mental clarity.
I am able to handle stress much better.
I have a deeper connection to my emotional life.
It’s easier for me to notice habitual behavior patterns and shift them.
I am able to forgive more easily and let things go.
I am happier and more devoted to my own well-being.

I also sometimes introduce my clients to certain esoteric sciences that showcase how our cosmic environment impacts who they are in the world and what cards they’ve been dealt in this lifetime. By understanding these blueprints, they can step outside the “compare and contrast” game, and come to a deeper place of self-acceptance and self-love, and make decisions in life that serve them best.

At the end of the day, my goal is to be of service to others in any way I can. Like I mentioned earlier regarding bio-individuality with nutrition, I also believe that each person’s path of healing is quite unique. I know that in Los Angeles there isn’t anyone that works in the same manner that I do, as I’ve integrated and fine-tuned various things I’ve been taught over the years that I include in my sessions. And, while I believe the tools I offer are very powerful and can profoundly impact one’s life, I also know that there are certain things that are outside my level of expertise and scope of practice. I am fortunate to know a good amount of amazing health practitioners that have a focus in other areas, and I often recommend people to them.

Nothing makes me happier and more fulfilled than supporting others to become the best versions of themselves, and I’m grateful that I get to do my part in helping facilitate that process. This world needs more healing, though in order for that to happen, we must heal ourselves first.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Now, that’s a very interesting question to end on. For most of my life, I’ve been someone who hasn’t believed in using the word “luck” as it seemed to take away personal responsibility for whatever “good” or “bad” events occurred. There are many opportunities that have come my way that have benefited me, though, in my opinion, the main reasons for that have been because I believe I was prepared to take advantage of them by displaying a certain level of competence. Now, someone could be observing from the outside and tell me that I was “lucky” or perhaps if something didn’t work out how I initially wanted it to they would say I was “unlucky.” I choose to think about it differently.

I’ll sum things up with this. Each one of us is dealt certain cards to play in this lifetime. How well or how poorly we play those cards is going to determine whether or not we experience “good luck” or “bad luck.” At this stage in my life, I’d like to think that I’ve played my hand pretty well so far, though I’m curious to see how the game continues to unfold. Anything can happen and personally, I think that’s part of what makes life exciting.

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