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Meet The Family Thrive Experts: Maria Barrera, LAc

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

She brings families her extensive experience treating children with a range of serious health conditions, from cancer and epilepsy to autism and anxiety.

What does "family" mean to you?

Family refers to those individuals I can count on unconditionally—regardless of the time, request, or need.

What does "thriving" mean to you?
Thriving means living in a state of creativity, equanimity, and joy.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I first wanted to be an astronaut. I was really into extraterrestrials, so I thought if I became an astronaut I could meet an extraterrestrial being one day!

When did you know you wanted to be a healer? Can you tell us about that time in your life, and what it felt like to come to that realization?

I think a healer and protector go hand in hand.

When I was nine years old, I stood up to two bullies who had been ridiculing me and my sisters because of where we lived. As a low-income family, we lived in a garage converted into a studio because that was what we could afford.

On this particular day, the bullies escalated things by spitting on us in addition to calling us names–and enough was enough. I physically chased the bullies, beat them up, and reported them to their mother.

Immediately, I ran back to my three younger sisters as they were still crying and scared. I cleaned their faces and told them I was okay.

For the hours that followed before our parents got home, I hugged them, soothed them, and repeated to them: "We are beautiful. And no matter where we live, we will always be beautiful people." That is one of my memories of becoming a healer.

How has your cultural heritage influenced your healing practices?

I was born in Mexico and raised in the US. My parents have instilled in me Mexican customs and practices, especially as they relate to health.

In most traditional Mexican households it is very important never to walk out in the cold without your back being covered or sleep with wet hair on a cold night. One must never walk barefoot especially on a cold floor or drink cold drinks when sick.

In Mexican folk healing, all of these make one more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu. When I enrolled in my Master's program in Traditional Asian Medicine it was so comforting and confirming to discover the similarities between it and my Mexican healing traditions.

In both traditions, environmental factors like cold, hot, wind, and dampness influence the body’s immune system. The wisdom of the body shines through in these ancient healing traditions.

What's the biggest difference between working with children and working with adults?

The biggest difference is my disposition. When working with children, my ego shrinks and my heart enlarges.

As the years have passed, I have learned that I have to be emotionally transparent and 100% present in the moment, in order to maintain a level of intimacy and professionalism that allows the child to be free and engaged during treatment.

In your practice, what do you see as the biggest factors in children leading healthy, thriving lives?

The biggest factor is children’s relationships with their parents or closest caregivers. When parents do the same treatments or healing practices as their child, then the child is more engaged and compliant.

In our practice, I have observed year after year, that when the parent is receiving acupuncture, herbs, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine, the child is more compliant and the results are better.

The beautiful part is that most parents find Traditional Chinese Medicine to be a powerful tool of relaxation and self-care.

As a mom and as a family integrative medicine practitioner, what is one piece of advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

I would give them  the reminder: "You know your child better than anyone else in this world."

In that same vein, I would add: "Your child knows their body best." As parents, we are the translators of our children’s emotional and physical condition.

What is one piece of self-care advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

On the days there is no doctor, physical therapy, or medical appointments, etc.—on that day miss school and miss work and spend the day cuddling, connecting, and laughing with a "nothing to-do list" for the day.

What is your own most important self-care practice?

Jogging, journaling, and moments of silence.

What's ahead for Maria Barerra and Athena Acupuncture and Wellness Center?

The continued pursuit of making it a complete wellness center with different types of modalities in addition to Acupuncture & Traditional Asian Medicine.


Thank You:

Maria Barerra, LAc
Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center
Open Mind Modalities

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

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Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

She brings families her extensive experience treating children with a range of serious health conditions, from cancer and epilepsy to autism and anxiety.

What does "family" mean to you?

Family refers to those individuals I can count on unconditionally—regardless of the time, request, or need.

What does "thriving" mean to you?
Thriving means living in a state of creativity, equanimity, and joy.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I first wanted to be an astronaut. I was really into extraterrestrials, so I thought if I became an astronaut I could meet an extraterrestrial being one day!

When did you know you wanted to be a healer? Can you tell us about that time in your life, and what it felt like to come to that realization?

I think a healer and protector go hand in hand.

When I was nine years old, I stood up to two bullies who had been ridiculing me and my sisters because of where we lived. As a low-income family, we lived in a garage converted into a studio because that was what we could afford.

On this particular day, the bullies escalated things by spitting on us in addition to calling us names–and enough was enough. I physically chased the bullies, beat them up, and reported them to their mother.

Immediately, I ran back to my three younger sisters as they were still crying and scared. I cleaned their faces and told them I was okay.

For the hours that followed before our parents got home, I hugged them, soothed them, and repeated to them: "We are beautiful. And no matter where we live, we will always be beautiful people." That is one of my memories of becoming a healer.

How has your cultural heritage influenced your healing practices?

I was born in Mexico and raised in the US. My parents have instilled in me Mexican customs and practices, especially as they relate to health.

In most traditional Mexican households it is very important never to walk out in the cold without your back being covered or sleep with wet hair on a cold night. One must never walk barefoot especially on a cold floor or drink cold drinks when sick.

In Mexican folk healing, all of these make one more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu. When I enrolled in my Master's program in Traditional Asian Medicine it was so comforting and confirming to discover the similarities between it and my Mexican healing traditions.

In both traditions, environmental factors like cold, hot, wind, and dampness influence the body’s immune system. The wisdom of the body shines through in these ancient healing traditions.

What's the biggest difference between working with children and working with adults?

The biggest difference is my disposition. When working with children, my ego shrinks and my heart enlarges.

As the years have passed, I have learned that I have to be emotionally transparent and 100% present in the moment, in order to maintain a level of intimacy and professionalism that allows the child to be free and engaged during treatment.

In your practice, what do you see as the biggest factors in children leading healthy, thriving lives?

The biggest factor is children’s relationships with their parents or closest caregivers. When parents do the same treatments or healing practices as their child, then the child is more engaged and compliant.

In our practice, I have observed year after year, that when the parent is receiving acupuncture, herbs, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine, the child is more compliant and the results are better.

The beautiful part is that most parents find Traditional Chinese Medicine to be a powerful tool of relaxation and self-care.

As a mom and as a family integrative medicine practitioner, what is one piece of advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

I would give them  the reminder: "You know your child better than anyone else in this world."

In that same vein, I would add: "Your child knows their body best." As parents, we are the translators of our children’s emotional and physical condition.

What is one piece of self-care advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

On the days there is no doctor, physical therapy, or medical appointments, etc.—on that day miss school and miss work and spend the day cuddling, connecting, and laughing with a "nothing to-do list" for the day.

What is your own most important self-care practice?

Jogging, journaling, and moments of silence.

What's ahead for Maria Barerra and Athena Acupuncture and Wellness Center?

The continued pursuit of making it a complete wellness center with different types of modalities in addition to Acupuncture & Traditional Asian Medicine.


Thank You:

Maria Barerra, LAc
Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center
Open Mind Modalities

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

She brings families her extensive experience treating children with a range of serious health conditions, from cancer and epilepsy to autism and anxiety.

What does "family" mean to you?

Family refers to those individuals I can count on unconditionally—regardless of the time, request, or need.

What does "thriving" mean to you?
Thriving means living in a state of creativity, equanimity, and joy.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I first wanted to be an astronaut. I was really into extraterrestrials, so I thought if I became an astronaut I could meet an extraterrestrial being one day!

When did you know you wanted to be a healer? Can you tell us about that time in your life, and what it felt like to come to that realization?

I think a healer and protector go hand in hand.

When I was nine years old, I stood up to two bullies who had been ridiculing me and my sisters because of where we lived. As a low-income family, we lived in a garage converted into a studio because that was what we could afford.

On this particular day, the bullies escalated things by spitting on us in addition to calling us names–and enough was enough. I physically chased the bullies, beat them up, and reported them to their mother.

Immediately, I ran back to my three younger sisters as they were still crying and scared. I cleaned their faces and told them I was okay.

For the hours that followed before our parents got home, I hugged them, soothed them, and repeated to them: "We are beautiful. And no matter where we live, we will always be beautiful people." That is one of my memories of becoming a healer.

How has your cultural heritage influenced your healing practices?

I was born in Mexico and raised in the US. My parents have instilled in me Mexican customs and practices, especially as they relate to health.

In most traditional Mexican households it is very important never to walk out in the cold without your back being covered or sleep with wet hair on a cold night. One must never walk barefoot especially on a cold floor or drink cold drinks when sick.

In Mexican folk healing, all of these make one more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu. When I enrolled in my Master's program in Traditional Asian Medicine it was so comforting and confirming to discover the similarities between it and my Mexican healing traditions.

In both traditions, environmental factors like cold, hot, wind, and dampness influence the body’s immune system. The wisdom of the body shines through in these ancient healing traditions.

What's the biggest difference between working with children and working with adults?

The biggest difference is my disposition. When working with children, my ego shrinks and my heart enlarges.

As the years have passed, I have learned that I have to be emotionally transparent and 100% present in the moment, in order to maintain a level of intimacy and professionalism that allows the child to be free and engaged during treatment.

In your practice, what do you see as the biggest factors in children leading healthy, thriving lives?

The biggest factor is children’s relationships with their parents or closest caregivers. When parents do the same treatments or healing practices as their child, then the child is more engaged and compliant.

In our practice, I have observed year after year, that when the parent is receiving acupuncture, herbs, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine, the child is more compliant and the results are better.

The beautiful part is that most parents find Traditional Chinese Medicine to be a powerful tool of relaxation and self-care.

As a mom and as a family integrative medicine practitioner, what is one piece of advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

I would give them  the reminder: "You know your child better than anyone else in this world."

In that same vein, I would add: "Your child knows their body best." As parents, we are the translators of our children’s emotional and physical condition.

What is one piece of self-care advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

On the days there is no doctor, physical therapy, or medical appointments, etc.—on that day miss school and miss work and spend the day cuddling, connecting, and laughing with a "nothing to-do list" for the day.

What is your own most important self-care practice?

Jogging, journaling, and moments of silence.

What's ahead for Maria Barerra and Athena Acupuncture and Wellness Center?

The continued pursuit of making it a complete wellness center with different types of modalities in addition to Acupuncture & Traditional Asian Medicine.


Thank You:

Maria Barerra, LAc
Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center
Open Mind Modalities

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

She brings families her extensive experience treating children with a range of serious health conditions, from cancer and epilepsy to autism and anxiety.

What does "family" mean to you?

Family refers to those individuals I can count on unconditionally—regardless of the time, request, or need.

What does "thriving" mean to you?
Thriving means living in a state of creativity, equanimity, and joy.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I first wanted to be an astronaut. I was really into extraterrestrials, so I thought if I became an astronaut I could meet an extraterrestrial being one day!

When did you know you wanted to be a healer? Can you tell us about that time in your life, and what it felt like to come to that realization?

I think a healer and protector go hand in hand.

When I was nine years old, I stood up to two bullies who had been ridiculing me and my sisters because of where we lived. As a low-income family, we lived in a garage converted into a studio because that was what we could afford.

On this particular day, the bullies escalated things by spitting on us in addition to calling us names–and enough was enough. I physically chased the bullies, beat them up, and reported them to their mother.

Immediately, I ran back to my three younger sisters as they were still crying and scared. I cleaned their faces and told them I was okay.

For the hours that followed before our parents got home, I hugged them, soothed them, and repeated to them: "We are beautiful. And no matter where we live, we will always be beautiful people." That is one of my memories of becoming a healer.

How has your cultural heritage influenced your healing practices?

I was born in Mexico and raised in the US. My parents have instilled in me Mexican customs and practices, especially as they relate to health.

In most traditional Mexican households it is very important never to walk out in the cold without your back being covered or sleep with wet hair on a cold night. One must never walk barefoot especially on a cold floor or drink cold drinks when sick.

In Mexican folk healing, all of these make one more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu. When I enrolled in my Master's program in Traditional Asian Medicine it was so comforting and confirming to discover the similarities between it and my Mexican healing traditions.

In both traditions, environmental factors like cold, hot, wind, and dampness influence the body’s immune system. The wisdom of the body shines through in these ancient healing traditions.

What's the biggest difference between working with children and working with adults?

The biggest difference is my disposition. When working with children, my ego shrinks and my heart enlarges.

As the years have passed, I have learned that I have to be emotionally transparent and 100% present in the moment, in order to maintain a level of intimacy and professionalism that allows the child to be free and engaged during treatment.

In your practice, what do you see as the biggest factors in children leading healthy, thriving lives?

The biggest factor is children’s relationships with their parents or closest caregivers. When parents do the same treatments or healing practices as their child, then the child is more engaged and compliant.

In our practice, I have observed year after year, that when the parent is receiving acupuncture, herbs, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine, the child is more compliant and the results are better.

The beautiful part is that most parents find Traditional Chinese Medicine to be a powerful tool of relaxation and self-care.

As a mom and as a family integrative medicine practitioner, what is one piece of advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

I would give them  the reminder: "You know your child better than anyone else in this world."

In that same vein, I would add: "Your child knows their body best." As parents, we are the translators of our children’s emotional and physical condition.

What is one piece of self-care advice you'd give to The Family Thrive parents?

On the days there is no doctor, physical therapy, or medical appointments, etc.—on that day miss school and miss work and spend the day cuddling, connecting, and laughing with a "nothing to-do list" for the day.

What is your own most important self-care practice?

Jogging, journaling, and moments of silence.

What's ahead for Maria Barerra and Athena Acupuncture and Wellness Center?

The continued pursuit of making it a complete wellness center with different types of modalities in addition to Acupuncture & Traditional Asian Medicine.


Thank You:

Maria Barerra, LAc
Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center
Open Mind Modalities

Maria is the founder and owner of Athena Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Whittier, California, and a pediatric acupuncturist at Open Mind Modalities, in Orange, California. She is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees for the California Acupuncture & Traditional Medicine Association.

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