TANEYTOWN, Md. (AP) – Jim Thomas’ commute to work consists of a short walk across his lawn, past the tree house he made years ago for his son that he’s transforming into a meditation area, up a small stone path and into a new studio that welcomes visitors with the sounds of calming music and a “soothing fountain.”
The studio, situated off a not-too-frequently traveled road in Taneytown, is 11 miles from the Center for Healing Arts in downtown Westminster, which Thomas helped to start in 1986 and is still operating now.
Practitioners at the center provide acupuncture, Chinese dietary therapy and medicine, wellness counseling, massage therapy, meditation and psychotherapy.
Getting his own studio was years in the making, Thomas said, but finally became a reality this past summer after four years of building.
It gives him a place to practice his healing, but also allows him to offer more freedom to his clients, if they want to borrow a bike from his shed or relax on a nearby bench.
“I’m trying to make this into a day retreat area,” Thomas said. “I want to encourage people to just be outside and appreciate nature.”
Thomas said he has treated people with every kind of ailment.
“Cancer, grieving, emotional trauma, traumatic injuries, brain injuries, headaches, knee pain, back pain, anxiety,” Thomas said. “I’ve treated everything.”
What he focuses on – and what many of his clients come to him looking for – is to find the connection between emotions and physical feelings, Thomas said.
“This type of healing doesn’t look at ailments in isolation as Western medicine tends to do,” Thomas said. “Who you are is more important than what you have.”
For example, Thomas said if a person comes in complaining of frequent headaches, Thomas’ goal is to help that person find out what else in their life may be causing the headaches, instead of strictly looking at the symptom and trying to abate it.
“Instead of asking when on a calendar the headaches started, I’d ask what was going on in your life when they started,” Thomas said. “Did a relationship end or did your job suddenly become really stressful?”
Carol Coley, of Taneytown, has been going to Thomas for years to get treatment for a chronic progressive condition.
She credits Thomas with slowing her condition down and making her much more stable to a point that has amazed her physical therapist.
Thomas also helped her with the pain and recovery from a bad ladder fall where she suffered soft tissue injuries to her head, hip and arm.
“Jim helps the body function maximally and shows you the importance of taking care of your body, which is much more than taking a pill or setting a bone,” Coley said. “For some people or some conditions, it may not help. But for other people it will be magical.”
To that last point, Thomas is the first to admit that as a healer, he can’t do everything.
“If someone has a broken leg, I clearly can’t set the bone,” Thomas said. “With some conditions, I refer out if I can’t help them. I don’t discourage anyone from getting Western care.”
Whereas Western medicine is often bogged down by jargon and complexities, Thomas said many people find his methods of healing intuitive.
“The odd thing about this is that much of this is common sense,” Thomas said. “We’re fine tuning and heightening what people already know.”
Thomas also hosts group classes at the studio on anything from yoga and meditation to creating a sacred place and animal communication.
Thomas, who spends his off time drum making, gardening, riding bikes or playing in his band, considers himself extremely lucky to have a job that mirrors his philosophy on life.
“Some people make choices where work buys them something they love to do,” Thomas said. “I feel fortunate that my work fits perfectly with the rest of my life.”