Cari came to the Abode of the Message around 2008 after enrolling her son in the Mountain Road School. For a while they traveled back and forth, but Cari loved the Abode and decided to move in. She grew up in suburban Long Island in what she describes as a very pharmaceutical-oriented household. Her father had a recording studio in New York City and her mother was at home. She felt a strong connection with nature and plants from an early age, and her uncle’s farm in Pennsylvania fueled her interest. “Once I realized that there was something other than suburbia, the country was more appealing to me,” she said.
When she had her first child at 24, Cari knew that she did not want to raise her children as she was raised. She used herbal and homeopathic remedies instead of prescriptions and doctor’s appointments. “I really believe strongly that for children to thrive and be healthy they need to be raised in a natural, pure, way,” she explained.
Cari practices craniosacral therapy, a form of energy healing that involves gentle manipulation of the skull through touch and regulates the spinal fluid and nervous system. She especially likes working with babies, though she helps people of all ages. Cari has a degree in psychology from SUNY New Paltz and has spent years studying and apprenticing in herbal medicine and midwifery. “I was always interested in children and children’s health,” she said. Cari has recently made trips to Greece to volunteer in refugee camps, and specializes in breastfeeding support for mothers and babies.
Regina has been living at the Abode of the Message since 1998, though she visited on retreats in the ‘80s. She grew up in Yonkers, New York. Even in the city, Regina found wild areas to play in with her friends and her younger brother. “When I think about my childhood,” she said, “one of my favorite parts of the day was walking to school along a nature path right on the edge of the parkway.” She also spent a lot of time in her grandmother’s garden. Her mother was a kindergarten teacher and enjoyed planting flowers, and her father worked for Con Edison, which provides electricity and natural gas in New York City.
“I remember my mother saying when she was growing up that they had two things in the medicine cabinet: a bottle of aspirin, and a tube of toothpaste,” Regina said. Regina remembers her dad making peppermint and chamomile tea for her when he was sick. Interestingly, her mother’s grandfather was an herbalist in Germany and studied with Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897), one of the fathers of the naturopathic medicine movement. Regina’s ancestor worked on the Kneipp baths, a form of hydrotherapy that has a lot in common with New Lebanon’s historic healing waters.
Regina has done beautiful work as the gardens manager at the Abode, and also offers healing classes there. She has been a member of the Inayati Order (a Sufi Order) since 1981. Regina spent around 20 years as a teacher before transitioning to work with plants. She has studied herbal medicine for her own healing and health, read books, and learned from specialists in trauma and healing. “I was always interested in resilience,” she said. “What allows us, no matter what happens, to thrive and do well.”