Two High School Teachers Devote their Retirement to Healing Others

BROCKPORT, N.Y – The smell of incense fills the air when opening the door to Brockport’s only metaphysical store, Lightways Journey on 31 Market Street. The small business is owned by Judith Andrew and Karen Benson, two retired high school teachers in the Rochester City School District, who are devoting their retirement to bring healing to others. Both were inspired to open a business when their daughter showed interest in alternative medicine.

“One of our older daughters was very different in high school. She worked with herbs, she worked with all kinds of different oils, she would come downstairs and say, ‘you know, I need to wear yellow because I have to learn this, or I’m not grounded. So I have to put this on my ankle,’ and we’re like, how do you know that? So she kind of started a push to that,” said Andrew.

Outside Lightways Journey (Source: Jessica Karcz)

Unlike other metaphysical stores, Lightways Journey offers more than just crystals. Andrew specializes in healings, such as Reiki, Peruvian Shamanism, Integrated Energy Therapy and Radical Forgiveness. Each focus on letting go of past trauma and living in the present. Andrew sees most people come into the store hoping to relieve stress and anxiety.

“What the energy work does is bring you back to a calmer state through breathwork. If you look at any of the traditions, the Reiki work, the Shogun work, we can calm our autonomic nervous system and come back into balance through our breath”, said Andrew.

Andrew integrates a variety of crystals into her healing rituals. She uses them for the specific energy they each possess.

“Each stone vibrates at a frequency like, your phone vibrates, that box vibrates, our bodies vibrate. Stones have a frequency. It’s interesting, when you look up the metaphysical meanings. People will come up with the same thing on what they sent in feeling from it,” said Andrew, “They vibrate at a frequency that’s not judgmental, that isn’t, well, I’m hungry, or I didn’t get enough sleep or you know, life sucks. They just do their thing, so your energy rises to the highest vibrational frequency. So it helps relieve stress.”

Crystals and metaphysical healing products have been booming in the United States since the initial hit of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, especially with the rise in Tik-Tok trends promoting crystal healing. The high rise in stress and anxiety has lead people to look towards alternative ways of healing through Eastern medicine practices. Andrew has noticed more business in the store these past eight months after previously closing during the pandemic.

“I think all the metaphysical stores are just swamped. Something’s going on with the kids and families. 4-year-olds, 10-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 18-year-olds, 22-year-olds, all the way to 70 or 80-year-olds are really realizing the benefits of stones, crystals, meditation and just calming yourself,” says Andrew. 

Rebecca Lemus, a current employee, has found a second home in the shop after moving from her home in New York City her freshman year at SUNY Brockport. She believes the shop has helped her find herself while attending a predominantly White institution.

“This helps me hold on to my heritage, I’m Afro-indigenous, so that idea of connecting with Mother Earth, and living from our Earth, rather than this capitalistic society that we live in,” said Lemus.

Lemus is currently leading the social media aspect of the store, hoping to engage a variety of audiences throughout the Western, N.Y area. She encourages people to come to the store because there is something for everyone. Co-owner, Karen Benson, even describes the shop as a ‘wellness drop-in center’.

The shops selection of crystals from their Instagram (Source @lightwayscommunity on Instagram)

“A lot of times people come in, just look around and then leave because sometimes you need the mental clarity this environment provides you, so I just love that aspect. I think sometimes people are nervous to try and come in here because they think it’s just crystals and stones and that’s just one aspect of it. There’s so much more that goes into it,” said Lemus.

Benson specializes in crystals and tries her best to keep prices reasonable. She believes one of the best parts about her job is the customers.

“One of the benefits is we have the nicest customer service. Something might fall or break or whatever and then they’ll go, ‘okay, it was meant to be,’ I mean, people just come in with that attitude. That’s one of those things compared to teaching high school, that’s a real nice way to live your retirement,” said Benson.

Rebecca Lemus, Judith Andrew and Karen Benson in their shop

Having been teachers for so many years, Benson and Andrew can sense how children act differently when in the store and encourage them to explore.

“The kids come in and get that this is something different. They’re drawn to it, for sure,” said Andrew,”We welcome the kids because it’s like go ahead and touch. I mean, you can’t walk in here and not pick up a rock.”

Andrew believes the kids who come into the store are what make every day so special.

“I think for both Karen and I being high school teachers, we like kids. We love the energy of kids. We love the kids who come in here it’s just yeah, you know, it’s what we did forever. So it’s where our hearts are,” said Andrew, “It’s nice to talk to people and connect with them and help them feel better. That’s really what all this is about. Personal growth. Feeling good about who you are, healing your your life, feeling joy out of stress and anxiety.”

Andrew, Benson and Lemus encourage others to explore these practices for themselves and hope to brighten people’s days when they walk through the door.

For more information on merchandise and healing rituals visit https://www.lightwaysjourney.com/.



Categories: Business, Business and Entertainment, Canal, COVID-19, The Community

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