Since Her Research Years, Audra Has Remained Fascinated With & Kept An Eye on New Research That Integrates Genetics, Nutrition & Holistic Healing. An Interview With Audra Whatley, L.Ac. of Be Zen Holistic Wellness Center
Q: Why did you decide to obtain degrees in Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?
AW: I chose to pursue a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine because our medical system here in the states had failed me. After 18 months of doctor’s visits and prescription drugs that made me feel worse and not better, I got relief with herbal medicine in less than a week. At the time I had been studying for MCATs to go to med school. Instead, I looked for a medical school based in herbology. Oriental medicine was the field I found that seemed to have the most organized and structured pursuit of that. After 12 years in practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I signed up for more education in Functional Medicine to fill the gap there seems to be between eastern and western medicine. And I am currently a doctoral candidate in integrative medicine.
Q: What are some of the benefits of Acupuncture treatment?
AW: Acupuncture itself is just one tool in the toolbox of a licensed acupuncturist. The benefits of acupuncture include but are not limited to increased blood flow, decreased pain and inflammation, increased range of motion, balancing of hormones and neurotransmitters, and relaxation. My favorite “side effect” of acupuncture is a general sense of well-being patients get when they are consistent with treatment.
Q: For those in our audience not familiar with the term “Functional Medicine” can you tell us how it works and how we could benefit?
AW: Functional Medicine looks at more of a whole body approach to medicine, understanding that everything we do has in impact on the whole body, not just the system of a single organ. We look for the root cause of dysfunction in the body and help people get closer to optimal health with nutrition, lifestyle recommendations, and supplements. We often consider narrower optimal ranges in blood work and offer dietary options for correcting symptoms that are often considered subclinical in a more traditional sense. In other words, we take fatigued, foggy, fluffy (hey, it’s better than the other f word), frustrated women that aren’t getting the answers they need from their primary care physicians and give them a path to get their energy and vitality back without the lifetime of prescriptions.
Q: Can you treat allergies we may have from our pets?
AW: In our clinic we use a system called Advanced Allergy Therapeutics to help with seasonal and environmental allergies like pets, pollens and even some food sensitivities. It is a simple, easy, and effective way to reduce, if not eliminate some of the common annoying symptoms associated with allergies and sensitivities.
Q: As we grow older, which supplements should we be taking daily?
AW: We believe that supplements are to be used with the individual in mind. I find that there is no one right answer for everyone, and actually, there is some risk to following the “good for everyone” over the counter supplementation often recommended by Dr. Google and friends. Most supplements bought online and through general retailers are not the best quality and are often loaded with fillers that are not in the best interest of the individual. This is why we look at labs and determine what a patient actually needs versus randomly recommending a list of supplements that have helped others at some point. More so, I would say as we grow older it becomes more and more important that we minimize the processed foods and sugars and eat more whole foods. Many of the things that go wrong in our bodies as we get older have to do with the overabundance of pesticides, chemicals, and genetically modified foods we are constantly exposed to and the inability to detox all of them. The body tends to break down differently depending on the individual’s genetic predisposition.
In general, as a culture, we are overfed and at the same time malnourished. Those individual ingredients in supplement form are the fuel of our detox processes and how we make energy. A very simplified way to think of it is this: if our body processes were a manufacturing line, and we wanted to optimize the production, you have to know what parts are needed where – throwing an abundance of parts everywhere and not taking out the trash doesn’t really optimize and can actually make things slower or fall apart all together.
Q: What can someone expect when they see you for the first time?
AW: My first session generally consists of about an hour of conversation around their medical history, symptoms and really getting to know their health concerns and lifestyle. It is my goal for them to feel heard and understood. Once we have a clear understanding and direction, we either recommend labs or use acupuncture – sometimes both.
Q: How did you come up with the name BeZen?
AW: Be Zen is like saying Be Happy or Be Relaxed. The idea of zen is that when you let go of all the expectations that life and society put on you, then you can just be… there is automatically a state of calm and relaxation when you can just be you.
Q: 2020 was pretty crazy for everyone, how did you manage your business?
AW: One day at a time.
Q: What's your advice for women in male-dominated fields?
AW: Interestingly enough, alternative medicine, is generally a female dominated field. I think the mistake women make in our male-dominated society is trying to make it work in a masculine way. Feminine energy is creative and more encompassing than the masculine driven structured culture we live in. It sometimes is difficult to be heard when what others are expecting is something that fits into a box they are familiar with. So, my advice is, just keep being you and showing up in your own power. Learn to trust your intuition. And just keep showing up, and being your best self, someone will see your brilliance and doors will open in directions you never imagined.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
AW: The greatest fear I’ve had to overcome is the fear of the unknown. I haven’t always known where I was going in life, but somehow trusted my intuition to lead me down the road less traveled. I can’t say it has always been easy, but I have no regrets for the path I chose.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
AW: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career and in life is that people don’t necessarily come to me for what I do or how well I do it, but more so because of who and how I am with them.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
AW: I think some of the biggest challenges women face today have to do with not feeling able to slow down and take the time to care for themselves. Women often put their family, work, and everything else first. Our society has become so fast paced that it is often hard to find 30 minutes of solitude, stillness or quiet. And it is something many of us need to get back to a place of balance.
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
AW: I had no idea where my career path would take me after high school. I knew that I wanted to learn and understand our bodies at the deepest level possible and as far as my education had taken me at the time, which was genetics. I started out with my BS in Genetics, did lab research for a couple of years, and just wanted more. What I learned in my bachelor’s was that at the core of our physical body is the genetic structure that is primarily made of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and a little phosphorus which are all made of energy. Over the years this is what fueled my passion for quantum physics, personal growth and development mindset work and healing the whole being.
Seven Things About Audra Whatley
1. If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
My dad who passed in 2003 because I have come to appreciate him more with age than I did as a younger person. Jesus because I have so many questions. Buddha just because I’d like to hear his answers to those same questions. And last, but not least, my grandmother because I miss her still.
2. What's your favorite family tradition?
Growing up we spent a lot of Christmas times in Colorado. The cabin had only a wood burning stove, no mantle. Instead of hanging stockings, we would set our snow boots by the wood burning stove for Santa to fill with fruit, candy, and a few other goodies. To this day, I think we should all set our boots out to get filled.
3. What’s the most amazing adventures have you’ve ever been on?
I had many adventures in my childhood with my family, but as an adult, I would have to say my most amazing adventure to date was a spiritual journey in Bali, Indonesia. It was jam packed with good people, great experiences, a little white water rafting, hiking in the jungle barefoot, a mud bath, roasting coffee beans, photography with monkeys, a moped ride in the rain and so much more!
4. What TV shows did you watch when you were a kid?
As a kid, I watched entirely too many cartoons, but loved the time I spent watching Star Trek (whichever series), Magnum PI, Twilight Zone and Macgyver with my dad.
5. What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve done?
Write a book in less than 24 hours. Admittedly it took a little longer to edit and publish, but it was complete in 24 hours.
6. What were you like in high school?
I was busy! I grew up in a small town, so I got to do and be a lot of things! The short list: Cheerleader (4 yrs.), Varsity Soccer (4 yrs.), Varsity Track (2 yrs.), Math and Science Club VP, Spanish Club representative to Pan American Student Forum, National Honor Society, Student Council, and one of two girls that went before the school board to fight for our right to count all 14 of the honors classes we had taken in our high school career because in previous years they had capped it at 10 because “it wasn’t fair to the athletes.” All of that and I graduated 4th in my class of 152 students.
7. Would you rather cook or order in?
Most of the time, I would rather cook because I know the ingredients are going to be healthier and cleaner. Not to mention, I’ve become rather fond of my cooking