Duo sees future in stress

Holistic Shift helps companies calm their workers

Deborah Rosenbaum and Joseph Rolley, both in black pants at left, lead a class through a relaxation exercise at Holistic Shift, a stress management company.

Joseph Rolley of Holistic Shift, a stress management company, leads a class in a calming imagery exercise.

Joseph Rolley and Deborah Rosenbaum stole more than a moment as the workout crowd thinned out around them while they stood, facing each other in the Crossroads Fitness pool on a recent Saturday morning.

As they looked at each other, silent and oblivious to everything around them for more than a minute, it wasn’t the silent treatment they were practicing.

It was a more intimate exchange, and one Rosenbaum later described as “gazing.” It’s a meditative technique that lasts for at least the length of one favorite song. The two people involved can be friends, coworkers and often are couples. They say and do nothing but gaze at each other for a songs-length of time to help deepen existing relationships, appreciate one another and soothe the chaotic world around.

In gazing, the two actively were applying their life’s work to their own lives.

Rolley and Rosenbaum this fall started up Holistic Shift, a Grand Junction-based company that offers stress-management training classes, seminars and retreats, on-site massages and massage therapy at business offices throughout the Grand Valley.

With holidays looming and economic forecasts gloomy, the pair began the business venture as a seminar option for companies to help them retain employees and reduce insurance claims by helping employees avoid burnout and be more productive.

On Wednesday, the duo coached 10 employees of Rocky Mountain Health Plan about more techniques to incorporate stress management routinely into their work days. The company has hired the pair for a 12-week session for employees to attend one hour per week.

“If you can’t get to the gym, what can you do?” said Rosenbaum. “In five minutes, you can do a quick meditation.”

“Ten minutes of movement, breath and awareness in the morning helps set the tone for the day,” Rolley said. “Doing meditation in the evening helps set the tone during sleep.”

Their seminar uses quotations from Albert Einstein, the Bible and Buddhists, and it incorporates practices like Qigong, among other influences.

Rolley developed his approach to healing arts after studying in the United States, Europe, China and Russia. He recently moved to Grand Junction from Texas. His clients have included former President George Bush Sr., musician Sting, actor Woody Harrelson and other celebrities.

Rosenbaum brings her work in craniosacral, polarity and massage therapies to the mix. 

Sheryl VanHole, 59, who attended the session Wednesday, said she saw her previously high blood pressure decrease at her recent yearly health screening in late November, after being in the class for almost 10 weeks.

“This helps me be in tune with my body, aware of my surroundings and just generally be more calm and be able to focus,” she said.

One student described to the seminar leaders how his spouse is used to a high-stress lifestyle. Rolley said that type of approach to life can be fine for 20 to 30 years before burnout
likely would occur.

“It makes you feel more in control of life as opposed to life controlling you,” said Brett Antczak, 40, who attended Wednesday’s session. “I think the more companies are piling work onto their employees, there needs to be more coping mechanisms for that.”

The company’s rates begin at $150 for a one-hour session, and it suggests three classes, at minimum, for classes to begin to implement stress-reducing tools into everyday work routines.


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