"Kelsey Patel on the Heart's Capacity for Love" Feature Article - LA YOGA Magazine
Sitting with Kelsey Patel in her penthouse loft in downtown Los Angeles, it is easy to see why this teacher, coach, and businesswoman is sought out by CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists, and celebrities for private sessions that include Reiki, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping), meditation, and other modalities. With an approachable manner, ability to translate spiritual principles, and a willingness to explore the full spectrum of love and pain, Kelsey bridges the divide between being your best friend and your spiritual sensei. Kelsey has the transcendental ability to master cleanse your life, love, and career, and send you on your way with a renewed manifesto. As she says, “You are matter, value, and worth.”
Growing up in North Dakota, Kelsey experienced her share of challenges including witnessing her mother’s struggles with depression. She also had to learn how to navigate her own innate ability for empathy and ability to feel people’s energies and emotions. Years later, through her own journey and formal training, Kelsey integrates this empathy in her work with groups and individuals.
As an adult, Kelsey’s professional life saw her working in a significantly stressful environments, as she served in a number of high pressure roles from legislative correspondent to deputy press secretary to state liaison and scheduler for events in a United State senator’s office in Washington DC. At the same time, Kelsey was processing her mom’s trips in and out of treatment for depression and dealing with her own experience of significant back pain. “I hadn’t been exposed to how your physical being can relate to your mental and spiritual being.”
During some of the toughest times, “I was constantly not relaxed, not in the present moment,” Kelsey recalls. “It was always do more, be more, be more successful.” She found herself taking Advil all the time to try to quiet the back pain. While she was at work one day, her mom called from the psychiatric ward, and as Kelsey says, “I had to pretend like shit wasn’t falling apart around me.”
“My mother was in treatment three different times when I was in my twenties. She is thriving now, and has even learned Reiki and is practicing it in North Dakota, where she still works and lives with my father. Depression is real, and I can only hope that we as a society start to talk about it and allow people the space and opportunity to receive the help they need. It was tough at times, but my supportive family was able to get through it together. I don’t know where I would be without my entire family’s love, dedication and support.”
In retrospect, Kelsey feels that her chronic pain was a conduit for her own transformation. “My back pain was right behind my heart,” she reflects. “That pain was where my journey to self-love and exploration started.” Kelsey was teaching dance and dancing in a company in DC, working as a bartender, and babysitting, all while juggling the long hours and stress of working in the Capitol. “I don’t know how I slept,” she admits. At the same time, she was in a toxic relationship with a boyfriend. As Kelsey describes the situation, “He didn’t value me because at the time I didn’t value myself.” As she sat on her couch crying from yet another fight with her then-boyfriend, one of Kelsey’s friends invited her to join her on a cross-country sojourn to Los Angeles. “That was when I said, ‘Fuck it’, and said yes,” remembers Kelsey.
With a U-Haul full of belongings and uncertain employment prospects, Kelsey landed in LA. She reached out to a contact from her DC life and landed a position in communications and PR at a Fortune 500 company. Even though she traded the Beltway political 24/7 pressure cooker for the promise of LA, she merely swapped one stressful situation for another. Kelsey continued to not feel well in her body, experiencing chronic back pain and discomfort while traveling for work and feeling the increasing buildup of the negative effects of stress.
A friend recommended yoga. After her first class, Kelsey felt significantly different. She describes the experience, “I could feel like my heart was being shaken awake.” Yoga began to help her back pain. Then, Kelsey found Pure Barre and fell in love; as a former dancer, the movement and technique made her body feel good again.
Eventually, Kelsey began teaching and, encouraged by her husband, Kelsey started her own Pure Barre studio. Opening a brick and mortar business came with its own set of demands, and she again found herself experiencing back pain. “My back pain was bad, and my yoga was off and on. I still wasn’t valuing myself. At this time, I met a woman who practiced Reiki.” Kelsey had a session. “I couldn’t understand what was happening. I just knew that I felt better.”
Inspired by her experience, Kelsey immersed herself, earning her certification as a Reiki Master. In addition, she completed the teacher training at Liberation Yoga and pursued other trainings, including Shiva Rea’s Trance Dance Teacher Training. Kelsey began a private practice and taught workshops that combined Reiki with the process of acknowledging each person as a valued and valuable human being full of life, purpose, and potential. “That’s when everything changed.”
Today, Kelsey has a thriving private practice and teaches workshops and weekly classes, including at her Pure Barre Beverly Hills Studio and a weekly Reiki Healing Circle Class at the Den Meditation in Hollywood (Mondays 11:45am-12:30pm). “All of my experiences make sense to me: why I worked in public service, why I worked in the private sector, and why I was an entrepreneur. Everything has led to this place where I can relate to people in all stages of life, with different types of jobs and stresses and families.”
Her own back pain has subsided, without surgery or medication, but with continual practice and commitment. In moments when her pain does return, Kelsey has learned, as she says, “There can be love behind it and awareness and opportunity for me to grow.”
Kelsey believes the heart has an immeasurable capacity for love and allows herself to feel all the feelings, honor herself, and be in relationship with others. She emphasizes that feelings are the conduit to the wealth of your own heart. “Feelings don’t define you,” says Kelsey, “they guide you.”
When I spent time with Kelsey, I observed that she is a living manifesto of what she teaches. You could say she walks the talk—and you could also say that she feels her feelings and then uses her gifts of empathy and understanding to encourage others. “Everything is waiting for you to tap into it, to explore it, to connect to it from a place of love and humility and appreciation for the journey,” she says.
Her purpose is to inspire people to find their magic and their life-given value and worth. Kelsey’s coaching practice draws upon her multi-faceted range of experience, including her work as a public servant, a corporate professional, a dance teacher, a barre teacher, a multi-unit entrepreneur, a boss, a Reiki master, a yoga instructor, a meditation teacher, a wife, a step-mom, and a human.
In our final moments together, Kelsey touched me when she said, “The rain is beautiful. The darkness is beautiful. I believe that there is beauty in the wholeness of the journey. It isn’t always fun to be in the dark, but we wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t intended to be explored.” Our hope is built in a willingness to participate in it all. Kelsey is living proof that, from heartbreak and back pain, love will meet you. Keep doing the work. Love is always on the other side.
Learn more about Kelsey Patel, her coaching, her teaching and her work as the co-founder of iamVibes (an activewear/yoga apparel brand focused on empowering, uplifting, and honoring the divine feminine energy)at: kelseyjpatel.com (Instagram @kelseyjpatel)