By Maureen Oehrle |Photographs from OMA

OMA, Center for Mind, Body, and Spirit, Inc.  is a non-profit organization devoted to holistic wellness for all people. We celebrate and support a community of individuals with varied experiences and expression, including socioeconomic status, race, national origin, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability. OMA currently offers a bi-monthly lecture series, periodic workshops, classes, special events, national speakers and a summer program for youth, Art in the Garden. Through experiential education and clinical resources, OMA provides all individuals opportunities to explore and honor one’s journey in healing and wellness of mind, body, and spirit.

OMA’s Board of Directors: John Maletta, Gail Hunter, Maureen Oehrle, Deb Carter, Susan Evans, Judy Traister, Anita Russell, Callie Gropp, Emily Gropp Carlson, Erin Daquelente. Missing from photo: Susan Amorose, Yvette Dobies, Krista Long, Robin Clark

In 2010, I began hosting a free lecture series in my home, with a push from my friend, and Chiropractic Applied Kinesiologist, Dr. Julie Caryl.  Dr. Julie knew I had a passion for sharing information about alternative medicine and holistic wellness, and she offered to be my first speaker.

I ran this lecture series out of my living room from 2010 until 2013.  It was really fun and had a cool, salon type of feeling to it.  I was just so happy that I could get people to come over and talk about the things that I found so fascinating without thinking I was kookie! Well, maybe they did, but that was okay. On average, there were about 25-40 people attending the lectures; mostly friends and friends-of-friends.  The range of topics eventually expanded to include more esoteric interests. One evening, we even packed 60 people in our living room and hallway to hear a presentation from the Sri Lankan Buddhist Monks from the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center. That’s when I realized this was outgrowing my living room!  

A few months later, Gail Hunter, the founder of OMA and President of the Board of Directors,  came to one of my lectures and we met for the first time.  She told me about her vision to have a center that would house holistic practitioners. The center would have supportive community events, programs, classes, and lectures. She asked me if I would be interested in being a part of a group of people that were forming, and if so, if I would want to run the lecture series. It was perfect timing!

OMA has been hosting a Lecture Series since 2013.  Currently, we hold the lectures twice a month – on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month – at the Twentieth Century Club in Oakland.  We accept donations from the heart, but currently, there is not a set “fee” to attend our lectures.  We want anyone and everyone to be able to have access to this information.

Some examples of the types of topics that we have covered in our series are:  Medical Intuition, Keys to Manifesting, Understanding Energy Medicine, Medical Benefits of Meditation, The Mind-Gut Connection, Accessing Alpha Brainwaves, Unifying Vision of Science & Spirituality, Relationships from a Soul Perspective, Reiki Healing Circle, Juicing and Nutrition, The Askashic Records, Mindfulness, Understanding the Holographic Field, The Paleo Diet, and Medical QiGong. Honestly, I could keep going.  We have hosted over 60 lectures in the past 5 years, which were initially just once a month. What we find is that the audience changes depending on the topic. So, someone might be interested in learning about The Mind-Gut Connection, but have no interest what-so-ever in learning about Communicating with Your Angels.  This is the beauty of what we do.  First, We are not trying to convince anyone of anything;  we are just sharing information that is really interesting to us!  Secondly, we definitely don’t claim to have all the answers; we are learning alongside our audience, which is really fun!

Although our Lecture Series is OMA’s first – and so far largest – program, it is only a part of what OMA does; we have other amazing programs also. Art in the Garden is our first educational program, which is centered on investing in the social and emotional development of Pittsburgh’s youth. Art in the Garden is a free summer program held in Borland Garden, an urban green space in East Liberty. We are also particularly invested in meeting the needs of underserved youth; Food for the Soul is a casual intimate gathering, led by an OMA facilitator. In these meetings, various topics of spirituality will be discussed over a light meal in a safe, non-judgmental environment; as well as our Trauma Symposium. Our April 24 event, “Unity in the Community: We are Not Alone,” marked the first of four community-based Trauma conversations designed to interrupt the normalization of trauma in schools, homes, and communities, and to create space where all can heal. This mini-series will culminate in a 2 and 1/2 day Trauma Symposium in 2019.

In addition to these programs, beginning in the Fall of 2018, we plan to be able to offer clinical services from alternative and holistic practitioners once a month – on a sliding scale or free of charge – to the Pittsburgh community.  Our future vision is to have an actual Center that will house everything under one roof and make holistic/alternative services available to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. For now, while we are in the process of learning how to write grants and obtain the necessary funding, we are finding creative ways to fulfill our mission one step at a time.

One day, while all of this has been happening, my hair stylist, Chaz Young, owner of Salon Bang Bang, told me that he met Marianne Williamson and that she agreed to come to Pittsburgh to speak!  He was in NYC attending one of her Tuesday night lectures based on A Course in Miracles. He stayed after the event to meet her, thank her, and tell her how much her teachings havee changed his life.  Chaz is such a beautiful, light-filled being, so of course Marianne connected with him!  When he told her “on behalf of myself and the city of Pittsburgh, it would be an honor to have you come speak in Pittsburgh,” she said yes immediately!  He asked if I could help and if OMA would be interested in hosting and putting this together.  While my background is in event planning from my days living and working in Washington, D.C., it’s been over 15 years since I’ve handled an event of this size.  Yet, because everyone in OMA was up for the challenge, I had no doubt that we could not only do this, but do it well. In the process, we could open some doors for OMA that could help us further fulfill our mission.

So here we are, a few weeks away from this event. So much good has come out of this opportunity, and we are thrilled to be bringing Marianne Williamson to Pittsburgh for her inaugural visit to our city!  Her message is based on A Course in Miracles, and this year, she is touring the country with her “Love America Tour,” as a call to action to remind us that in order to raise the consciousness of our nation and our world, we need to raise our individual consciousness. In everything that OMA does, we wholeheartedly believe in helping people connect to the best versions of themselves in body, mind, and spirit.  

We are so happy, and grateful, to get to host this event, especially for anyone in the area with whom this message resonates. We see our role as being a bridge between people who are currently on their path of body-mind-spirit wellness, and what is possible. We recently came up with a tagline for OMA that we have just begun to try out: OMA Center for Mind, Body & Spirit: A New “Bridge” in Pittsburgh. We welcome everyone to come check us out.

About Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed author and lecturer. For the last 35 years, she has been one of America’s most well known public voices, having been a popular guest on television programs such as “Oprah,” “Larry King Live,” “Good Morning America,” and “Bill Maher.” Seven of her twelve published books have been New York Times Best Sellers and four of these were #1. The mega best seller “A Return to Love” is considered a must-read of The New Spirituality. A paragraph from that book, beginning “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” is considered an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers.

Marianne’s other books include: “The Law of Divine Compensation,” “The Age of Miracles,” “Everyday Grace,” “A Woman’s Worth,” “Illuminata,” “Healing the Soul of America,”  “A Course in Weight Loss,” “The Gift of Change,” “Enchanted Love,” “A Year of Miracles,” and her newest book, “Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment.”

Marianne is a native of Houston, Texas. In 1989, she founded Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels program that serves homebound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area. To date, Project Angel Food has served over 11 million meals. Marianne also co-founded the Peace Alliance.

Marianne has dedicated her travel schedule during 2018 to the “Love America Tour,” articulating an evolutionary wave of new possibility as principles of higher consciousness are brought to bear on our politics.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson
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