Western medicine has a habit of funnelling people into clinics to stand ignorant before an expert who objectifies their physical body, much like a mechanic to a car. But plenty of people can heal themselves with a bit of education and mentorship. That’s where Mama Medicine comes in. Deborah Hanekamp is a healing practitioner based in Manhattan. At the core of her practice is the medicine reading—a process where Hanekamp builds a complete profile of what’s going on in the patient’s life—sleeping, eating, relationships, and so on—to give holistic guidance on how patients can bring their own bodies and minds back into balance and health.
“Through being able to listen to our bodies and to interpret what they’re saying, we can begin to heal our minds.”
How did you start your journey as a healer?
I was always a mystical person. I knew what I wanted to do right when I graduated high school, but there were no universities teaching to my interests. So I decided to go back and forth to Thailand for five years. I got to study sound healing, energy healing, and crystals. I also went back and forth to the Amazon jungle for eight years to study plant medicine. During all this time, I was also studying yoga and meditation. Little by little, I built my practice and developed the medicine readings to encourage people to be their own healers.
I opened up my own healing centre when I was 24. It had a yoga studio upstairs, and different healing modalities on the lower level. I kept that going until I was pregnant with my daughter. That was 20 years ago, and I’ve had this practice ever since.
How did you find the power to heal yourself? Are you still in the process of healing yourself today?
Oh, yeah. I don’t think I’ll ever be done healing. I think that, actually, healing is not something that is ever complete. I believe I was granted a more challenging upbringing because I needed to see what was out there in human nature, and maybe the more shadowy side of human nature at that early age. That way, I could know and understand, to a certain extent, what was needed in terms of healing.
Could you please give us a specific example of what’s needed for healing?
I think it’s good to remember that we’re nature. I feel like the more disconnected from the earth we become, the less happy we are. Feelings of gratitude, generosity, and joy are important markers in the healing process, and the more disconnected from nature we are, the harder it is to be grateful, joyous, and generous. So I think one of the best things for healing is to simply get outside and go for a walk. I live in New York City. We don’t have a lot of nature here—but the people are nature, and they’re still beautiful. Today I was walking my dog and I was passing by these beautiful linden trees that have this sweetish smell. Take time to observe the sky, observe the trees and people, and you’ll feel more connected.
Contemporary science seems more focused on the physical side of health, but it seems like you focus more on attitude and mind activity. What’s your take on the mind-body connection?
Your body tells you what needs healing. For example, gray hair is showing you that you’re spending too much time in your head. Maybe a pain in the foot is telling you to slow down. I love somatics, the understanding of the way the body will tell you what’s going on in the mind, even more than the mind can tell you what’s going on in the body. Through being able to listen to our bodies and to interpret what they’re saying, we can begin to heal our minds.
Do you think a positive mind can help people stay out of the doctor’s office?
It’s not that if you’re sick you can’t go to a doctor. If you’re sick, go to the doctor, but take what’s recommended to you as opinion, and see if it feels real for you, instead of giving your power away to some healer or doctor, some book, or some diet that says it’s going to fix you. Being your own healer is understanding that you are not broken, simply human. You’re evolving.
Speaking of evolution, do you have any plans or next steps?
I’ve just launched Space by Mama Medicine, which is an online membership program focused on live events. We do medicine reading ceremonies, and have an “Ask Mama” forum, where the community can meet me and ask questions in person. There are offerings like silent meditation retreats, or a liver cleanse. There’s a lot of fun things within the Space by Mama Medicine community that I’m pouring a lot of love into at this time.