Maria Mandarino, formerly of Spirit Point Acupuncture in Sun City, relocated her acupuncture practice to Sun City West, now located within Star Face 2 Day Spa and Salon, 13549 W. Camino Del Sol.
With the new move, Mandarino took on a new practice name as well. The practice is now called Maria Mandarino, Spirituality, Wisdom, Health — a name she said speaks to the ancient wisdom traditions in which she is trained, from classical Chinese medicine to sacred geometry, to the Enneagram, an ancient system of personality typing that is based on a 9-pointed pattern within a circle.
“For some years I’ve had a strong interest in how our emotions affect our health,” said Mandarino. “I learned this first from my grandmother, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer and given six months to live in the late 1980s. She would tell her friends, ‘The doctor thinks I have lung cancer.’”
Mandarino shared that her grandmother’s tumor was inoperable.
“She began radiation treatments, but they caused esophageal burns and she couldn’t complete the treatment. She began to fail and the doctors were preparing us,” she said.
After a few weeks though, Mandarino’s grandmother began to rally, to the surprise of everyone.
“When they repeated her scans six months later, they found the tumor had walled itself off,” Mandarino said. “There was no spread of the cancer. It wasn’t supposed to be possible. A year later, she was deemed cancer free. No surgery, no chemo and very little radiation. She passed away 10 years later, at the age of 80, from complications caused by a heart attack.”
Mandarino was a high school English teacher at the time and knew next to nothing of mind-body medicine.
“But my attention was gotten,” she said.
It would be some years later that life would take Mandarino from the high school classroom into the world of alternative medicine, after a serious car accident.
“I had left teaching by then and was working in academic medicine at a medical journal in New York,” she said. “I was overcome with pain from my injuries and nothing western medicine offered could get me out of that pain. I was not a surgical case. Medications didn’t help and had horrible side effects. I sought out natural medicine and it worked.”
Eighteen months later, Mandarino enrolled in massage therapy school and a few years after that she returned to school to begin her master’s degree in acupuncture.
“I know my grandmother has been with me on that whole journey,” she said. “And that before I could help anyone, I had to know pain myself.”
Mandarino spoke of her love of the Chinese classical texts when she was an acupuncture student.
“They are these very poetic texts about the nature of healing. One of my favorites quotations was, ‘When the disease is not serious, but the spirit is weak, the prognosis is poor. And when the disease is serious, but the spirit is strong, the prognosis is good.’ This resonated with me because this was my grandmother’s story,” Mandarino said.
She is also a certified spiritual director, having spent two years studying with Benedictine nuns in Colorado Springs. Part of that work included the Enneagram, a personality typing system made up of nine different types, similar to Myers-Briggs but with ancient roots dating back to Sufi wisdom. Mandarino explained the Enneagram offers nine unique ways to understand how people think, feel and experience the world.
“It awakens us to who we really are and why this matters,” Mandarino said.
Until now, Mandarino has kept this work apart from her acupuncture practice because she had always seen them as two distinctly separate things.
“Since COVID, though, I can no longer keep my work as a spiritual director separate from my clinical work,” she explained. “There has been so much loss and grief. If not the actual loss of friends and loved ones, certainly a loss of a way of life. Isolation was hard on so many people. And even though restrictions are lifted now, the effects of this past year are held in our bodies, whether we understand this or not. And so in my practice now, I ask my patients about their emotions as well as their pain, because these things cannot be separated.”
The body and the spirit were never meant to be separated, she added. But this is what allopathic medicine has brought about. As one of her teachers said, “Doctors got the body, psychologists got the mind and the church got the spirit.”
“It’s kind of ludicrous when you consider it,” she said.
Mandarino said pain takes an enormous toll on the spirit.
Authentic healing has to address that toll before anything meaningful can happen. We have to honor what pain has done to our psyche,” she said.
There are certain styles of acupuncture that focus on this body-mind-spirit approach, she explained.
“The style I practice has to do with geometrical patterns in the body. These treatments focus on things like emotional clarity, centering and balancing, fostering inner peace, and greater focus,” she said. “When we honor these deeper aspects of our being, it can have a profound bearing on our experience of pain.”
Mandarino sees patients by appointment only at Star Face 2 Day Spa and Salon on Tuesdays and Fridays. She incorporates gentle bodywork modalities into some of her acupuncture treatments, including craniosacral therapy.
Call 623-262-7222 or visit MariaMandarino.com.