945 Central Ave., Naples, FL
NAPLES — In her pixie ponytails and short sundress, Susanna Tocco looks more like a would-be beachcomber than some sort of new age sage.
Which is exactly how she wants it to be. Tocco’s not a guru, nor does she aim to be. Instead, with the opening of Anahata Holistic Healing and Spiritual Center in Naples, she intends to provide a wealth of resources for Neapolitan metaphysical needs.
Tocco likens Anahata to a library. although: “They don’t massage you at the library,” she adds with a laugh.
Of course, the library doesn’t offer many classes in guided meditation, Kabbalah or sacred geometry, either. Upon entering the library, one of the first things one sees usually isn’t a table of brilliantly colored crystals, all polished, beautiful and bright. Normally, candles don’t flicker in the library’s windows and the fragrant scent of incense doesn’t hang pleasantly in the air.
Finally, there’s never a day when a banner outside the library proclaims, “Free Hugs.”
So Anahata is definitely, unmistakably different from anything currently available in Naples. Which, again, is exactly how Tocco wanted it to be when she began thinking about the shop.
“My main goal is basically to bring the three points of what I call true healing – spiritual healing, physical healing and nutritional healing – into one,” she says.
Tocco, who is originally from Orlando, moved to the area 10 years ago. Her husband hails from Naples and his parents are longtime Old Naples merchants; Anahata is Central Avenue in downtown Naples, not too far from her in-laws’ shop.
Although Tocco had a lifelong interest in the metaphysical and holistic arts, she knew when she initially arrived in Naples that she wasn’t yet ready to open her own business.
At the time, there was another similar shop in town, Tocco recalled. So, in the ensuing years, Tocco worked and started her family. She furthered her education, too; she is a practitioner of Qigong, a moving meditation similar to Tai Chi, as well as a certified massage therapist, aesthetician and aromatherapist. She’s also currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in holistic health.
But she ultimately returned to her dream. Naples needed such a space, Tocco believes.
“There are people to support it, and there are people who want it,” she says.
As for detractors, skeptics or those who worry that something sinister is afoot anywhere tarot cards are sold, Tocco is patient when she explains that’s simply not the case.
“It’s not about working with any type of dark elements or dark forces,” she says of metaphysical practices and studies.
Recently, she was fortunate to find an interested private investor and Anahata, which is the Sanskrit name for heart chakra, opened in mid-February. Tocco picked the name because “definitely, the world needs more love,” she says.
“And also, I was following my heart in doing this,” she adds.
Anahata’s front room is its traditional storefront, complete with crystals, books, jewelry and more. It’s arranged with each of the directional elements represented: On the shop’s east side, Tocco stocks aromatherapy and incense, which are meant to represent air, while shelves on the north side hold stones and wooden boxes, which signify earth.
There are herbs to browse, too. Tocco, a certified nutritionist, plans to ultimately offer a full line of nutritional products and classes as well. She also wishes to welcome metaphysical and holistic practitioners of all levels. To help grant a taste of the center, she’ll be holding regular, once-a-month Mystical Fairs starting in May.
Although some of Anahata’s items might be available at a more mainstream shop, Tocco notes many practitioners prefer to buy from a spiritual center, knowing that the tools have been treated properly and energetically.
The remainder of Anahata is reserved for studio space and smaller rooms where one of the center’s 12 holistic arts practitioners can lead classes, conduct readings or hold private sessions, including massage, acupuncture and hypnotherapy.
One of Anahata’s regular teachers is Samantha Banks, a Reiki master and shaman. Banks leads several classes at Anahata, including a goddess study group. She praises Tocco for creating a business that boasts an array of physical and spiritual offerings.
“There’s something here that appeals to everybody,” Banks says.
That’s Tocco’s hope. She describes Anahata as an eclectic place, a spot where many spiritualities happily share shelf space or the class calendar. One of her favorite bumper stickers is the popular “Coexist” sticker: On it, each of the word’s letters symbolically represents a world faith, such as the Star of David for Judaism, the cross for Christianity and the pentagram for Wicca.
“I guess my theme for here is the Coexist bumper sticker,” Tocco says. “A true coexist.”
On the Web: www.anahatanaples.com