By Maria Fanelli
Ed. note: The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 525 miles west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part. The Galápagos Islands and their surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The islands, which have a population of slightly over 25,000, are famed for their vast number of endemic wildlife species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, starting in 1835. His observations and collections contributed to the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.

Maria is seen here with a sea lion on one of the Galápagos Islands! “Sea lions are very distinct from seals,” she explained. “They have little ears and actually walk on their front legs. I just loved them!”

I just returned from an incredible trip to The Galápagos Islands! It was AMAZING! The creatures were very people-friendly, and the islands and waters were pristine. It made me think that this was how the earth was before human beings inhabited it. No planes, no people, rarely another boat, fresh air, untouched landscapes — whales, playful sea lions, iguanas, rare birds …. Amazing!

Well, what does this have to do with health and healing? For me, it has everything to do with my own personal healing and the reason I believe so much in the work I do and the passion I have to help others reach their goals. This trip would have never happened if I did not overcome many of my own anxieties and especially my severe phobia of flying.

Approximately 13 years ago, even before 9/11 and the increase in airport security which has made flying more stressful, I had two very uncomfortable flying experiences. One in fact was so bad that I was literally popping up and down in my seat for over an hour and a half. I felt extremely vulnerable, and you can imagine the catastrophic visions going through my mind. The pilot even made an announcement apologizing and said it was the worst turbulence he had ever experienced. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to flying home from my trip after that!

The anxiety from that experience and other anxieties I had at that time continued to increase to levels that I would classify as severe in many regards. I also developed a complete phobia to flying. I had to cancel many trips, even right before I was scheduled to leave, and this made me even more upset as I ruined vacations for friends and family as well.

I didn’t want to live like this. I loved exploring other cultures and traveling the world. I just didn’t know how I would ever get over this immense fear. It got to the point that I couldn’t even listen to an airplane outside without feeling a nervous energy move through me.

Since that time, I tried many, many methods to overcome my flying phobia. I bought “Fear of Flying” DVDs, read numerous self-help books on phobias and anxieties, and none of it worked. When I discovered meditation, that was the first step in helping me recognize and work through many of my anxieties.

Since then I discovered many more methods that help a great deal such as energy healing, Bach flower, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and my favorite — hypnosis! I find hypnosis to be a very fast and effective method for helping to clear up anything that is holding one back from reaching goals and for releasing fears (and for many other things).

In fact, my hypnosis teacher did a session on me a month or so before I flew to Peru for a healing apprenticeship training, and it  really helped! Not only did I have to take six flights to and from Peru, but since then I have also flown with ease to Mexico to enjoy the beautiful Riviera Maya and to explore ancient ruins; to Sarasota, Florida, several times to the nation’s best-rated beach, Siesta Key (and to visit my sister for the first time in 10 years).

Also to Phoenix to go hiking in Sedona and Ecuador and The Galápagos Islands, which required five flights! I may also mention that several flights were choppy, and there was a bit of bumpy and jumpy turbulence, too. Oh, and I did NOT take any Ativan, Ambien or any other medication!

The reason I tell you this story is that I find many people do not pursue their goals or their dreams due to some level of fear, worry, concern, doubt, anxiety and many other similar reasons. In fact, some people don’t even recognize that it is fear holding them back. Sometimes just the very thought of change feels uncomfortable, but you can reach your goals and live your dreams. The Galápagos was very much a dream of mine. It would never have happened if I had not worked through my fears.

There are many techniques and methods that can help you work through your fears and achieve your goals. I think hypnosis is the fastest and easiest. And have no fear. During hypnosis you are still very much awake, and the hypnotist cannot control your mind or make you do anything you do not want to do. The great part is that you can work through whatever is holding you back.

Maria Lynn Fanelli, MBA, MAMS, CH, of Flourtown, is a master level Reiki practitioner, certified hypnotist and certified cancer support educator/coach with an office in Chestnut Hill. She can be reached at 215-514-2206 or