Brian Shircliff wants you to stop for a moment. Slow down. Breathe. Live. Try it. Stop what you’re doing. Take a big, deep breath. Hold it. Now exhale. Ahhh. That’s it. Try that again. Now that you’re nice and relaxed, you can pay Shircliff with a currency straight out of the Jesuit billfold—community service.
Shircliff is one of the founders of Vitality Cincinnati, a holistic health clinic located in Norwood, Ohio, just a few blocks from Xavier’s campus, that focuses on stress relief and pain management, offering services from healing touch and yoga sessions to journaling and meditation. But unlike other stress-management spas, he adds a novel twist to the business with a unique payment plan. Designed to accommodate city residents at all income levels, especially those in nearby neighborhoods who typically can’t afford such alternative care services, the clinic accepts trade dollars. One hour of volunteer work can be exchanged for a one-hour clinic session. “We accept both currencies—cash or community service,” he says.
Shircliff, a 1996 business major, took a one-year sabbatical from his day job as a religion teacher and golf coach at St. Xavier High School in order to launch Vitality Cincinnati along with co-founders Micah Richey and Sue Saylors.
“Meditation is at the heart of all our programs, which is really that sense of slowing down and beginning to listen,” he says. “In our culture, this is a necessary thing. What would your own life look like if you began to slow down and look at life?”
The nonprofit is designed as a volunteer-driven agency with a focus on building a sustainable, perpetuating self-care movement. “Our goal is giving people some tools to begin to take care of themselves, by themselves.” Vitality hosts coffeehouse nights as an opportunity for neighbors to come together and share their acoustic or poetry reading talents, with even the occasional Broadway tune songfest. The group also offers healing touch sessions to Xavier students each week.
“There’s no magic to this,” he says. “We just begin to slow down. Allow ourselves to breathe, relax, be in the moment. Then we begin feeling better.”