Since its creation in 1987, Choices Unlimited has prided itself on becoming “Southwest Michigan’s Premier Spiritual Learning and Healing Center. Choices’ staff consists of various on-call readers and healers, who offer their services in massage, energy work, and spiritual readings. The center also hosts many classes and workshops to support patrons on their own paths. To further this mission, Choices Unlimited also functions as a “Metaphysical Gift Store,” and carries such products as tarot and oracle cards, beads, handmade jewelry, singing bowls, pendulums, music, organic herbs, oils, books, wind-chimes, incense, dreamcatchers, and a wide variety of crystals and stones.
Now situated in a seemingly commonplace house across from Hardings Market, Choices has relocated many times throughout its development. To those wondering how an epicenter of alternative healing ended up in Richland, Michigan, current owner Patricia Muste explains that the previous owner simply got a good deal on a house in the area.
“When it first opened up it was in a garage,” Muste said. “And then [the previous owner] decided she wanted to have a whole house so that she could have rooms for massage and readings and healings and that type of thing.”
Muste, who identifies as psychic and offers angel/spirit guide readings herself, began working as a clerk at Choices in 1995. She started giving spontaneous readings in 1996 and eventually helped run the store for the owner at the time. When her boss was ready to retire in 2002, Muste bought the shop and moved it from 32nd St to Gull Road.
According to Muste, the community has, for the most part, reacted positively to Choices’ presence. She believes people are most drawn to the aura of calmness the healing center exudes.
“That’s the one thing a lot of people mention is, ‘I feel so good when I’m in here’,” Muste said.
Muste and her staff are, however, confronted with skeptics every so often.
“Yeah, we do [get skeptics],” she said. “And they’re the type that will just walk around and you can tell by the way they’re looking at things that they’re a little leery.”
Accustomed to dealing with skeptical customers, Muste doesn’t expect to change their minds, but speaks to them respectfully and openly.
“I just smile and talk to them and, you know, let it be,” she said. “I’m not out there to change people as far as their beliefs; I will talk to them, but they have to be ready for change.”
Although some customers are resistant to this change, there is not nearly as much resistance as Choices once faced.
“In the olden days it was pretty tough because there were so many people around who didn’t accept alternative methods for things, but nowadays it’s not so much,” Muste said. “But there’s still some people out there who think, you know, that they should do this.”
With this statement Muste made the sign of the cross with her fingers, and expressed that she is puzzled by the commonly held perception that organized religion–particularly the Christian faith–and alternative healing methods are diametrically opposed.
New reader Cheryl Snyder, an intuitive empath lightworker, echoed this sentiment. Snyder, who believes in God, described her own internal conflict as she first felt compelled to pursue her gifts of clairsentience (clear feeling), clairvoyance (clear seeing), claircognizance (clear knowing), and clairaudience (clear hearing).
“I have to admit, I was kind of on the fence and a little bit worried if I was doing something that was against alignment with God,” Snyder said. “So I looked it up in the Bible, just for my own benefit, and it said in the Old Testament that any form of divination was not allowed; but that was the Old Testament, and the New Testament talks about how there are spiritual gifts that have been given to everyone.”
Muste agreed with Snyder’s conclusion, backing it up with a quote from the Bible.
“One of the verses, though, in the Bible even says what [Jesus] said was ‘You can do all of this and more,’ and that’s why I just think it’s kind of crazy that so many of the churches think that all of this stuff is wrong,” she said.
Muste and Snyder believe that all people have the potential to awaken the gifts they practice.
“God has given all these gifts to us, we just have to be open to them,” Snyder said. “We have to be pure; I guess we have to try to cleanse all those things that are negative and get rid of those so we have room to bring in Spirit.”
Snyder says bringing Spirit into her life has been a journey, and one that began very early.
“I just always had a draw, even since I was very little, to magical things,” she said. “Just, you know, Spirit; knowing that there’s something else there and having that gift of knowing.”
Snyder continued to experience extraordinary things into adulthood: knowing who was calling, absorbing the feelings of others, thinking about someone and having them walk into the room, and more.
“One time I really needed to talk to my husband, but I was working on a project and I couldn’t stop right in the middle of it, and I just kept thinking ‘I really need to talk to him’,” she said. “He walked in the room a few minutes later and said ‘Did you call me?’”
Occurrences like this furthered Snyder’s curiosity, so she began doing research.
“Things like that just spark this interest in you and you just want to devour all the knowledge you can about it,” she said. “And I’ve just been reading, reading, reading as much as I can about everything there is about spirituality.”
A visit from her deceased grandmother also alerted Snyder to her connection to the Spirit, and inspired her to aid others in finding the comfort the experience gave her.
“I was very distraught about something, and she came to me, and I could feel her, and I heard her in my head,” Snyder said. “It was like she hugged me around my shoulders and I could hear her say in my head: ‘Everything’s going to be okay,’ and she meant not just that particular thing I was upset about, but the big picture–everything.”
Most of Snyder’s clients come to her seeking that same direction and clarity.
“Sometimes they want direction, like ‘What should I do, this is what’s happening in my life and I don’t know what to do next’ or maybe they want clarity about something,” she said. “I’d have to say that it always has to do with getting clarity about a concern that they have in their life.”
When she does a reading, Snyder takes her client, or sitter, into her private corner, which is sectioned off with a curtain and contains seating for two around a small table. The setup is draped with fabric and is home to Snyder’s favorite healing crystals, along with a candle she lights during readings. She asks the sitter to select the deck of oracle cards they are drawn to, out of around seven lined up at the edge of the table.
“I do a little prayer with them, and we usually hold hands,” Snyder said.
Snyder then asks the sitter to lay their hand atop the deck and channel their energy into it as best they can.
“And then I’ll just shuffle the cards, and the cards will just pop out on their own, and I’ll lay them down in the order that they pop out, and then we talk about the cards and hopefully, so far, they’ve gotten the answers that they’ve been seeking,” she said.
According to Snyder, she gets better at this process the more she practices it. Going into the future, she hopes to continue honing her craft, especially in order to help children experiencing similar things at a young age understand their abilities.
Snyder believes that ‘Indigo Children’ born from 1978 onwards are paving the way for ‘Crystal Children,’ who are just now being born.
“[The Indigo Children] are here to kind of shake things up, get things turned around,” she said. “They’re the people who are starting activist groups and speaking up about things that just aren’t right, that are unfair for other people.”
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Learn more about Choices Unlimited and upcoming events on their website.[/perfectpullquote]
She believes that the ‘Crystal Children’ are destined to grow into world leaders.
“They’re going to be very spiritual, and they already have many gifts; they already know so much, when they’re born,” Snyder said. “Some see spirits, some have different gifts like telepathy, clairvoyance, or different ‘clairs’.”
Snyder explained that many of these children are labelled with behavioral issues or diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Oppositional Defiance Disorder because they are frustrated with the world they’ve been born into, and may not fully understand their abilities.
For this reason, she plans on hosting classes ‘for the little ones’ where they can participate in activities and talk openly about their experiences. She’s confident that Choices is the perfect environment for this, as it is first and foremost a place for open conversation and the sharing of energy.
Snyder and Muste concluded that Choices Unlimited just seems to attract people, whether those people be class attendees, customers, or practitioners.
“It’s kind of like, if you build it, we will come,” Snyder said. “So she’s got the shop, and we all came!”
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