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A different kind of prayer group

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image The Rev. Debbie Dienstbier brings prayer, spirituality and joy together in her Friday afternoon meetings at the Chakra Center in Sun City Center. Penny Fletcher Photo

“Sometimes we aren’t supposed to know the answers we seek, but go on blind faith,”


SUN CITYCENTER — Every Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. the Rev. Debbie Dienstbier brings together an eclectic group to offer gratitude and develop a closer relationship to the Creator.

She doesn’t care what you call him (or her, for that matter). Just that you learn to tune into the Universal Creator in a service she calls “The Journey Within.”

The people who gather there differ from week to week but there are regulars that include retirees, business persons and everything in between, said Doni Doty, who runs the Chakra Center where the meetings are held.

Doni, who lives in Apollo Beach, started the center about two years ago behind CVS drug store in Suite 201 of the corporate building at 137 S. Pebble Beach Blvd. in Sun City Center.

After working as a travel agent for many years, Doni said she just felt it was time to do something that would affect people in a deeper way.

“This is a place where people who want to become more in touch with their souls — and spirit — come to learn from each other,” she said.

Although she sells spiritual books of all kinds, crystals, metaphysical merchandise and gifts, her biggest draw comes from the teachers who come to give seminars and lessons; teach various ways to relax and meditate; and on Fridays, ask for spiritual healings and answers to questions about their past, present and future.

From yoga and transformational breathing to skin care and holistic health, the Chakra Center exudes peace and tranquility in its variety of rooms.

Fridays, however, have a different feel.

The Rev. Debbie Dienstbier, who sometimes speaks to groups around South County and has attended the local Unity Community of Joy, holds an hour-long service and then meets with people privately if they wish.

Surrounded by the crystals, healing scarves and artifacts from many Native American tribes, and objects associated with other forms of religious tranquility which line the largest room in the center, Debbie begins the service with a contemporary Christian song sung in many Protestant and Catholic churches today, “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord,” after instructing those who attend to stop thinking about the affairs of daily life and just listen to the words.

Following this is guided meditation, with Debbie taking the time to focus on each individual and speak about the energy she is receiving from them.

She speaks of things past, present and future; often calling on Spirit (God, Creator) for words, and speaking to others in another realm.

It is a place where people of all denominations who believe in an afterlife can sit together in peace — or “namaste” as they say at the center — without fear of being laughed at or told they’re crazy no matter what they happen to say.

“Namaste,” which is a traditional greeting in India and other places in that region, represents the belief that there is a divine spark in each person that is located in the heart chakra. Speaking that word to another person is an acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in another.

Breaking the word down and looking up the parts on the Internet later in the week, I found that “Nama” means “bow;” “as” means “I” and “te” means “you,” so the word literally means, “I bow to you.”

It is a gesture of respect.

“The new sciences are fast proving what Native American and Hindu and others have said all along,” Debbie said to me after the service. “The Chakra concept refers to the wheel-like vortices which exist in the body’s energy centers. Each chakra represents a specific focal point for the reception and transmission of energy.”

“Haven’t you ever walked into a room and just been brought down by someone? Like they’re draining all your energy?” she asked. “The same thing can happen with joy. You can spread it. We are all made of energy.”

Since science has proven that the nucleus of atoms that make up all matter are always in motion, the Chakra beliefs have been accepted by more people, she said.

After the time of guided meditation, Debbie used a form of psychometry, which is a psychic-science called on by some law enforcement agencies when they say they are using a psychic to locate a missing person.

Somewhat like animals that smell of a human’s garment and then “find the human,” Debbie touches something of that person, usually a piece of paper she does not read but one where they have written something inside.

This is when she talks about that person’s past, present and future.

“Sometimes however, we aren’t supposed to know the answers we seek, but go on blind faith,” she said.

I found that Debbie has a very interesting past.

While studying to be a medical doctor, she had to quit medical school to care for her ailing grandmother. It turned into a six-year job.

“I got very stressed out and couldn’t sleep. It was like I was always listening for my grandmother. Finally I learned about meditation from a friend,” she said.

After her granddmother died, she became a Hospice worker and never knew when she took an assignment how long the patient would live. Many people who were dying saw and talked with people in another world, she said.

“This was not from medicine. Some of them would not have had medicine.”

Speaking of ending her medical career before it started, she said that sometimes failures are sources of blessings.

During her years with Hospice she began her journey to become “closer to Spirit” and studied to become a reverend.

She is not affiliated with any denomination.

There is a charge for private time with Rev. Debbie, but the services, like most houses of worship, have a basket for offerings.

Other regular events at the center include Women-to-Women/Heart-to-Heart, where women of every age, belief and status share their joys, fears, frustrations, concerns and anxieties. This is a completely free of charge talkative group that helps each other on Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The center also hosts Yoga and healing sessions in various holistic modalities including transformational breathing techniques and body readings. Many different types of spiritual readings by people of various faiths, including a Christian healing psychic are also available.

To learn more about it, and about other events at the Chakra Center, attend its next Intuitive Arts Fair April 30. Details and hours may be found on the Web site, www.thechakracenter.net or by calling (813) 633-9400.

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