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Founder’s Story

The Shaman and the Philosopher

The high Andes mountains in Quito, Ecuador, was home to my father, and home to a deep shaman spirit. The days of our frequent returns to Quito were filled with washing our clothes on stone basins, riding buses with chickens, and no daily water or electricity. Every time I came back to the states, I felt a certain kind of sterility about the way we lived.

My mother’s roots in Germany – growing up in WWII with monthly bomb shelter runs – gave rise to my interest in  great thinkers and philosophers, and to my sense of helping to heal the spirit of the world.

At the top of Cayambe volcano, 1995 visit to Ecuador


The shaman and the philosopher, a risk taker and a calculator, a risk taker and a rule maker, a yang and a yin – otherwise known as my dad Joaquin and my mom Helga – are undoubetedly the source of my thirst for deeper life wisdom and compassion. These same balancing qualities make good for starting and running a business for over 30 years.


Your Path and Your Roots

My story is probably much like yours in that your roots determine how you grow in this life. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Or, as my spiritual teacher used to say, “The zebra does not give birth to the giraffe.” It gives birth to something quite like itself. Struggling with the conflicted truths of my origins, seven generations deep – for better and for not-better – paved a journey from soul retrieval to self-reflection, and from self-discovery to self-recovery.  It has been a source of the life inspiration and deep nourishment that has become the 8 Elements of Well Being.
A Fractal Moment In Time

How the business began. In 1984, just out of college, I moved from traditional DC to sunny SoCal.  One night, while working as a waitress at a taco bar as a hold over from my cold-calling commission-only have-to-make-money post-college job, I met a lone angel.  He was eating a taco.  So I asked him the usual “what do you do?”  He answered, “I started the Good Earth restaurants.”

He garnered my true attention. I asked, “What’s your name?”  “Bill Galt,” he replied.  Between having to wear a taco-outfit and not making a dime at my other ‘job’, my desire burned to know his soul secret, “What made you do that?” He casually responded, “I wanted to. My Native American grandmother showed me how to cook this way.”  How novel. Letting your wanting lead?!? And your roots? Wait … what about the mandatory death-sentence job?!!  A fractal moment in time with someone can an rock your entire sense of self and steer you swiftly right back to your true path.  Clarity washed over me.  I quit my job a few days later, enlisted my inner-shaman-philosopher to get out and search for what I wanted and loved, and at the age of 24 I took over a failing one-to-one training business to begin what is now known as Eight Elements West.  Why?  Because I wanted to.  And at 24, I asked myself a simple question, “what have I got to lose?”


You have a higher purpose to live

How the business continues. At 55 now, the trick:   to maintain that same inner fearlessness without losing sight of the fact that the truthful answer to the simple question “what have I got to lose?” is “ALOT, but you can recover.”  While a spiritual life involves risking what you think you know, there is an inner alignment that engages mature integration of the self within, to have keen foresight, to take practical precautions that I now call “doing good business”, and to lead with discernment in EVERY aspect of steering this ship, the soul of the business, on its path.

Thank you for joining me on the path of discovery to answer the question that keeps on giving: how to transform what shows up as mandatory surviving into Fearless Thriving? Share your own passionate contribution with the world.  You have a higher purpose to live.


Gloria Gonzalez, CMT SEP, is CCO/Founder of Eight Elements West, an Institute for Somatic Education and Integrative Wellness dedicated to elevating the human experience through Somatic Movement, Seasonal Nutrition, and Eastern Medicine. For nutrition/somatic therapies:  Nia, Yoga,  PULSE 21-Day Detox, Somatic Experiencing, Organic IntelligenceVisceral Manipulation, Craniosacral Therapy and shamanic Soul Retrieval.

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