DENISE DOLAN - Enhancing Wellness and Relationships through Self-Awareness,Communication and Action


Holmberg: Monks' artistry is perfect antidote to negativity

Posted: Friday, August 12, 2016 10:30 pm

The mandala at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in
Richmond will be swept up at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Denise Dolan watches as monks create
the temporary artwork.

This presidential election has been a sickening spin cycle that has seemingly sucked the marrow of decency and unity out of our national bones.

It can be so easy to focus on the negative energy these days, to soak it in and then radiate it.

Even the wonder of the Olympics — that international good vibrations tuning fork — sounds sour to many caught up in this seemingly endless season of discontent.

So I have come to the Virginia Holocaust Museum, to sit as close as possible to the mandala being shaped by Tibetan monks.

The soft chanting feels like a cool, damp cloth on my hot forehead.

The rubbing of the chakpur that so precisely dribbles out the colored sand sounds like the lazy chirping of night crickets or the insistent drone of distant locusts, seemingly in harmony with the shifting volume and tenor of the chants.

An ever-changing stream of humanity pools and drifts around the table, many perhaps not completely aware of the intricacies of this ancient ceremony, but also somehow understanding the essence of it. It’s like not knowing the language but following the conversation.

Amy Black, who invited the monks to come here, tells me she has watched people listening and feeling this since they started this spiritual exercise Wednesday.

One woman, staggered by a divorce, said she really had a breakthrough while watching, Amy tells me.

The concept of building, grain by grain, this symbolically and religiously rich piece of collaborative art, only to sweep it up and return it to the river, speaks clearly about “impermanence and letting go,” Amy says. “You can apply that to many aspects of your life.”

For example, “you don’t have to hold onto your anger, because it won’t be there.”

One woman nearby sits virtually motionless for a half-hour, her thumbs and forefingers forming the universal symbol for “OK” as she meditates by the oh-so-slowly unfolding mandala.

She is, I soon find out, Denise Dolan, a local instructor of communication and mindfulness.

She says she can feel the positive vibrations coming from the monks.

“They carry an essence of serenity and wisdom. ... They’re praying as they do this.”

It is in stark contrast, she whispers, with “the scattered, crazy, running around of Western civilization.”

So true!

“It’s like we’ve lost our minds,” I say quietly.

Denise offers a wry smile.

“I wish we would lose our minds — and live more from our hearts.”

The chakpur chirps as a monk taps it.

One of them looks carefully at me and smiles as I write these words.

I wonder if any of them was among the ones who made the mandala at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts several years ago. I watched a good bit of that one taking shape, then walked with them to the James and stood in the river as they released their swept-up sand.

Two hours earlier, it had been an amazing piece of spiritual art. It took only seconds for it to seemingly swim away in the ceaseless current as the monks smiled broadly.

The Richmond museum’s old, heavily scarred wood floor creaks occasionally under the monks’ soft shoes.

I am surprised at how many visitors are watching respectfully — almost reverently — with their eyes, instead of through cameras or cellphones.

The eyes of monks, meanwhile, seem almost closed as they bend over the mandala. Their faces are so still and calm, they could be asleep.

I feel better, grateful, more quiet.

They will sweep up this creation at 1 p.m. Sunday, followed by a walk down to the canal by 14th Street.

This mandala, by the way, is centered around the flower of compassion.

We could use some of that to heal up the marrow of this nation’s splintering bones.

Mark Holmberg’s work can be seen at and He can be reached at


Award Winning Journalist,
two minute piece about
that aired in November 2014.  


Denise Dolan in her office at Ellwood Thomspon'sDenise Dolan brings her wellness and relationship training to Ellwood Thompson’s; she’s shown in her office there.  August 7, 2012.

Richmond Magazine
Special Issue
by Rich Griset
November 2012

Holistic Help
Since Ellwood Thompson's Local Market debuted its community room earlier this year, the place has taken on a life of its own.  Everything from wine and cheese tastings to yoga and jazzercise classes are offered in the room, often free of charge.

To aid with its expanding mission as a space for the community to learn and share, the local organic food market has tapped speaker, trainer and minister Denise Dolan as its wellness and relationship coach.  Dolan has served dozens of corporations and and nonprofits in the past, and  she's presenting a wide range of programs and events at the community room.  Offerings include classes on meditation, relationships and community dialogues.

"I'd like to see the community room at Ellwood Thompson's flourish," says Dolan, adding that she sees the space as an all-inclusive and intergenerational social hub.  "I think it's the ideal place to draw in people." For more information, call 800-804-2176 or visit

Richmond Times Dispatch
By Louis Llovio
August 13, 2012
Ellwood Adds Service
You won't find Ellwood Thompson's latest offering in the freezer aisles or the produce section.
The Richmond grocer has brought in a wellness and relationship coach to its store at Ellwood Avenue and Thompson Street near Carytown.
Denise Dolan, a professional speaker and relationship coach, has set up an office in the new community room recently opened by Ellwood Thompson's Local Market.
Dolan's services will include private wellness consultations, individual coaching, group programs and conflict-resolution training.
Ellwood Thompson's decision to bring Dolan into the store is part of an effort to burnish its community bona fides. During its most recent renovation, it dedicated 600 square feet inside the store for a community room.
In addition to the what's
happening at its local store, the grocer is opening a 15,000-square-foot store in the Rockville Town Square development in Montgomery County, Md. 

Relationships - destroy

Style Magazine
by Deveron Timberlake
August 7, 2012
In a Richmond grocery-store first, Ellwood Thompson's Natural Market in Carytown has collaborated with a relationship and wellness coach to help customers find peace, health and purpose.
Denise Dolan, whose training has extended from Jin Shin Jyutsu — an ancient Japanese healing practice — to other professional programs, begins in her role this month. She'll offer individual and group sessions and community programs at the store, on topics including conflict resolution, personal wellness and communication.
"I've been doing this work for about 12 years full time," Dolan says, admitting extreme skepticism at first, "and I had to face all of my fears and learn. I sought out teachers and modalities that would help me face the lack of fulfillment in my life. We learn how to peel away the layers of conditioning to help reveal the authentic self — how to activate that and bring that out. We have to become aware of what is working and isn't working in our life and then we move into the mastery of transformation. What do I want to shift and change? What do I want my life to be at home, in my personal relationships, in the work force?"
Dolan expects her clients, colleagues and store customers to learn how to engage in a shared vision of deeper intercultural and intergenerational understanding. "I think we can have a completely different world," she says, "and I can see the difference in the lives of others who have healed unexpectedly and used their emotions as a launching pad and guidance system to what we want to create. We can shift and support and share visions of what we want our community to be."


Denise Dolan is a passionate speaker, and mindful living and relationship guru, who brings out the best in you and your relationships.  

Denise provides extraordinary tools and practices from diverse wisdom traditions to awaken clarity about what you truly desire to experience.  She expertly reveals how to master clear honest communication skills, and demystifies the secrets of polarity; all essential to bring out the best in you and your relationships at home, work and in the community with ease. 

And, if you are steeped in one-on-one communication with people or technology throughout the day, Denise offers a uniquely fun and powerfully effective yoga practice (that she learned in India) to cleanse away depleting energies and replenish harmony throughout your body, mind, and spirit, allowing for deeper self-assurance (and you don’t have to be a yogi to do it)!  

Denise is an aspiring author writing about her experiences in India and other fabulous encounters that awakened her to fresh possibilities of illumination, and she can’t wait to share them with you.