Great Graduates from SWIHA, SWINA & SOY

Gisele Marasca-Vargas: Starting From Scratch to Starting a Business

Posted on May 03 2016

Written by Kerry Burki

Gisele swiha great graduateIn 2010, Gisele Marasca-Vargas had to close her graphic design and publishing company and file for bankruptcy (mostly due to the 2008 economic crisis). She lost her home in the process and had to practically start from scratch. She got a temporary job at the U.S. Census Bureau and went through a phase when she was feeling lost and confused about her next steps. At a certain point, she realized that she needed to reinvent herself.

During her years as a graphic designer and publisher, she had worked on the side as an “energy healer”. She felt that the challenges she had gone through were a sign from the Universe that it was time to change the course of her life -- to find her true path. Gisele decided that her “on the side” work was going to become her main career and life path.

“That’s when I started researching schools from all over the country for a degree in energy healing and other holistic practices. I was attracted by the AOS degree in Holistic Health Care (Concentration in Mind-Body Transformational Psychology) that Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) offered. I was also very intrigued by the fact that it’s very rich curriculum included Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching. The facts that SWIHA offers online programs and is nationally accredited by ACCET and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education sealed the deal,” shared Gisele.


SWIHA  allows each student to hand craft their curriculum with many choices of electives.

During Gisele’s time at SWIHA, she felt like she learned so many valuable things and she wanted to share them all! Some pivotal experiences came from learning the necessary knowledge and tools to become a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Transformational Coach which enabled her to start a brand new career and life path helping others. While she already had some knowledge in energy healing prior to her enrollment, Gisele benefited greatly by the energetic courses within her program, because they broadened her horizons and made her a more well-rounded energy worker. SWIHA allows each student to hand craft their curriculum with many choices of electives. This type of educational experience allows students to become versatile within their field.

Another aspect she loved about her time SWIHA were the fantastic instructors and awesome classmates she got to meet (some of whom she still keeps in touch with). Something all SWIHA graduates experience is a life-changing personal transformation and Gisele says this is priceless. She shares, “I was already passionate about energy healing and holistic health care. SWIHA helped me take it to the next level. In addition, I fell in love with Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching. A lot of it had to do with the amazing transformation I went through during the program and the incredible results I started witnessing in friends, family members, and clients.”


The main goals of The Ragi Center are:

  • To assist clients in taking responsibility for their own health and well-being.
  • To help clients make positive changes in their lives through integrative practices like:
    • -Hypnotherapy
    • -Transformational Life Coaching
    • -Intuitive Energy Healing
  • To teach adults and children how to develop their natural gifts and trust their inner power.
  • To be an education channel.

The word “Ragi” was created from the combination of Gisele’s husband’s first name (Raul) and her first name (Gisele). In addition, “Ragi” means “loving” in Tamil (language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent).

Gisele knew that she wanted to help people on a larger scale than what part time allowed. “I wanted to use integrative therapies that would help balance the mind, body, and spirit in my clients. A lot of people are having a rude awakening to the reality that the ‘magic bullet’ approach is just not working (using drugs to try to cure the disease or condition). I wanted to be part of the growing movement towards a more holistic perspective.”

While she used to work on commission at various offices, Gisele is now available at her own office in Winter Park. In order to reach more people, she will even make house calls to those with special needs (ie, limited mobility). She also sees clients online via ooVoo. She will support the needs of her clients as much as she can.

The main service Gisele offers is a combination of Hypnotherapy and Transformational Life Coaching. These modalities help symptoms of many behavioral, physical, and psychological conditions such as stress, anxiety and panic, fears and phobias, pain, health issues, sleep distress, self-esteem and motivation, loss and separation, depression, learning disabilities, and many others. Hypnotherapy is a great tool for weight loss, smoking cessation, athletic performance, and natural child birth, to name a few. It is also used for age regression and past-life regression, which allows clients to bring focus to other times in their lives, giving them a unique opportunity to deepen their awareness, overcome their obstacles, and enhance their quality of life. Gisele’s holistic approach to coaching supports her clients safely and thoroughly through a positive, life-affirming process.

Gisele begins with a phone consult which is followed by a thorough intake interview which includes some medical background questions. She also asks about the issue mentioned at the initial consultation to determine the next course of action: this is often the life coaching part of the session. Next, Gisele will explain hypnotherapy (what it is/what to expect) and answer any questions the client might have, to make sure they feel comfortable with the process. The last step is a post-session talk where she and the client can go over any last thoughts, completing this approximate one hour and thirty minute session. Most of Gisele’s clients are just looking to be listened to, cared for, and simply supported. Many times they are looking to find alternatives and solutions to chronic problems or patterns in their lives. Her step-by-step process is beneficial to everyone.

For Gisele, marketing her business has been a journey in itself. She discovered that the best tool is word of mouth, which she views as the reward for a job well done. In addition to her website, she also uses eNewsletter campaigns, blog and print articles, Facebook posts, Yelp, Groupon, etc. “I also tried advertising on Natural Awakening Central Florida (great magazine, yet it’s too soon to see the results). Search engine optimization was also important for Google search. Workshops are a great way to reach more people and expand your client base.”

Giselle swiha great graduate

When it came to starting her business, Gisele says that the most challenging part was simply believing in herself enough to take that first leap.

When it came to starting her business, Gisele says that the most challenging part was simply believing in herself enough to take that first leap. She confided that she received a lot of support from SWIHA teachers and classmates, as well as family and friends. They helped her through her process of letting go of fears, blocks and barriers, and limitations. The easiest part was, and still is, connecting with her clients and feeling joyful about what she does.

Gisele has been able to witness many transformations within in her clients, both big and small. She shared that she loves watching her clients benefit from her carefully crafted sessions and each of their discoveries is important and special in their own unique way.

An exciting example of success Gisele shares: “Yes, sometimes there’s a grand breakthrough, such as the older gentleman who came to me for a past life regression because he was losing his eyesight. He’d already had glaucoma surgery and still had severe issues, especially with the right eye. As it so happened, he regressed to a life time when he had been a spiritual teacher who was blind. When he was done roaming the world and teaching others, he returned to his loving family (daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren) and lived happily with them for many years, until he died of old age. The lesson was that he shouldn’t worry about the possibility of going blind; he had been blind before and had had a wonderful life in spite of that. All that matters is love. And if that beautiful lesson wasn’t enough, right after the session he realized that he had gained a lot of the eyesight back in his right eye!!! His visibility had instantly increased from 40% and blurry, to 75/80% and sharper. He was completely shocked by it and, frankly, so was I! That was the first “miracle cure” after a PLR (past life regression) session that I had ever personally witnessed. By the way, his doctor confirmed the great improvement and was at a total loss as to why or how that had happened…”

Giselle swiha great graduateGisele went on to share another phenomenal story about a young woman who had a hypnotherapy session due to her life-limiting, disabling phobia of roaches and other insects. Since the client was three years old, she stopped participating in any outdoor activities. She was also never able to walk on grass wearing sandals or any shoes that exposed her feet to the possibility of being touched by an insect. After just one session, her life was transformed. She couldn’t believe it. In her client’s own words:

“It is almost impossible to describe to someone how it feels to be inexplicably afraid of something that you very well know can't harm you. It is even harder to imagine a time when this irrational fear will go away. I had a phobia against insects, which is what my first session with Gisele focused on. The session flew by and I came home feeling refreshed. I am now able to handle the stress (not fear anymore) of being around insects and have made great progress in the process of leaving all this behind. I can't thank her enough for changing my life in greater ways than she can ever imagine she did."

However, sometimes the transformations are more subtle. One of her other specialties using hypnotherapy, is for weight management. She offers individual and group sessions, as well as workshops. “It can be as simple as listening to a group of very encouraged ladies share their success stories in relation to feeling in control of their eating habits. Often, it is for the first time in their lives. Or the middle aged lady who finally comes into awareness of the fact that she is worthy! She is more than enough and she does deserve the good things that happen to her. The facial expressions I get to witness during each one of these special moments are priceless.”

Gisele loves witnessing and facilitating these transformations, which have all been brought into fruition because of her education at SWIHA. She describes what it feels like to share her knowledge: “Powerful. Intense. Amazing. Incredible. Rewarding. Effective. The joyful satisfaction of achieving results, of a job well done.”

For those considering following in Gisele’s footsteps she suggests, “Take this opportunity to discover or re-discover who you really are. Find yourself or fine-tune yourself! Try to learn how to do and be your very best. This is the beginning of an amazing journey. The challenges are well worth it.” She whole-heartedly believes that her SWIHA education has changed her perspective of self and altered her course for the future. “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but it made me realize there’s a whole lot more to me than I had ever dreamed of. I can do this.”

You can get in touch, learn more, and work with Gisele here:

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About the Author Kerry Burki

Kerry Burki is Editor of the newly launched KERRY Magazine ~ a magazine that uses real women as models, supports small businesses, encourages you to feel beautiful as you are right now and even has a printable worksheet to help you go after your dreams! She been teaching yoga since 2004, currently teaches yoga + meditation at a local assisted-living facility near her home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Kerry has written two ebooks about self-care (one for everyday and one for creatives) and she has just joined the SWIHA Success Center Team part-time as a blogger, consultant and creator!

Kerry Burki