Community Spotlight: KC Miller of the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts

Discovering a Life of Service and Success




KC Miller is the founder of the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA), in Tempe, a nationally accredited private college and community healing center for holistic healthcare careers and continuing education. They offer professional courses in massage therapy, yoga teacher training, holistic nutrition, western herbalism, bodywork, life coaching, hypnotherapy and more.

What is the evolving mission of SWIHA?

It is truly a spirit-directed center. Twenty-one years ago, we wanted to be a lighthouse, a place for transformation, and yet we were not always brave enough to say we were a spirit-directed college. We moved into the current building in 2001, and now people say, “I feel like I’m home” when they walk in the door of the campus. We are boldly creating a community, and that community has taken on a life of its own. We’re no longer just local, we really have created a presence all over the world with our online division. What I know is that SWIHA is now a global lighthouse for spirit, and we are brave enough to say we are spirit-directed.

What was your inspiration for founding SWIHA?

Frustration. I always knew I would be a teacher, and I thought I would be a teacher in a classroom or in Sunday school or as a minister. I was frustrated in there was no place you could go and get mind/body/spirit training. I was trained in very traditional massage, and when I tried to learn about other healing areas, I was frustrated in how closed-minded doctors and other practitioners were. I began to talk to my higher self and a whole vision was laid out before me. I went home and told my husband that I don’t think I have a choice, I am supposed to start a school.

How did you begin?

I said it would take $3,000 to start a school and my husband wrote me a check right then and said it was a loan. It covered the down payment and first month’s rent on a space. Ever since then, we have never not been able to make rent or payroll. The message I received is that when you experience frustration, it’s not anger, it’s a message that there’s more for you to do. Don’t complain about it. Discover what part of it is causing the frustration and what to do about it.

What has been your biggest reward?

The biggest reward is seeing our students go out and create new lives and new businesses, and help people grow businesses. I’m so American! I see the unlimited possibilities we all have in business. I love to pay the IRS money because then I know I’m making money. I love creating Americans who can pay more taxes. My goal is to pay the IRS $1 million a year in taxes. I love being able to create millionaires, and I know a student in their career will have the potential to make a $1 million. We focus on teaching people to become successful in business as a whole.

What has been your biggest challenge?

You have to watch very carefully that you are creating a sustainable business. Some people may think I’m this esoteric fairy when it comes to people, but I’m very data driven. If it can be measured, we measure it. In everything we do, we look at it from a sustainability standpoint. The second hardest challenge in business is honesty; with an employee, with a student or with a teacher. But you know in being honest that you are their messenger.

Who is the typical SWIHA student?

We’ve held our complimentary Gifts and Graces introduction event the first Friday of the month now for years, and at the start of each evening, I always ask how many feel like an oddball or that you do not fit in. Often the majority of the hands in the room all go up. We refer to them as seekers, people looking for something, for how someone can heal the world. For years, we’ve used the phrase, “Learn to touch lives, heal bodies and free souls,” and this really speaks to people. Everyone realizes, in the end, it’s about healing themselves first and then healing others.

You launched Spirit of Yoga about two years ago. How is this program going?

We now train more people in their first 200-hour yoga teacher training than anyone else in Arizona. We are one of the largest training centers in the country. First, you can take yoga as part of a bigger degree, so there is financial aid available to those who qualify. More important is that we offer Unity Yoga, which means there is no dictate to follow one particular way or one particular guru. You are your own guru. We provide a great educational foundation, and we let the student decide how to best express their own yoga, based on their own path.

What about your urban farming program?

This is our second-fastest-growing program online. Right now, my husband is creating a space for me in the yard at home so I can garden. I plan to learn what we’re teaching, because I need to know how to do this too to be fully committed to our sustainability tenant.

What insight has the school given you?

I can’t believe how many people feel like they’re not good enough or haven’t done enough. This includes people working in big corporations who say they feel they just know they should be doing something different, or that they don’t fit in or know there’s more to do. Oftentimes, they have tried lots of things and in the end, they are just looking for the spiritual connection. What I know is that people are doing the best they can, and when they know better and more they do better and more!

What are your future plans?

Our biggest focus is in online learning and online classes. Starting this fall, we have as many students taking classes online as we have on campus in the classrooms. Of those students taking online classes, only 30 percent are based here in Phoenix. I think in the future much more of our classes and educational material will be online so that we truly can make a bigger impact in the world. We’re seeing great success with the hypnotherapy, coaching, urban farming coursework, and more. What we are really seeing is that we can help people re-connect with spirit and go out into the world to build a loving and profitable business from their education.

For more information, visit swiha.edu.

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