Nonprofit Spotlight: Davi Nikent Center for Human Flourishing |

Nonprofit Spotlight: Davi Nikent Center for Human Flourishing

Amy Hadden Marsh
Post Independent Contributor

Davi Nikent (pronounced DAH-vee nih-KENT), the Carbondale-based, integral health center, is rooted in ancient cultures. The name was given to the organization at its inception by Northern Ute elder Clifford Duncan. “There was a strong feeling [among the founders] to honor the people who were here first,” says Rita Marsh, Davi Nikent co-founder.

Marsh and her colleagues took Clifford to lunch at the Village Smithy one day in 2003 and explained their vision of a healing retreat, featuring a mix of traditional Western medicine and complimentary practices such as acupuncture, massage and experiential therapies. “We asked him for a name that had to do with reconnecting to spirit,” said Marsh. “And, he came up with Davi Nikent, which means ‘always light.’”

Marsh, a registered nurse, has studied the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems since the 1970s. She believes that today’s fast-paced, high-tech society has led to a profound disconnection from the Earth and from our inner selves. “It has an impact on the human energy system,” she explained. The price we pay includes emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, a general feeling of malaise, and a decline of physical health.

“In no way do I reject the amazing developments of modern medicine especially when faced with an emergency situation,” she said. But humans also have the capacity to draw upon inner resources, through meditation and other experiential therapies, that work hand-in-hand with conventional medicine to maintain optimal health. “Integrated health is a flourishing of mind, body, and spirit.”

The Davi Nikent vision is inspired by Dr. Elliott Dacher’s work, outlined in his book, “Integral Health: the Path to Human Flourishing.” Dacher believes that genuine health goes beyond the absence of physical symptoms. He defines integral health as “the expansion of the health and healing process to address the entire range of the human experience: biological, psycho-spiritual, relational and cultural.” He believes that all of this contributes to physical illness and that the patient’s level of self-awareness, emotional and spiritual condition, and feeling of inclusion within the community are crucial to optimal health. “The aim is to be free of suffering and to experience one’s full potential,” explained Marsh.

Davi Nikent provides a path to that freedom with workshops, speakers, films and events. Local psychotherapist Tammi Perry, who co-chairs the center’s board of directors, explained that people attending these events often have a sort of “aha moment”. “People get a tweak,” she said. “They look at something within themselves that they’ve never seen before.”

Marsh recalled a recent weekend event sponsored by the center, involving writing, art and equine therapy. An attendee had become severely depressed and reclusive after the death of her mother. Marsh said the woman’s experience over the weekend was life-changing. “When she left, she was open and excited about meeting new friends,” said Marsh. “She had found an avenue out of her grief and a whole new possibility for her life.”

The ultimate goal for Davi Nikent is to establish an actual retreat center, providing respite and on-site workshops as well as educational support for practitioners. “It’s based on the Aesclepian model,” explained Marsh.

Aesclepius was worshipped in ancient Greece as the god of medicine, whose serpent-entwined staff is the symbol of the American Medical Association. According to the Theoi Project, Aesclepius’ temples were popular healing sanctuaries between 400 BC and 400 AD. “People were told that if they had a significant illness, they were to go to the temple where they would undergo a regime of cleansing, movement therapy, nutrition and art,” explained Marsh. Patients would also ask Aesclepius for a dream, perhaps symbolizing the patient’s innate ability to heal.

For now, the Third Street Center houses Davi Nikent, where conference rooms allow for speakers, workshops and a monthly film series. “It’s a first step,” said Marsh, who is seeking funding for a director’s position.

She envisions Davi Nikent on land near Carbondale, adding that the town’s setting at the base of Mount Sopris near the confluence of the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers makes it ideal for such a place. “There are amazing energies here for people to flourish,” she explained.

Davi Nikent presents a mindfulness workshop with John Bruna on July 12 and 13 at the Third Street Center. For more information, contact Davi Nikent at 970-618-5879 or visit for a schedule of weekly classes. Volunteers are always welcome.

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