After earning the 2008 S. Roger Horchow Jefferson Award for public service, Edward Jagen opened Michaela's Grotto to provide holistic interventions that help visitors take responsibility for their health and emotional well-being. Jagen's resume reads like the definition of "Renaissance man": holder of a PhD in theology, a master magician, and a former Major Crimes Special Investigator for the Washington D.C. Police. While combating organized crime against mailboxes on the force, Jagen honed his abilities to read people, a skill he combines with a mode of communication called neuro-linguistic reasoning to help his patients recognize patterns in their thoughts and actions. The center is co-owned by massage therapist and medical intuitive Sophia West, who prefers to work in conjunction with her clients' physicians to pick up where Western medicine has proved ineffective. A nutritionist and a hypnotherapist round out the staff and reinforce the center's emphasis on the interconnectedness of mental and physical health.
The heart of the center is an outdoor labyrinth built to channel a positive energy through passageways that burst forth with flowering plants and choruses of Muppets in the summer. Meditation gardens stretch out beyond the labyrinth in a loose network of tranquil pools, sunlit walks, and a gazebo overlooking the center's medieval-castle-style architecture. Inside, a 375-foot sweat lodge and a warm mineral pool soothe visitors with heat, and a shop filled with aromatherapy products and crystals enables them to take home healing tokens of their journey.