In June of 1995, I attended a conference for HIV/AIDS providers called Caring for Ourselves. As part of this day of wellness, we had the opportunity to sign up for a free 20 minute session of some healing modality. I looked at the choices, and decided to sign up for Reiki, since I had already experienced the other modalities offered.
After I signed up, I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I looked at the description of the Reiki master offering her services, and was bewildered to read that she used tools like crystals and spirit guides in her sessions. This all sounded way too far out for me, and I was feeling nauseous at this point, so I went back to the table to try and sign up for massage, which I knew I liked. Of course, the spaces for massage had been filled.
I waited in line about half an hour, becoming more nervous all the time. Finally, I was invited in by one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, Robin Scott Manna. At the end of my session, I was lying on the table crying my eyes out, and begging Robin for the opportunity to get more of this, whatever this is. She gave me her number and asked me to call for an appointment.
I left and was so shook up that I walked all the way around the adjacent football field, crying and feeling more loved than I ever had before, wondering what had just happened. I have never been the same since.
Becoming a Reiki Client
I soon became Robin’s regular client, seeing her for a session every other week. I thought I was seeing her to heal my still lingering back injury, for which I had had back surgery in 1992. Actually, my work with her affected me very deeply in every area of my life.
When I first started seeing her, she told me that I was a healer. I was so resistant to this notion that I made her refer to it as “the H word”. “Liza, Liza, you know you are the H word”, she would say. I also had to ask her not to tell me her impressions as she worked on me since I was so freaked out and skeptical, I thought I would jinx the process!
Finally, I got the courage to ask Robin if we could work on my back injury during a session. I was scared to work on this, because when I had my back injury, I was living in a third world country with poor medical care, and was very isolated. It was the most emotionally difficult time of my life, and I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder upon my return to the States.
I was afraid that working on my back problem with Robin would require me to relive the pain and anguish of my experience. To my surprise, that session with Robin was very gentle emotionally, and allowed all of the pain to flow out of me. Even more amazingly, the pain was completely gone after that day.
During the year I worked with Robin, I experienced changes in every area of my life. My back injury healed, and I began to notice that key relationships in my life became easier. My sense of spirituality deepened, and it became clear to me that I was on a path, and with Reiki, could allow changes into my life with “grace and ease”, as Robin would say.
I never planned to take Reiki myself, since I felt all I needed was Robin. Then, one week I realized I wanted to take Reiki; all of a sudden I just knew I needed to. I asked a co-worker who had Reiki training for a referral, since I knew Robin didn’t teach. That same day, I went for my session with Robin. When I told her I wanted to take Reiki, she smiled, and told me she had just gotten word that she was to hold her first class.
I took First Degree Reiki in January of 1996, and loved it, although I felt I was not nearly as advanced as the others in the class, all close friends and clients of Robin. She called us her “chosen heads”. When she offered the Second Degree class at the end of April, I took that too, and felt even more awestruck by the power of Reiki.
I noticed that my intuition increased dramatically, and events began to flow easily more of the time. We had an intern at work who introduced me to the field of Public Health, and I decided to apply for graduate schools in that field. When I received the catalogue from the University of Hawaii, I took one look at the cover and knew that was the place, having never been to or even wanted to visit Hawaii.
At that point, I had fallen so head-over-heals in love with Reiki, I knew I would become a Reiki master. Robin finally scheduled her first Master Class, for the first weekend I was to arrive in Honolulu for graduate school. Robin told me repeatedly that I would meet my Reiki master (the one who would initiate me as a master) in Hawaii, but I was totally in denial. I was traumatized enough at having to leave Robin, that I could not imagine not continuing on with her. I told her we would do the class when I was home for some vacation. She smiled knowingly.
Meeting my Reiki Master
I arrived in Hawaii August 1st, 1996, and promptly took an airport limousine to the Fernhurst YWCA, where I had a reservation. I was extremely nervous about arriving without permanent housing set up, but I had used long distance Reiki to ask for everything I wanted in a house, so I knew things would work out somehow. The next morning I went downstairs first thing to look at the bulletin board for housing listings, and there was only one house listed. It had all the things I had sent Reiki for, down to the Manoa location, fruit trees, even a huge old fashioned bath tub! I later learned that the house was one block away from the street I had picked to live on while looking at a map in Boston.
I soon became very busy with graduate school, but continued my own Reiki practice of self treatments and distance healing. I decided not to look for a Reiki community, to try and trust that if Reiki had found me in the first place, it would find me again. Then, in the Spring of 1997, I I attended a community meeting while an intern with Hospice Hawaii. Guess who the speaker was? Maureen Pua’ena O’Shaughnessy, who was to speak about Reiki! I saw Maureen across the room and immediately felt energy in my heart, and knew she was my Reiki master. The experience scared me, since I had a lot of fears about what becoming a Reiki master would mean for me. I greeted Maureen, got on her mailing list, and began attending Reiki circles and auditing some of her classes.
Meanwhile, my closest friend at school decided she wanted to take Reiki after I had worked on her a few times. I decided to audit the class she was signed up for. The class was held at the Life Foundation, an AIDS service organization on O’ahu. Among the students of the class was Kathy Edwards, my future business and life partner. I had no intention at that time of going back to AIDS work, but was hired only four months later by the Life Foundation as their volunteer coordinator. Reiki definitely increased the serendipity in my life!
After graduating from U.H. with a Masters in Public Health, I began work at the Life Foundation in January 1998 as their Volunteer Coordinator. Meanwhile, I became increasingly involved with Reiki. I began attending Maureen’s weekly Reiki Exchange, and started auditing more and more Reiki classes. I even sponsored another class for Maureen to teach at the Life Foundation. It was clear to me that I was becoming a Reiki junkie, but I still didn’t dare ask Maureen about apprenticing with her to become a Reiki Master. I didn’t feel I was worthy.
Preparing for Mastery
By November of 1998, I was fairly worn out from my human services work. I called Maureen and asked her to come over and give me the Reiki treatment she had gifted me for my birthday in March. I lay on my bed as she worked on me, and it felt so good! Toward the end of the treatment, I heard myself asking her if I could apprentice with her. It was sort of like an out of body experience, since I had not at all planned on bringing it up. Maureen said she was not at all surprised, and of course she would be delighted to begin the process with me. I was so excited when she left I couldn’t believe it!
My apprenticeship was a year and three months of soul-searching, practicing Reiki on myself, and attending Reiki classes as much as I could. I was extremely busy, and to top it off, having a really hard time at work due to some staffing issues. I began to apply for a series of jobs in Public Health. For each job, I was qualified, had excellent references, interviewed well, and was turned down. Finally, in exasperation, I gave up, and decided to trust that there was something else out there for me.
When I let go of trying to get a job, things immediately improved at work, and I could concentrate on preparations for my trip to Africa to visit my mom in October of 1999. My trip was an intense and wonderful experience, and I was off island for an entire month. The day after I arrived home, I suddenly knew I needed to quit my job and go into business with Kathy. Kathy had just gotten her massage license, and had been telling me for months “I’m going to take you with me”. Somehow, I thought she meant I too would find a job I loved. Now it all made perfect sense. I gave 3 months notice at work, and started to plan Rainbow Healing Arts with Kathy!
On Leap Year Day, February 29, 2000, I was initiated as a Reiki master by Maureen O’Shaughnessy. Since then, the energy we call Reiki has continued to be the center of my life, though many changes have occurred in my outer and inner life, among them, a personal and professional separation from Kathy Edwards in 2014. Reiki is truly the gift that keeps on giving, and today has led me to a life of more joy than I could possibly have imagined when this journey began. It is still my absolute delight to offer both Reiki treatments and classes, and I love knowing that this magical unfolding will never cease as long as I stay connected to the energy that is my true nature!