Reiki – An Adventure for Life

I met Reiki in a bookstore when a woman who was a friend of a friend hugged me. Afterwards, I could feel her hands on me hours later especially on my back where I had a physical problem. I decided to participate in a Reiki course after that because I had been told by my doctors that by the time I was forty, I would be totally paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

The entire family on my Dad’s side has a spinal defect that manifests as an exposed portion of the spinal cord. My grandfather, dad, and brother as well as my daughter have all had back surgery to try and correct this defect. I have been told by several doctors that it is similar to spinal bifida and that in my case, the cord had become so pinched that it was compressing main nerves. The doctors said the damage was too great to be repaired. Often times I would stand up and immediately fall down. I had to learn to get out of bed in a way that allowed my back to slowly stretch. I had to sit completely straight because slouching in a chair created all sorts of shooting pain and an inability to walk. Other times I would start to walk and my legs would not cooporate. I had to wait until everything seemed “connected” to resume going where I was headed. I had lost feeling in my left leg and side including my left arm. I also had started dragging my left leg. They called it a partial paralysis. My emotional state was not good either—believing that I would have to be taken care of and dependent upon my daughter left me feeling suicidal.

After the Reiki I and II course with Iris Ishikura in 1980, I started to give myself Reiki, and I experienced a return to harmony on all levels. I felt I had touched my soul and had experienced deep peace. I had the thought for years that a dark cloud hung over my head, and that I was jinxed in some way. But now the cloud had disappeared and it was as if I had awakened from a long sleep. One of the most amazing realizations for me during this time was that as peaceful as I felt, it did not matter if I would be in a wheelchair. I had surrendered all demands and that was when my physical symptoms disappeared. It took about a year to fully realize I was completely healed on all levels. I maintained my normal life as a financial advisor and did Reiki in the evenings. I had two worlds I lived in: one I considered “normal,” dressed in corporate drag and the other, well it was Reiki, and I had slipped into something comfortable to wear. I did not mix the two; it was like having each of my feet in two different boats and I had to maintain balance to keep afloat.

I then decided to become a Reiki Master because I wanted other people to have an experience of peace and fulfillment that I knew Reiki could bring. Iris died before I decided that I was ready to take my Master training from her so I had no idea how to go further in Reiki, but the intention was there and they say when the student is ready the teacher appears. I met Marguerite Shelton in Houston, Texas at a Life Training event (a self development course) in 1988; she had completed her training with Rick and Emma Ferguson. I re-took Reiki I and II and then the Master/Teacher level from her. At that time she said she had just returned from a woman’s retreat where she trained several women including Diane Stein who was a feminist author and had written several books. The training was based on what Arthur Robertson was teaching since Rick and Emma learned from him. In fact all the initiations were done at Rick and Emma’s home. I started teaching small classes in my home and also traveling to other cities in Texas and Arkansas to teach Reiki.

In 1989 I decided to make a trip to study regression techniques in Somerset, England. I had been using regression work with Reiki in my Reiki practice in Texas. A few days before my departure I went to visit a friend at her office. There was a woman sitting in the waiting room; she looked at me and said: “Soon you will go on a long journey; you will cross the big ocean and will not return to the United States for a long time. Take everything you need especially warm clothes; you are going to wake the sleeping people of many churches.” I remember thinking the woman was very strange, and I absolutely had no intention of working in a church. Besides it was my plan to be back in three months or fewer. Everything was arraigned.

clip_image002However after I had been in England for two months I made the decision to stay in England to work and live and to put both of my feet in one boat. “The Reiki Boat” was now my vehicle of choice. I was the one of the first Usui Reiki Masters in the UK. I had been invited by many people to travel and facilitate courses all over Britain. The photo to the right is from the first UK Reiki course in 1989.



clip_image004My family was shocked because I had always had to have a steady, paid job, and here I was leaving everything and following my heart. They did not understand and were worried about what was going to happen me, while I, on the other hand, was happy responding to spirit. I was blessed to teach the first Reiki class at the Bristol Cancer Center in the UK.

clip_image006After working in England for some time I was asked to come and work in Scotland with a group of doctors that were interested in the influence of Reiki by clinical application for depression and motor-neurogical defects. I was also treating animals and would go out when I was called by farmers who would choose to take care of their stock over anything else. It was an exciting time with a tremendous amount of work and research going on but, I was still missing something.


clip_image008One morning I was compelled to pray. I got down on my knees and I asked to be told where to go to be able to serve mankind. In less than ten minutes I had received a telephone call and was told to go to Czechoslovakia. I remember looking up to the ceiling and saying “Gosh, God, that sure was fast!”

I followed my heart and arrived by train in Prague on February 3, 1991, after spending Christmas and my 44th birthday with my spiritual family in The Netherlands. Fortunately for me another friend in Holland had given me an old coat and a pair of winter boots because where I was going, it turned out to be much colder than I had ever experienced. During my first day in Prague, the temperature was at an all- time low of –38 Celsius (-36.4 Fahrenheit); even the water in the Vltava River was frozen.

As a way to live I started teaching English in a local hospital and at the high school in Kolín, which is 50 kilometers to the east of Prague. I had the idea that I would only stay three months. When I arrived it was so different from any past experiences. The people were only recently free from Communist rule and had no idea about basic ways to support themselves in a healthy life style. They had never been able to experience energy medicine or many other things that I had taken for granted. I had only fifty dollars to my name, two suitcases, and my willingness to make a difference in whatever way I could. I was housed in student housing for medical personnel. There were 17 of us on one floor,  all having to share one toilet and one tub. My accommodation was one room with a few old cabinets and a single bed. The refrigerator that was there was broken but I was told to put my food on the window sill; of course everything froze. I came away from everything I thought that I needed to feel safe and comfortable. I remember thinking, “That I am here doing this is all on complete faith and trust.”

Actually I tell people that God had a great sense of humor about my initial stay in Czech because he knew that I would have said after a few weeks, “Look, I tried… it isn’t working… and I will leave now” but—I couldn’t leave. I did not have enough money to go anywhere in the country much less out of the country! I had to make it. I surrendered my fear and placed my trust in God. Some of the Ethiopian doctors on my floor took me in and fed me for the first two months because it took that long to get my $30 a month salary paid to me. After some time, my English students, who were also the heads of the various departments in the hospital, asked me what I really did when I didn’t teach English and I told them about Reiki. They asked me to work with several of their patients in order to monitor the effects of Reiki. I started treating with Reiki in a ward of 50 patients with staph infection and septicemia who the doctors felt would die. If Reiki did not work it would be okay, and if it worked—well, the patient would be considered lucky. They were quite surprised when patients began getting well, realizing that Reiki was a natural complement to their own allopathic medicine. They wanted to learn the system themselves.

clip_image010The first Reiki course in Czechoslovakia was for 28 doctors at the regional hospital in Kolín. The director of the hospital went on to become the first Health Minister for the country. The second Reiki class I taught was for 45 teachers from the Kolín Gymnasium (High School) shortly afterwards. I also taught the first Reiki class for 30 Russian doctors, and I started teaching classes in Prague, organized by the Czech magazine Regeneration  on the occasional weekend I could get free from the clinic.

The head of the hospital gave me both an office in the administration building to see and treat people with Reiki and a retired doctor who spoke a little English to be my translator three days a week. There were no promises that anyone would come; in fact they said for me to bring a book to read just in case.

There was not a single day that I ever picked up the book. I was working at the hospital from 7 am to 9 pm for the first three days of that week and then started working every day, seven days a week from the second week onwards. I had to quit teaching English and concentrate on the people who came from everywhere, not only the Czech Republic but also Poland, the Ukraine, and Russia. I might think that I would have 10 people to see that day and open the door to 40 or more, some who had traveled through the night, or several days by train or bus to come and experience Reiki.

Being in the practice of Reiki through an interpreter, surrendering everything and just being the conduit to transfer the energy taught me so much about people, the illnesses, and certainly me. When my interpreter could not be there I would ask in Czech “Where is the problem?” and then watch what they touched. It taught me to be acutely aware of body language, smell, and touch. What a school. The most wonderful aspect of working in a hospital was the cooperation between the doctors and me. We worked together for the best interests of the patient. Reiki had become a key element in treatments throughout every department of the hospital.

After some time, the hospital was finding that I had more clients than they did. Mail would arrive addressed to Mrs. Mari, Kolín Hospital. Realistically I was not licensed to work in the hospital as a therapist so in order to keep things legal the decision was made to have the Red Cross take me under contract to do a relaxation technique called Reiki. Initially I continued to see clients seven days a week for 14 hours a day at the Red Cross; we converted a broom closet into a space to treat in. I had one small chair that my translator sat in and a low bench with a cushion. I sat at one end of the bench with my knee under the pillow and the person laid down on the bench. Improvisation was my middle name! I used three translators.

After a few months the communist newspaper Rude Pravo “Red Truth” wrote an article about the best kept secret in the Czech Republic—“me”—and believe me I was no secret. They even mentioned “life force energy and God’s love.” One of the many people I treated turned out to be the editor of the newspaper and she wrote about her Reiki treatment, the results, and how she felt. You have no idea the effect of that article. Within a week I had received sixteen giant-sized bags of mail asking for treatment or to learn Reiki. I answered each and every letter with the help of my translators. The Red Cross then decided I would only treat people five days a week and start teaching Reiki I courses on the weekends in response to all the mail that continued to pile in. Now just in case you are thinking I ran into a gold mine in Czech I want to assure you that working in an Eastern Block country is never about money. It was pure service. I was under contract and was paid 7% of the net amount paid by the clients to the Red Cross and out of that I had to pay the translators. I was the lowest paid person in the city, worked the longest hours, and probably was the happiest. I was doing what I had asked God for. I was in service and from the very heart of myself.

It was an incredibly humbling time. When I had treated with Reiki in the US and UK I always had people I could refer my clients to for massage, herbs or flower remedies, or whatever would complement what I was doing. I did not know anyone in Czech. I started to learn about treating with herbs, homeopathy, massage, and Bach Flower Remedies. I begged doctors and therapists I knew who lived in other countries for supplies. They sent them; some also came to treat my clients, using the time as a working holiday.

After working for a year at the Red Cross I was approached with a wonderful opportunity to come to Liberec, located in the mountains north of Bohemia very close to the eastern German border to start my own business with a silent Czech partner.

A foreign person cannot have a business by him or herself, or own property. This partner was a Czech man named Milan who had left in the 60s when the Warsaw Pact closed the borders of Czech. He fled the country and ended up living in Australia. He returned with his family (a wife and four children) to live in Czeck the same year I had arrived in Czechoslovakia. He and his wife Marie both took part in a Reiki class in Kolín. They felt I needed to have more control over my future in Czech and offered to sign my business papers. Of course I needed to have the cash to pay for the lawyer to set up the corporation and start the bank account.

They wanted nothing from me and even offered to sublet an office in their office space located in the Lesni (Forest) Elementary School in Liberec. I did not know that the Jiri (George), who was the director of the school, and most of the teachers had also taken the Reiki course in Kolín and that all of them had sat, talked, and masterminded about how to get me to Liberec and support the work I was doing.

Jiri organized five classes in a row for me to teach at the conference center for the Regional Zoo, including arranging for the translator, and Milan generously offered to help me with the money aspect. At the end of the five classes, after all the bills had been paid, there was exactly enough money to do what was needed to start the business…not one penny more.

clip_image012The International Association of Reiki was finally born in Czech. I was also working on the animals at the Regional Zoo; can you imagine the trust the people had in Reiki? (Later on we transferred the organization from Scotland to Czech.)

The doors just opened for me to be there. Spirit was in charge. I had a room, a borrowed table, and a telephone and could use their computer at night when they did not use it. I hired my first employee, a young woman named Jana. There were 600 people waiting to take the second level of Reiki…thousands wanted the first level of Reiki.

clip_image014I started teaching five days a week and treating for two. Finally I gave up the clinical side to be able to teach. Renata, one of my students from the Gymnasium in Kolín, was my main translator in the courses. She laughed when she remembered me saying to the English class that “you never know what opportunity will arise to use your English.” Boy! Was she using her English!



Another translator, who was a pharmacist from the hospital in Kolín, came and also translated for me. She had taken Reiki in Kolín and treated doctors in the back of the pharmacy on her lunch hour.

I was asked to come and teach Reiki in Poland at a Healing Center in Polinice Zroid, and then Krakow and Warsaw. All the manuals were translated into the Polish language. When I was at the center, the director, Andrej, taught me bio-energetic healing. We would work in his center at night and I would also teach during the day. I had so many spiritual experiences there.


I also started traveling more out of the country teaching in France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Norway, England, Scotland, Ireland (both the Republic of Ireland and Ireland the country of), and in New Zealand and Australia.

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I continued to say yes and was so touched by the people’s spirit. We respected our differences and celebrated our sameness; it was also during this time that I developed “Water Reiki” and began teaching students this technique in Greece and Cyprus. I also began teaching special children’s Reiki classes, Self Development work, as well as advanced Reiki techniques classes; we also had our first Reiki Master Teacher’s class.

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People have asked me why I stayed so long in the Czech Republic. There are many reasons. I was busy working and before I knew it seven years had passed then ten, and then fourteen plus. I had taught Reiki to over 50,000 people all over Europe and Australia, worked in clinics in Kolín and Liberec plus I had written five books. But on another level I felt that the work I was doing, being based in the Czech Republic, continued to play an important role in the future of Europe and the world. In every village and town in the Czech Republic a church can be seen; the words the woman had said to me before I left the States—“you will awaken the sleeping people of many churches” still has a profoundly deep spiritual meaning for me. Reiki helps us to reawaken our spiritual essence and strengthen our own spirit. Reiki plus living, working, and BEing in Europe continued to help me in my own spiritual re-awakening and of course thousands of others. I was a witness to Reiki working in all streams of society and with whole families, experiencing the light spreading ever further across Europe. Doctors, politicians, actors, police, bakers, conductors all were embracing Reiki and had incorporated it into their lives.

In February 2004 I started to move back to the US by sending some of my things ahead of me. I had experienced a heart attack while traveling in England in October 2003 and my family asked me to “please come home and let us take care of you.” I actually arrived at the end of the year just in time for Christmas. I had been blessed to teach Reiki and other special self-development courses all over Europe—now it was time to come full circle. I absolutely had no idea what that looked like. While I was well-known in Europe, my mind imagined no one would know who I was in the US. And I also wondered how I would adjust to living with my daughter and her family and being back in Texas. Things had changed so much. I hardly recognized areas of Houston as it had developed and grown so much. I changed much more.

In Europe I had traveled and had a business with six employees plus four translators that worked with me in Reiki courses. I was self-sufficient. I was used to taking care of others and paying my way. Now living with my family and recovering from my heart attack I was depending on them. I was not working or earning money. My mind said I had no value. I realized that I thought I only had value as long as I had money and could help others. The first big lesson being back in the US was to learn to love and appreciate myself without doing anything. I chose to learn that Mari is wonderful just the way she is.

In January 2006 while celebrating my first year back in the US I remembered my time in the Czech Republic and the tremendous growth of spirit I had experienced. I sat and looked at the pictures of Kolín where I first lived and remembered the English classes in the hospital and Gymnasium (High School); all these children are now grown up, and are probably parents making their way. I thought of the very first Reiki class for 28 doctors…all the people that touched my life in such profound ways, the days at the Red Cross with Josef translating for me while I worked with so many people giving Reiki and love . . . and how we converted a sewing room at the Red Cross into a Reiki Room on Friday and after we all finished seeing all the clients, making sure to pick up the pins on the carpet in order to teach Reiki there on the weekends. I remembered all the miracles that I had witnessed, the changes in the people as they touched their own souls—the programs set up with the help of the now late President Havel and his staff in the prisons and hospitals. I remembered the conversations started and continued with a dictionary, trying to speak Czech, and practicing to ask, ”how much is this,” only to be frustrated because I had forgotten to learn the numbers. I still had to hold out the change in my hand for them to take what they needed me to pay. I was impressed with the Czech spirit, how they sang from their heart and still do. It was a time to acknowledge the start of coming away from everything and having to discover my inner will and resolve to trust and embrace the unknown and to find the gift that each new day brings.

Foremost is the impression of coming into a deep realization of how we are the same, no matter our religion, philosophy, color, or language. We can choose to find a common language. We can come to understand each other.  And this is born from the compassionate heart.

Basically I felt like an older piece of glass that has been tenderly treated to a re-cutting and polish. I am more exposed, vulnerable, and I shine from the inside out. The Czech Republic is known for its fine cut crystal that is made to sparkle by the way it is cut and polished. What better place than Czech to have cut and polished Mari.

But, now what will being back in the US bring to me? How will this experience change and deepen me? What will God ask of me and will I still say yes?

I paid closer attention to spirit and how it moved with me especially when I was present in the moment. I could feel the alignment with the source. I realized that whatever I decided to do that, it would come from this oneness in my soul.

It did! I reconnected with my family and started through the process of redefining my work and how to utilize my talents while basically starting over. I prayed for a way to continue the work that I had been doing and be more balanced in work, play, and rest.

For many years we had a network of Western Reiki Masters. If we were close in proximity we would meet each other; we corresponded by email and phone. The blessing about the group is that we have remained friends to this date. One of the members of our group is Arjava Petter. He is my spiritual brother. My family and I have adopted him, his wife, and their two beautiful children. I have before never met such a loving, non-judgmental person, and what a terrific sense of humor. He truly is one of those rare people who is inside his work. He walks the walk and talks the talk.

Arjava and I stayed in touch all those years. In the late part of 2006 I received an email from him asking me to join him in Bogata, Colombia to speak at an International Reiki Conference the next year. I immediately said yes. Little did I know my life was about to change again.

I went there to present techniques that I had developed using Reiki to help with brain and motor neurological problems and muscle memory. While there I met Tadao Yamaguchi, the son of Chiyoko Yamaguchi who as a young girl had studied with Chujiro Hayashi, the last Shihan (Teacher) that Usui Sensei had taught before his death.

When Tadao and Arjava asked me to stay on after the conference and take the Shoden and Okuden classes I couldn’t see that there would be a any way possible way to do that. I was working part-time at a non-profit called More To Life as the center ‘s manager. I didn’t have the money for the courses or the hotel and knew I couldn’t be off work another week. There was the issue of being able to change my ticket.

They asked me what my heart wanted and told me for every impossibility my mind could create there was a possibility. I said yes I would stay and take the courses provided things could be arranged. Within forty-five minutes my board of directors at work said, “Stay, of course. What an incredible opportunity!” My hotel bill was paid and the ticket that couldn’t be changed was extended for no charge. I certainly haven’t regretted my choice at all or doubted the power of intention!

Mari a new Shihan

Mari a new Shihan

reunion photo

reunion photo

I began studying Jikiden Reiki with Tadao Yamaguchi and Arjava Petter in Bogotá that week. I have been Arjava’s US coordinator for his Jikiden classes in the United States since then and continue studying with Arjava. Jikiden Reiki is spreading throughout the US and the world. I am now a Shihan (Teacher). I have moved my Reiki practice and teach Jikiden Reiki solely. Western Reiki was the beginning of my Reiki journey. I am grateful for every student I have had the pleasure of teaching, the many experiences I have had being in the practice of Reiki, and the many ways my soul has been touched.

Mari and students in her garden

Mari and students in her garden

I enjoy the simplicity of Jikiden Reiki. The depth of my practice and sensitivity of my hands has increased measurably. I am calm, filled with a joy that bubbles over, and I have found myself.

I still travel to Europe and Australia and parts in between, only not as much. For some reason living out of a suitcase has not the appeal that it had before, at least not as much. I consider myself blessed to have been on the cutting edge of Reiki all these years and to have been given the opportunity to meet so many different people all over the world. Many still write to me. We are a large Reiki family.

Mari in Bogota

Mari in Bogota

I haven’t finished learning; life (by its very nature) will always bring lessons to deepen awareness and turn this new understanding back out to the world.

I am more dedicated than ever to helping people find this same inner kind of beauty. I feel as if I am here to help light a path to brotherhood and peace from a new perspective. I realize that, like eagles, we all have our own patterns of flight. But I hope that soon we meet in the vast sky of love and compassion. I invite you all to join me in this grand adventure called life. I invite you to remember to fly free and high but not alone.

clip_image040Basically I feel like an older piece of glass that has been tenderly treated to a re-cutting and polish. I am more exposed, vulnerable, and I shine from the inside out. I am more dedicated than ever to helping people find this same inner kind of beauty. I feel as if I am here to help light a path to brotherhood and peace from a new perspective. I realize that, like eagles, we all have our own patterns of flight. But I hope we meet in the vast sky of love and compassion—and soon. I invite you all to join me in this grand adventure called life. I invite you to remember to fly free and high but not alone.