Archive for January, 2009

How Reiki Differs from Massage


In states that do not explicitly exempt Reiki from jurisdiction by the Massage Board, Reiki sometimes raises the ire of people who would prefer to have it regulated.  Reasons can range from conservative religious groups looking for ways to minimize the proliferation of alternative spirituality to massage therapists wanting to eliminate competition from those with less formal training.  I offer this article as a starting point for people trying to understand the differences between Reiki and Massage. 

This list also serves as a starting point for anyone creating a petition targeted to a particular state’s definition of massage.  (Be sure to check your state’s actual definition when writing a petition.) In a world of increased regulation, it’s important to practice Reiki both responsibly and freely. 

The “Rei” in Reiki stands for “universal” or” spiritual,” and the “ki” corresponds to the “life force energy” known as “Chi” or “prana” in other Eastern systems of healing and energy work such as feng shui, Tai Chi, Qigong, or yoga. Thus, Reiki refers to “universal life force energy,” “divinely directed healing energy,” or “life energy of a spiritual nature,” with an emphasis on subtle energy fields rather than the physical body. For the following reasons, we do not believe Reiki fits the legal definition of massage:

1)      Massage is primarily physical, but Reiki works with subtle energy fields surrounding the body. Although some massage therapists may draw upon Reiki energy while giving massages, a traditional Reiki treatment involves 11 to 14 stationary, non-pressured hand positions held for 3 to 5 minutes each. Whereas massage involves the manipulation of tissue, Reiki requires only a light, non-invasive touch or no touch at all. Reiki Level 2 students learn how to perform Reiki treatments at a distance without requiring someone’s physical proximity, but it would be impossible to give a massage without a body in the same room. Reiki is akin to “the spiritual laying on of hands” or “healing prayer,” rather than a massage modality or technique.

2)      In order to provide effective massage, massage therapists need knowledge of anatomy and physiology, along with various massage strokes like “Effleurage,” “Petrissage,” “Tapotement,” etc. By contrast, Reiki students learn that universal life force energy has innate intelligence and knows where it needs to go. Reiki practitioners do not manipulate the body or forcefully direct energy during a Reiki treatment. In order to practice Reiki, the practitioners must receive an attunement or initiation from a Certified Reiki Master Teacher. The attunement opens the students’ own natural energy channels, allowing Reiki energy to flow through their hands. The traditional Reiki hand positions and any other Reiki process do not require massage education in order to be effective.  

3)      In addition to the aforementioned differences, preparations for receiving Reiki or massage are different. Before receiving a massage, most patients disrobe and then have lotions rubbed into their nude or semi-nude body, draped under a sheet. By contrast, recipients of Reiki always remain clothed, and Reiki treatments do not involve the use of lotions or crèmes. 

4)      The American Cancer Association makes a distinction between massage and Reiki when recommending complementary therapies. According to the ACA, “Manipulation of a bone in an area of cancer metastasis could result in a bone fracture. Also, people who have had radiation may find even light touch on the treatment area to be uncomfortable. … People receiving radiation treatment should not have lotion or oil used on the areas on which radiation was used. Even without radiation treatment, a few people have allergic reactions to oils used during massage. … Another concern for people with cancer is that tissue manipulation in the area of a tumor might increase the risk that cancer cells might travel to other parts of the body. It may be prudent for cancer patients to avoid massage near tumors and lumps that may be cancerous until this question is clearly answered.” By contrast, the ACA considers Reiki a “safe” treatment for cancer patients, noting that “Reiki involves very light touch or no touch.”

5)      The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health lists Reiki under “Energy Therapies”, which are “intended to affect the energy fields that surround and penetrate the human body.”  As defined by the NCCAM, “Reiki is based on the belief that by channeling spiritual energy through the practitioner, the spirit is healed, and it in turn heals the physical body.”  Massage is listed under a distinctly separate category, namely, the “Manipulative and Body-Based Methods”, which NCCAM defines as “methods that are based on manipulation and/or movement of the body”, wherein “massage therapists manipulate the soft tissues of the body to normalize those tissues.”

6)      At least twenty U.S. states explicitly exempt Reiki from massage regulation.

Laura Bruno is a Reiki Master Teacher, Intuitive Life Coach, Past Life Reader, Medical Intuitive and Animal Communicator.  she also wrote If I Only Had a Brain Injury and The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide.  Stay tuned for her first novel, which explores a variety of healing modalities, including Reiki. 

Evie’s Kitchen, A Book Review

Evie's Kitchen by Shazzie

Evie's Kitchen by Shazzie

Evie’s Kitchen, by Shazzie

Reviewed by Laura Bruno


The first thing you will notice about this book is that it is stunningly lush and beautiful.  From the cover photo of Evie looking so faeriesque, to the family photos to all the gorgeous recipes:  Evie’s Kitchen offers a feast for the eyes!

You might also notice early on that this is a book of love.  Shazzie, the UK’s most famous raw foodist, wrote this book with a mother’s love for her daughter.  She researched the content for four years with the passion that only a mother would feel about this topic.  Painstakingly recording her daughter’s food intake, staying on top of the lastest finds in the world of raw and vegan foods, researching supplements, and finding answers when people told her she had no reason to search for answers:  Shazzie goes beyond a typical nutritionist giving stats. 

For this reason alone, I would say that every vegan and certainly every raw vegan should own this book.  Even if you never intend to raise children as raw vegans, you will find information in here that applies to adults as well.  As a Medical Intuitive with a fairly large raw food following, I encounter many, many clients who already follow either a raw or long-term vegan diet.  This way of eating offers amazing benefits:  just look at the glowing skin, boundless energy and vitality in Raw Spirit Festival photos or YouTube videos.  In my own life, I have found raw and vegan foods a wonderful support for mental clarity and energy, allowing me to function at higher levels than I did pre-“permanent”-brain-injury.  So, yes, I am a fan. But …

and this is a big BUT, in my work, among friends, and even in my own life, I have witnessed enough to know that this diet also requires quite a bit of knowledge.  Depending on one’s reserves of fat, B12, Vitamin D and minerals, someone might thrive on a raw vegan diet for years without much effort.  Terrific!  The problem I notice so often in intuitive sessions or just socially comes when someone has depleted reserves faster than they’ve taken them in.  Green juices will keep you mineralized, but they won’t give you B12, Vitamin D or significant levels of DHA.  If you don’t drink enough green juices, they may not even provide enough alkalizing minerals to keep your bones and teeth strong in the midst of so much sugary fruit.  It’s not just the sugar on your teeth; high blood sugar will leach minerals from your teeth and bones if you consistently fail to balance your intake.  For someone with lots of reserves, not such a problem; for someone with few reserves to spare, huge problems can happen f-a-s-t. 

Enter Evie’s Kitchen.  Shazzie includes charts with the proper amounts needed for each of these nutrients at different ages.  She lists signs of deficiency and signs of excess, along with good sources for each essential building block of a healthy raw, vegan child.  Her mama bear dedication comes through in assertive reasons to supplement.  While she writes the book for children, much of her research applies to adults as well.  I see WAY too many people who desperately need B12 and Vitamin D.  While I cannot legally “diagnose” as a Medical Intuitive, I can recommend people ask their doctors for tests.  Whenever I have strongly suspected a deficiency, it has always shown itself in blood work.  By the time most people contact a Medical Intuitive, their symptoms have usually gotten quite severe.  Trust me, you don’t want to mess around with Vitamin D or B12 deficiency!

Evie’s Kitchen arms you with the tools you need to avoid all deficiencies on a raw diet.  More than that, Shazzie offers recipes!  Unlike typical gourmet raw recipes that offer improvement over a SAD or SUKD diet without necessarily balancing all the nutrients, these recipes include superfoods, Omega-3’s, phytoplankton and loads of mineral rich greens–all taste approved for kids.

With her usual creativity and kooky sense of humor, Shazzie includes recipes for things like “Shoelaces,”  “Russell Brand’s Hair fell on my Plate,” and “Monster Slime.”  If you have picky eaters, you can get them to try things for sheer fun and novelty.  Oftentimes, they can even help you prepare the food. 

Seeing photos of a cute little girl eating, smiling and loving raw food will go far in helping children relate to a healthy diet that might initially seem weird.  I don’t have my own children, but I am a proud aunt to four of the pickiest junk food eaters out there.  I know that half the battle comes from clever marketing.  Spaghettio’s just look more fun than zucchini or cauliflower.  Well, watch out kids, because Evie’s mum knows how to make healthy foods appealing!

For those of you who got into raw foods by reading Shazzie’s famous journals, Evie’s Kitchen fills you in on “the missing years.”  When Shazzie decided to switch to “mupdates” (a.k.a. monthly updates), many people in the raw food world felt like they had lost touch with a trusted friend.  I hear from clients all the time that “Shazzie got me into raw food.  I just love her journal.”  Well, if you wondered what really went on in those early years from pregnancy to child birth to single mom, Evie’s Kitchen provides more than hints.  You’ll get the full story from gleam (literally) to pregnancy cravings to natural childbirth plans and all the way through Evie’s fourth year.  If you don’t want those details, you can easily skip that section and just read the recipes and science, but for those who like a personal touch, Shazzie gets very personal in Evie’s Kitchen.  🙂

I have already recommended this book to everyone I know raising vegan kids–raw or otherwise.  It’s also a fabulous gift for anyone who loves cheese and can’t eat dairy.  She includes so many different recipes for cheese that she even makes a joke about it, but they’re good, and dense, and chock full of things you no doubt need.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone contemplating more than a quick foray into raw and/or vegan foods.  Many thanks to Shazzie for having the courage, love and dedication to create this beautiful book, which you can find at

Another Lazy Raw Foodist Book Review

Melissa Neesham, editor of Vegetarian Women Online Magazine, recently posted another review of “The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide.”  You can read her comments here.  If you’re vegetarian, vegan, raw, or just into some healthier New Year Resolutions, check out the site.  They have some inspirational articles on there!

You Know You’re a Raw Foodist When …

Three days ago, I found a great little Mexican grocery store about 1 block from our condo.  They have a full deli, all the traditional Mexican canned goods, spices, pastries, and a small produce section with tomatillos, jalepenos, salsa ingredients, and fresh cactus.  I was especially excited about the cactus, so I bought a bag. 

On Sunday, I made a sprouted lentil version of “refried beans” with Cafe Gratitude’s “I am Hot” sauce and some tomatillos.  I served this alongside fresh guacamole and a salsa made with about 1/2 the cactus.  Mmmmm!  It was tasty and filling.   

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.  Since we live in Northern California, we sometimes encounter some mold issues.  During the rainy season, our car’s vents have developed some kind of nasty mold smell.  Our car’s under bumper to bumper warranty, so we decided to take it in for service.  They assured us they could remove the smell and any mold spores for no charge.  Yeah, warranty!

I’ve been extra hungry lately and not eating enough, so last night I soaked almonds to make almond milk as a smoothie base.  I wanted those high calories!  Before heading out to the dealership, I created a super delicious and dense smoothie:

3 bananas

1/2 bag of nopal cactus

4 leaves of Romaine lettuce

2 cups fresh almond milk

mesquite powder (1-2 TBSP)

2 TBSP Vita-Mineral Green

1/4 cup goji berries

1 TBSP cacao

handful of ice

3 drops vanilla stevia


I think that’s it!  I blended, and it tasted amazingly creamy and dense, with a subtle sweetness.   In short, I loved it.   So, I chugged half  at home and then brought the rest with me in a Mason jar.  When we arrived at the dealership, a lady in service said to to me:

“Is that a drink [insert disgusted lift of the lip] or your car oil?”

I replied, “It’s a drink!” 

My hubby cracked up.

You know you’re a raw foodist when your car service people think you’re drinking the oil change leftovers.  Mmmmm … mmmm!  Love those green smoothies. 🙂

Vegan Food Allergies: How to Deal, Ways to Heal

I’ve heard from countless readers and clients that they suffer multiple food allergies and would appreciate any tips on dealing with them. This article goes beyond ingredient substitutions, offering ways to handle and potentially heal food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. But first, some definitions:

A true food allergy involves a specific reaction in the immune system (that part of the body responsible for attacking invaders). An allergy occurs when the body mistakenly identifies a harmless substance (antigen) as a threat. The body then creates an antibody, damages cells, and causes a release of histamine. This process, rather than the antigen itself, causes harm. Symptoms of food allergy can include asthma, nasal congestion, digestive woes or, most seriously, anaphylactic shock. If you suffer a severe food allergy, lifelong avoidance might remain necessary.

More people suffer from food intolerances than true allergies. Intolerances can result in a wider variety of symptoms, including respiratory distress, depression, migraines, arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), among others. Unlike food allergies, which usually result in immediate symptoms, intolerances can reveal themselves “subtly” even several weeks after ingesting a particular food. As with food allergies, intensities can range from temporary, mild discomfort from too much of a certain food, to celiac disease?a severely damaging intestinal intolerance to any and all glutens (the proteins found in wheat and other grains like barley, spelt and rye).

Food sensitivities can arise from chemical compounds like MSG, caffeine, sugar, or food additives. These substances act like drugs, with some people having lower thresholds than others. The line between food sensitivities and intolerances often blurs, though, since many food intolerances arise from reactions to chemicals like sulfites, nitrates, salicylates, or amines. In Eat Right 4 Your Type, Dr. Peter D’Adamo discusses food sensitivities in relation to blood types. He theorizes that certain components of food, called lectins, react negatively with particular blood types. According to his research, lectins introduced into an incompatible blood type can result in symptoms like abnormal cell growth (cancer), insulin issues, digestive irritation, heart disease, compromised immune system and rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. D’Adamo does not consider his observations “the only factor” in maintaining health but believes blood type can play a key role in determining how food affects us. On a side note, Dr. D’Adamo recommends a strict vegetarian diet for Blood Type A, which comprises about 40% of the world’s population, compared to the estimated .2-4% of the world currently classified as “vegan.”

Many people use the terms “allergy,” “intolerance,” and “sensitivity” interchangeably, and indeed, treatments and testing often overlap. The most common method of identifying food issues involves an Elimination Diet in which the patient removes all common or suspected allergens from the diet for a set period of time. If symptoms improve, the patient then reintroduces foods and records effects. This technique works fine if one or two main, common food allergens cause the symptoms; however, in the case of multiple triggers or intolerances (which can take weeks to manifest) the Elimination Diet can prove cumbersome and less effective. But there is still hope.

The following suggestions helped me overcome my own allergies, and I’ve seen them help many clients and friends as well:

“Go Raw” or take digestive enzymes. Each raw food carries its own enzymes necessary for digestion. When heat destroys these enzymes through cooking, our pancreas works overtime, creating “digestive enzymes” to break down food. (Humans have the largest pancreas relative to body weight in the entire animal kingdom.) If the pancreas becomes fatigued, inadequately digested food particles arrive in the intestines. From there, undigested protein molecules sometimes enter the blood stream and cause an immune response. Low stomach acid can also result in incomplete digestion, and some people find raw blended greens a natural means of improving hydrochloric acid levels. (For more information on green smoothies, read Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko.) Some foods have enzyme inhibitors and need to be soaked in order to activate their enzymes. A few actually digest easier when cooked. If you don’t like raw foods or have minimal access to them, digestive enzyme supplements taken right before meals can also reduce your pancreatic load until you get back on track.

Control Candida. Commonly known as “yeast,” Candida albicans exists in the digestive tracts of all humans. Antibiotics, birth control pills, stress, and sugar can result in Candida Overgrowth, causing Leaky Gut Syndrome, food intolerances/allergies, thrush, “yeast infections” and a host of other symptoms. Though difficult to eradicate, Candida does hate oil of oregano, pau d’arco, sugar restriction, and probiotics like L-acidophilus and B-bifidus. For more information, you can read The Yeast Connection: A Medical Breakthrough by Dr. William G. Crook. From a Medical Intuitive perspective, I’ve also noticed Candida resonates with “victim.” As people empower themselves and curb feelings of victimization, Candida symptoms often dramatically improve.

Cleanse your Body. Even though vegan diets tend to be “cleaner” than the Standard American Diet, at times we can pass a threshold of toxic or allergenic overload. Maybe it’s hay fever season, we lived entirely on Tofutti last summer, have black mold in our home, or accidentally ate larvae on organic produce. Ewwww!!! Hey, sometimes it happens! A friend of mine always quotes Harry Potter’s Hagrid: “Better out than in!” Whether through a full parasite cleanse, a one-day-a-week fast, or gentle herbal support, food sensitivities implore us to lighten our load. Macrobiotic principles suggest people chew food well and detox with the seasons: Liver/Gall Bladder (Spring); Heart/Small intestines (Summer); Spleen-Pancreas/Stomach (Late Summer); Lungs/Large Intestine (Fall); Kidneys/Bladder (Winter). For more information on cleansing with the seasons, I recommend The Self-Healing Cookbook, by Kristina Turner.

Cleanse your Mind. Stress has been shown to lower the threshold for allergens, so take a few deep breaths and relax. Spend some quiet, reflective time each day. Ask yourself what stands in the way of your being able to eat the foods you like. What expectations, fears or judgments are limiting your naturally free and compassionate mind and heart? On the physical level, allergies and intolerances result from mistaken judgments-the body labels a neutral substance “bad” and launches an attack. The process, not the antigen, causes the problem. We accept the cliché, “You are what you eat” but rarely recognize that the inverse is true as well. We eat as we are. If we want to re-pattern our bodies to embrace the nourishment we offer them, then it helps to stop reacting in other areas of life. In my work, I’ve also found that people sometimes react to foods simply due to their association with an unpleasant event that no longer consciously registers. In such cases, food allergies offer an opportunity to heal the soul as well as the body.

Eat with Gratitude and Love. A little Mindfulness goes a long way in this fast-paced world of ours. Because gratitude and love are incompatible with fear, cultivating these states encourages our bodies to feel “friendlier” and less likely to overreact. Pausing before we eat also signals the body to transition to a more relaxed state, which optimizes digestion. In case words fail you, June Cotner’s Graces: Prayers and Poems for Everyday Meals and Special Occasions offers multi-cultural prayers, poems, songs, and invocations ranging from a Sanskrit sun salutation to Native American blessings, to inspirational words by Helen Keller and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Whether a formal reading or a quick lift of the heart, expressing gratitude and love for our food reminds us of the reasons many of choose a vegan lifestyle.

6 Reasons to Go Raw for the New Year

(Cynthia Mosher, Editor of Veg Family Magazine, just posted a review of The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide.  Click here to read it.) 

Laura’s Top 6 Reasons to Go Raw for 2009:

1)  With the right raw diet tailored to your body, mind and spirit, you can eat tons of food and still keep that New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.

2)  You can amplify that fresh, New Year’s energy by including more fresh, living foods in your body.

3)  Ditch the winter doldrums with vibrant produce and superfoods.  Most people notice their depression and brain fog lifting after only a few days on an all or mostly raw vegan diet.  Even increasing your raw to cooked ratio by 10-20% can create a huge mood lift.

4)  Raw food is the wave of the future.  I always say, “Any diet where you can eat this much, look this radiant, and still lose weight, is not going away!”  As more celebrities and newstations become aware of the effects of organic, raw, vegan, living foods, we can expect to see more and more raw friendly options popping up everywhere.  In fact, it’s already happening.  When I first went raw in 2004, the only raw items I could find even at Whole Foods were in the produce section.  Now we have our choice of several varieties of raw granola, tons of chocolate options, trail mixes, even brownies!

5)  It’s good for the planet.  True, flying exotic berries across the globe can leave a larger ecological footprint than eating locally grown produce, but changing to a largely unprocessed vegan diet will still give you more “carbon credits” than driving a hybrid!  You can improve your health AND feel good about your contribution to the greater world.

6)  It’s all about the vibration, and high vibe foods make high vibe folks.  The more individuals raise their own vibration, the more they follow their intuition and little synchronicities.  The planet as a whole begins to shift.  Despite the wars, despite global warming and the so-called global financial crisis, Earth is still a pretty awesome place to live.  … And it’s getting better!

Happy New Year!!  May you find and create beauty, light and love!

Many Blessings,

Laura Bruno