Archive for October, 2009

Reiki Classes in Sonoma County

Usui, the Japanese Monk who rediscovered Reiki

Usui, the Japanese Monk who rediscovered Reiki

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a gentle and natural system of healing. One of the most ancient healing methods known, it originated in Tibet and was rediscovered in the nineteenth century by a Japanese monk named Dr. Mikao Usui. The Usui System of Natural Healing is named after Usui and has been passed down by Reiki Masters since that time. Today, Reiki is practiced worldwide. Reiki is now used in many hospital, clinic, and hospice settings. It is a wonderful complement to massage therapy, cranio-sacral therapy, and psychological therapy.

The Japanese word, “reiki,” consists of two syllables: “rei,” which means “universal,” and “ki,” the “life energy,” corresponding to Chi in the Chinese system of Qigong and acupuncture, and to the concept of prana in the various Indian systems of Yoga. Thus, Reiki refers to the healing qualities of universal life energy. Reiki works on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. It is a precise method for combining this universal energy with the body’s innate powers of healing.

Next Reiki Level 1 and 2 Accelerated Certification Class is in Santa Rosa, California on November 14, 2009, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Reiki 1 topics:

Learn how Reiki opens chakras in a profound and lasting way.

Develop greater awareness of energy in their own bodies.

Learn how Reiki can calm the body and mind to enhance breathing.

Experience a deeper sense of their connection to Divine presence and every living thing.

Receive a Reiki Level 1 Attunement & learn all traditional hand positions.

Hone understanding of the mind/body/spirit connection.

Learn 5 Reiki Principles, which bring peace and ahimsa into everyday life.

Experience a 21-Day Reiki Cleanse that can help shift kenshu (momentary awareness of the Buddha nature) into satori (deep or lasting enlightenment.)

Reiki 2 Topics:

Learn three symbols/mantras that help to utilize Reiki energy with more finesse.

Learn how Reiki can be used to clear spaces, energize foods, clean crystals and amplify battery power.

Learn techniques for distant healing (distant in both space and time).

Learn how to amp up Reiki energy.

Learn techniques for supporting mental and emotional balance, including help in moving through addictions and old behavior patterns.

Increase your intuition.

Learn ways to increase the time effectiveness of an individual Reiki treatment.

Receive permission to audit (for free) any additional Reiki Level 1, Level 2 or Combined 1 & 2 Certification Classes taught by Laura Bruno (space permitting).

Please call Laura at 707-843-4164.

Pre-registration required. Class size is limited to 8 students.

$350 if prepaid by 11/1. $400 afterwards. (This is a substantial savings over taking the classes individually; if you already have some experience with yoga, energy work or other healing modalities, you may find the accelerated course works best for you. Handouts will be provided ahead of time for maximum absorption of material.)

* * *
The next Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Level III Master Teacher Certification Class will be taught on Sunday, November 15, 2009 from 10-6 at a private residence in Santa Rosa, CA (North Bay).

Pre-registration and deposit are required because participants will receive handouts ahead of time for review. Taking this class also entitles participants to audit (free of charge) all additional Reiki Certification Classes taught by Laura Bruno, space permitting. Many students value this chance to observe earlier levels from a Master’s perspective.

This workshop is for those who would like to deepen their healing gifts and/or who feel a calling to teach. The instruction includes:

• How to give attunements for every level.
• Master symbols and attunement.
• Anthakarana, Tibetan, and Usui Master symbols.
• Violet Breath.
• Complete Healing Attunement.
• Instruction on the healing attunement.
• Hui Yin exercise.
• Training workbook handouts for all levels.
• How to teach all levels.
• Discussing the 21 day cleansing.
• Reverence for life.
• Giving self attunements.
• Special positions for specific imbalances.

Fee is $600 if prepaid by 11/1/09, $692 after 11/1.
Pre-requisite: Reiki Level 2 from Laura Bruno or another Reiki Master Teacher. 707-843-4164

Laura Bruno became a Reiki Master Teacher in March 2002 and has taught Reiki Certification Classes around the United States for over seven years. For more information, please browse

4 Mistakes People Make When Going Vegan

Whether you’ve read PETA literature, seen the Alicia Silverstone commercial, or just want to lose weight—going vegan seems like a healthy, earth-friendly choice. Indeed, this animal-free diet and lifestyle features zero cholesterol and 1/20th or less the field growing space required for beef. Since heart disease ranks as the number one killer in the U.S., and our demand for cattle contributes highly to destruction of the rainforest, a vegan diet makes sense. Unfortunately, some people jump right in without much knowledge and soon find themselves living less than optimally. This article lists the top four mistakes people make when going vegan—and offers ways to make a smart transition.

1) The “Fake Meat” and Potatoes Syndrome:

With Tofurky Brats, Tofu Pups, dozens of veggie burger styles, Chik’n and even BBQ Riblets in supermarket freezers, anyone can substitute a meat analog for meat and serve a Standard American Diet dinner with soy and wheat modifications. While these products can work well as transition foods, they also contain both wheat gluten and soy—two high contenders in the food allergy arena. Yes, they offer lower-fat, plant based protein alternatives, but eating gluten and soy at every meal increases your chance of feeling less than great on a vegan diet. Symptoms can include: bloating, sluggishness, irritability, fatigue, and constipation. People who did not previously notice sensitivities to wheat or soy might if these two foods make an appearance in every meal.

The body likes variety. Interview long term vegans and they will tell you that despite the exclusion of animal products, they now eat a wider variety of foods than they ever did as omnivores. Try to break out of the meat and potatoes mindset. Vegetable stir fries, salads with nuts, fruit smoothies with rice or hemp protein powder, and a world of ethnic dishes offer ample protein and nutrients without relying on wheat and soy. When you want to feel mainstream at a 4th of July party or even at family meals with omnivores, meat analogues can help you fit in. But allow yourself to embrace Mother Earth’s bounty: vegans do not live (well) on gluten and soy alone.

2) “I’m So Healthy I Don’t Need Vitamins Anymore”:

For some people who carefully plan their diets, this statement might be true. For most new vegans, it can appear true—for awhile. Compared to the Standard American Diet, vegan diets bring in more antioxidants than average people acquire through food. Several nutrients do require attention, though, namely: B-vitamins (especially B-12), zinc, calcium, and iron.

If you eat whole grains or leafy greens like kale, collards, spinach and chard, you can get lots of these items, but perhaps not quite enough. Although you have stores of B-12, without inclusion of animal products, your reserves can drop to dangerous levels. Low B-12 can result in a form of anemia, increased homocysteine levels (which can lead to heart attacks), fatigue, mood swings and mental fogginess. Gabriel Cousens, M.D. offers a comprehensive article on various vegan B-12 studies: The other B-vitamins can help you manage stress, achieve mental clarity, and maintain energy levels. Bottom line: if you feel tired after a few weeks or months of vegan living, a B-vitamin complex and especially B-12 may raise your energy. If symptoms persist, ask your doctor for some blood tests.

Although studies show comparable calcium and iron levels in vegans and people following a standard diet, many people suffer from anemia and pre-osteoporosis conditions. You ingest adequate amounts by drinking green smoothies, eating (and chewing well) at least one salad per day, and juicing calcium and iron powerhouses like broccoli, spinach and kale. Fortified breads, cereals and orange juice can also amp up your intake. Legumes and small doses of blackstrap molasses offer other ways to increase your iron. Look at your diet honestly, though. If you do not consume these (or equivalently iron-rich) things several times per day, consider adding them in or taking a vegan multi-vitamin. If you prefer whole foods, you can add a teaspoon or more of spirulina (a blue green algae) to fruit smoothies for an instant nutrient boost. It’s green, but a kale, spirulina, avocado (and/or almond milk), banana, and agave nectar smoothie will leave you energized and wanting more.

Zinc poses a challenge to animal-free diets, but you can find it in pumpkin seeds, legumes and nuts. Their protein facilitates zinc absorption. If you find yourself getting sick a lot since going vegan, have lower sexual drive, or skin problems, make sure your multi-vitamin contains zinc. If you decide to take a separate supplement, you might want to check with your doctor first. Zinc overdose can quickly become toxic.

3) Low Fat, No Fat and Wrong Fat

Most people have heard of the benefits of Omega-3 Fatty acids, especially as doctors began recommending fish for its Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) profile. “Essential” means you must acquire these fats from food; your body needs them and cannot make them on its own. Ideally, you want a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty acids, but without planning, a vegan diet can become very Omega-6 heavy. Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil all favor Omega-6 absorption. Imbalances of Omega-6/Omega-3 can lead to mood swings, mental decline, sore joints, poor immunity, and acne, among other problems.

High sources of vegan Omega-3 fats include: flax seeds and oil, walnuts, canola oil (controversial due to genetic engineering) and leafy greens. Hemp seeds and oil provide the perfect ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats, as does Udo’s Oils, a product created by scientist Udo Erasmus. Additionally, algae—from which fish receive their Omega-3’s—provide great plant source fats. In addition to spirulina, Omega-Zen 3, E3Live, and Crystal Manna offer vegan ways to balance your fat intake.

4) In Search Of: Perfection through Diet

No diet will solve all your problems, all the time. I have personally witnessed some incredible transformations in people switching to a vegan diet, but the changes proved long lasting only in those people who also made major lifestyle and attitude changes. Trying to eliminate every possible animal ingredient, animal testing or negative impact on an animal can become an obsession that interferes with abundant, joyful living. If you’ve made the commitment to live animal-free, I commend your choice. If you would like to inspire others to live this lifestyle, then I suggest you make it seem as easy and attractive as possible.

Yes, you’ll need to read labels in the grocery store and ask questions in restaurants. Yes, you might consult PETA’s guide to shopping, but ask yourself how far you need to go on every single item. We live in a world that, unfortunately, exploits animals and destroys our environment. We can each make small and large strides towards improving that state of affairs. We also live among other human beings. In your new found compassion towards animals, try to remember the people in your life. Education by example usually proves more effective than lectures, shame fests and ultimatums. If you turned to a vegan diet for health reasons, enjoy your new found health! If you turned vegan for the animals, become an advertisement for animal-free living! Look good, feel good, smile more.

Still confused?

Contact me here to set up a personalized Medical Intuitive Session where I scan your body and surrounding energy field to identify hidden factors and unseen support.

More Green Smoothies to Write Home About

Ever since Victoria Boutenko sent me a review copy of Green for Life, back in early 2006, I have begun most days with some sort of green smoothie. It got so that I didn’t even think about it: breakfast was simply green, very green, everyday green.

Until this summer. Suddenly, this summer I could no longer tolerate green smoothies. It didn’t matter which green or which fruit I used, after a couple sips, my stomach would lock up and not allow even a bit more down. If I managed to swallow some of these concoctions in the name of “health,” I would end up needing to juice fast for two days just to get my stomach settled.

This experience caused some interesting realizations, not the least of which was just how much of a raw foodist I’d become. The idea of anything else for breakfast literally had not occurred to me for several years! What exactly did “normal” people eat for breakfast? Cocoa Puffs? I attempted a few more green smoothie combos and did a few more unintended juice feasts before I called it quits.

I stopped drinking green smoothies for about two months. I started eating fruit for breakfast, or VEGA protein powder, or HempNGreens rawnola with sesame seed mylk (exceptionally yummy, by the way). I survived, but I did miss my smoothies. Then one day, I mixed some Vitamineral Green in coconut water and felt the same gut wrenching stomach pains. Ah-ha! Mystery solved: I had grown so accustomed to adding Vitamineral Green to all my smoothies that I hadn’t even noticed it as the one common denominator amidst all varieties of greens and fruit. This also explained why I could eat a kale salad but not a kale smoothie. It was never about the kale!

Anyway, long story short, I’ve been back on green smoothies again for about 2 months, and the time away increased my fondness for them. I have nothing against Vitamineral Green; I think it’s a fabulous product. My stomach just doesn’t appear to like it anymore. But it does love green smoothies! I decided to share two more favorites here:


This is a recent variation on an old standby, utilizing coconut kefir instead of almond mylk.

5-15 leaves dinosaur kale (depending how green you like your smoothies)

1 cup coconut kefir (coco meat + coco water, so it’s nice and thick)

1 cup water or coconut water

1 avocado

1-2 bananas

1-2 TBSP spirulina

1 tsp lucuma

1 TBSP liquid lecithin (soy or sunflower)

Blend and enjoy!


3-4 cups baby spinach

1 cup coconut kefir (meat + water)

1-2 TBSP cacao nibs

2 bananas

3 dried schizandra berries

1 TBSP liquid lecithin

splash of Jerusalem artichoke syrup

water to thin to desired consistency

Blend and chug for a supercharged day.

Want more lazy recipes that deliver maximum energy for minimum mess? Check out The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide for tips from Sarma, Shazzie, Anthony Anderson and many more people looking to make your health journey as easy as (raw) pie. Cheers to you!

Cozy Takes on Green Smoothies

Brrrr … Autumn’s chill has crept into the morning air, sometimes lasting into afternoon and getting downright cold at night. What’s an aspiring raw foodie to do? If you’re like me, you probably don’t feel wild about tepid green smoothies. I like them very cold and refreshing — except on chilly mornings. Then, I just want something warm and cozy in my belly. Warm, cozy and filling, that is. When the temperature drops, my metabolism goes into higher gear working to keep me warm.

Enter some fun variations on the traditional green smoothie. Raw fooders and health-conscious folks alike can try these ideas to start the day with a nutritional kick and a cozy belly.

The (Now-Famous) Dandelion-Chai Smoothie:

dandelion greens (I used 1/2 bunch)
some leftover chai tea (I like red roobois chai for extra anti-oxidants)
about 9 figs
1 small apple
1 tbsp chia seeds
a little extra water if you don’t have much tea

Blend. This tastes like a thick apple cider!

You can serve warm, but let the tea cool slightly before blending so that you preserve the enzymes in the fruit and greens.

***Please be VERY careful when blending warm or hot liquids. Make sure to tighten the blender lid before starting. Also, if your blender is very cold, please let the tea cool a bit before pouring into glass, so that your carafe doesn’t crack.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Herbs “count” as greens, and cacao and mint go well together. This also works well as a cold drink, especially if you freeze the bananas and use chilled nutmilk.

1/2 bunch mint
1-3 TBSP raw cacao (depending on desired kick; also good with carob)
2 bananas
1 cup water or favorite nutmilk
1 cup warm peppermint or other herbal tea (cinnamon flavors work nice, too)
1 dropperful of vanilla stevia (or one xylitol packet + vanilla bean or vanilla extract or 1 TBSP raw honey)

Blend and enjoy. For extra heat, you can also add up to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper before you blend.

Yerba Mate Latte

You can sometimes find unroasted Yerba Mate, but the traditional Mate still packs some nutritional punch with lots of b-vitamins and mateine for energy. Brewed Yerba Mate is naturally a bit green. I like it brewed and then slightly sweetened with xylitol or stevia and mixed with my favorite nutmilk. Being a Lazy Raw Foodist, though, I sometimes just mix it with a little boxed Hemp Milk or Oat Milk fortified with vitamin D — an important winter nutrient for vegans.

For a special treat, I’ll add 2 drops of peppermint essential oil + 1 tsp raw cacao powder before mixing in the milk. Choco-minty-madness in a cup!

Lovely Licorice

I’ve also found licorice tea a nice base for superfood smoothies. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, licorice is added to most herbal remedies. It nourishes the adrenals, helps with diabetes and has also been shown to block one of the main toxins released by the Lyme Disease bacteria.

I like this one:

warm licorice tea
5-15 leaves dinosaur kale (fewer if it’s old and bitter)
1 TBSP spirulina (very optional)
2 bananas
1/2 – 1 cucumber
3 schizandra berries (more will make it too tart, but 3 imparts a complex flavor)
tinctures of:
St. John’s Wort (which, in addition to fighting winter blues has the happy effect of soothing frazzled nerves).

I usually add some chia seeds and lucuma powder and/or honey to thicken and sweeten. Licorice imparts a slightly sweet taste, so you don’t need too much lucuma.

For a variant, you could add goji berries instead of the bananas. I don’t eat bananas with gojis as it makes my stomach hurt, but you might fare better.


This morning, I’m going to experiment with some Numi Rooibos, beet greens, pears and pumpkin pie spice. I’ll post the recipe if it turns out well.

In general, think warm, think winter herbs and spices, think drink by the cozy fire … and see what you invent!

For more sneaky ways to get your greens, you might enjoy The Lazy Raw Foodist’s Guide … and if you’d like to curl up with a book by that cozy fire, might I recommend Schizandra and the Gates of Mu? 😉

Lyme Disease and Teasel Root

I just found this short YouTube video by a woman named Lady Barbara who healed herself of 8 (!) different cases of Lyme Disease by “becoming an ally” with teasel root. Since I published If I Only Had a Brain Injury, many readers and clients have asked me for a recommended source of teasel root. I am not associated with Lady Barbara in any way other than she’s the woman from whom I bought the teasel root that helped Stephen. This video is cool, though, because she shows you the actual plant, which grows alongside many roads. If you know how to tincture herbs or if you know an herbalist who does, you might be able to source your own teasel root from nature.

I decided to include Lady Barbara’s video here, because I like reminding people of other success stories. People can and do heal — even people who have Lyme Disease, brain injuries, Chronic Fatigue and other life-changing illnesses and injuries. Let’s keep hope alive!

For more information on Lady Barbara, please click here. For more information on Stephen’s Lyme protocol, please click here. If you’d like to read If I Only Had a Brain Injury, my medical intuitive healing guide (book or ebook) that deals with Lyme Disease and other medical mysteries, please click here.

Many Blessings and good healing to all!

Vegan Friendly Buffets and My Enchanted Office

I’m sitting in flannel p.j.’s in my “garden” office with its antique armoire, black and white Wizard of Oz photo, multi-colored rug, giclee print by Tania Marie, and sheer-red floral-and-colorful striped curtain-covered file cabinet. I’ve got a giant retro-French-looking fabric wall hanging behind me, floral lamp shades and floral chair on either side of me, glass desk in front of me, and a head full of goopy henna. Meanwhile, my living room’s covered in piles of receipts as I make final calculations for my accountant (due tomorrow morning). The  Fall chill’s rolling in tonight, and my office feels like an especially cozy getaway with its lavender sprigs and Lemurian Seed Crystals.

I’ve got a dandelion-chai/tulsi tea-fig-apple-chia smoothie in my belly and no doubt on the corners of my mouth. The henna needs another hour to work its magic, and something tells me those recipts will still be there when I walk back out. Life is good. What better time to muse and blog about the finer things of Fall?

I can’t promise a long entry, but a few things have caught my attention lately. For one, I’ve noticed that I am always writing about how much I love raw food! LOL, I really do love raw food, and in Sonoma County we’re spoiled with not just Cafe Gratitude, but also the Petaluma Raw Food Potluck and Seed Restaurant. But we also have some wonderful vegan and raw-friendly spots, where “normal” folks can dine with us. I’d like to highlight three Santa Rosa buffets for which I have immense gratitude: Govinda’s (a.k.a. Gaia’s Garden); Fresh Choice at the Santa Rosa Mall; and Fresh China at the Coddingtown Mall. They’re all all-you-can-eat … which always warms my little tummy with glee.

Govinda’s (soon to become Gaia’s Garden)

1899 Mendocino Ave in Santa Rosa

(707) 544-2491

I will be forever grateful to this restaurant because it has gotten my hubby actually requesting salads! Govinda’s offers vegetarian and vegan food, usually Indian-inspired, along with a generous salad bar. Each day they offer four types of greens: spinach, romaine, mixed spring greens, and mixed green and red lettuces. Toppings range from mung bean sprouts to chick peas, olives (canned), fresh grated beets, tomatoes (always super fresh), cucumbers, shredded carrots, purple cabbage and some other veggie and cheese toppings that I’m probably forgetting. House soup is a split pea vegan dahl (quite tasty) and one other soup that varies by day. They offer a veggie or vegan entree (hot), one or two vegan desserts, and homemade bread. They also have one (usually) vegan curry, brown rice, and steamed veggies, every single day. I don’t eat in here a lot myself, due to the hubby’s enjoyment of their salads to go. I have been known to leave with four giant containers full of salad, along with ample amounts of his favorite tofu dill salad dressing and some soups, all balanced precariously in my former waitress hands.

Since leaving with soup and salad costs only $1.00 more than leaving with just a salad, I occasionally get the extra soup and eat it myself. (I have eaten high raw, not 100% raw since early 2009–mostly just so that I can eat cooked food. When my diet got really clean, I found I could no longer tolerate even tiny amounts of cooked anything. The freedom loving me remedied that restriction by s-l-o-w-l-y adding back in bits of cooked foods.)

Anyway, Govinda’s is good. Tasty. Simple. Kind of a “granola” vibe. The owner can talk about the 60’s or Mercury Retrograde if you like that sort of thing. I also understand they serve great chai, although I’ve never tried it myself. 🙂

Fresh Choice

1018 Santa Rosa Plz
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-6399
(707) 525-0912

This one completely surprised me! Someone at Blockbuster heard me lamenting that Govinda’s was closed on Sunday’s and that I couldn’t capitalize on Stephen’s craving for a salad bar. She recommended Fresh Choice in the Santa Rosa Plaza. I have to admit feeling skeptical, but wow. The salad bar is seriously like a block long. They have mostly organic and local veggies, including some unusual finds like daikon sprouts, heirloom tomatoes and banana squash, none of which I have ever seen at another salad bar. They label everything with little symbols so you can easily see what’s vegan, low sodium, vegetarian, etc. It’s all you can eat, and if you go during off hours, you get a discount. In addition to copious amounts of salad, they offer vegetarian soups, meaty soups, meat or fish add-ons, desserts and a pizza bar. None of the desserts or soups were vegan when I’ve eaten there, but the huge salad bar makes that OK, IMO. It’s cafeteria style and not as homey as Govinda’s, but you’ll find just about any type of  topping or type of salad you can imagine. I particularly appreciate their commitment to local and organic foods.

Fresh China

286 Coddingtown Ctr
Santa Rosa, CA 95401-3506
(707) 527-6444

I really love this place! Of the three listed, it offers the least raw, but I still leave feeling uber-nourished. The owner gets really excited about vegan, organic foods. Every time I go there, I feel like a celebrity as they point out the day’s organic offerings, usually a mix of brown and wild rice, some type of steamed winter squash, Swiss chard, and sometimes the salad greens and cabbage. As the name implies, everything tastes very fresh, with a Chinese flair. They serve a popular dim sum, which I’ve never (in my life) tried, so I’m not the one to comment on that, but they also have a Mongolian-type grill line where you can build your own stirfry. In the stir-fry line, meat-eaters can choose organic chicken or other meats. They also offer mung sprouts and about ten different chopped veggies, including zucchini and cilantro. They use no MSG in anything, and if you want gluten-free they can easily accommodate that as well. I’ve only tried a tiny bit of the stir-fry, but the one I built was yummy with its ginger lemon sauce.

My favorite part of Fresh China is the salad and hot bar. I like to get a giant plate of fresh greens, put a scoop of organic brown/wild rice, a big scoop of spicy, enzyme-laden kim chee, and a couple slices of steamed squash. Sometimes I add some organic Swiss chard (raw) on top. It feels like a macrobiotic feast. I used to love 100% raw foods, and I still do, but sometimes my body just enjoys a simple, very low-fat, low-glycemic meal. Fresh China gives me that in a friendly environment with non-caffeinated tea, to boot. I love supporting people who take such pride in their organic foods, and with the buffet-style, I can eat this one big meal at lunch and only need a small smoothie on either end of the low-cost day.

So … there’s a little love for some other Sonoma County restaurants. My henna has set; my mind feels zen; and I’m ready to rinse. Thanks for stopping by.