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Patricia Warren is a Reiki Master and teacher whose ancestral roots are in Lithuania. After Perestroika, the Russias began calling to her, and at this writing she has traveled there many times, to teach and to learn.
I met with Pat at her home in Franklin, Massachusetts, one snowy day this January that she said reminded her of Russia.
Marylyn: Pat, can you tell us why you went to Russia to teach Reiki?
Pat: All my life, my passion was to go to Lithuania where my mother's family came from. I was familiar with the food and culture and touch. When I was a small child, I would say, "I want to go home," and they thought I meant my house or my grandma's house but to me, "home" meant Lithuania.
That was the 1950s, and I was told not to mention Russia, or people would hear "Communism." By that time, Lithuania had been swallowed up by the Soviet Union, so my father would say, "There's no such thing as Lithuania. It's gone."
My grandmother's family had all died in the war. When I asked about her homeland, she would say, "You are an American now. You don't need to know."
So I kept my longing to myself but I tried to find out everything I could. I was obsessed. I found other Lithuanians and immersed myself in the culture. I just knew that someday I would go "home."
Marylyn: But the chances of that happening must have seemed quite small.
Pat: One day I was here in my house, and I was bored. I was starting to feel restless. I held this restlessness inside me, but I knew I needed to go on. I knew I was supposed to be someplace, but I didn't know where.
So I did a Reiki treatment on myself, and during the treatment I asked for my next step to be revealed. I said I was open for this to happen.
I fell asleep, and about two hours later the phone rang. It was a Russian man who said he was Boris L from Moscow, and he had found my brochure at an ashram in Millis, Massachusetts. He and his woman friend, Galina, wanted to learn about Reiki.
We talked on the phone Galina couldn't speak English, so he translated for her and then they came to a class I was teaching. But they didn't really participate. They mostly just sat in the corner.
When the class was over, I had planned to take them out to dinner, but they said to me, "Come and sit down." And that's when they invited me to come to Moscow with them to teach Reiki.
I was shocked. I actually pinched myself, wondering if this were a dream. But it happened. They made the arrangements and paid my way. It was a miracle working in my life.
Marylyn: Was it difficult to get to Russia that soon after the change in government?
Pat: It was quite a job getting the visa. It was finally ready 24 hours before I was supposed to leave!
Marylyn: What was it like to get to Russia and start doing the work?
Pat: When I got to Russia, it was dark and gray. I felt a huge depression. Even though it was May, there was no color. The first day, I saw that people would not make eye contact. They all wore dark colors. It felt sad to me, very sad.
On the way from the airport, I was sitting in the front seat of the car. All these military trucks in grays and blacks were passing. Immediately we had a flat tire, and we had to pull over to the side of the road.
I got out of the car and took off my shoes and socks. I stood there in the dirt of Russia and just held my heart and cried. I felt as though I had come home.
There was a lot of pollution. At that time, they were still using leaded gas. There was a lot of debris along the road car batteries, broken glass. Our driver was using a bicycle pump to inflate our tire because there was no spare. At that moment, I realized how bare was the existence that these people were living.
But I kept saying, "I'm home, I'm home."
The woman I was with said, "You are not home, believe me." She had been to Bali and Tahiti, and she thought I was crazy. "Do I have to spend a whole month with you?"
And I said, "Can't you just feel the German soldiers coming up the road? It's just like World War II." I had the sense that I had been here before. I knew where I was, and it was a time and place that felt real to me.
We drove down the road about a mile, and there were these huge Xs along the side of the road. I asked what they were and was told they were memorials to the Russian citizens who had stopped the German soldiers. I felt a mournful sadness.
Marylyn: You went back many times between 1992 and 1999. Did Russia change during that time?
Pat: Oh, yes. In 1992, the only color you might see might be an orange peel on the side of the road.
Now it is completely different. There are gardens, and people are wearing colors. They are smiling.
In 1992, they knew I was an American because I was wearing white sneakers and a purple jacket, so I stood out. But now you can get anything over there. It's very Western now.
Marylyn: How about the Russian people? Were they open to Reiki and spirituality?
Pat: It was very different from the way it is here. Here, I have to do everything myself. Over there, everything is organized for you. Boris, Galina, and Rosalina were the Russians taking care of things for me. I basically just showed up to teach.
I never knew how many people were going to be there. I would say, "We can have fifteen people, tops," and there would be forty there and twenty more at the door. So many people wanted to learn Reiki. At one lecture on Reiki lineage, we had four-hundred people show up.
I don't know how they put it out about me. I know they said a woman from the United States was coming to teach Reiki. It was unheard of for a woman to teach Reiki. We were the first.
There had been German teachers there before us, and maybe some others, but they would leave and not come back. They wanted teachers who would come back.
Marylyn: So how was your first teaching experience?
Pat: When I first went there, it was tough. My first class was well over-booked. People were just dying to get into a Reiki class. They were just absolutely hungry for knowledge. They were serious extremely serious.
This was something they saved their money for. I said to make it affordable, and trusted that they had done that. Still, it wasn't free. I always insisted that we should never prevent people from taking the class just because they could not afford it. But nobody asked for a break. They all paid.
And they took it very seriously. The men wore suits to class. People got dressed up. This is how I really learned about Reiki, from teaching the Russian people. When you see hundreds of people looking at you, wanting a spiritual teaching they can use to change their lives, to help their families, to help their country you'd better know what you're doing!
I felt that I was pushed to my limits in what I could do. Actually, I was pushed beyond my limits. The Russian people asked good questions. They challenged me. But I loved it. They did not take Reiki for granted. They were soulful. They were the most spiritual people I ever met in my entire life.
At my first class, some people came with icons. They came up to me after class and gave them to me. I would say to myself, what in God's name are they doing? What does this have to do with religion? But to them, Reiki was spirituality, a connection to God. They taught me this.
People said to me after, "You were crazy to go to Russia and not get paid." I didn't get paid with money, but I got paid by experiences that I could never have had in my life.
Marylyn: How did they come to select you?
Pat: I said to Boris and Galina, there are hundreds of people who want to do this. Why me? They said that the people who came before were very rigid in how they taught. They were very strict and had the attitude, "This is the way it has to be done."
I don't teach like that. They told me my classes were more open, and that I was easier to get along with, friendlier. I wanted to look eye-to-eye with every student. I told my students there was no such thing as a stupid question.
I also was told the Russian students were looking for a Reiki leader. All they had to look back on were the Czars and Stalin, people who were in power who took over people's lives. And they were looking for another kind of leader.
They asked me if I could be a leader, and I said no. My way is not to be the leader, but to be one of them, to support them. I wanted them to see me as a real person, not as someone above them. I sang and danced with them, I invited them over to tea. I tried to be one of them. I loved them, and I loved the country.
Marylyn: I understand you held Reiki support groups. Can you tell us what they were like?
Pat: A lot of people would come, up to 250 people. I was the only person in Russia who had Reiki support groups that were open to everybody. It didn't matter if you came from another country or if you took Reiki from someone else. The support groups were Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, and we would all stay together the whole weekend.
I was the first one to have support groups like this in Russia. We had at least a hundred people each time.
Once there were a number of people standing in a corner talking. I couldn't understand what they were saying, so I asked the translator to find out what was wrong.
They said, "You do Reiki with rings on. We were taught that Reiki doesn't work if you wear jewelry."
I said, "Well, I do wear jewelry, and it does work."
But they had been taught not to wear jewelry. They had been taught to hold their hands over candles to burn away the bad energies. I told them they didn't have to do that. I was giving them options they didn't have before.
Marylyn: Did you notice changes in the people as the years went by? Did you still have big crowds?
Pat: The support groups would be the same people, year after year. Other Reiki teachers came in, and then it was a bit of a challenge, because these teachers would teach quickly. A lot of Reiki masters sprang up who hadn't had a lot of practice. But I invited all of them to my classes and support groups, and we all just loved each other.
I saw a change in the atmosphere. Some people spent a lot of time working a second job so they could have a car. There were a lot of opportunities open to them now that hadn't been when I first got there. So, yes, it changed.
Marylyn: What were they using the Reiki for? Did you teach it to nurses and hospitals?
Pat: Mostly, I taught the everyday person. They were teachers, housewives, linguists, managers of factories. Some were nurses. It was a cross-section.
There is one instance that was amazing to me. I went to Pravda and taught a Reiki I class of sixty people. I taught them to do Reiki treatment on themselves, which is something I do in the United States all the time.
The next thing I know, it is nine months later and I'm back. Most of those people from that Reiki I class came back to the Reiki II class.
I said, "We'll go around the room and you can say anything you want or ask questions. How has Reiki helped you?"
One woman said, "I did Reiki everyday except..." and she looked at this piece of paper. I said to myself, She wrote down the days she didn't do Reiki? Isn't that interesting. Someone kept a journal. Then she said her family had been in a crisis, but now they had become more harmonious. And her children's gums had stopped bleeding.
The next person said, "I did Reiki every single day since the last class." I thought, Are you kidding? and I said, "Wow." And he started to tell me how he'd been having problems with his job, and since he was doing Reiki it was more harmonious. "Harmony" is a big word in Russia.
So now I was thinking, "We have 40 people here, and these two people have just taken up an hour." I went to the next person, and she started to say "I didn't do Reiki this day and that day."
So I turned to the translator and asked, "Are they telling me they did Reiki every day, and these are the days they haven't?" And he said yes. I said, "This is unbelievable to me. At home, I am used to people saying I forgot how to do a self-treatment, or I did it for the first 21 days."
And I thought, Oh, my God. First of all, two hours have gone by, and second, I couldn't believe this. I asked the translator, "Are they telling me the truth? Is this a conspiracy or something?"
And he said no, and looked at me as though I were crazy. I said, "Why are they doing this?" I was shocked.
He looked at me and said, "Patricia, you are the teacher. You told them to do a Reiki treatment every day, and they did it."
We went on for two more people, and I just started to cry. I asked, has everyone here done Reiki on themselves every day? I let them know I was shocked.
So I said, "Just call out and tell me, what happened when you did Reiki?"
So people yelled out, "My child doesn't have colic." "I love my husband again." "I got divorced."
I thought, Wow, look what happens when you just do Reiki. No other healing modality had yet come to Russia. This was just Reiki.
Marylyn: And this was Level I?
Pat: Level I. I was in awe. I was used to people having an excuse. Or they would say, "I've taken this and this and this, and now I'm doing everything."
I told them "You're the best class I've ever taught, because you've done your homework. And this is fabulous. I couldn't be happier."
They valued this. All they had were their hands and their hearts. After the training, I was gone. So they used Reiki. They really did. I'll never forget that class. It was in Pravda, which means "truth."
Marylyn: Tell us about the time you went to Latvia. Didn't they tell you not to come?
Pat: Latvia is a big place for healing. It is one of the Baltic states that opened up and became free, so it's different than Moscow and there is more opportunity.
My organizer told me, "I need to tell you something, but I don't want you to be worried. There are these people in Latvia that don't want you to come to teach Reiki. They either do traditional work, or they are healers in their own right, and they don't particularly want you to teach Reiki."
This had never happened to me before. I'd never been invited and then told they didn't want me to come. I consulted with a student who had psychic abilities, and he looked into the situation and told me it would be okay to go.
I asked if anyone were signed up for the class. I wasn't going to go and force Reiki on anyone. But there were sixty people signed up, so I decided to go.
Going into Latvia, we needed to have both an exit and an entrance visit. I brought two students with me one to be a bodyguard.
When we were going into Latvia, the guards came into the train compartment with their guns and took our visas.
I didn't understand what was being said, but I felt that something was wrong. I said to Galina, "They've taken the wrong paper. They've taken our exit visas so we can't get back into Russia." She said, no, that everything was fine.
I kept insisting, and Galina kept saying everything was fine. Finally, I said, "Galina, get out of the train and go over to that station and tell them they have taken the wrong visas." We had a bit of a fight, but she did go, and I was right. They had taken the wrong visas. We would not have been able to get back into Russia.
So that was the beginning of it. Some intuitive thing told me something was wrong.
We went to Latvia that night, and the next day the organizer asked what I'd like to do. I said I'd like to go to Lithuania. And through a huge series of events, he brought me to my grandmother's house.
On the way back, it was very late at night and we were driving fast. There were no streetlights and only dirt roads. I thought it was a holiday because I heard fireworks. That's when they told me someone was shooting at the car!
We approached a bridge-like structure, and these men with machine guns came out and took our driver out of the car. My first reaction was to tell them we were Americans. I had done this often in Russia. But something felt wrong.
So I decided to pray. I was immediately hit hard in the forehead with one of the Reiki symbols. It came to me to pretend to be the driver's family.
So Karen and I threw our passports under the seat of the car. I turned my rings around to look like wedding bands. She was wearing a babushka, and I sort of look Latvian or Russian.
The men looked in the car, in the trunk, probably looking for drugs or arms or stolen goods. But they were probably also looking for a way to make some money.
They came to my side of the car and pressed their faces to the window and shut off their guns. I looked at them as though I were an angry Latvian woman and not afraid of them. Inside, I was shaking, but I showed this confidence. They let the driver back into the car, and we drove away.
I said to the translator, "Why did they let us go? Why didn't they ask for our passports?" And she said the driver was asked, who are you with? And he said, "Well, of course, I am with my family." When they looked at us, they thought I was the wife, Karen was the grandmother, and the translator was the daughter. So they let us go.
When we got back to the hotel, Karen called her husband and found out that there was a new State Department bulletin that Western tourists in Latvia should not go out after dark. It was very dangerous at this point, and people were trying to leave the country. American passports were worth $10,000. Had we told the men we were Americans, we probably would have been killed.
The message I had received to my prayer was loud and clear. The Reiki symbol that came to me was the symbol of tranquility, the symbol of mental balance, of mental focus. So there again, you learn about Reiki in situations where your life is threatened. I didn't follow my gut, because my gut was telling me to say we were Americans.
Marylyn: If you were to sum up your several years in Russia, what would you say?
Pat: It was my opportunity to find out what Reiki is really about. It brought me back to my family, my home. It brought me to people who had been in concentration camps and really needed healing.
Marylyn: Can you give us some examples?
Pat: This one woman had looked down from her apartment every day and seen German soldiers with their guns. She hated them. She had been in a camp. She came to the class because she was an old woman and was going to die soon, and she wanted to heal the hate she had in her heart for her German captors. Would Reiki help? she wanted to know.
I thought, If I were her, I would have hate. How can I help her?
She had not signed up for the class. She just showed up at the door with two suitcases, having just taken three buses and two trains and walked several miles in the dark. And I'm wondering what would possess her to do this.
I had over a hundred students. But she was saying, "I want to heal my hate for the Germans." I burst into tears. I said, "She gets in the class, and if there is no bed, I'll sleep on the floor."
At the end of the class, I walked up to her and asked, "How do you feel now?" She said, "The hate is gone."
When that happens, it changes your life. It sat me down. Who do I think I am? It was a lesson in humility.
Marylyn: Can you think of any other examples?
Pat: I saw people who had grown up in the Stalin era, and they spent their whole life trying to be the best they could for this man. And then they found out how he had killed their countrymen.
One woman wanted to know if she could ever trust again. Would Reiki help her trust?
I taught Reiki during the coup. From my kitchen window, I could see the smoke. But people still came to the Reiki meetings.
Here, you would cancel a class with four to six inches of snow. There, you could get one or two feet of snow, and they would still come.
I taught Reiki during a hurricane.
The dedication was amazing. And they were looking to me to guide them.
Marylyn: Is Russia becoming more Western now?
Pat: There are many healing modalities there now, so they are doing a lot. Now it's more like it is here, a lot of choices.
Also, the church has cracked down on those of its members who want to do meditation or take Reiki. In fact, it is against the law to teach Reiki if you belong to the Russian church.
I know wonderful people who were dedicated and empowered in Reiki, who were growing and transforming, but they also wanted to go back to the Russian church because of their ancestry. During confession, the priest would ask them if they did Reiki. And if they said yes, the priest would tell them, "If you want to continue going to this church, you can't do Reiki any more."
I had a lot of students who came to tell me they couldn't do Reiki any more because it was against the teachings of the church. I told them I taught Reiki to priests and monks and nuns in the United States, and that it was not bad, it was only to help. And they would say, "But that is what the priest said." They had to decide between Reiki or the church. It is a very sad situation.
Marylyn: Yes, this is a different kind of spiritual oppression.
Pat: There is fear, spiritual fear. So I want to go back and teach Compassionate Touch, which is about God's healing energy. I've had my knees replaced, so I haven't been back since 1999. It has been a protection for me not to go back, because it is quite dangerous over there now. The last three times I went back, I was told to stop teaching.
But I love it! I love the people, I love the country. So it's very sad for me. I just don't know what to do. I have people ask me every day to come back. But I am guided. I will go when it is right.
They really taught me. It was a mutual teaching. I teach Reiki here, and I think the reason I do it with such conviction is because I taught in Russia.
Reiki Master Teacher and massage therapist, has practiced and taught the healing techniques of Buddhists, Sikhs, and Christians for over twenty-five years, and pursues historical research into Reiki lineages of different traditions and countries.
After teaching Reiki in Russia in 1992, she returned there twelve times. She also has taught in Lithuania, several other countries in Europe, and in the Caribbean.
In 1999, Pat was voted "Most Recommended Reiki Master in Massachusetts" by the readers of Spirit of Change
magazine. Her practices include Reiki Jin Kei Do and Buddho Healing, and she is the official East Coast representative of each. She also teaches Compassionate Touch.
Pat can be reached by email at email@example.com
, by phone at 508-528-5888, or through the website ReikiEnersense.com