Healing Touch Mary-Anne DiBlasio Shares Her Passion for Reiki at Western Mass Wellness

“I just want to say that I was very close to losing my hope, my motivation of continuing to live my life, and you gave it back to me.”

As Mary-Anne DiBlasio shared those words, a testimonial from one of her Reiki clients, she was clearly touched.

“That next day after my first session when I called, I was almost crying from feeling that I got my life back, that I was me again, that I was able to sleep and eat and work — and, for the first time in months, able to smile again from my heart,” she read on. “I learn something every time I see you, and I feel better and better after every session.”

She looked up from the page. “I know I’m doing the right thing when I read things like this,” said DiBlasio, owner of Western Mass Wellness, a West Springfield-based center offering Reiki and other complementary health services.

“Sometimes when people hear ‘Reiki,’ they question your credibility. They say, ‘it’s not covered by insurance; it can’t be real.’ But more people are realizing that Reiki has its place. There are Reiki clinics within hospitals. It’s been shown that Reiki before and after surgery helps you heal faster. There’s no doubt about it now.”

Hands-on Approach

Reiki is a Japanese technique aimed at stress reduction, relaxation, and healing. It’s based on the idea that an unseen ‘life force’ or ‘energy’ flows through people, and when that energy is out of balance, it can cause someone to get sick or feel stress.

DiBlasio’s first exposure to Reiki came almost a decade ago while she was suffering from endometriosis, a condition of the uterus that causes often-severe pelvic pain. “My sister said I should try Reiki,” she explained. “I said, ‘what’s that?’ She said, ‘just try it; it’s non-intrusive, and it can’t hurt.’ So I checked it out.”

She did so grudgingly, though; “I gave the practitioner a hard time,” she told The Healthcare News. But she learned about the theories of chakras, or the body’s seven energy centers. She said Reiki helped her clear a block in one of her chakras, and her condition disappeared for good. It was a life-changing epiphany.

“I went back, grabbed her by the shirt, and said, ‘tell me everything you know,’” she said. “I needed to know what this was and why it worked. I needed to do it myself and share it with others.”

So she studied to become a Reiki master and opened a business, Simple Pleasures of Mind, Body & Spirit, in Belchertown in 1999, offering Reiki treatments and handmade jewelry that, she says, taps into the healing powers of the various stones.

When a spa opened in Ludlow bearing the Simple Pleasures name, DiBlasio worried that customers and potential clients might become confused, but her name was not protected, and so she had no recourse against the other business using it. So when she moved to West Springfield, again operating out of her house, she changed the name — this time incorporating as an LLC and protecting the Western Mass Wellness name.

Women seem to be more open to Reiki and other complementary modalities than men are; DiBlasio said her clientele is about 80{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} female, and they come to her for a wide variety of reasons, from general well-being to specific ailments.

“Everything from general stress and anxiety to cancer,” she said. “I get children with ADD. I worked on a little girl who was having knee surgery. There are really no limitations.

“Reiki balances the body; it sees the body not at ease, but at dis-ease,” she continued, stressing both parts of that word. “Reiki brings your body back into balance. If you get it early enough, you can keep at bay what causes your body dis-ease.”

Before going into business as a Reiki practitioner, DiBlasio had worked as a director of marketing for the previous 17 years, with positions in manufacturing and health care. And while she’s more passionate about her work today than any career she tackled before, she’s also a pragmatist when it comes to growing her business beyond what currently makes her happy.

“I don’t want to be the wellness Wal-Mart, with a little bit of everything,” she said. “I want to be really good at a few things, so I’ve pretty much stayed with Reiki, shakras, and crystal healing therapy.”

Progressive-minded Western Mass. would seem to be an ideal location for such a venture, but DiBlasio sees attitudes toward complementary therapies changing in society at large.

“I trained someone who went out to California, and she’s finding it’s a hot spot for Reiki,” she said. “But I think people in general are changing their attitudes. I love the Pioneer Valley, and I want to make sure I can bring people what I’ve learned over the years — that this is something that can help them.”

Kid Stuff

DiBlasio is also making plans to open a wellness center of sorts for middle- and high-schoolers where they can relax and learn about issues related to health, nutrition, and general well-being. If everything goes according to plan, she’s looking to open Be Well Kids on Sept. 9 — or 9/9/09.

“I want a safe place where kids can have an enriching environment for all sorts of things,” she said, adding that she has contacted a wide range of professionals to serve on the venture’s board of directors, including a psychologist, a mental-health counselor, and a pediatric dietitian, among others. The center could feature a café, a recreation room, a library carrying many self-help titles among its offerings, and classes in yoga and other health-centered activities.

She added that Be Well Kids could counter the trend of kids going home after school and immediately plugging in to computers and video games. “There’s so much isolation, so much loss of human contact.”

As for her main business, she said there’s still some resistance to a practice, Reiki, that sounds too ‘New Age-y’ to many ears. “But I want people to understand that it’s very real; it’s all based on energy and vibrations, and it works — and I can show you.”

She’s not rejecting mainstream medicine, however — far from it. “It’s not all or nothing,” she said. “I work integratively. I refer people to doctors if there’s a need to, and even regular doctors are realizing that traditional medicine in conjunction with homeopathic therapies actually brings people to optimal wellness.”

Since she was able to take the business full-time a couple of years ago, DiBlasio said she has helped increasing numbers of people not only get well, but learn how to stay well.

“Even now, the way the economy is, people still want to take care of themselves and feel well, and I can show them various ways to do that,” she said. “My ultimate goal for people to learn Reiki and shakra balancing so they can do this for themselves. I love it. Not many people I know love their job as much as I do.”