By Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer

Mental health has become a reoccuring conversation piece over the past couple of years. Since many students deal with stress from school, work, or both, universities have been offering more programs centered around benefitting mental health. This includes classes offered through the holistic health major. MaryAnn Russell, an experienced reiki master, decided to share her knowledge through some of these courses and has discovered her passion in doing so.

Russell has been a part-time professor at USM since 2016. She teaches both reiki I and II as well as a class on mindful based stress reduction. Her courses are also accompanied by Holly Bean, a professor that specializes in recreation and leisure studies.

Russell is trained in both massage therapy and reflexology. She attended the Upledger Institute of Palm Beach Gardens in Florida where she received advanced training in CranioSacral Therapy, a practice where one uses their hands to both locate bodily fluid blockages and remove them. She was taught intuition therapy and soul reading by Rosalie Deer Heart, an author and healer.

Russell is a entrepreneur of holistic health related practices. This increase is likely due to the link between holistic and mental health. When asked what Russell’s thoughts were on this potential link, she said that it’s ultimately due to the nurturing, positive and caring properties that holistic health possesses. She said that holistic health essentially is about nurturing yourself as well as others. She believes the link was so strong because people are noticing improved mental health in themselves and others after practicing a form of holistic health.

“It seems like nowadays almost everyone has a therapist,” she said. These newfound benefits are a result of western and eastern medicines starting to cross over, she added. These eastern practices have resonated with the western community, and it continues to grow.

Russell also has her own practice which operates outside of the university. Her practice offers both reiki sessions, craniosacral therapy, and overall mentorship. Since she is a certified reiki master, she’s able to teach small reiki classes through her practice.

Reiki is an eastern method of healing that has slowly gained the interest of western society. It focuses on the healing of the life force, also known as life energy. In reiki, all living things possess life energy. Russell said that this energy is what flows through all vital organs, allowing proper function. In her reiki I and II course, she compared it to the flow of the energy to that of an artery. When an artery is clogged, it’s harder for blood to pass through it. In a similar sense, when a blockage appears in an energy chanel, it cannot flow properly, allowing organs to be depleted. These blockages can be caused by negative thoughts or actions, stress, trauma, or even unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking. These blockages can lead to physical illnesses as well as depression or anxiety.

Russell teaches that reiki is used to clear these blockages. The method she uses consists of the receiver relaxing on a table or chair. Her patients are told to focus on their breathing and to focus on relaxing. From there, Russell uses her life energy to remove the blockages in the client. She puts her intention of positivity and healing into her life energy and she directs it into the afflicted area. She finds these by feeling for energy irregularities throughout the clients endocrine system, which is separated into different parts of the body. This mirrors the eastern practice of chakra healing, where a person’s chakra symbolizes different parts of the body. Not only do the chakras symbolize organs, but they also symbolize emotions and intentions. She said a negatively affected chakra can result in a negative emotion. When Russell does reiki on someone, it helps ail these problems and ultimately provides the recipient with a very positive and relaxing experience.

Russell has been practicing reiki for over ten years and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Currently she’s a council and committee member of the Center for Compassion, a small, weekly meditation group that hopes to grow in the coming years. Russell has always been about sharing her compassion and generosity. She teaches people to tune into themselves and urges the practice of self love and gratitude. She ultimately introduces people to a life changing therapeutic method.

For more information regarding Russell’s practice, visit


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here