Interview With Kristen Staffaroni: Life Coach, Educator, And The Path of Reiki Healing
"If I am going to remain loyal in my work as a healer, I have to see that work as my life and not a separate ‘thing’ that I do to earn a living." - Kristen StaffaroniIt’s very admirable to see people who fearlessly contribute to humanity’s progress by taking up the path of the Healer. In these dark times, modern humanity doesn’t necessarily need a new religion, a new god, but healers are most welcome.
A few years ago, I had the blessed experience of meeting a woman whose work in society deserves nothing less than the greatest accolades, to say the least. Not only is she a healer, but an educator, mentor and so much more. Recently, we had a chance to catch up and converse about her life’s path as a healer and some of the challenges she’s faced because of it. I’m sure you’ll find some precious jewels in her wise approach to life.
Warlock Asylum: I would like to personally thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions and share your wisdom with our readers. However, for those of us who are not familiar with your work, please introduce yourself. Who is Kristen Staffaroni?
Kristen Staffaroni: It’s so easy to define ourselves by what we do. That’s immediately where my brain went! I am a Healer. The foundation of my healing work is Reiki. However, when I am doing a healing session with a client, I combine some Craniosacral Techniques, Chakra reading, and use my skills as a Certified Life Coach. I’m also an educator with 20 years of experience in the NYC Department of Education. When I look back on my teaching days, I notice that my purpose really was to make science accessible for all my students. There were some who were exposed to a lot of science before my class, and some who were not. I can see now that it was very healing for me to create the space for them to learn about the world around them, and maybe healing for them to see themselves as learners.
I am always thinking about my purpose in being here and the ways in which I can serve. I am someone who is very spiritually inclined, but always in search of a deeper connection to spirit. What I do to make that connection varies, but what seems to be true about staying connected is the willingness to allow. What I have found to be true about me’ is that I am a conduit for energy. I think this is true about all of us to a degree. When I am working on a client’s body, the energy and the healing that the body needs naturally flows through me. There isn’t much I have to do in order to be available for that except to be open and allow it. Moving into a space of being able to allow has been (and continues to be) a journey. Allowing requires confidence in one’s abilities and knowledge, but also a good deal of trust and humility.
Warlock Asylum: That is absolutely amazing! I didn’t know you were a life coach also. What inspired you to get involved with such forms of esoteric healing, like Reiki?
Kristen Staffaroni: I’ve always been attracted to energy-based healing, whether in my own personal journey or supporting others in their process. It’s amazing how developing a deep, non-judgmental understanding of who we are as individuals can teach us so much. Since 2010, I have worked very closely with a teacher and mentor who has taught me so much about the healing arts. I started seeing her as a client because I was suffering at the mercy of my emotions. My studies with her have taught me that this kind of suffering is linked to a lack of understanding about others and ourselves. When we know who we truly are and what makes us happy and learn to make choices from that place, we are free.
For many people, including myself, it takes time to truly understand the self. Life kind of forces us to unlearn things we thought were true (or should be true). Our truth lives in our bodies, particularly in our emotions. During a healing session, I encourage clients to reflect on how they are feeling about what is going on in their lives and how they are responding to it and their bodies immediately open up. In that openness, so much is possible. Even something as simple as deeper breathing, to give your body the oxygen it needs. I don’t always know exactly what a client needs or what action they should take, but their body does. My work helps them connect deeply to that bodily wisdom and feel confident living from it.
I found another piece to the puzzle when I was 21. I was visiting a friend and his family in New Hampshire, and noticed his mother performing some kind of healing session on their dog. I asked him what she was doing and he said, “Reiki”. I had never heard the word before, but at the same time knew exactly what it was. It was like my body had waited for my brain to catch up. I couldn’t describe it, but I knew exactly what she was doing and what the dog was experiencing. I didn’t begin studying until about 15 years later, but I knew on some level that it was my journey to study energy-based healing even from a young age. In my healing work and apprenticeship with my mentor, I am learning to combine the energy healing with the coaching to bring voice to what is being stored in the emotional body. Once a deep connection with the self is established and negative emotions are embraced and released, creation begins.
Warlock Asylum: Your determination in life is so applaudable! I like how you were able to learn the craft of healing through self-healing, which is so important. What obstacles did you have to face to integrate a career of healing into your life?
Kristen Staffaroni: I think one of the biggest obstacles is building a practice around a full-time job. I choose to keep my current job as an educator to maintain stability, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for my healing work. That is something that I believe will work itself out in time. Another obstacle for me was seeing myself as a healer. Using the terminology, charging clients for sessions, I had a bit of a hump to get over. Especially since the work I do is somewhat esoteric. I find that bringing in some concrete, practical information to the session (or into my healing journey) helps a great deal.
I will mention my teacher again, Laurie Watarz, whose approach to healing is rooted in practicality. I have developed a similar approach from observation of her work and practice. This compels me to ask people about their work, relationships with family members, and etc. so they can make connections between how they are feeling and what is happening in their lives.
Another obstacle I’ll share is the idea of self-management. This is so important as a healer and life in general. I believe we attract clients that are operating at similar vibrations to us so they often serve as mirrors of our own experience. It is important for me to stay grounded in my role as a healer when a client is sharing something about their life in order to hold a solid container for them. I loved watching myself grow and expand throughout my healing journey and I get much joy witnessing others do the same.
Lastly, I’ll add that it is very important for me to know the limits of my work as healer. I am not a therapist. If clients need something more than I can offer in terms of processing trauma, I send them on to Laurie who has been a healer for 25 years. What I have with her is true apprenticeship. It has helped me grow tremendously as a healer.
Warlock Asylum: I can definitely relate to trying to develop a healing practice while maintaining another job. I would say that you are taking a wise course of action because in the “grind” is where we best gain a knowledge of self. As the old Taoist saying goes, “if you want to obtain enlightenment stay away from monasteries.” How has you work as a healer affected your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers?
Kristen Staffaroni: That’s a great question. My work as a healer has definitely held my feet to the fire in terms of how I interact with friends, family members, and how I relate to my job. I want to ‘walk my talk’ and have found that while it is not impossible, though quite simple in practice, it is not necessarily easy. For me, the pull to hold on to old patterns and ways of being and responding; and even old relationships has been strong. I have had to (and am still) releasing old stuff (dependencies, negative self-talk, immature emotional responses) and have watched my life change dramatically. Not necessarily changes I was hoping for, but changes nonetheless.
If I am going to remain loyal in my work as a healer, I have to see that work as my life and not a separate ‘thing’ that I do to earn a living. For me, that means that when I am navigating the Union Square subway scene at 8:50 in the morning, or in conversation with someone who is negative or hurtful, I am challenged to hold the space of a healer. I don’t have to continue in the conversation, but then the challenge is learning to disconnect with love. I have learned (and un-learned) a lot about the human experience since I began doing healing work, most importantly, that the work does not begin and end with the 90-minute session on the table. I have begun meditating in the mornings, doing more yoga and listening more. I am finding that the urge to say or do something wanes when I am in that space. I have learned to release attachment to outcome and become more of a witness – whether to another person, an event, or myself.
Warlock Asylum: There are several theories on the origins of Reiki. For example, in our culture of Ninzuwu it is held that Reiki originated with the tengu.(The Tengu: Protectors of the Shinto Mysteries & Founders of the Art of Ninzuwu) Other theories promote the idea that Reiki originated in Tibet. Some cite Ninjutsu as Reiki’s origin. (The Ninjutsu and Samurai Origins of Reiki). Being an experienced Reiki Practitioner, do you have any opinion or comments as to the origins of Reiki Healing outside of the general history regarding Dr. Usui as the founder?
Kristen Staffaroni: I think it’s interesting that some sources credit Dr. Usui with discovering Reiki and some credit him with rediscovering it. The two words are used interchangeably sometimes, which I find interesting. I really enjoyed reading about the various origins of Reiki, as these were not a part of my training. I don’t actually have strong opinions about its origins. Although I do think it is very important to be curious about what we are told in regards to history. The truth is often more complicated than the version we are told in “school”. When I am working with a client and moving energy my focus is on what the client needs during that session (which impacts where I put my hands and my intention) and also on inviting in any healing and information that is in the highest good for them to receive. This feels to me as the purest way to approach the work.
I am simply a conduit for what needs to come through. I experienced something interesting related to this when I was in Reiki training. My instructor asked us to meditate before beginning our work by calling on Dr. Usui, Mrs. Takata, and other masters. Mrs. Takata is credited with bringing Reiki to the West. The goal of this exercise was for each of us to get a sense of which master we have the strongest connection with from the Usui lineage. I did not notice a stronger connection with one over another. They both came in strongly for me. I actually felt a little envious of my classmates who had strong connections with one particular master, but my experience was different. It made me feel very aligned with universal energy. I guess, in short, I don’t actually overthink the history of Reiki, but instead align myself with the energy. I am channeling while holding deep respect and gratitude for the masters who came before me.
Warlock Asylum: Thanks! I like that perspective. If you don’t mine, can you share with us one of your most memorable experiences as a healer?
Kristen Staffaroni; I needed a little time to think this one through. The experiences that stand out though are the ones that take my practice deeper. For example, when I am doing gentle facial release techniques on someone and sense that their hip or leg wants to move in a certain directions and mention it after the session, it’s always enlightening to me when the client says they have an injury and are just starting to feel as though that area of the body will be able to move that way again. I am not sure if my work is releasing something so they are able to move or uncovering the truth that they have always been able to move but we’re afraid. It may be a bit of both. Experiences like this are teaching me (and reinforcing my belief) that the body holds the truth. All the wisdom we need is ‘known’ in the sense that our organs and tissues know it and are holding it to be uncovered through life experiences and conscious exploration. I have had more experiences like this, which tells me I am growing as a healer. My wish is that my healing practice has a focus on supporting people in discovering their truth through energy work since that is my gift.
Warlock Asylum: What advice would you give to someone interested in Reiki and perhaps embarking on the life path of healer?
Kristen Staffaroni: First, I would say how important it is to experience Reiki and any other practices they are interested in and to consider speaking to a healer or therapist about their past struggles and current limitations. The more we have traveled as healers and the more distance we have put between us and those past events, the more we can help others. It’s difficult to help someone with something you haven’t experienced, but more difficult if you haven’t processed your own traumas and life events. Reiki in the traditional sense does not require processing with clients, but things can surface so practitioners should know how to deal with them or know where to send their clients for support. I would also recommend attending free events to feel out instructors before committing to classes if you can.
My training definitely took me on emotional journeys so having thoughtful and highly skilled instructors was important. Also, being a healer is so much more than the work you do with clients. I think that accomplished healers heal everywhere, all the time. They don’t think of it as something they do only when they are in session. They are also highly skilled at managing their boundaries and protecting their energy, but their work is their life and vice versa. I think people know when they are called to do healing work in whatever form it takes. But, it is also true that some healers may have no idea they are gifted as such, especially if their healing work comes in the form of caring for family or friends or managing a large team of people doing difficult work with grace, love and strong leadership.
Warlock Asylum: What can we expect to hear from Kristen Staffaroni in the near future? Are you working on any new projects?
Kristen Staffaroni: One of the things I am working on currently is building my skills in Craniosacral Therapy. Craniosacral is a great complement to Reiki. It focuses on alignment of the cranial and sacral bones and facial release. It’s a gentle but powerful tool to bring energetic and physical balance to the body. I am also focusing on building my clientele. My goal in the next couple of years is to go part time, or at least have options regarding my education-related work; so the more I speak about my healing the more of it will manifest. This includes bringing in more coaching clients. I enjoy supporting people with making changes in their lives (jobs, relationships, moving through obstacles). I’m working to manifest more clients in that area of my healing work also.
Warlock Asylum: Wow that sounds very exciting! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions about your work in the greater community. What message would you like to share with our readers that you’ve learned in life? Any final thoughts?
Kristen Staffaroni: I have learned that being centered in yourself – understanding who you are, what you need, what resonates with you and what does not, and being courageous about living your life in a way that honors the universe that is key to having freedom. I know and feel this very deeply because when I don’t do it, I very viscerally experience its impact on my body. It’s important to note that access to freedom in our society is not equitable. It is also true though that knowing, honoring, and living who you are is key to achieving it. There is a book by J. Krishnamurti called Freedom From the Known. It’s a thin book but not a quick read. He unpacks the idea that what we ‘know to be true’ may simply be our version of the truth and if shifted can change our lives dramatically. I think having fun is key too, lots of play and staying present in the moment. All we have are a series of present moments, one after another. If we don’t know how to be in the moment, we’ll miss it!
*Thank you once again Kristen Staffaroni! I must say that you have definitely giving many of our readers, and myself, something to think about, some valuable esoteric lessons we can inculcate into our work as mystics, spiritualists, shamans, and above all, healers. Ms. Staffaroni is available for healing, mentoring, and workshops. You can contact her at: Little Leaf Reiki.