We each hold the key to our own health and happiness. That's the empowering message from Marisa Russo who speaks with Margaret Evans
It was one of those incandescent moments that all of us, if we're totally honest, crave at some stage of our lives. To have the spotlight pick us out in the crowd and surround us with a dazzling glow of recognition and opportunity. Many who thirst after it remain forever in shadow - Hollywood is full of such disheartening stories.
But for one Australian healer, such a moment has propelled her into the big league of celebrity healers. Marisa Russo was literally spotlighted in an audience of 2000 who had gathered to hear the Rev Dr Michael Beckwith, founder of the Life Visioning Process and acclaimed humanitarian, at his weekly service in Culver City California in May. Marisa remembers being in a "really spiritual moment" after being moved to tears watching and listening to his wife singing: "So I'm in this teary state and chilling out ... and then he points me out!" Dr Beckwith told Marisa and the audience that he'd seen a light shining above her head. News of a remarkable healing Marisa had conducted a day or two earlier had reached him and the two elements combined to confer on Marisa a precious moment of public recognition that has since opened doors for her in the United States. She believes she is the only Australian invited on to this year's Healing with the Masters series of 24 motivational speakers, which, in 2010, featured Wayne Dyer, John Gray and Neale Donald Walsch.
Back home, Marisa is already well known as the face of Forensic Healing, a modality that came about after two decades of searching for answers to heal her own pain, fatigue and depression. "I was always questioning why something did or did not work and I found I was really excited about the story behind why someone had a problem," she tells me by phone from her home in Victoria. "I was always calling my husband and saying 'Oh my gosh, this is what happened and this is what I have found' - so I was putting all the pieces together." In another of those light bulb moments, her husband John messaged her one day to say, "You're a forensic healer" and so a modality that now has 150 trained healers around the world was born.
Having met Marisa several times during her long association as a supporter of NOVA and experienced first hand her healing powers on my knee, restoring it to suppleness after it became aching and stiff from hours standing on a hard concrete expo floor, I, too, sense her gifts. There's an intensity of focus, a forthrightness that some will find confronting but others will welcome as a sign of authenticity, a determination to stand in her own strength and encourage others to do the same. There's deep compassion but also a challenge to meet her halfway.
Taking responsibility is almost a mantra and Marisa believes healing is impossible without it. "It's quite evident as soon as you talk to someone. There are people who say, 'I created that' whether it's good or bad, and there are those who don't take responsibility and blame others. So you can make a clear distinction with someone who is taking responsibility because they are the creator of their life."
Marisa continues: "So taking responsibility really means that your life circumstances, your situation, your relationships are your responsibility. And you are emitting a vibration that is creating and drawing towards you whatever it is that surrounds you."
It's a classic statement of the universal laws of attraction, something that Marisa believes implicitly. When we are open to the healing grace of the Universe, life has "a beautiful flow with things appearing and people responding when we need them - there's someone there to help you right in that moment.
"But when it's not in synch you need to look at yourself. And it may just be that you are compromising yourself in thinking you are not worthy. You think your self worth comes from giving to others rather than recognising that you are of divine worth and you need to love you first."
It's a pattern of sacrifice that Marisa profiles all too frequently, something she associates with the archetype of martyr. "It's an absolutely huge problem with women in particular. The martyr is the sufferer, the sacrificer, the giver.... it's that they've given to others, they've never looked after themselves, in fact subconsciously they think they should be suffering, they think they're worth more by enduring. It's a very archaic way of thinking."
European women, in particular, have absorbed this pattern of sacrifice, says Marisa. "I've lived Italy and elsewhere in Europe and I've seen it. They're very good at it and they teach their children to do the same. And I'll just say to them, 'So what are you teaching your children? Are you teaching them that they have to put themselves second and keep serving everyone else? You're a role model and you wouldn't want them to give to others to their detriment and let others walk all over them.'
"Part of my role today is to teach people that you can help others and give to others, but not at your own expense. Half of you is no good to others; all of you is much more powerful."
Marisa likens her approach to planting a seed. "You've planted the seed and sometimes they get it, but at least you've planted the seed. And then they'll go, 'Oh I have a choice. I don't have to do this.'"
While Marisa is earning an international reputation as a powerful healer in both her private sessions and the public arena, often in front of large audiences, I suggest to her that she is very much a healer of the psyche and that there is a strong link between the emotional and the physical.
Marisa is unequivocal: "A physical ailment always begins with some sort of underlying emotional or spiritual connection. It always begins energetically before it turns into the physical - even if it's a car accident or a life circumstance. So, definitely I will look at the spiritual and the energetic way before I look at the physical problem."
For those who've been under her healing hands, it rings true. In treating my knee pain, Marisa asks if I experienced a painful or disempowering experience at the age of 12. Immediately, I remember a painful accident made all the more so because I didn't receive the comfort I sought. And, after all these years, it still remains a tender, very private memory - I have to be impressed.
Of course, it's a cliché that all good healers have had to heal themselves, but really how can it be otherwise? Many have sensed that Marisa's intuitive gifts and ability to laser in on the root cause of a person's distress come from her own life experience. After a childhood marred by physical and sexual abuse, she experienced years of misery, deep depression and pain until the age of 30 when she started counselling and began her own healing process.
"I found the path to heal," she tells me. "Prior to that I was disconnected and I didn't want to feel. I kept myself busy - that's another common sign. Don't be still, keep yourself busy so you don't have to go back and remember anything."
Marisa talks of a compulsion that overcame her in her 30s, an awareness that she could no longer continue to live her life in the same way. "I never had a dream to be a healer, it was never in my future. I was just compelled because I couldn't continue to live my life in this way. I said to myself I've got this life now and I'm going to make it better.
"I connect with people. I get them. I get why people are in such pain. What pain does to people and why it causes them so much stress and why they sometimes do such bad things. I get people. I get their shutdown. I understand their disconnectedness. I get people and they get that I get them."
Marisa is acutely aware of the energy drain on a healer if they allow themselves to become overwhelmed by their clients' issues, a reason for so much attrition in all forms of healing, including the medical profession. Her Forensic Healing modality teaches a safety net protocol where the client and the healing space is blessed at the end of the session to clear any negativity and call upon the beneficence of the universe. And her own example of being so open about her childhood abuse and her successful journey to healing is empowering in its own right.
Marisa calls it standing in her power. "When you are healing somebody, you need to see them in their full potential without their pain, in all their magnificence. And hold that image and get them to hold that image of a beautiful happy life.
"So in that way, you are not concentrating on their pain or their cancer because using the law of attraction, you'll just create more of it...
"The spiritual world works in exactly the same way as the physical world. If you are easily disempowered by people in this life, energetically it will also happen to you in the spiritual world as well."
As we look at 2012 with many conflicting emotions, Marisa Russo sees bountiful opportunities, kicking off with two trips to Los Angeles ("I just love LA") in January and February, presentations, writing, media appearances, individual sessions and of course the Healing with the Masters series.
2012 represents for us all a time of transformation and creation, says Marisa. "You will know what you are creating because of your current life situation despite what's going on in the world. So when you recognise that you are the creator and take that power, then you can help be part of the shift in consciousness with more flow and ease."
It's a simple, but very powerful, message that our future is in our own hands.