|Rosalyn L. Bruyere|
I recently had the privilege of interviewing the reknown healer Rosalyn Bruyere. For those of you who don’t know who Rosalyn is, she is an internationally acclaimed healer, clairvoyant and medicine woman. She is the author of, “Wheels of Light – Chakras, Auras and the Healing Energy of the Body,” and is one of the earlier pioneers of the energy healing profession. She has the wide breadth of experience of having studied with indigenous healers and medicine people of all cultures, as well as having a scientific background as an electrical engineer in college.
I’ve admired her work for some time, not only because of the depth of her experience, but because she integrates her work with scientific research. She is wonderfully down-to-earth in her perspective, and able to speak about the work in a clear and grounded way. You can read more about her bio here: http://www.rosalynlbruyere.org/rosalynBruyere.html.
The following exercept is Part 1 from our conversation. This was a long interview, thanks to Rosalyn’s generousity with her time. I was delighted to be able to delve into some topics the way were able to.
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AW: Rosalyn, you’ve had such an unusual and unique background, especially because you were doing this at a time when most people had never heard of energy healing or energy work. Can you take us back and give us an overview of how you got started, and what got you into doing this work?”
RB: Sure. When I was in my early 20s, I had two small boys, and they started seeing auras. They didn’t have the word “aura”. They called it “fuzz”. And one day when they were talking back and forth with each other and talking about the “fuzz” around the dog, and “fuzz” around the plants and “fuzz” around my mother – apparently Grandma had “fuzz” – I decided maybe I better find out what they were talking about. And from hanging out with them, I think, I started seeing auras. It would be quite a few years later when I would realize that actually my great grandmother had taught me to see auras. But it was something that was not well thought of, by my family. And so we sort of “hid” – those of us that had this sort of specialness, we would talk to each other about it but not with other family members. I mean, it was pretty clear you weren’t supposed to talk about it in front of strangers.
RB: And so, when I finally found someone who even knew what an aura was, I met a woman who happened to be a spiritualist, and she became my teacher for two years. She taught me a lot about chakras and auras. And I was interested in not so much the spiritualism so much, but I was interested in the healing aspect. Because that part made sense to me, because I was an electrical engineer in college. So the science of it was fascinating, and it had all of these unanswered postulations. Now this would have been 1971. So this was before acupuncture became common, meditation was a word you had to explain. And the word “aura” itself meant how something smelled.
AW: [laughing] Ah yes, the aura is an odor!
RB: The idea of light around the body wasn’t even in place at that time. And yet, if you went into certain groups of people – and America has always had so much religious freedom – we had a big spiritualist movement in America. And all the spiritualist people and theosophical people all knew what auras were. But they were a select group of people within consciousness and spiritualist circles who knew about it. And I think that that point also, particularly here in California, we have so much mixing of Asian people with the rest of us. And their ideas about auras are very much in many of our minds. And it was something that was kind of around us. And growing up in the West like I had, we don’t recognize the same boundaries that other parts of the country do. We think you’re not supposed to have boundaries. We, of course, have them, and that would be our favorite notion, that we are more open minded and all that. Of course, it isn’t true, but we like to think of ourselves that way.
AW: [agreeing] Mm-hmm…
RB: And so what I learned from my very first teacher was what an aura was, how to feel it with my hands, how to look at it, and how to channel energy through my arms. And I sort of became the person in my little class where everyone would go to, when their neck ached or their back ached, headache, swollen toe. I sort of became that person in the class. And when my teacher started a church in that area, because I was kind of the class star, and out of that group formed the center. Then I went to UCLA and did some research under Dr. Valerie Hunt, who was the head of kinesiology at UCLA.
AW: Yes, I was fascinated at the chapters in your book in the research that you did in the labs with light and things like that. You were probably one of the first people to start doing that type of research. I think there’s perhaps more research today – I’m seeing articles coming out all the time about the latest finds with healers in the lab and stuff – but you were probably the first.
RB: Well, actually, just to be historically accurate, in the 1930s there were people researching this. But we didn’t have all the equipment we have today. We didn’t have a fine measurement of frequencies. It was tried again in the 1950s, but they didn’t have enough equipment to measure finer frequencies. And what happened for us is, we were in a laboratory trying to measure something, and with regular EMT recording equipment that was measuring frequencies that hadn’t been available to be measured before. And that’s how we managed to capture it. And of course, today we have even far superior technology to measure some of what we do. It’s just a little expensive to do the research at this point.
RB: But it is possible. More possible than before.
AW: You write about your experiences in studying, not only in a lab, but you studied with some indigenous folks, which I found fascinating.
RB: I did, I did. I met some people who worked for Indian Health Service in the Tucson office, because of some consciousness work I was doing here in California. And I became part of a group of people who had annual conferences, where they would bring medicine people from all over North and South America together. And because I’m a healer, they would train me. And this is where I found out that actually I have a little speck of native blood, because the native people were telling me that I was a Sioux Indian, and I didn’t know if that was possible or not.
AW: Well, it’s like in my family – two generations back, everyone used energy and acupuncture, etc. But when they emigrated here, well, what are you going to do with that? It was considered like voodoo back then. And so everyone became an MD.
BR: Exactly, it’s tragic, a loss of that…
AW: It’s so great to see the two worlds coming together now, in labs and in the social awareness — even among healthcare professionals – as far as, “This is available to people.” That there’s a lot more that is possible than people may realize.
BR: Well, the thing I learned from the native people that was so important is that their world view is holistic, and the Western world view is compartmentalized.
BR: And so because I was at the beginning of what we now call the holistic health movement or integrative medicine, we were trying to create a model but we couldn’t see a model that already existed. And when I entered the world of native healing, I was in a world that had a holistic view that thought a fourth of you was spirit, a fourth of you was physical, a fourth of you was emotional and a fourth of you was mental. And they were all working all the time. It wasn’t like you were emotional one minute and intellectual the next. They all work at the same time.
BR: So it gave me some philosophical pinnings for what I did. And it was after I had already been ordained, because at the time I began my career, I had a choice. And my choice was, would I become an ordained minister or would I become a massage therapist, to be able to touch. And at that time in California, massage was a euphemism for the world’s oldest profession. And that was probably what pushed me more into ministry. And of course, the longer you’re in the ministry, the more serious you are about it. In fact, all the old people told me that that would happen and I said “No, that won’t happen to me because I’m an intellectual, that’s not going to happen.” But it has happened. And now it’s probably a more important part of my life now than the intellectual.
AW: Oh sure. Yes, I feel the same way. And I think that is what fascinated me about your book is that you did come from a scientific background, and this work may have been part of your inner expansion into perhaps even more of you than just your brilliance…
AW: And you’ve had all kinds of success in working with patients and different illnesses. I was wondering, based on your experience, decades of doing this, what are your thoughts on what you’ve noticed as far as the kinds of diseases that respond well to energy work? And what kinds of diseases are more difficult to work with?
RB: Well, like everyone in the world of healing, whether scientific or alternative, the hardest thing in the world is the common cold [laughs]..and it doesn’t seem to respond to energy work at all. It may make you feel better, but the cold is 14 days if you take the medicine and 2 weeks if you don’t… and that’s one of the mysteries. But what we did learn, in all those years of doing energy research, is that the energy actually flows on the collagen in the body. The meridians go through the collagen, and the chakras are a manifestation of collagen. And so, because it’s so collagen based, we of course do very well with collagen disease. So all the things that arthritic or some of the tissue damage to organs – we’re very good with that. Probably the biggest challenge for all healers, because it’s something we’ve all seen far too much of in our career, is cancer.
RB: And I’ve lived through the worst of medical procedures of cancer to what I now call benign procedures, and we’re very useful. Most of us healers have seen the so-called “miraculous healings.” And I always think that a miracle is something in due course we might understand. We don’t know if we will, but we might. So cancer is actually something I’ve treated a lot in my career, with a fair amount of success. The thing that’s a disadvantage to healers is we don’t get the patient soon enough.
AW: Yes, agreed.
RB: We’re usually the course of last resort…
AW: Yes. And if we were to reverse that, and be the first, and the least invasive, often the simplest and less expensive route…But people just don’t know until a lot of time they’ve been through a lot. [pause] When you look at cancer, what does it look like to you, aurically?
RB: Well, cancer is such a big category. There are so many different kinds of cancer that it’s not uniform in the aura. If I’m asked to do some diagnosis, I trust my hands more than my eyes. But again, because I often get the cancer so late, there could be organ damage, all kinds of things that I would see in the field that you’re not looking at cancer, you’re looking at where cancer ate a hole in the kidney.
RB: You’re not looking directly at the manifestation. Some cancers have a feeling like pins and needles in your hand.
AW: Oh absolutely — it’s uncomfortable.
RB: And when you look at it, it kind of sparkles, like a dirty grey kind of color. But that’s only some of them. I’ve treated cancers that I couldn’t see or feel, really. I’ve worked with so many different types of cancer. And I’ve had a lot of clients for many years with cancer. Like cancer patients sometimes live 20 or 25 years after diagnosis. And then a secondary or tertiary cancer might eventually kill them.
RB: A lot of my patients, because I work so closely with medicine, would be having medical care. And in fact, if a cancer patient comes to me and is not getting medical care, I won’t treat them until they get medical care.
AW: Integrate. Let’s be integrative about this…
RB: Well, I’m mean, I’m a healer, so there are things in oncology that I will never know, because I don’t have time to study it like a fine oncologist would. And because of the internet, I can know more now than I was ever able to before in my career. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to understand it the same way an oncologist would. So I pretty much insist that all my clients have medical care. I think it’s really important for healers to think in terms of what you like doing, and what you are compelled to do. So, I happen to like cancer patients – I always have. I’ve always had some trouble with some neurological diseases. But, I was also trained by 80 year old people in my youth, who always said that healing didn’t do much for neurological disease. Over the years, I’ve worked more and more with neurological disease and brain disorders, and I now understand why healers didn’t traditionally do well with them. It’s because their own nervous system energy is allowed to dissipate because they don’t maintain their own coordination. And I’ve learned through a lot of physical training myself, how to maintain my high energy level, that I’m better able to treat some neurological diseases than other healers. Because I trained for it.
AW: Yes, there’s such a lot out there and differences in opinion on using energy to work on, say, neurological issues or cancer. I think, in researching for this interview, I came across a piece in which you mentioned where cancer, your work was restoring cancer cells back to regular cells…
RB: Some of them…
AW: …and in other ways of working with energy, some people talk about destroying tumors, with an aggressive, laser-like application of energy.
RB: I would like to say we do both.
RB: I think the general public probably does understand that a cell doesn’t become cancer overnight. What happens is when a cell doesn’t reproduce perfectly, and then when it reproduces about 5 times imperfectly, then you have an out-of-control, rogue cell. When healers play with tumors, running energy on them and it feels like the tumor shrinks. What’s probably happening isn’t that the tumor is shrinking but that the cells that haven’t completely mutated, the energy reads the whole DNA chain, and then it becomes a normal cell. But at the core of it, you’ll get this little tiny piece that’s in the middle of every tumor, that’s actually a hardcore cancer cell. And those are the ones a healer would try to melt or disintegrate or whatever.
AW: Yes, with a laser approach — more aggressive.
RB: Exactly. And I think probably the big danger for healers is if they only want to have faith and run energy and not know anything, they’re only going to do one technique or one process. They’re not going to master the variety of things that a full-blown healer needs to know.
AW: Yes. There are so many ways of working with energy. It may look the same, you know, if you’re just eyeballing somebody working with a client. But the focus is different.
RB: Right, yes…
AW: And I’m so glad you mentioned that, because I think that has been part of the confusion for the public. Why do you think there are so many divergent ideas about how energy works? You know, there’s the Donna Eden school of energy work, there’s the Caroline Myss theory, there’s the Eric Pearl, there’s Adam the Dreamhealer, there’re all these different ways…
AW: …and I suppose there’s some validity in all of them…
RB: Well, we live in an age of celebrity!
RB: It’s like a cheapening of everything, you know? There’s that. [sigh] There’s also the… [long pause] If I were to be completely honest to anyone who is listening to us… You have a miracle happen one day, under your hands. You know you didn’t do it. You know God did it.
RB: You know it’s your job now, because God just gave you an assignment. “I did a miracle, now you figure it out and replicate it.” If you keep relying just on faith to do it, there’s a diminishing return. Because you’re not using all the gifts that God gave you, to engage with God. [pause]
RB: And there’s a tendency in our culture to want to do everything quick, easy and fast. I mean, if you stay up all night in America and watch television, they will sell you a hundred things to lose weight, between midnight and 6:00 in the morning. On one infomercial after another. And they all promise instant results. Well actually, every time you lose a pound, you gotta burn 350 calories. There’s no way around that. And so some of them are aerobic programs, some of them are dance programs, some of them are special pills that help you metabolize – we want an instant cure. And we don’t care if we don’t understand how it works. We just want the results. Well, people get impatient at healers too. I mean, those of us who are healers have had to work on ourselves from the very beginning. You bump up against the shallowness of your culture.
AW: Oh yeah…yeah…absolutely. I agree with your observation. I guess, from a pure theoretical point of view, it is confusing how we could end up with so many different theories on how energy works. You know, there’s one school of healing that says….
RB: Well, I don’t think we have different theories. I think we have physics.
RB: We have physics. What we’ve never grappled appropriately with in our culture is that just because you’re a physicist doesn’t mean you understand physics. Just because you’re a healer doesn’t mean you understand energy. Most people don’t understand how their car works, but they drive every day. There’re a lot of things that we don’t fully understand that we use. And not everybody has to understand everything. But it’s really helpful if some people understand something. And we don’t have a decent language for energy, which is why we’ve incorporated so many Sanskrit terms, so many Chinese terms, so many Native American terms. We have all these terms that we’ve hijacked into the language of healers, so that the healers can try to talk to each other about what they do. And we also have a culture where some people aren’t very well educated in healing and become healers. So they’re not going to do as well explaining what they do. And someone who has a language and some science behind them, and ways to talk about it… I mean, I understand what my role is. I’ve always understood that I’m the bridge between the healers, who may not know how to talk science, and the scientists who don’t know how to talk healing. I’ve always been that person. And it’s a privilege to be there. Because I’m with people who are brilliant in both worlds. [Pause]
RB: And they call you to this higher standard, where you do a lot of self examination, you know. “Am I a moron today?” You get to say to yourself, “You made a mistake, now go correct it.” But we do have a culture that likes accomplishment. So people want to take a healing program, get their paper, and feel “cooked” — and not have to work on themselves anymore. And people of quality have to work on themselves forever.
RB: I mean, musicians do. Actors do. Doctors do. How many CEUs do doctors need? A lot in our country. Not so much in Europe, but here we need a lot of them. So you know, you have varying degrees of shallowness and varying degrees of depth. And that complicates things for some people. [pause] But I don’t mind the complication. The complication is what makes life interesting and good. I mean, imagine — I’ve been doing this for more than 40 yrs — think of the people in special circumstances that I have met. My life is so rich with people from every field of endeavor. Because, partially because of where I live, the time I lived, the things I’ve seen in my life. I’ve worked with everything from returning war veterans to high-profile film people. I’ve worked with politicians. I’ve worked with scientists. I’ve worked with all of these interesting people. And you can kind of see that the people who are at the top of their field work at being at the top all the time. Some of them work because they want to be at the top. But most of the ones that I consider my friends are the ones who strive for excellence, in and of itself. And care enough to make themselves better. So tomorrow you can heal something you couldn’t heal today.
AW: That brings me to my next question. In terms of talking about rigor. You know, the healing profession is still fairly young in this country. We have not had a tradition of a lot of this kind of work – you’d have to go to the native Americans for the depth – but let’s say in the last 200 years or so, this is fairly new.
AW: And in terms of healers’ development, there is a school of thought out there that probably, like all things, has some validity to it, that is more along the lines of, “What shall be will be,” a certain surrender to the outcome. And not being attached to how a spirit decides to move, in terms of its handling of an illness. And that’s fine, it’s ok. And yet, in order to develop some sort of rigor, for this profession to move forward, how can…
RB: I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive.
AW: Can you say more about that?
RB: Yes. I think that rigor is good. And I think surrender is good. And I think you need both. I don’t think a healer is a one-trick pony. And I don’t think we can say, “This happened because of surrender” — no, it doesn’t happen because of surrender — it happens because actually we don’t know why it happened. And if you’re honest about the fact that, no matter how far you go in understanding, there’s still more mystery than understanding. If you grow up and cope with the paradox…
AW: Hmm…it’s a juicy place.
RB: I mean, people ask me all the time, after I’ve been doing this so long, “Do you know if the patient will get better?” No, I absolutely do not. [pause] I have a feeling about who I can help. I know what diseases I seem to do very well at. But I don’t know if an individual patient will get well.
AW: Right. And this is perhaps what makes this profession a bit different from Western medicine. You know, that “for this pill, 200 milligrams of this should produce that result.” This is not as an exact of a science. We may have some thought about what could happen, in terms of possibilities.
RB: Well, Adele, you know what? That’s the dirty little secret of medicine, isn’t it.
AW: [laughs] Well I’m all for the dirty little secrets!
RB: I’m serious! They function as if it is true but it’s not true. You know, when you look at the real stats for drug testing, a certain amount of antibiotic should cure a bacterial infection. But what about the bacterial infections it doesn’t cure? Which is about 30%, thank you very much.
AW: It’s a very wide bell curve, isn’t it.
RB: It really is! See what happens is that the general public wants to believe that science has all the answers. That means they’ve defined science wrong. Science is the study of something. It’s not a conclusion of something.
RB: Our culture wants to believe in conclusions when there aren’t any.
RB: [long pause] And so we’re kind of in this cultural trap. I mean, I work so much with physicians. I train physicians, I work with them. I have for the last 25 years. And the good physicians know what they don’t know. And they’re in the same position healers are in. “This should work. We don’t know if it really will, but it should.”
RB: If I pump up someone with energy in the right way and the right frequency, they should get better. I’m lucky. 75% of the people I work with, and some of them are at very high risk, get better. Some of that’s skill. Some of that’s care. Some of it is luck.
AW: And some of it’s rigor! [laughs]
RB: Yes, some of it’s rigor. See, the rigor is the part I have some control over…
AW: Exactly. That’s the part I enjoy. That’s what I’m hoping for these interviews with people out in the field, to help to move this profession forward in terms of its maturing. It’s exactly along the lines of what we’ve been talking about. And this brings me to my next question. You know, [pause] even this term “energy healing” – in some sense, everything is energy…
AW: I mean, our thoughts are energy, the air has energy, the rocks have energy, the plants have energy, a liver has energy. So what do you think of the specific techniques. Like, EFT is a technique that’s good for the meridians…
AW: And how would that be different from the laying on of hands. You could use the needle in, say, Spleen 8, you know?
AW: So what do you see is the difference? Yes, everything is energy, but not all energy is the same. And I think this is very confusing for consumers, when they’re delving into this field and asking, “Well, which of these modalities might be best for me?” Can you comment a little bit on that question?
RB: Yes. I had advice that I give to all the healers I train, and I give to patients as well. Everyone wants the finest healer for the condition they have. Or, they want the one that’s closest to their house.
RB: I’m serious! I mean, if you’re sick, you have to be able to access it. Look, if you have a healer who lives a block away from you and gives you good energy, that’s handy. And that’s the healer for you. If you have something very complicated, you probably want a healer with more skill, who knows more about your condition, specifically. When you’re looking at what’s right for other people, some people don’t do well with laying on hands because actually, they don’t want to be touched that much.
RB: And they don’t want to be touched because laying on of hands is a holistic technique, and it touches everything. It touches their soul, it touches their emotions, it touches their intellect, it touches their body.
AW: Oh yeah…
RB: It touches their intellect, it touches their body. And people are fine if you’re just moving their body parts around. Because you’re not messing with their emotions. But we treat holistically. So we’ll affect everything, one way or another. So one of the things Freud talked about, early on, is the affection you have for your healer. Affection is a healing principle. Love heals, in a certain way. But it’s not the passionate love that you see in movies. It’s the affection you have and the safety you have in being in the presence of someone who has compassion for your condition.
RB: Which is why healers, for the most part, are people who have had a fair amount of illness in their lives. They have real compassion for patients because they understand. Now, if you came from a family that blamed everybody for everything, and you become a healer, you’ll have a mild tendency to say to patients that aren’t getting well that they’re not doing what they need to get better. Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t live a lifestyle..I live a high stress lifestyle. I travel all over the world, I teach in different cultures with different people. And I often go without sleep or proper food. And I’m not going to do much better because I’m not going to quit doing what I do. [pause] And I think if you look at yourself and ask, “How hard do I work?”, well if there’s something wrong with me, I work harder at it. But if there’s nothing wrong with me, I kind of slide like everybody else does.
AW: Oh sure! It’s the human experience.
RB: Yes. But I still have compassion. Because if you’re desperately sick and you go see one of these holistic practitioners that tries to get you on the perfect diet, the perfect nutrition, the perfect exercise program, the perfect, meditation — you know, most people aren’t going to spend 5 hours a day working at getting well. And hold a job and have a family.
AW: Yeah, absolutely.
RB: I mean, some of the demands we make of the patients is just unreasonable.
RB: Demands put on a sick person. So it’s not that I need them to do their qi gong to get better, although I would hope they’re able to do qi gong if they’re well enough to do that, and are able to do that to help themselves. But the truth of the matter is, for right now, I’m their battery.
AW: Yup! “Come in and lay down and let me charge you up.”
RB: Yes! Let me pump you up. I’m from California and that probably sounds like Arnold.
AW:[laughs] Yeah, Ah-nold..
AW: Energy works through different modalities and the result is not always the same.
RB: Yes…it’s not all the same.
AW: Can you speak a bit about this, because I think this is part of what confuses consumers. You know, should I do homeopathy? Should I do EFT? Should I do Reiki? Or qi gong? It’s all energy. But it’s not all the same. And how would I know which of these would be helpful for me?
RB: Well, I think you need to be more daring and experience some of these things and see if it works for you. You know, if 2 acupuncture treatments straightens out your PMS, then acupuncture would be a real good thing and often it does.
RB: If you see a healing service in a church and you’re not a religious person, it won’t hurt you to go and let someone lay hands on you and try it and see if you feel anything. And if you feel something, then you’ve got data.
AW: So each consumer could go out and get experiences and get data for themselves.
RB: They could.
AW: Since the data that’s available from research right now is a bit limited. It’s coming, but still a bit limited. And we’re a culture that loves data. You know, “What does the study say?”
RB: Yeah, but you know, the mistake that all of us make is putting the data in front of our own experience. The data is not more important than my own experience. You know, science is ego-centric enough that sometimes it collects data to prove its point. Instead of in an exploratory way, of collecting all the data and seeing what happens.
AW: And yet, I do appreciate that when people are sick, or scared, there may be limits in terms of time or money or energy or access.
AW: They’d love to go around and try every modality in town. But sometimes it’s just not practical.
RB: I think part of it is, we have to help them make those decisions. And I don’t mean by giving them more data. I mean, “Sit in my chair, let me just run some energy and see if you feel anything, if you feel it will help you feel better.” And if it does, well…
AW: Then we’ll do more.
[Adele’s Note: This was Part 1 of my interview with medicine woman Rosalyn Bruyere. Click here for Part 2]
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