Energy healers that delve into the psychology and science of blockages and emotional pain are few and far between. In our latest KNESKO Visionary series, we interview optimization coach and energy healer Mary Spirito (@ritualandroutine), who combines her expertise in neuroscience and holistic healing to provide knowledge-based, intuitive healing to the mind and body.

An optimization coach, podcast host, Reiki healer, and yoga instructor, Mary embodies the title Visionary in every sense of the word. With her background in biochemistry and neuroscience and her work in energy healing, Mary bridges the scientific and holistic healing realms in her practice, which she also talks about with depth and ease in her Ritual and Routine podcast. 

Here are the highlights of our one-on-one interview with Mary:

Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you started.

I am a healer and a coach. I have many different tools under that name for me, just to speak to the fact that I’m an intuitive healing coach. So I do energy work. I work with Reiki energy, but I also work with an energy that’s a little bit more intuitive to me, and channeling, underneath that energy healing umbrella. And I am what I like to call an optimization coach: I help people work with patterns, beliefs, and behaviors that are holding them back, uprooting them in favor of positive behaviors that are gonna propel them forward. So at its essence, my mission is to help women come back to the reclamation of the fact that they are divine creator beings, with infinite potential and capacity for love and creation. So I have many different things that I do under that, but that is the gist of what I do.

I would love for you to tell us more about being able to bridge the holistic with the science. How did you do that to be able to empower women on their journey to self-care?  

I have a very interesting background because, before I worked in the mind-body healing arts, I worked in a lot more of a scientific realm. I worked in medicine, I worked in neuroscience research, and I worked in cancer research. Just to give a little backstory, the reason I ended up where I am now—being a healer, being a space holder for people—is because of my own experiences I went through, as we all do, right? I went through periods of my life where I had unmet traumas, unmet emotions that were affecting me. Before I decided that I wanted to become a healer the way that I am now, I knew that I wanted to be a healer in some regard, but I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. 

When you think that you want to become a healer growing up, what does that look like? I was like, ‘Oh, well, I’ll become a doctor’ because that’s what you do. Like, ‘I’ll work in medicine.’ If you want to work in healing arts. That’s what it looked like for me at the time, given the programming that I had. It was through being in the sciences, working in neuroscience research, but then, also the same time, I became a yoga teacher where I was able to see how we can use the physical body to be able to work through emotions, to be able to work through what is stuck in a somatic way inside the body, and allow us to process these unmet emotions and process these unmet traumas.

So it was through this process of both being in neuroscience and then also being in yoga that I was like, ‘There needs to be something here that exists that helps to bridge the gap between these two modalities, so that people can see what is possible for themselves when we have the integration of these two.’ Because there’s a lot of wisdom that resides in both Eastern and Western ways of looking at things. I say I bridge the gap between the holistic and scientific because I find that when we understand how the mind works, when we understand how the biology of the body works, when we understand everything from the micro to the macro, it allows us to be able to imprint the work that we’re doing on multiple different levels.

I guess my way of being able to bridge the gap is by being in this role of being a mind architect, holding containers for women—I say women because that’s who I specifically work with—to understand why the patterns showed up the way that they do, why their body is interacting in a certain way. Maybe they have some digestive situation, right? The digestive situation came about not because of a purely physical thing; because they have undigested emotions, undigested trauma. So being able to offer these infrastructures via this work is really like the way that I bridged the gap. So I say, I bridged the gap with the holistic and scientific in the way that I just spoke to you, but I also bridged the gap between the mind, the body, and the soul. And it’s through the integration of all of those pieces that we find sustainable health and healing.  

So tell me about the energy work that you specialize in. So I know you mentioned you do Reiki, but there’s more to it.

Like I said before, I work with Reiki energy, but I also work with an energy that’s a little bit more intuitive to me, which is this white-light energy, and it has a different quality to it. So I would say that the quality is a little bit more visual, and it feels different. I know you’re a Reiki practitioner, so you understand that there’s a feeling when you’re working with the energy. And to me, they also have different strengths, I guess. So the way that it was made apparent to me—that this is something that I needed to work with—was actually when I was working with plant medicines in a plant medicine journey. And then it just felt like something that I’d known my whole life—as did working with Reiki energy—you know, tapping into the healing work of being able to work with the energetic field in order to move energy and create cohesion within the body, mind, and soul. It felt like something that I had done my whole life, like as soon as I tap into it, it just felt very intuitive. Which is always a sign, right? It’s like when we’re more natural at anything, whether that be like drawing too, right? It’s coming back to the remembrance of something that always has been and will always be mine.Which is just to be a conduit. You know, it’s not that I’m doing it. It’s that I’m a conduit to it. And I’m available to be able to use this energy that’s a little bit more intuitive for me. So I kind of blend the two when I’m working. When I’m in an energy healing session, I usually start off working with the Reiki energy, and then I kind of like start to bring in this other energy. And it’s a really beautiful dance between the two, that I can use them to be able to hold this impeccable container to either help remove cords or remove stagnations or amplify or whatever it is, and kind of inside that container too. We’re able to use the body as a map, of what’s not only happening in this physical body but also what’s happening in the emotional makeup of their life. 

For those that are interested, tell us about your details. Where are you located?

So I do everything distance right now; I’m also kind of a nomad. So I am currently into Loom. I’m based out of New York, but I do work with one-on-one clients. So my offering structure, as far as what that looks like, is I have one-on-one energy healing clients where you can just see me for a session. And then I have a long-term, four-month one-on-one coaching container that has like all of the bells and whistles. 

So just from your own perspective, why do you like Reiki and why do you do it? 

This is a great question. I think that it can feel a little bit elusive because it’s not necessarily something that we can see with the naked eye. The best way to think about this is thinking about a time where you’re at a grocery store, and all of a sudden, you don’t know why, but you turn around and you lock eyes on someone and the other person is looking at you too. Why does that happen? How did you feel that that person was looking at you? That’s a great demonstration of the fact that, that energy is everywhere. We’re energetic beings. If you were to take your hands and do a lot of Kundalini meditations where you rub your hands together and you create this heat and you’re putting your hands without even touching yourself. You can put your hands near your face and you can feel the heat that you generated with your hands, even though you’re not touching yourself. 

Energy is a part of who we are. It’s a part of all the nuances of the way that we digest and understand our world, whether we understand it to be that way or not. And Reiki is just this beautiful process of being able to allow ourselves to use our own energetic field in order to connect into the people around us and to help them to restore that balance, allowing them to be a clear channel for their own life force energy. So the practice of Reiki—of holding an impeccable container and space for someone to be able to completely open to another individual, to help them restore that balance, using these subtle frequencies—you have to be so present to the energy. You have to be completely open, removing whatever ego-driven pieces reside to be a complete container for this person to help them restore balance. And there’s something about that that is just so beautiful. It’s effortless. It’s pure connection. It’s two humans coming together in favor of using this universal life force for expansion, for love. 

I’m still curious about the optimization that you do with you program. Could you tell us what that is? 

Optimization coaching is my methodology of coaching that I created. And the idea there is, what are you starting out with? What is the true, authentic version of yourself? So the optimization method is this process of coming back to that true embodiment of yourself. It’s not that you started off and you need to gain this piece or you need to become that. It’s optimizing what’s already there.Everything that we ever would want to be, or who we are, already resides within us. It’s this process of taking off the coats of cultural mandates, of programming, of limiting beliefs—all of these things that are keeping us from being the highest embodiment of ourselves.

So the coaching method, the optimization coaching, is just that. And I would say that the hallmark of my method really comes down to this idea of being a mind architect. So understanding associations—everything comes down to associations, everything comes down to correlations. ‘I need to be perfect in order to be worthy.’ That’s association; that’s going to kick you to the knees. So how can we break that association and create a new one that would serve us? So this idea of being able to help people to consciously understand the framework of their mind, be able to break associations that are kicking them in the knees and create new ones, that’ll allow them to propel themselves forward and then landing all of that in the subconscious mind and in the body, is what allows my clients to have such amazing transformations. 

I think therapy is a beautiful, amazing tool, but sometimes it is not enough to simply just talk about things. When we talk about things, which is great, we bring them into our conscious perspective. But it’s not until we land it in the subconscious mind—using neural linguistic programming, which is something like hypnosis and words, essentially, hypnosis, tapping, energy healing, meditation, whatever it is that allows you to plug that in, into the subconscious level—do we actually allow it to breathe and live. So that is my whole mission when it comes to the optimization coaching.

What is your advice during these current times to cultivate more self-love and self-healing amidst everything that’s going on? 

How do we cultivate love with other people? We cultivate love with other people by fostering connections with them, by asking them questions, by being with them. I think we put a lot of emphasis on building relationships with other people, like asking them what they want, listening to their wants, needs, and desires. But we think that just by being with ourselves—because we’re with ourselves every day—we’re doing that, but we’re not. We have to court ourselves. We have to take time and space every single day to plug into the intuitive wisdom within. So how do we do that? In the same way, if you were courting someone new, you’re dating someone new, if you were to just sit in a room with your boyfriend but you don’t talk, are you building a relationship with them? No. The same thing with us. It is not enough to just be with ourselves. We have to sit with ourselves and ask ourselves every single day, ‘What do I need today in order to feel whole?’ and allow the stillness for you to connect into that wisdom inside of you so that you can create space and time to receive that wisdom that has been and will always be there for you. 

So my advice is very simple: How can you create the time to ask yourself that question every day? And how can you, by disconnecting from other people, from other devices, really foster that connection of you with you? And whatever that looks like: that can be meditation, that can be journaling, that can be using your face products, working with KNESKO, that can be whatever that looks like—it’s the intention

Sometimes we wake up, especially with the cell phones, and we’re just in this energy of receiving. Like when a text message comes, an email comes, we’re just like mitigating responses. And so we feel frantic. Why? Because we didn’t plug ourselves back in to us. So if we do that—if we take time and space to just be with ourselves and ask ourselves what we need, in the same way that you would do with a significant other—then we move ourselves out of this energy of receiving and into this energy of being the master of the day. Of being like, ‘This is my intention for the day.’ And the power that comes from that is life-changing