On August 8, 2004, Walter Rice, a registered Reiki master, was interviewed by Corridor 9 Record Reporter Melissa Castellanos.
Walter Rice has his own holistic/spiritual counseling practice in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and is an instructor and outreach coordinator at the Shrewsbury Senior Center where he teaches Chi Gong, meditation, Tai Chi for arthritis and is a provider of Reiki.
Additionally, Rice is a licensed social worker with certified training in guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, Chi Gong, Tai Chi for arthritis and Reiki with a background in counseling psychology, theology and philosophy.
Q: Are you a resident of Shrewsbury?
Rice: I have lived here close to 30 years.
Q: Can you explain one of the natural healing exercises that you teach at the Shrewsbury Senior Center?
Rice: One of the exercises I teach is Qi Gong which "qi" means energy and "gong" means rhythm-with-breath. Qi Gong is soft and easy Chinese exercises for developing internal energy for physical well-being and inner balance.
Q: Why do you think the Mind, Body and Spirit connection is so important?
Rice: It has expanded my life and so many ways of understanding people's needs. Whatever path someone is on in life, it will eventually lead back to the same path -- the path to truth.
There needs to be an emotional, physical and spiritual balance. It is important to be in touch with yourself. Spiritual beings have human experiences. Science proves that all matter has energy.
Q: How have the seniors at the Shrewsbury Senior Center responded to your classes?
Rice: They have responded very well. They find relief and they feel better and walk better.
Q: What do you think seniors are affected by?
Rice: Seniors who are from 70 to 80 years old oftentimes experience depression because all they think about is death at that age. Some even abuse alcohol. Seniors need to look at the beauty in life rather than focus on worry. This will enhance their coping skills. No matter what age you are change is very hard. We use our defense mechanism to try and cope with it.
Q: Have the seniors from the Shrewsbury Senior Center used your methods outside of your class?
Rice: Some practice breathing techniques at night to relax and let go of their stress and worries. It is a powerful process.
Q: How did you get involved with ministry and medical social work?
Rice: Being a licensed certified social worker, I dealt with acute medical social work at the Fairlawn Rehabilitation Center, in Worcester, I was a lab technician and I was a former Catholic priest for the Diocese of Worcester. I am currently a non-denominational minister for non-traditional wedding ceremonies. I am also interested in Buddhism.
Q: Does your background in counseling psychology, theology and philosophy help you in guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, Qi Gong and Reiki?
Rice: It has. We are all searching for the same answer, but there is not just one answer. I am eclectic and I make up what is good for me. I help people by teaching self-help skills.
Q: Do you think that everyone should have a holistic perspective to life?
Rice: It depends on your background. Some people do well and some people need change. People are looking to be fixed outside of themselves. Our society looks for symptoms and causes _ everywhere from the physical to the mental from bone, muscle and body aches to heart aches, sadness and unhappiness, all of those pieces that contribute to the body.
Oftentimes people don't listen to it. We are impatient and want a quick answer, but we can find that within ourselves.
Q: In a busy, stressful world how would you recommend lowering anxiety, stress and worries?
Rice: There are very easy and simple ways by listening to good music, being with friends, praying, learning how to meditate, talking with your grandchild or even looking at a pretty flower. We have a tendency of worrying. We are addicted to worry and anger.
People need to be in touch with themselves and let go of all of those worries. Meditation is time to be quiet in the midst of all of those thoughts and to understand the mind and find peace inside.
Q: How would you recommend managing fear, frustration and negative thoughts?
Rice: People need to focus on the now instead of the past or the future. I think that younger people focus on the future and older people focus on the past.
Q: Do you think that people often worry about terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001 and cause themselves added stress and anxiety?
Rice: Sept. 11 has increased and accelerated the worry, but there were worries that were already there. We make up a lot more fear in our heads. Terrorism has been going on for centuries, but this is the 21st century version. Our country doesn't encourage praying for our enemies. There is a feeling of power with prayer.
Q: Do you have a philosophy that you live by?
Rice: Everyday I do my best to stay connected to who I am and stay connected to the earth and sky. I return any negativity and then return it with unconditional love.
(Reprinted by permission of The Record, 300 West Main St. Northboro, MA 01532 508-450-4230)