Melaina Gasbarrino always felt a connection to something bigger than herself at a young age. After owning a children’s environmental education company, she shifted to studying yoga reiki and the power of sound healing. Her work has brought her to teach in Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Hamptons, and here at home. She’s also a published children’s author of the Lola Book series, teaching children to care for our environment.
Elise and Melaina talk about bringing peace to oneself, practices like Yoga Nidra, Breath and Reiki Work, and grounding yourself.
“What in this practice is going to allow you to find your bliss and find your calm, bring in ease, release anxiety, release stress, and just like really tap into your own intuition. We all are healers in some sort of way, so if we tap into our intuition, we can all work to heal ourselves in some sort of way.” Melaina tells Elise on Let’s Talk About.
Check out the show’s transcript below:
[00:00:00] Elise: Hi everyone, and welcome. This week let’s talk about energy healing with my sister Melaina Gasbarrino. From a young age, Melaina always felt a connection to something bigger than herself. After owning a children’s environmental education company, she shifted to studying yoga reiki and the power of sound healing.
Her work has brought her to teach in Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Hamptons, and here at home in. She’s also a published children’s author of the Lola Book series, Teaching Children to Care for our enviornment. I’m really excited today cuz this is probably the most relaxed I’ll ever be doing a podcast cause I get to chat with my sister.
[00:00:37] Melaina: Hi! How are you?
[00:00:39] Elise: I’m good, how are you?
[00:00:40] Melaina: I’m good, thanks.
[00:00:42] Elise: Even though we just talked like a couple hour ago, Melaina and I chatted and obviously we’ve had the podcast going now for almost two years, and we’ve wanted to have her on since season one and the timing worked out wonderfully now. I also think the timing works out great in terms where we are as a society, and especially going into the holidays and we’re coming out of COVID and this is our first potential holiday where it will feel normal. I feel like there’s probably a lot of like overwhelm and maybe anxiety of that, but maybe also like, how am I getting all this done?
And so I think you have such a calming presence naturally that, and I think sharing just some things that each of us can do within our day as we go into this really busy time. It’s kind of, it’s a perfect time to release this episode, so I’m excited for that. I think that we should start though, with a little bit about your story and how you got into, how your journey brought you into reiki and healing.
[00:01:54] Melaina: Sounds good! Hi everyone. So actually, when I was younger, I was like such a cry baby, and my sister knows that like I would cry at everything. I was always afraid to be around people or feared a lot, and through my healing with Reiki, I’ve realized that it was just me being really small in the world.
So I like to say that my life is ever revolving in terms of what I’ve done in, in terms of work. I started off wanting to own my own restaurant, switched to English, then became a teacher, and then realized that I did wanna do something bigger outside of my previous company. So, I ended up becoming a yoga teacher and reiki practitioner and learned sound healing as well.
And I do a bunch of other things outside of that, but I feel like my life has definitely shifted in terms of how can I just bring ease within my day and what that looks like. And through me getting healing through my Reiki teacher, there’s been so many shifts in my life from that. I’ve grown stronger, I’ve grown more confident.
I’m still releasing fears, but those childhood fears are starting to minimize, and it’s really interesting how Reiki has really helped me with that. So after I got my first session, I realized I wanted to get trained in it, and became a Reiki practitioner in 2018 and have been doing it ever since.
[00:03:22] Elise: Well, I think, first of all, I don’t know that you were like a crybaby. I feel like you have always been more in touch with your emotions, more in touch with a, I don’t wanna say not supernatural isn’t the right word, but like ancestors and angels and healing.
Like you’ve always were more sensitive. I feel like as a child, and we’ll get into this a little bit later, for people that have children, that maybe there’s a lot of kids out there that are like that, right? Like how you can support that? I don’t know that it was like, maybe at the time we’re like, oh gosh, Melaina’s crying, but like now I think we have the means to realize, oh, she just like felt emotions in a different way. Right? Or, or felt emotions differently. But I also think like, I’d love for you, you know, you talked about your own life and how you kind of bring peace to yourself, you’re so disciplined with what you do, I feel like every day with meditation and being in the environment. Can you share before we kind of go into what each of the areas that you focus on or people can focus on, can you just share a little glimpse of like what your day looks like and how you weave that into your day?
[00:04:31] Melaina: Yeah, for sure. So, first things first, I’ll wake up. I try not to check my phone until I have to, so after I wake up, I typically go for a walk, or I’ll go for a run or bike ride, and then I will meditate in journal. Sometimes I’ll do yoga. As a yoga teacher, I want to be doing more yoga, but I actually enjoy when other teachers teach me how to do it.
So I prefer going to yoga class if I can. Typically my morning starts off with going for a walk outside and then meditating and journal. And if I’m feeling really stuck, I find that I just literally like, take a few deep breaths and remind myself, that okay, center myself, ask myself what’s wrong, and really tapping into my feelings and understanding why am I feeling off right now.
Like, what’s going to happen in the day that’s making you feel off to begin with? Or like what happened yesterday that made me feel a little bit off. So just really checking in with myself. Then after I’ve meditated and gone for my walk and journaled, I’ll then check my phone and kind of start my day.
And there have been times where, you know, I’ve checked my phone beforehand, but, I really am trying, especially going into the holiday season, trying not to be on social media as much and just because I find that it’s just so, you just, it kind of brings you down sometimes. Like I follow a lot of people that are very open and honest and lots of healers in any type of way, but sometimes it’s just like, okay, well they’re doing so many great things and how can I do that?
Or, what can I do that can bring me this and yada, yada, yada. You kind of, you spin out, and you start to stress yourself out for no reason, because social media is literally just like a little picture of someone minuscule moment in a day. So, I’m really trying not to be on it as much.
Basically I like getting that time out in nature in the morning. Even yesterday, I was raking my leaves and wasn’t wearing any shoes because I just need to feel a little bit grounded. So it’s really just understanding when you think about, okay, what do I need in this moment? And really trying to live like a simple ease filled life.
[00:06:58] Elise: I think too, like it should be said that like, you know, you’ve, you are actually like, when people say I journal every day night, you actually do do that. Like, you don’t answer your phone when I text you in the morning.
[00:07:10] Melaina: I’m really not great at answeing my phone thing!
[00:07:11] Elise: Yeah, you’re actually doing that. But it also like took you to like, you’ve been doing this for like, what, like five years probably?
That you’re at that point now where it’s ingrained as a habit. I like that you mentioned some little things to get started, so whether that’s like getting some fresh air in the morning, I feel like you often make like a little ritual of making yourself tea if people are coffee drinkers, that could be a little ritual for sure. It can even be if you don’t have time to journal, even just like, saying a couple things you’re thankful for in your head.
[00:07:45] Melaina: Yeah, and it’s just keeping it simple and doing what makes the most sense for you. Like if you know you only have five minutes every morning to yourself because you have kids or because you have to get to work, whatever it is, then just take five deep breaths to alter your day in a really impactful way.
By just simply closing your eyes, putting your feet on the ground, grounding yourself, and just breathing for five slow, deep breaths. That is something that, I mean, our breath is the only constant in our life. And I always have to remind myself that because I’ve actually done some breathwork sessions with a breathwork teacher for probably about a year now, on and off, and it’s really powerful when you tap into your breath as well and just acknowledge, okay, well I’m gonna breathe these five slow, deep breaths and then start my day.
[00:08:41] Elise: Mm-hmm. So, you mentioned breathwork. I know we’ve tried other things like cold plunges, and things like that. So in today’s episode, what we’ll talk, talk about the most is reiki, sound baths, yoga, and meditation. Can we go through kind of each of those modalities, and I know people probably know a lot about yoga, maybe a little bit about meditation. I feel like reiki and sound is probably like the newer topic, can we go through each of those?
And maybe we’ll just start with yoga and meditation and then get into reiki and sound, beause I feel like those are probably something people haven’t done and would like to understand more.
[00:09:21] Melaina: Yeah, definitely. So, the type of yoga I practice are usually restorative or Yoga Nidra.
Basically what those types of yoga mean is that you’re really going into, throughout all my practices, you’re going into a deep state of relaxation. Yoga Nidra, you’re basically lying there for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes, and, it’s through my voice that I guide you through a practice that essentially works to really drop you into, to balance your nervous system and to relax your body and to kind of release that like monkey brain thought pattern, and just really allows you to relax.
Yoga Nidra is called conscious sleep. So you are, you’re not asleep, but you actually may feel like you have fallen asleep. There have been times where I’ve gone so deep and then I’m like, oh, wait a second, did I just fall asleep? Like, you don’t realize it because you’re just lying there. The practice involves, the practitioner saying, okay, focus on your left eye, your right eye, your left arm, your, so you’re going through a practice where you, the way that it’s done is that it’s just allowing you to really relax.
And restorative yoga is very much you’re holding poses longer, you’re using lots and lots of props. Like typically through a session I have bolsters, blocks, blankets, all of the things that are really going to nourish your body and allow your body to open and just completely rest.
[00:11:01] Elise: It’s different. Like you definitely practice a different yoga than like power vinyasa. Like it’s more about a deep kind of rest and when you wake up, I’ve experienced it many a times where like, I think sometimes I do fall asleep, but sometimes…
[00:11:18] Melaina: That’s what happens, like if that’s reality, like you can, It’s okay if you fall asleep, it just means that you’re super relaxed. So that’s good.
[00:11:27] Elise: But there are definetly times where I’m like, okay, I felt like I was asleep. I felt like I just got up from a nap. But like, I know I was hearing her the whole time, like walking me through the practice. So it’s really kind of interesting. And I guess also, you know, we talk next about meditation. It’s a form of meditation too, right?
Like what you’re bringing us through there.
[00:11:45] Melaina: Yeah, so meditation is, it’s definitely a form of meditation, I know that all of my practices are a form of meditation in some sort of way. So, meditation is just, I usually play sound bowls when I’m doing meditations, and the idea of combining the sound with the meditation is that the singing bowls, they are a traditional form of healing where you essentially, you’re lying down, you could also be sitting up in a comfortable seat, and the vibration of the sound bowls are allowing you to fully relax your body.
We’re normally in that fight or flight stage, that’s just how a lot of us live, and sound baths, are allowing you to get into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is that rest and digest space. So it’s allowing you to really breathe, relax, and just like let go. Through sound bath meditations, I’ll guide you through a practice as well.
And it’s a lot of the times we’re, looking at subconscious patterning and releasing that and allowing you to just, like I always say, whenever I work with someone, it’s like, let’s find your own version of bliss, whatever that looks like to you, because everyone’s different in this world and not everyone is going to think that one thing is more blissful than the other.
So, this practice is going to allow you to find your bliss and find your calm, bring in ease, release anxiety, release stress, and really tap into your own intuition because we are all healers in some sort of way. So if we tap into our intuition, we can all work to heal ourselves in some sort of way. So whether it’s like, okay, I’m feeling really cranky today, I’m going take those five deep breaths, I’m going to center myself, ground my feet, and then feel that connection.
You always wanna feel like the yin and yang balance, so feeling that connection from the roots from the earth and then also from the sky and the higher power and whatever that higher power is, but feeling that balance of those opposites that’ll allow you to really just find ease within your day.
[00:14:11] Elise: And physically sound looks like, to your point, you could be sitting, you could be lying, and you’re kind of playing the sound baths, and then moving into reiki, physically looks kind of similar too. Yeah. The client is lying on a flat surface, usually on a massage table. And so can you take us through a little bit about like what the benefits of reiki are?
[00:14:36] Melaina: Yeah, for sure. So, Reiki, the idea of it is, there’s a higher power, whatever sort of higher power you believe in, and that higher power is working through me to heal you.
So the idea of it again, is to bring you into that deep state of relaxation through a session. It’s very, whether it’s distance or virtual, or sorry, in person, whether it’s in person or virtually, you’ll feel the effects of it completely the same. In person you’ll be on a massage table, you have blankets wrapped over you and I’ll lay my hands on different energy centers throughout your body.
So I typically focus on the seven, main chakras. So your root, your sacral, solar plexes, your heart, third eye and your crown. And the idea of reiki is that it’s releasing physical pain, emotional pain, awakening you to release your subconscious thought patterns, releasing stress, anxiety, and just really allowing you to claim your best version of yourself and your version of bliss.
If you’re doing an in-person session with me, I actually have an elemental process. So I’m very in tune with the earth and wanted to bring that into my reiki practice. When someone comes into a session, we’re going to use the element of fire to cleanse you, and then we’ll go through the session and it’s basically just me laying my hands over different energy centers or maybe above through a session.
You may feel heat or you may feel the need to cough or cry or laugh or move, and that’s all normal. We all have energy within us, and the idea of reiki is releasing all the stuck energy and bringing to flourishion the blissful energy within you. So we’re releasing the physical pain, we’re releasing the emotional pain and the mental pain, we’re really working to provide you with a sense of inner calm.
And in a session, I’ll also play sound baths. Once a session is coming to a close, I pour water on your hands to bring in the water element, and, weather depending, we go outside and we ground into the earth. So you’re getting those four elements – the air is obviously the reiki session because you’re tapping into a higher sense of clarity within you.
[00:17:17] Elise: I feel like you’ve always, like you mentioned that, that a Reiki experience and how you bring all those elements in. I feel like you’ve always obviously had that connection to the environment and the earth. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Because you started your first business was teaching children about that, right? And teaching children about the environment. So where did that like come from, I guess, and how, where did the idea of weaving it through this practice kind of come in?
[00:17:43] Melaina: When we were younger, we were always outside. I remember when we were younger, like I’d be in the garden with our grandparents and like, just really understanding, okay, well you know what, you can live off of the fruit of your backyard.
Like you don’t have to, I don’t really lots of process foods, so I’ve just kind of like always lived that way of like, you know, you’re cultivating, whether it’s food or whether it’s just a connection with the earth, like always sort of had that within me. So when I had my environmental education company, I would actually go to schools and teach kids about the environment.
And I loved it because it was something that you were able to educate people on, like these really big issues, but make them make sense to the area that I was teaching them in. So, you know, talking about the oceans, but bringing that back to okay, well I live in the Niagara region, there are no oceans around us, but what can we do to preserve the lakes and things like that.
And just really, I’ve just always loved being outside. So I feel like really having that like connection to the earth. I’ve actually done some work through my teacher and have realized when something really bad is going on in the world in terms of like a natural disaster that I can feel it in my body. So I think I know that I’m also like tapped in that way, that whenever something is like physically happening in the earth, then I can feel it. So I really need to continually to ground myself and focus on that.
[00:19:31] Elise: Well, and I also think it kind of makes sense that you’d be drawn to both like the environment and these healing practices because there’s so much natural healing that comes from the environment, right?
Like we all feel it when we’re by the ocean and the water relaxes us. Cuz isn’t it something like, 90% of our body is made of water or something like that, so it naturally relaxes us. Or like when we’re in a forest and going for a walk that like peacefulness, you can just sort of like feel it. It makes sense that like you would sort of be in these two separate, not separate, but like these two different areas would intertwine for you because there’s natural healing that comes from the earth. Right?
[00:20:11] Melaina: For sure. Yeah, like how you mentioned about the forest. There have been times where I’ve been on a hike and like, I just wanna take my shoes off, so I’ll like take my shoes off and walk. I did that in BC last year and I was like, this is just so nice because you’re actually like feeling like our feet aren’t meant to have a crazy amount of support when we’re walking in shoes, and I know some people might not agree with that, but for me it’s like I need to actually have a flat surface to actually feel like the core connection of the earth and really feeling that grounding nature.
When I’m by an ocean, I always go for a swim in the ocean. My parents have a pool, so every morning and even when it was cold, I was swimming in their pool, just to like really get all of those elements in.
[00:20:56] Elise: What’s a forest bath?
[00:20:59] Melaina: It’s when you take your shoes off and you go for a walk in the forest and you’re doing a walking meditation.
[00:21:06] Elise: Okay. I was just thinking of that because, are there any other kind of things like a forest bath meditations, like, I don’t know if there’s other things?
[00:21:16] Melaina: A lot of people have been doing cold plunges lately and just with cold plunges, I would recommend you’re definitely doing it with at least one other person, because your body could go into shock, like going into very cold water. There are huge benefits to that.
There’s also forest bathing you can even do in your backyard. Or like if you live in an apartment or if you don’t have green space around you just like take your shoes off, stand on your balcony or stand in your backyard and you’ll feel the vibration of the earth rising through you.
Even, I mean, there’s like hot springs. Those are lovely too.
[00:22:09] Elise: Oh yeah. I was thinking too of like the snow rooms and spas and things or salt caves. Yeah. All of those kind of things as well. Yeah. I know that like, like you were talking about earlier, you’ve worked with children before. You also do, you are still a teacher.
Are there things, I feel like if we’re all overwhelmed as adults, there’s a lot that children are overwhelmed by as well. Is there anything that parents can do going into this time of year to, I don’t know if it’s calming their children more or help them be more centered. I know that this is a topic that you’re starting to explore in what you can offer in this space. So is there any like recommendations there for maybe parents listening could start implementing?
[00:22:39] Melaina: Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say honestly, just try meditating with your kids or bringing them on a walk outside. It’s very beneficial when you’re walking outside, and the meditation doesn’t have to be a crazy long run.
It could just be like, Okay, let’s just breathe for a few seconds. Or really asking your kids what they want because kids are so tapped into like some pretty cool stuff, that they really speak their mind and if a child is struggling, whether they’re stressed or really, really anxious, just ask them what they need and really take a look at their overall daily lives. Like what are they eating? What are they doing at school? Do they have any pressures at school or what does their daily lives look like? And how can you minimize the stress that they have because there’s so much pressure on kids.
[00:23:43] Elise: Maybe reevaluating the number of like obligations or activities to some extent?
[00:23:49] Melaina: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And even just like, I find myself when I have sugar, like I had a piece of chocolate yesterday and I couldn’t fall asleep. So are your kids eating sugar? And if they are, then how can you sort of balance that out? And it doesn’t need to be that they’re eating organic and all these wonderful things, but could they eat maybe vegetables instead of that sugar to really think about when we have a chocolate as adults and then when kids have a chocolate, it’s the same size chocolate, but their bodies are so tiny and like they’re taking that in. So just really being mindful of sort of their interactions on a day to day basis.
And whether it’s through meditation or whether it’s just like going through a walk or just like asking them, what are you happy about today? What is something that like you want to work on today?
Whenever I’m in a class supply teaching, I always like to end off the day asking what was something fun you did? What was something that you felt was more challenging? And then let teacher know that so that they can understand, okay, well this is what I should know to kind of re-evaluate how I’m going through my teaching.
So just really giving them this, also giving them the space to have fun. Like, not having such a structured life. But, and I know that it, you know, it’s coming up to the holidays and there’s probably going to be lots of holiday gatherings or just things that you want to do, but like, just giving them the space of quiet.
Trying not to have them on some sort of technology all the time. And I know that’s hard because at times you just want quiet too. But yeah, going for a walk with them and even just taking a few breaths, asking them what they’re happy about today and just really allowing them to have fun in life.
[00:25:47] Elise: Well thank you so much for chatting with us today. Can you share a little bit about where people can find you on social if they do want to book a session, if they’re in the Niagara area where they can find information?
[00:25:59] Melaina: Yeah, you can follow me on Instagram at, it’s my company name, @saltotree. And then my website is just www.saltotree.com. I offer in-person sessions and also virtual sessions, whether that’s sound baths and movement or reiki and sound baths, and I’m also starting to do some work with kids as well. So really excited for that to open the space up to healing for all.
Elise: I love that. Well, thank you.
Melaina: Thanks so much. It was fun.
Last modified: November 8, 2022