The old one-dimensional female archetypes -- the soccer mom, the starving artist, the successful-but-lonely boss lady -- are dead. Women are creating new, multidimensional archetypes and defying stereotypes. The most fulfilled women are constantly creating in multiple areas of their lives, whereas burnout often happens when we feel like the routine of our day job is all we have time for. The Archetypal Woman Series is a tribute to inspiring women who rearrange time and space to explore and excel in a range of activities. May their stories encourage you to expand into your own uniqueness for the benefit of you and everyone in your orbit.
Editor's note: There comes a time when your instincts tell you loud and clear it's time to make a career change. Maggie Gold answered the call. Read on to learn more about her trailblazing transition from advertising executive to Reiki healer (what's Reiki, you ask? You'll find out!). ~ Mary Margaret
Everyone who lives in Los Angeles can skip ahead, but for the rest of the world, can you explain what Reiki is and a little bit about your current business?
Of course—this is only my favorite thing to talk about! So Reiki is a really beautiful healing practice that channels a balancing energy through the system to restore a sense of peace and harmony to all levels—body, mind, and spirit. It can be done using either a very light touch or with the hands just slightly off the body while the client relaxes on a massage table. It’s a really powerful way of clearing out old energy and clearing energetic blocks.
I like to think of this as the energetic version of releasing a dam. When we go through stressful or traumatic events, our system’s attempt to avoid pain causes us to actually contract around it. And while this may offer us a sense of control or feeling the pain is at bay, what it actually does is hold it within the body—preventing its natural flow through and out of our systems. When we finally go in and move that energy through, we relieve ourselves of the tremendous pressure of holding it in. And what this can look like for people is everything from better nights' sleeps to relief from chronic stress and anxiety to an overall feeling of harmony and well being.
Then in addition to the one-on-one sessions, I also teach meditation and host a bi-weekly Women’s Circle. The Women’s Circle is a really special time where we come together to turn inward, making a little sacred space to connect with ourselves and also with one another. They’re such a fun expression of the work, and it’s always so mind-blowing to see the deep resonance within a particular group, which is a really beautiful way to remind us that we’re not alone.
It can be so easy in difficult moments to think we’re the only one going through it. But when we come together and allow ourselves to share in a truly authentic way, we start to realize what a deep commonality there is throughout all of our lives, even when on the surface they might appear quite different.
What did you study as an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, and what kind of work did you do right out of college?
Throughout college I never had a clue what I wanted to do after graduation. So I decided to study what I liked and majored in English. After I graduated, I found myself in a career in advertising. From the start it felt against the grain of my nature, and I struggled to find any sense of purpose in it. The job was just never a fit for me—and I’m sure my former bosses would agree!
And yet somehow I stayed in that field for nearly eight years. Sure, I sent out the occasional applications to other lines of work, but nothing that was a real departure from what I was doing, and certainly nothing I had my heart in. Ultimately I was able to break through my fixed views of what a job should look like, but it took an incredible amount of unhappiness to get me to the point where I could say “enough. There has to be another way.”
Can you tell us about your Master’s program and how you chose it?
As far as how I chose the program, I can only say it was a matter of divine intervention! That winter I had taken my Level 2 Reiki training, which my teacher referred to as the “game changer level,” a time when lower frequencies can no longer coexist with the new energy, which tends to mean that old jobs, relationships, habits, etc. will gently fall out of your life. The job part really resonated with me. At the time, I was absolutely miserable at work and knew I needed a change.
Hilariously though, I remember sitting in that workshop thinking “oh this job stuff is definitely me. I’m going to get a job in ad sales!” As if my glorious transformation would mean moving from buying ad space to selling it—which at the time was honestly as big of a leap as I could picture for myself. I really didn’t know anyone who had left the corporate world entirely and the concept felt pretty unimaginable to me.
Then somehow, in the most serendipitous of ways, I found my way to the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University. It was a Psychology Master’s Program designed to be the intersection of science and spirituality. It was everything I cared about but never knew could exist in a university setting. The program was such a blessing to me. It gave me all of the structure and security of a Master’s program, which was just enough of the “known” to help me leap into the great unknown of a career in the healing arts.
Through the program, I had the chance to dive deep into the study of various healing techniques, both ancient and modern, and to learn them alongside a psychological framework that allowed me to understand them more on an even deeper level. And what’s more, it introduced me to my greatest teacher and spiritual mentor, who I still train with to this day.
How have your views on spirituality and religion changed over the past several years?
I would say they’ve really done a 360! I was actually quite religious as a child—I even wanted to be a nun when I grew up! But the older I got, the less I felt able to relate to the institutional church and I slowly lost touch with that part of myself. Eventually, I found myself not really sure I believed in much of anything.
Then, a minor health crisis drove me toward new ways of understanding the mind-body-spirit connection. Through this exploration, a sense of spirit gradually made its way back into my life, alongside a deep desire to understand what that means to me.
But the real shift came when I entered my training in Spiritual Healing, through which my beliefs have moved from what once felt like a theoretical understanding to more of a felt sense. Since then, there have been moments deep in meditation, visiting sacred sites, or simply out in nature, when I have felt what I can only call a deep inner knowing of God’s presence. This felt sense is what informs my view of spirituality and drives my constant quest to understand it more fully.
What was the reaction from your family and friends when you announced you were going to pursue this nontraditional path?
The people in my life have been amazingly supportive of this journey, although what’s interesting is that it actually took me quite some time to realize it because I was so busy hiding myself.
When I first started doing healing work, I had such a complex about how it would be perceived that it caused me to really hide the essence of the work. I would talk down or gloss over the more spiritual or esoteric aspects and focus on the scientific evidence. It was a natural defensiveness, even when I wasn’t being challenged.
This continued even after I had started my own business while still in grad school. Whenever I met someone and they asked me what I did, I would catch myself leading with the fact that I was a student. It was like I needed them to know there was something familiar about the path I’d chosen.
But when I would go out with my parents or my husband, I noticed they would speak so comfortably about the work I did. It didn’t matter whether the people they were talking to had even heard of Reiki before. They didn’t blink, they’d just say “oh yeah, Maggie’s doing this really interesting thing!” And I started thinking “why can’t I do that for myself?”
I’ve been able to let much of that go over time, but it really did take a while to step into my power and own what I was doing—to let go of the intense fear of rejection enough to look around and realize I’m actually surrounded by nothing but support!
What kind of positive changes have you seen in your Reiki clients?
It is such an amazing and truly humbling experience to witness the changes that people experience after a session. Since Reiki works on all levels of the system—body, mind, and spirit—the benefits that people see after a session really run the gamut. Some will see the symptoms of pain or illness relieved or eliminated entirely.
Others find a tremendous sense of peace, a melting of defenses, or processing of painful emotions. I even had one woman tell me that after our session, she drove to her grief group and told them “thank you, but I won’t be back!” She had found such a sense of peace from that one session, such a deep integration of her grief, that she no longer felt she needed it.
I also work with many people who see the effects of a session reverberating through their entire family field. This work does a beautiful job of moving through different dynamics and restoring a sense of harmony through the family as a whole.
But despite how varied each experience can be, I feel the common thread is a sense of coming home to self—an unraveling of the layers of pain, tension, and trauma that have kept us from ourselves and a realigning with that core inner part of us that feels like home, that part that has always known the way.
What advice would you have for others considering a major career pivot?
A teacher once told me “all of the best things in life are just beyond your comfort zone,” and I have really found that to be true. That’s not to say that it’s always time to take a giant leap, but it’s so easy for us to get caught in our comfort zones, afraid of that period of upheaval that almost inevitably accompanies change. And yet it’s only when we allow ourselves to embrace that great unknown that we can truly connect to the core of ourselves and to the amazing potential that lies within.
Hello! I’m Maggie. I’m a Spiritual Healer, Reiki Master and Meditation Teacher living in LA. In all of my work, my emphasis is on guiding people to the home within, and I draw on my backgrounds in Spiritual Healing, Western Psychology, and Contemplative Practice to create an approach that is at once warm, grounded, and transformative.
You can find me on Instagram @maggiegoldinnerwellness or check out my website at www.maggiegoldinnerwellness.com