How is a small village in Crete, an eastern meditation like Reiki, an accountant and a severe disease be all connected into a touching and optimistic story? The answer to this puzzle is Margaret Radcliffe, a lovely lady from Pudsey UK, who decided to look for a better life, after she had this life-changing experience.
"I have joked for years that when I retired I would buy a house and move somewhere Greek", she remembers. "In 2003, I lost my Father to cancer and two months later had surgery myself. The surgery went well, but I had a bad reaction to the cocktail of drugs I was given at the time. This reaction took place after I woke up from the surgery and was very traumatic. I decided that none of us know how long we have left in this life and that I should not put off buying my Greek house.
I came to Crete in October 2003 to look for a house to use as a holiday home for the family, but which I could eventually retire to. On 16th October 2003 having looked at lots of houses in different villages, I came to Mochos. I fell in love instantly with the village. It just felt right. We then came to look at the house, which was a ruin, but exactly what I had in my mind for the perfect house. It took all of 5 minutes to decide to buy it.
I renovated the house and came for a few holidays, but after one visit was sitting in Heraklion airport waiting for my flight back to the UK, when I realized I didn't want to go back. I spoke to my boss at work, I was an accountant by profession, and she paid for me to talk to a life coach who made me realize that if I did move, I could always go back if it didn't work. I handed in my 3 months notice at work, and eventually moved here in April 2005. Due to circumstances, I had to go back and work for a few months in the winter but have been here permanently since spring 2006. I do not miss my old life, just my family and friends!"
Why Crete, out of all Greece?
I have been on holiday to many of the Greek islands and also to the mainland, but Crete is very different to anywhere else. The first time I came to Crete was for a holiday with my daughter and we came to Bali, which was very small and quiet then. I am not sure exactly which year that was, maybe 1995.
I think I chose Crete for two reasons, firstly the culture is very different due to the history of the island and secondly because the energy here is so pure and strong. I also love Cretan music and dancing, which is very different to Greek music and dancing.
What were the problems you initially faced?
The biggest problem was the language. I had learnt some basic Greek before I came and taught myself to read and write as I think this is easy. The biggest problem is the dialect spoken, not only in Crete, but the very strong dialect in the village is different to Greek.
Which is your favorite time of year in Crete?
I love all the seasons, for different reasons. I love the spring, when all the flowers are starting to bloom and everyone starts to get the properties painted and the resorts start to get ready for the season.
I love the summer, because I like the sun which makes everyone happy. This would be my favourite time of year except a lot of people here work hard (and sometimes away in other resorts) in the tourist industry and I miss their company.
I love the autumn, as things quieten down once the tourists start to leave and everyone returns to the village at the end of season. Village life takes over again with the Raki making. The evenings smell of wood smoke and the taverns are full of locals enjoying their excitable discussions!
I love the winter, because we get the much needed rains. We meet in each other's homes and keep toasty warm with the wood fire, or somba. This is when the locals are very busy with the olive harvest and work very hard. It is when the Cretan dance classes start again, the Woman's Group in the village meets and we have time to enjoy being in the village.
Your clientele consists mostly of tourists or locals? How did the locals react with your meditation centre, considering that Greece is not that used to Reiki and such centers like yours?
When I first came, my clients were mainly tourists. However as time goes on, this has changed as firstly the tourists no longer have money to spend on things such as Reiki, and secondly because Reiki is becoming more known in Greece and Crete.
I was, at first, a little worried about how the Reiki, which as you say was relatively unknown, would be received. I was lucky that one of my Cretan students helped me to explain to the village priest what Reiki was and what I was doing to help people. He is very open-minded and thinks it is a good idea to help people to take responsibility for their own well-being. Because he accepted me and what I do, everyone accepted that it is fine, because the Church is very important here.
Why did you choose a small village like Mochos as the base of your centre and not a bigger town in Crete, where you would possibly have more clients?
Actually, I did not want to live the "Ex-Pat" life, but wanted to immerse myself into local life and "belong". This did initially create a few problems being a woman alone and becoming accepted in a very traditional village. Once the villagers realized I wanted to fit in with them and did not expect them to change to accommodate me, there was no problem at all. I am now proud to be considered as one of the locals.
I chose Mochos in particular, firstly because I live at the centre and fell in love with the village, which is a full working village and has everything you need without leaving. It is perfect for living a traditional life, but also because the energy here is so pure and strong. Many visitors comment on this and the village attracts a large number of spiritual people, both to live and to visit. It is easily reached from local resorts such as Gouves, Hersonnissos, Stalida, Malia and Sissi and as I offer a collection service for visitors without transport this doesn't cause a large problem. I have even had visitors come over from Rethymnon and Chania for the day to have Reiki treatments. I also work in co-operation with a few hotels in the season which helps.
I agree that if I lived in a large town I may get more clients, but think this would not give me the traditional life I came here for and that is more important to me than a bit extra money.
How do people like that Reiki courses actually take place at your home?
When I first came I started the Reiki from my home as I wasn't sure how much work I would have and didn't want to sign a rental contract that I may have difficulty paying.
I have always asked my clients if they would fill in a customer satisfaction survey which I have online (anonymously if they prefer). I was very happy to find that the responses to the survey indicate that my clients who came to my home said they liked it and felt safe and secure. Some clients to whose hotel I went were not as happy with the environment.
I think this is because for Reiki, feeling safe and secure is very important and to be in someone's home space helps with that. I do provide Reiki treatments in certain hotels in the summer, but Meditations, Workshops and Reiki Training are currently only provided at the home centre.
Why do you think Reiki is important for people today?
I have been involved with Reiki for a long time now, and I am so happy that it is now becoming more widely known and that it is generally accepted worldwide. In the UK it is now available on the National Health Service, which proves that the medical profession accepts that it is a valid therapy.
Reiki is a 100% natural way to be well physically and emotionally. It is simply a matter of channeling pure energy to balance the energy in a person, animal or indeed plant. Reiki can also be used to clear energy in a building. It is simple and none intrusive. Anyone can learn how to do it for themselves with just one days training and attunement. It allows you to take responsibility for your own wellbeing, which is important. Some modern illnesses are caused by unresolved emotional problems or self abusive behaviour.
Reiki is not a religion or faith and therefore fits with all the main faiths and is indeed used with them. This neutrality makes it ideal for use in medical or indeed prison settings. It is the only complementary/alternative therapy where the practitioner gets the benefit as well as the client. It is particularly useful in situations where, for whatever reason, clients do not want or cannot tolerate touch such as burns patients and the terminally ill. It is also ideal in situations where religious rules or modesty prohibit touch or the need to undress.