Russ Reina entered the medical profession in 1969, at the age of 18 as a Nurse’s Aide in a nursing home on Long Island, NY. After spending some time in RN school, and then working in an operating room, he began volunteering as an ambulance attendant in Queens, NY.In 1973, ambulances were converted Cadillac hearses. Emergency “load and go” services were mostly available through volunteer organizations or funeral home “courtesy cars" only. But things were changing fast in Volusia County, Florida where he worked! After two years as Emergency Medical Technician, Russ was trained as a Mobile Intensive Care Unit Paramedic through one of the first pilot programs in the country in Daytona Beach.
In 1978, he moved to Santa Barbara County, CA. He co-founded and organized the California Paramedics Association, the first professional organization of EMS personnel to be affiliated with a union. After a twelve-year career in Emergency Medical Services, he left the field in the mid-1980's. "I loved the work," he says, "I burned out on the politics." (The average burnout at that stage of the developing profession was 3 years!)
explored other modalities of alternative medicine,
including treatment of terminal illnesses, the “Encounter
personal growth programs, counseling,
and 12-Step Programs while he built a career in video production and
He did a number of programs for the Hospital
Satellite Network, in
1987, he became a Minister
1990 through 1998, Russ supported himself through multi-media marketing
for (today's) largest dental laboratory in the world, Glidewell
intermittently lived and worked with
family on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota (Chips),
He began working with improvisation and as a semi-pro stand-up comic. In 1993, a screenplay he wrote (Healer) was produced and became the opening night film of the 1994 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He completed a three-year course of study of the Meisner (Acting) Technique under the guidance of a student of Sanford Meisner's, Jose Angel Santana, phD. Russ studied Reiki with a woman whose family sponsored Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki to the US.
In 1998, Russ moved to Lost Valley Educational Center, near Eugene, OR where he lived in intentional community with about 30 adults and eight children on 87 acres in the Willamette Valley. It was an eighteen-year-old community with a conference center, personal growth workshop (Naka-Ima – from the Japanese, inside the present moment -- and magazine (Talking Leaves). It was and is an experimental center for sustainable living and permaculture for the Cascadia Bioregion in the Pacific Northwest.
For the next five years, he assisted regularly in Naka-Ima, counseled members of the immediate and extended community, and produced a workshop of his own, now known as The heART of the healer. It uses acting and improv games to strengthen the healer’s ability to use heart-consciousness, complete presence in the moment, and connection as tools of healing.In 2003, Russ moved to Waianae, Oahu, and lived there for a year, during which time he planned out a book he had been working on entitled, Moments in the death of a Flesh Mechanic...a healer's rebirth He moved to Maui, in 2004.
In May of 2005, a Maui-based photographic project he was working on propelled Russ into a new dimension of the healing arts: The story of this… In Russ’ words, “the images came through me and let me know right away they were meant to be tools of healing.”
While synthesizing his experience through his website Russ has been expanding his artistic endeavors to include photographic portraits, music, performance art, and writing, while photographically documenting the incredible island of Maui.
Most recently, Russ has finished up a photographic project for use in the support of the Paia Youth and Cultural Center, a slideshow of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to Paia to dedicate a Stupa (spiritual shrine), portraits of Willie Nelson in performance, and a three-week showing of his photography, along with music, performance and video projects, at the largest collective anti-war art exhibit in the United States since before the fall of Iraq, on Maui.
On his web site, you will find A Most Unusual Rejection Letter, which gives an expert’s view of the kind of ground-breaking work he is doing in photography as applied to the healing arts. Russ has a body of exceptional Maui images (including Giclees on canvas) that can be viewed at his Gallery in his home, by appointment. Russ performs his original music in venues throughout the island. Oh, okay, a few!
Currently, Russ is working as a Tour Guide, on Maui. "This is very much an art form for me, as well as a logical extension of my life involved in the healing arts. For 1,500 years Maui has gathered healers to it. My focus is to share in an experience of Maui with my clients that emphasises the host culture while exposing them to the healing properties of this incredible island."