Healing Hands

The energy of reiki regenerates body and soul.

By Susan Weiner

April 2006

Duane Brown first heard about reiki through an acquaintance who spoke about a healing technique that used energy channels to revitalize the body and mind. “I understood what she was talking about right away because I’d been practicing chi gung for many years,” the reiki practitioner now recalls.

Literally translated into rei (spirit) and ki (life force), reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) involves the circulation of “life force energy” throughout the body, like chi gung and other healing modalities. It can restore balance and support the body’s natural ability to heal itself, explains William Rand, president of the International Center for Reiki Training in Southfield, Michigan: “It’s a subtle energy we all have.”

Consequently, if someone’s life force energy is too low, he or she is more prone to illness.

Similar to healing practices like massage, reiki is administered through the laying on of hands. The client is fully clothed and the practitioner (also known as a master), moves his or her hands in patterns across the body, either lightly touching or keeping the hands hovering a few inches away from the recipient; patients may experience a feeling of warmth, a rush of energy, profound relaxation or tingling sensations. The sessions typically last from 45 to 90 minutes and are designed to be deeply relaxing.

A Healing Art Is Reborn

Modern reiki was developed in the early 1900s by Mikao Usui, a Buddhist lay priest in Japan, who rediscovered the ancient art. In the 1930s, reiki made its way to Hawaii, eventually becoming popular in the West in the 1970s at the same time that other alternative remedies came to light.

“Reiki can help to create a restorative environment within the body to assist in the healing of many conditions and maladies,” explains Linda M. LaFlamme, MS, executive director of the International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP), which has been compiling a database of research and articles relating to reiki and specific conditions. “Reiki is a great complement to use in tandem with traditional medicine to assist a patient’s well-being.”

This explains why reiki has played a significant role in many hospice and hospital programs. The technique has been used with psychotherapy, cancer, AIDS, diabetes, transplant and surgical patients at facilities that include Georgetown University, George Washington University Hospital and University of Arizona. Reiki is routinely used to foster overall pain relief and help alleviate chemotherapy’s side effects at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as part of its Integrative Medicine Service; the hospital even offers reiki classes to caregivers and patients.

A number of other respected medical institutions, including the Cleveland Clinic, the University of Michigan Health System and the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, have conducted clinical studies of reiki. Recent research funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the National Institutes of Health, determined that reiki will continue to catch on in more hospitals.

Emotional Rescue

Reiki works so well in easing ills effectively, say supporters, because it takes a truly holistic approach. A significant aspect of healing from a reiki perspective is letting go of anger and other negative emotions, since these feelings and attitudes expend energy that can be channeled towards healing.

When a woman with multiple sclerosis approached James Rodriguez for reiki treatments, he could see that control issues consumed her. Despite her physical symptoms (including severe pain and vertigo), Rodriguez, a reiki master for 10 years, felt that addressing her emotional problems was vital to her healing: “She had to accept that she could not control her daughter.”

After a series of sessions, the woman’s condition improved dramatically, to the point where she could shop and care for herself, things she had been unable to do for years. “People need to move into a greater place of love instead of fear,” says Rodriguez. “It makes a tremendous difference in their ability to heal. That is the beauty of reiki—it addresses both the emotional and physical facets of the person.”

For a reiki practitioner, an added benefit is the ability to work on oneself. In fact, many reiki clients go on to become practitioners. Duane Brown remembers how he experienced the psychological healing power of reiki first-hand. “I was going through a lot in my life at the time,” he says. “I probably should have seen a counselor, but reiki helped me through it all.” The technique is easily transferred from master to student through an attunement, with the new practitioner able to offer treatments right away.

“The attunement process is done by the teacher, and it aligns that person’s energy field to be able to channel reiki energy,” explains Rand. “It’s like turning on a switch. Anyone can learn it in a weekend course.”

If you’re looking for a hands-on approach to your health, reiki may provide just the right touch.

For more information on reiki,
visit the International Center for Reiki Training at www.reiki.org.

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