It’s still somewhat uncommon to find a keen interest in complementary or integrative healing therapies outside the New York vegan yogi set that slips off to India or Machu Piccu for Christmas. So, as a Reiki Master, it was a little surprising to be asked to talk about Reiki to the Women’s Circle at the Riverdale Senior Services (RSS) along with an acupuncturist and aromatherapist last Wednesday afternoon.
The mind-body-spirit connection has long been known in the East, but until recently that kind of thinking was fairly radical in the West, where we have tended to see the doctor, surgeon and pharmacist as solutions to sickness rather than purveyors of good health. Here, the connection between stress, reduced immune function and illness is still viewed with skepticism within the medical community. Some, such as Dr. Oz, who has a Reiki practitioner attend heart transplant operations, have a more integrated practice, but it’s a practice that Forbes called one of his “five wackiest medical beliefs.”
Reiki is an ancient form of healing that was rediscovered by Japanese Monk Mikao Usui in the early 20th century. It is a gentle, hands-on, complementary healing practice during which the Reiki practitioner attunes to the ki (also known as chi or life force) and allows healing energy flow through his or her hands, through the patient’s energy field, cleansing away toxins, enhancing the body’s natural healing ability and facilitating physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It also awakens the person’s own spirit to begin to regain spiritual balance. Essentially, it reduces stress and helps the body heal itself.
My mother back in Ireland called it “another weird thing” that I’d picked up in New York City until desperation and chronic migraines that had plagued her almost daily for two years drove her to sit in a chair for a 20-minute Reiki session. Thirty minutes later, her migraine started to clear, and after a few more sessions, they disappeared altogether. The weird and wacky were forgotten, and Reiki found a new devotee.