Reiki therapy provides emotional well-being

It complements many therapies

Reiki, a Japanese word meaning "universal life energy," is the name of a complementary therapy that can be incorporated into many treatment regimens because it is not invasive. It is best described as a system of subtle vibrations that induce healing, says Pamela Miles, founding director of the Institute for the Advancement of Complementary Therapies and a reiki master based in New York City.

When using reiki, a trained practitioner places his or her hands on the patient’s body, and the person being treated draws the healing vibration through the practitioner. Hand placements usually include the head, abdomen, and the back. "Reiki as a therapy is extremely passive," she says. The practitioner simply acts as a conduit for the healing energy, she says.

In the health care setting, Miles frequently uses reiki. She has given cancer patients reiki during chemotherapy treatments and worked with cardiac patients administering reiki therapy before surgery, in the recovery room, and sometimes during the procedure in the operating room. She worked with a heart transplant patient who found that the only therapy that would relieve his anxiety was reiki.

It is important to note that it does not treat disease, but moves a person’s being toward balance, says Miles. It is a holistic therapy that impacts a person physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Overall it enhances health and emotional well-being. "Even if a person is dying, reiki can be very healing in that it can relieve pain and bring the person to a peaceful state of mind," she says.

People with various health problems use reiki because it is not condition-specific. Miles has found it to be especially helpful with people who suffer from insomnia, HIV/AIDS, high-anxiety and panic disorders, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue, and irritable bowel. The number of treatments needed depends on the person. For example, someone who suffers from insomnia may find that he or she sleeps better the first night after using reiki, or it may take several treatments.

As a reiki master, Miles teaches reiki to others and recommends that people study it so they might use the therapy as part of their regular health routine. "There are lots of people who are very healthy who use reiki to maintain their well-being and for effective stress reduction on a daily basis or as needed," she reports.

"Self-treatment is the foundation of reiki," says Miles. People who want to use it on themselves and other family members should take a reiki I class from a master, which usually is taught in four three-hour sessions. During this class, students are attuned to the energy and learn the basic hand positions.

Once people have been trained, they don’t lose their ability to give reiki, but if they don’t use it their skill does not develop, she says. For the best effect, people should take the training and use reiki on a daily basis. It can be done as little as 20 minutes a day, and the sessions do not have to be done continuously. The time segments can be split up.

To find a reiki practitioner or master who teaches the technique, people should contact the Reiki Alliance in Cataldo, ID. "If you want training, you need a reiki master; and if you want treatment, you just need a reiki practitioner," says Miles. There are first- and second-degree practitioners. A person who has a second-degree training can do distance healing, which transmits healing when touch is either inappropriate or impossible. For example, some social workers and therapists prefer to take the second-degree reiki training so they can incorporate healing into their interviews, she adds.

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