Reiki: An Ancient Tool For Modern Living

As a social worker, educator, Reiki Master and a homeschooling parent, I am consistently challenged by the question of how to balance my "outer world" with my "inner world." Like many of us, my typical day is often a busy one. The practice of self-care is a necessity, not a luxury.

Over the years, I have come across a variety of tools to support me on my personal healing journey. One tool in particular has proven to offer support on a rich and profound level. This tool is Reiki.

Reiki (pronounced RAY-key) is an ancient healing technique that was rediscovered in the 1800’s by Mikao Usui, a Japanese educator. It empowers the body to facilitate physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, working to relieve "stuck" or stagnant energy within the realm of the human energy system which, if left untreated, can contribute to stress and/or illness. Similar to modalities such as acupuncture and shiatsu, Reiki also works with the human energy system, but offers a less physically invasive technique. Rather than the use of friction, pressing specific points on the body or puncture of the skin, a typical Reiki treatment employs only the use of gentle touch. This makes it a particularly welcome technique among certain populations such as children, the elderly and others for whom more invasive treatments may be difficult.

Reiki has been known to reduce stress, pain and fatigue by causing deep relaxation, thus supporting the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Because it can work on all levels simultaneously – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – Reiki treatment has also been known to be beneficial to those with issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties or blocks in creative or spiritual pursuits. Reiki is not a religion and one does not need to believe in the modality for it to be of some support to them.

One may experience Reiki by receiving a treatment offered by a trained Reiki practitioner. During a typical session a client will lie, fully clothed on a massage table, while the practitioner places their hands on the client’s body in an array of specific treatment patterns that correspond to energetic centers within the body. The client may experience various sensations during the treatment including warmth or tingling. One may also experience Reiki by attending a certification class in order to become "attuned," or empowered, to use Reiki on one’s self or on others. Reiki is typically used on people, plants and animals.

Reiki has recently found a niche in the medical community. It is currently being used in clinical settings such as hospitals where it is used to treat patients in both pre-op and post-op units. Patients have reported feelings such as being more relaxed and less depressed after such treatments. The goal of a Reiki treatment is not to cure, but rather to balance. Rather than focusing on what is "wrong" with someone, it might be more accurate to state that something is simply "unbalanced," energetically speaking, in one’s body, mind or spirit at a given moment on the time continuum. Reiki supports the body’s ability to return to wholeness in however that is possible for that person at that moment. For example, a cancer patient may not experience remission, but, depending on where they are when they receive Reiki, may experience balance enough to increase their own quality of life. In the past few years, Reiki has even been taught at prominent area medical schools including Tufts and Brown. After lecturing on Reiki to a group of Harvard medical students, I was personally pleased to discover that many of today’s medical students are really quite eager to learn more about the value of working with the human energy system, in addition to other systems within the body.

As Reiki certification classes usually consist of only one or two days some have questioned the validity of such training. How is it possible to walk into a class and walk out a few hours later as a "practitioner"? To answer that question, one needs to first understand that one does not "learn" Reiki in the usual sense. Rather, one begins at the point of activation as a result of an energetic attunement process which does not, in and of itself, usually take a great deal of physical time to take place between teacher and student. Class information is also given and varies depending on the teacher, but generally includes information about the history of Reiki, uses, instruction and practice.

It is also important to understand that while one leaves the class with the ability to use Reiki, much of the true learning takes place long after the class is over. One must continue to practice in order to learn to develop the ability to "listen with the whole self." Healing is not an event of an instantaneous nature. Rather, it is a process that takes place over time. As such, it is necessary that we deal with the deeper meaning of our illnesses. It is important to ask what an illness might mean to us, as well as what we can be learning from it. So, while one may be able to use Reiki fairly quickly after the initial instruction, one soon discovers that Reiki will ask of us to develop all of our senses in participating in the healing process. This development is an evolving process and one that knows no time limit.

Our busy lives and our culture in particular offer us many unique challenges in dealing with stress and illness. It is possible, however, to take what we have learned from the past and continue to use it to support both our present and our future growth. In this sense, Reiki is truly an ancient tool for modern living. It is a modality that is blazing new trails while offering a continued sense of hope to many.

Brenda Armstrong-Champ is a writer, Reiki master, social worker and the mother of two children. For more information contact Brenda at turnofthewheel@comcast.netor (781) 393-4416.