What the heck is Reiki, anyway?

What the heck is Reiki, anyway?

In a word, Reiki is energywork.  Many ancient cultures, including the Japanese, Chinese, Indians and Egyptians embraced the belief that life energy flowed through the body, deeply affecting our bodies, minds and emotions.  Current research strongly suggests that energy does extend throughout and beyond the physical body, and that disruptions or imbalances in its flow correlate to physical, mental and emotional illnesses.  The healing art of Reiki addresses these imbalances to support your good health and well-being.Reiki alleviates pain and stress and promotes restful sleep, healing and relaxation.  Relaxation in itself promotes a host of benefits for the mind and body including a heightened sense of well-being, release of muscle tension, and relief from anxiety and depression.  In addition, relaxation has been shown to help restore immune function and improve circulation, enhancing healing throughout your body.Reiki is not only healthful, but pleasurable.  One of its greatest benefits may be the opportunity to let go and enjoy the experience of being nurtured and cared for.Reiki may be practiced no matter what the state of health and when other forms of bodywork are inappropriate.

What is Reiki?  Reiki (pronounced Ray-key) is a Japanese word meaning Universal Life Energy.  It is a non-invasive method of hands-on healing that taps into the energy referred to by philosophers and martial artists as ki in Japan, chi in China and prana in India.  The practice of Reiki is based on the teachings of a Japanese man, Mikao Usui, who taught and practiced Reiki in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Research into Usui’s work points to ancient Buddhist sutras and teachings of great Eastern masters, as well as his own meditation practice.  Usui put his inspiration to good use – over the next century Reiki spread throughout Japan and then the world.Reiki is not massage, hypnosis, or a tool for diagnosing illness.  Reiki is a technique that addresses both chronic and acute conditions, gently and powerfully promoting balance among all the body’s systems and the normal regenerative processes of the body and mind.

Reiki in Health Care  Used by a rapidly growing number of hospitals all over the world, Reiki complements medical treatment, natural therapies and massage therapy.  Reiki increases a caregiver’s ability to provide patient support and is easily practiced in all hospital environments from outpatient clinic to intensive care.Reiki is being successfully integrated into numerous clinical settings to complement medical care and psychological counseling.  It is gentle enough to offer support and reduce the discomforts of pregnant women and can help ease the pain of childbirth.  Hospitals such as Tucson Medical Center, St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco and St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania have teams of Reiki practitioners available to a range of patients, including those with cancer or recovering from surgery.  Reiki is especially appreciated in hospice care where its ability to alleviate pain and anxiety for both patient and family members is so greatly needed.

Recent Research  Medical research has focused upon verifying Reiki’s effects rather than explaining how it works.  The results are impressive.  One study showed a “highly significant reduction in pain”, including cancer pain, following Reiki treatment.  Another study cited improvement in immune and nervous system functioning and increased mobility in patients with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and fibromyalgia.  At Columbia/HCA Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, surgical patients decreased their use of pain medications, stayed for shorter periods of time and reported increased satisfaction with pre-and post-surgical Reiki sessions.

What is a Reiki session like?  Wear loose, comfortable clothing to a Reiki session.  A normal session is performed with you lying on a massage table; but Reiki is adaptable enough that you can receive it in almost any setting including a chair, hospital bed, through casts and bandages and in any state of health.Little or no pressure is applied and no oils are used.  Still and focused, the practitioner simply places her or his hands on or above your head, shoulders, back, chest, stomach and limbs.  Practitioners routinely follow a series offhand positions, but can place their hands anywhere you would like them to, for example over an injury or other area of discomfort.  The teachings say that the energy will flow through the practitioner, but not from the practitioner, to you.  You will receive the amount of energy you need to bring your mind and body into balance.If you observed a Reiki session, it might not be apparent that anything was occurring.  But, when you experience Reiki, you will know otherwise.  The affects vary from individual to individual; most people experience deep relaxation.  You may experience a tingling or pulsing sensation, a feeling of warmth and comfort, or you may even fall asleep.Results are subtle.  Some recipients say they feel little during the session, but afterwards enjoy a sense of calm and well-being, and a deep restful sleep.  It is possible that you will experience powerful sensation or emotions during or after a Reiki session.  Your practitioner will want to hear about all your responses to the degree you are comfortable sharing them.

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