The Reiki Experience

Last year we focused on the basics of how the body works.  We did anatomy and started with the feet and moved our way up the body to the shoulder and neck.  This year, the focus has been on alternative ways to sense your body.  We did a heart workshop in February.  In March, the studio organized Reiki training, and April was about the energy of various stones.  It is interesting what is showing up in the Art of Mastering Movement.   There are many levels and layers to the human experience.  They seem to revel themselves with appropriate timing, and as you allow them to.  I will continue to write about the workshops here at the studio.  I am just not able to predict at this time what they may be about.

 

Continuing with the idea of things being revealed to you in the appropriate time, I found this article on Reiki from the Wall Street Journal in March.  I thought I would include it here to give you a sense of what Reiki is and how it is used in the world.  It is simple and profound at the same time.  Below is the article called “A Touch of Massage Therapy”, by Laura Johannes and printed on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

 

Reiki, a therapy in which hands are placed lightly on the body or just above it, is increasingly being used to reduce cancer-related fatigue, anxiety, nausea and pain.  Several studies suggest a benefit to patients, but scientists say more large, rigorous studies are needed.

 

Cancer patients – due to the disease and to side effects of chemotherapy – often suffer from severe mental and physical fatigue, doctor’s say.  Anxiety, nausea and pain are also common.  In recent years, many cancer centers have been offering Reiki, a form of healing which originated in Japan in the early 1900’s, according to scientific literature.  In a session of Reiki, hands are placed lightly on the body.  Each spot is treated for three minutes or longer and sometimes therapists place their hands just above the body without touching, says Donah Drewett, a Fairlee, Vt. Based Reiki therapist who works at Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, N.H.

 

Extra care is needed with cancer patients.  Therapists must avoid sensitive areas on the body such as ports used to administer medications, doctors and therapists say.  The gentleness of Reiki is appealing to cancer patients, many of who are too ill to tolerate a deep tissue massage, doctors say.

 

Reiki is often described as a treatment that helps life energy to flow in a patient – an explanation not generally accepted by scientists.  Barrie Cassileth, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, calls the energy theory “absurd” but says light touch therapy can have a “great relaxing effect” on cancer patients “who are constantly poked, prodded and given needles.”

 

Adds Deborah Steele, manager of patient and family support services: “How it works is a mystery, but we see anecdotally the amount of delight” it brings to patients.

 

Some scientists think the benefits may be as simple as the warmth of human tough and the feeling that someone is caring for you.

 

At Memorial Sloan Ketering, treatment for inpatients is available at no extra charge; outpatients pay $90 to $110 a session.  At Norris Cotton, trained volunteers administer treatments free of charge.  Insurance typically doesn’t pay for Reiki.

 

Other centers don’t offer Reiki, citing insufficient evidence.  “There isn’t a good evidence base for its utility in cancer care as of yet,” says Lorenzo Cohen, a professor in the departments of general oncology and behavioral science at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

 

David S Rosenthal, medical director of the Leonard P Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana Farber Center Institute in Boston, co-authored a January study on Reiki that was published in Cancer.   The study found twice weekly, 50-minute sessions reduced anxiety in 18 men with prostate cancer, but the benefit wasn’t statistically significant compared with a control group.  A larger study is needed to determine if a benefit exists, Dr. Rosenthal says.  “The evidence for Reiki is still slim, but there are trends and we have to show whether those trends are real,” he says.

 

A 2004 study of 1,290 cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering found a light touch massage, standard Swedish massage and foot massage all helped symptoms including pain, depression anxiety, nausea and fatigue; the study didn’t have a control group.  In a 16 person study published in 2007 in Integrative Cancer Therapies, a team of Canadian scientists found five daily Reiki sessions of about 45 minutes improved quality of life and general well being reported by cancer patients on a 28 question survey significantly more than resting for about the same period.  Study co-author Linda E Carlson, a psychologist and an associate professor in the oncology division at the University of Calgary, says she thinks it is possible that a good rapport between the Reiki therapist and the patients could be the reason for the positive result.  This is the conclusion of the article.

 

To continue, last week we finished our part two of level one Reiki workshop.  In that workshop we got to do hands on work on each other.  We had six people doing Reiki on one person at a time.  We all had the best of intentions and the most positive outlook possible.  The experience was amazing.  The work is simple, profound and mysterious.  It could be that six positively minded people are putting their attention on you that it feels good.  It could be because of the ancient symbols that the practitioners are channeling.  I think it is most likely a combination of both.  Everyone in the room was transformed by the experience, both the person being worked on and the people doing the work.  We were all giddy, excited, calm and relaxed.  We could have gone on for hours.  In fact the class ended two hours later. I feel we had the same conclusion as the article.  Reiki works, but I am not sure why it works.  Some things may be better left unanswered, or maybe by doing the work the answers someday may be revealed.

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