With the COVID-19 pandemic,isolation, suffering, loss of jobs, and loss of life have all become impossible to ignore. Some looked inward to find ease within themselves in these troubling times, while others sought refuge outside for support and care. It has prompted medical attention to go beyond just clinics and hospitals, with holistic approaches and mental health care becoming a priority for many.
Reiki as a healing approach was codified in Japan in the 20th century by its founder, Dr. Mikao Usui. This holistic practice was prevalent throughout ancient history, but it is said to have originated in India. It can be roughly translated as Rei meaning ‘spiritual’, and Ki meaning the ‘life force energy’. The healer acts as a facilitator in activating and channelling the ‘universal energy’ by hovering their hands on a person’s body. It can even be carried out from miles away, confirming that it’s a union between mysticism and medicine.
Throughout the world, holistic healing approaches have gained popularity and are used as a complementary practice to traditional medicine. In the past few decades, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture have beenscientifically studied to measure their success. Reiki, being the latest entry, has perplexed quite a few due to its success without an identified cause. “All of this is so wishy-washy – how can you heal just by physical touch?” my sister said to me when I volunteered to heal her after my training to become a Reiki Practitioner. After we completed the session, she said it was reassuring to feel the warmth of care, which made her feel energised and humbled.
Dr. Ann Baldwin, Editor-in-Chief for the Center of Reiki Research, says that people who claim to study Reiki through energy-sensing machines are measuring something else – such as heat – but hopes that we may be able to measure it one day. There have been studies demonstrating that Reiki has successfully lessened the side effects of chemotherapy, induced favourable surgical outcomes, calmed the nervous system, and produced long-lasting results in altering people’s experiences in both physical and emotional pain.
“I had no urge to eat and forgotten how to sleep,” said my client Abdullah, who is a UAE national and owner of a real estate company. “After the first session, I was able to sleep like a baby and eat like a bear,” he laughed. His root, sacral, and solar chakras were severely imbalanced, causing havoc in his personal and professional life. After six sessions at Illuminations Well Being Center, he was able to get on with his life with peace and stability while his personal relationships greatly improved.
No cohesive study has been able to describe the mechanisms of how healing energy is passed between bodies, though reiki treatment and training is offered in many esteemed hospitals in the UK and US. Reiki Master Pamela Miles (who has been practicing Reiki since 1986) suggests that as an energy substance, it cannot be given, received, or measured in a scientific context. “Through an unknown mechanism, the hands aremindfully placed with detachment, which evokes a healing response within the system,” she says.
Hippocrates, known as the father of Western medicine, observed in his notes that health – like diseases – can passed from one person to another. Scientists researching Reiki suggest that it is similar to a mother touching the injured knee of her child to make the pain go away through physical touch and care. Personally, I learned about Reiki while I was going through a hard time in my life. I never liked the sound of pharmaceuticals or even psychotherapy. I wanted to believe in having a spirit and, if I believed in spirit, I had to believe that wellness is not just about the mind or the body. Reiki allowed me to experience my spirit, and it showed me a whole new world that I perhaps always believed in, but somehow buried deep in the depths of my mind so as to not come off as crazy.
“I have an inexplicable pain in my arm and just can’t focus on work. I literally lash out at my closest friends for no reason at all,” a client named Tahira, a UAE national working in marketing, said to me during our first appointment. She suffered from childhood wounds and lack of self-esteem, which caused both her solar plexus and sacral chakra to be blocked. After a few sessions, she said to me, “You transformed my whole life. When I think of myself before the first session, that person doesn’t sound like me.”
60-year-old Anastasia, an expat schoolteacher with a cheerful demeanour, came to me one day and told me she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. After a few minutes of talking, I told her that perhaps her heart chakra needed some attention, which made her burst into tears as she was still holding onto her grandson’s grief. Days after she successfully completed her treatment, I got her text saying, “My tests show I am cancer-free, and your support made me go through chemotherapy with courage and an open heart. I will never forget that you saved me.” Thatmessage reassured me that Reiki is a powerful and dynamic healing modality.
In the book Alternate Medicine? A History,medical historianRoberta Bivins noticed that when comparing conventional medicine with alternative medicine, the Western model is effective but “far from complete”. She further posits that a person’s health is heavily influenced by their emotions, the weather, the position of the stars, and faith – just as much as diet, age, activity, and environment.