Elise Brenner, Ph.D
Reiki is a gentle, non-invasive, spiritually-based, Japanese healing system for maintaining and restoring health and wellness of body, mind, and spirit. The word ‘Reiki’ means ‘spiritual energy’ or ‘soul energy’. It is this spiritual energy, which is both within us and ‘out there’ that we connect with to bring healing and to restore balance to the recipient and facilitate personal growth and development.
The practice of Reiki has grown by leaps and bounds in hospitals around the world. Patients in hospitals across the globe are able to access Reiki services either by volunteer Reiki practitioners or by Reiki-trained doctors and nurses. Both qualitative and quantitative studies demonstrate that hospital patients who experience Reiki sessions are calmer, heal faster, experience less pain, and are frequently discharged earlier than anticipated. The bottom line is that Reiki in hospitals not only improves patient care, but also reduces costs. Hospitals clearly recognize that Reiki is not only an integrative mind, body, spirit healing art, but also a practical resource for hospital patients and staff.
The system of Reiki is a complementary healing practice that can be learned and used by anyone. An individual may choose a Reiki professional and receive sessions to get relief from troubling physical conditions or because he or she is seeking a happier, more vitalized self. Alternatively, an individual may choose to become trained in Reiki in order to improve his/her own wellbeing and to care for others with Reiki. Either way, a Reiki treatment is performed by gentle touch on (or hands hovering a few inches above) the body’s major organs, glands, and joints using a series of hand positions. The recipient is always fully clothed, either lying down on a Reiki table or seated comfortably in a chair.
Whether one learns Reiki for one’s own health and well-being, or whether one seeks a Reiki session from a Reiki practitioner, a Reiki treatment facilitates balance and alignment on four levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
The Physical Level
Reiki helps individuals have more restful sleep at night; maintain higher energy levels in the day; get relief from pain caused by acute and chronic illnesses, injuries, and other health conditions. Reiki facilitates stress reduction and relaxation which has beneficial effects on the immune system and on blood pressure. Reiki helps to bring balance to all of the body’s systems. When the body is in a state of balance it is more likely to heal itself. For general health and wellness, a Reiki treatment induces the “relaxation response”.
The Relaxation Response involves body, mind, and emotions. It encourages enhanced integrated functioning of the body’s own natural healing system. A deep state of relaxation acts through the autonomic nervous system (that part of the peripheral nervous system that controls many organs, muscles, and glands in the body, and acts to maintain homeostasis in the body) to regulate blood pressure and heart rate and to relieve tension and anxiety. The brain waves shift from beta to alpha, indicative of deep, healing relaxation. This state of relaxation also expands the ability of the immune system to defend against viruses and bacteria. Further, the relaxation response stimulates the brain’s production of endorphins (the natural opiates) that act to decrease the perception of pain and create a sense of well being. The blood flow to the muscles decreases, and is re-directed to the brain and skin, producing a sensation of warmth and mental/emotional serenity. As muscle tension decreases, the individual feels tranquil, calm, and serene.
Dr. Herbert Benson, in his pioneering book, The Relaxation Response, demonstrated that any form of mental concentration that distances the individual from his or her usual concerns and anxieties can produce deep, healing relaxation. Once our mind is clear of its chronic state of worry and fear, tranquility seems to be its natural state.
Reiki is used as a tool for the alleviation of problematic physical conditions and symptoms, be they acute or chronic. Examples include pain reduction; acceleration of healing of cuts, bruises, burns; acceleration of post-surgical healing; alleviation of side-effects of medications and medical treatments such as chemotherapy; improvement of blood pressure; improvement of sleep; strengthened immune system. Similarly, Reiki is used as a tool for the alleviation of emotional pain, stress, trauma, worry, anger, distress, anxiety, depression, and, really, any emotional suffering.
The Mental Level
When one is in a state of balance stress is easier to handle and clarity in decision making is easier to attain. The recipient may experience an attitude shift, a creative insight, or a solution to a vexing problem. The mind is sometimes called the “organ of misery” because it has the capacity to ruin our days, even our lives, with its incessant rambling and ruminating. Sometimes our minds just freak out, which then sets off a cascade of hormonal and chemical responses that compromise our physical and emotional health.
The Emotional Level
The ups and downs of everyday life become more manageable when one is in a balanced state. Mikao Usui, the founder of the system of Reiki, conceived of Reiki as a system that heals our everyday stresses and worries, alleviating anxiety, fear, and depression.
The Spiritual Level
A state of balance facilitates spiritual growth and self-development, allowing the individual to connect to his/her higher self or higher guidance. Reiki supports us as we connect to an inner peace and serenity, as well as to a sense of oneness with others and the universe.
Reiki as a Practice and Life Path
As a practice, Reiki is similar to meditation or yoga, in that a Reiki practitioner performs the elements of the system of Reiki every day for self-development and personal growth, as well as for overall mind and body wellness, so that we can bring our best selves to serve others.
Reiki as a life path means we ultimately strive to be Reiki; to embody Reiki. Reiki is a spiritual pathway to the experience of Oneness and connection. Reiki as a life path means a commitment to a life-long practice of Reiki meditations, daily self-Reiki, and integrating the Five Reiki Precepts into our lives.
The Five Reiki Precepts
The secret of inviting happiness through many blessings; the spiritual medicine for all illnesses:
Just For Today…
Be Honest in Your Work
Be Compassionate to All Beings
Elise Brenner, Ph.D, Reiki Master Teacher, is a strong advocate for Reiki outreach, education, and empowerment. The owner of Brenner Reiki Healing in Newton, MA, Elise provides all levels of Reiki training, in-depth mentoring for Reiki professionals, a monthly Community Reiki Clinic, and is Founder of the non-profit Reiki educational and outreach organization, Celebration of Reiki, Inc. As an anthropologist, Elise Brenner has researched cross-cultural healing practices, thereby enriching the scope and depth of her Reiki practice. www.BrennerReikiHealing.org
This article first published in South Shore & Cape Cod Metaphysics Magazine March 2014, edited for length.
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