By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Once dismissed in many circles of Western medicine as quackery, reiki has gained a reputation as helpful for pain, anxiety and stress relief among many healthcare providers.
For example, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center hosts reiki practitioners for guests of its Survivorship and Supportive Care Center. The University of Rochester Medical Center also regularly hosts reiki practitioners for special events and clinics.
Most people do not understand how it works, but its effects impress many who try it.
“It promotes healing; we are more relaxed and it opens us,” said Roseanne D’Erasmo Script, reiki practitioner and owner of Buffalo Healing Therapies. “’Rei’ is spiritual wisdom and ‘ki’ is lifeforce energy in Japanese. It shortens healing time, reduces pain, reduces stress and creates a sense of optimism.”
Script is certified in reiki; ThetaHealing, a meditation training technique; and healing touch, a type of energy therapy.
“It’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realignment. It never depletes. It’s powerful, yet gentle,” she added. “They use it in many hospitals around the U.S. because it’s so easy to learn.”
Reiki clients remain fully clothed and practitioners place their hands slightly above clients. Unlike massage therapy, the practitioners do not manipulate tissue, but typically hover over patients.
“We first scan the body to see what we’re dealing with,” Script said. “We hold the energy. We’re the plug and the energy comes through us and the energy goes where it’s needed.”
The client may feel warmth or, as Script described it, “a wonderful, glowing energy around them.”
A typical session will last roughly an hour. Clients often begin feeling relief right away. However, some may need subsequent sessions to work through a particular issue.
Lisa Metlak, reiki practitioner and owner of White Wolf Reiki & Wellness in North Tonawanda, explained reiki as “realigning the energy in the person’s body to help them in their mental state. It can be beneficial for calming anxiety and identify and help certain illnesses.”
She views reiki as complementary to medical treatment in that it supports the body’s ability to heal, but it is not a replacement for health care.
Some people think that reiki is like a spiritual ceremony of laying on hands practiced in some churches. However, Metlak said that reiki pulls energy in from the universe and does not necessarily involve prayer (although some reiki practitioners may combine reiki with spirituality, depending on the client’s wishes).
“Because it is not a physical thing in the body, there won’t be contraindication with medical treatments or medications,” Metlak said. “I do warn people you may cry; it’s OK. Let it go. They may hold back emotions and it finally lets them release it and they feel better afterwards.”
She said that she used to be in the camp of skeptics, thinking that reiki was not effective at all.
“It was a matter of being able to identify and pay attention to how it feels and be open to it,” Metlak said. “If you’re not open, then you’re going to inhibit your own healing process. A lot of times, that’s why you need reiki and a massage. And maybe a cabin in the woods.”