Does reiki treatment really work?
All I know is that when Angela bid me lie down on her massage table, even with all of my clothes on and her hands held about four inches above my forehead, I could feel heat coming from her palms as palpably as if I were basking under a reptile lamp. Try that at home. See if you can make your partner or a friend feel obvious heat from your hands at that distance. I held out my hands and tried it on my husband and he was like, “What the hell are you doing? I’m trying to watch the hockey game.” Maybe he would have felt something if I were running a fever. The point is, it’s an uncanny skill.
Angela says she first realized she had something going on when she was 16 years old, and a friend sprained his ankle at her house. She wrapped a hand around his foot to comfort him, she recalls, and his pain abruptly vanished. “It scared the hell out of me,” she says.
Years later, she encountered reiki, and trained to become a Master Practitioner. (You can find a teacher through the Canadian Reiki Association, based in Burnaby, B.C.) “I function as a channel,” she explains, “so that energy comes through me and out of my hands.”
This she does in a candle-lit room sonorous with spa muzak. (Well, that’s what I call it. You know those vague, Tibetan-sounding gongs and pings?)
As I reclined on her table with my eyes closed, she walked around me very slowly and purposefully, from my head to my toes, stopping at various stations along the way to hold her hands above me, or to quietly rest them on top of a certain place.
Angela is as slender and graceful as a deer, and moves just as soundlessly.
The process behind reiki treatment
Later, she explained the process. “When I find areas of the body that need attention, there are several things going on for me.
Usually, I will feel an energetic shift in my hands. For example, they might become very hot, or start to feel a very thick or dense energy. When I feel that the hot, tingly, dense or electrical sensations have subsided in my palms and come back to normal, it is my cue to move on,’” she says, adding that it’s tricky to describe such “ethereal feelings.”
Angela worked on me for an hour, during which time I decided upon and then discarded about six ideas for dinner, worried about the economy, wondered when my son would need braces and rehashed the plot of the most recent episode of House.
At length, she told me I could get up when I felt ready, and I discovered I had no inclination whatever to move. I hadn’t noticed how much she’d relaxed me.
Eventually, as I came downstairs to fetch my coat and pay my $75, I asked what she felt she had treated. (It was hard to tell yet whether my knee was better, since the pain tended to come and go.)
She mentioned, lightly and politely, the sheer busy-ness of my brain. And also that she’d picked up on issues to do with anger, and my liver.
This took me aback, because I had just had blood work done to monitor my liver enzymes, which were slightly elevated due to medication. Coincidence? Or could she really be discerning some sort of vibrational jam-up or density in my liver?
Coincidence or not?
Over the next few days, without giving further thought to the reiki treatment, I grew aware of three improvements in my general well-being. My mood was brighter, my knee now no longer hurt and my skin, which is prone to urticaria (chronic hives), remained smooth, although it flared up again a couple of months later.
In an email, Angela commented: “I generally find, with this type of subtle work, that the body also heals subtly. In each session, the individual’s energy level is raised to a higher vibration, which then gradually affects the person as a whole.”
That may be so. Or it could be the placebo effect at work, or even the relaxing experience of taking a time out to lie down on a table for an hour. Is it worth the money?
Until science can nail down the efficacy of energy medicine, I’d say it’s something to consider as a complement to, but not a substitute for, working with your doctor.
As for Angela, may the force be with her!