Reflections of a Reiki Master
In some circles, the Reiki Master is the brunt of jokes, considered a practitioner of foolish magical thinking that is emblematic of irrational “new age” nonsense. In other circles, the Reiki Master is a respected healer, teacher, and community leader. One might assume that the differing perspectives create an intense conflict. However, in my experience, few people seem drawn to condemn Reiki or force it upon others.
Founded by a Japanese spiritual seeker in the early 1900s, Reiki is a non-denominational tradition of universal respect, compassion, and healing that requires no particular religious beliefs for practitioners or their clients. It is a spiritual healing system and lineage that uses positive universal energies. Some religious denominations practice healing rituals such as “laying on of hands,” which has similarities to Reiki and other forms of energy work. As a complementary, or “integrative medicine” modality, Reiki, Healing Touch, and other forms of energy medicine can help bring relaxation and hope to the recipient.
A typical Reiki session, like most other energy work modalities, is conducted with the client, fully clothed, lying down on a massage table. The practitioner focuses and clarifies their thoughts, then respectfully directs universal energy with their hands and mind through the client’s energy field and into the client’s body. Treatment is focused on the body as needed to help remove blocked energy and restore healthy balance. Although most Reiki sessions involve resting the hands in various positions on the client’s body, Reiki can also be performed without direct contact.
In my experience, clients who are drawn to Reiki are interested in healing body, mind, emotion, and spirit. I have had Reiki clients seeking relief from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and others who were interested in a spiritual experience removed from the religious dogmas of their childhoods. Recently, one of my Kaplan University students reported on her first Reiki session. What was most remarkable to her was that she felt a tremendous amount of heat radiating from the hands of the Reiki practitioner. Yet, when she happened to touch the practitioner’s hands, they were quite cold! This is a common subjective experience clients may encounter during a Reiki session.
Energy work can look rather odd to bystanders, and I admit that there are times during a Reiki treatment when I am well aware that I look like someone merely waving hands over another person. However, I have very specific intentions and a deep meditative compassion as I do this work. The power of a Reiki session is in the personal interconnections that allow the recipient to relax, to feel cared for, and to feel safe. There can be a special appeal to energy work modalities that are available to people from all walks of life. For me, Reiki is a manifestation of an inclusive global ethical value.
While energy work is not a replacement for appropriate medical care or scientific research and inquiry, I practice in a hospital-based system in which many physicians are very pleased that their patients can find support and encouragement in their healing journeys. At the same time, scientific research is beginning to support the positive role of energy work and prayer in facilitating good healing outcomes.
Combining religion, science, spirituality and culture, I have found that energy work can be a part of feeding the human soul, whether one sees that as a literal or metaphorical concept. It is, therefore, up to me to be sure that this common human experience I ritualize during energy work is directed at the highest common denominator.
I have had the opportunity to study a number of the world’s religious, ethical, and wisdom traditions. In my studies, I have especially embraced what one of my teachers, the late Brother Wayne Teasdale, referred to as “Interspirituality,” or the common core values of all major religions. I have also studied human nature and culture, which taught me that there is a universal human need to gather with likeminded people in community and to use ritual to express belonging and caring. These gatherings of hope, faith, and common humanity are powerful experiences which contribute to our wholeness and well being.
For more information about Reiki, visit the website of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), of the National Institutes of Health at http://nccam.nih.gov/health/reiki/ The University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, has a variety of resources on Reiki and other energy medicine modalities that can be found at http://takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reiki.
Earon Davis is an adjunct professor in the Kaplan University School of Health Sciences. He combines his teaching with being a massage practitioner, Reiki Master, writer, and “Didgeridoo For Health” instructor. He is also a student of Kabbalistic Healing, Shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism, and other traditions. Obviously drawn to the “soft” side of the health care system, Mr. Davis is an independent contractor with the Integrative Medicine program of NorthShore University HealthSystems in Glenview, IL. This program is directed by Leslie Mendoza Temple, MD, a member of Kaplan University’s Health and Wellness Advisory Board, whose training included a fellowship with Andrew Weil, MD, the pioneer of “Integrative Medicine.”
Mr. Davis also has had a career in environmental health law and advocacy, holding a law degree from Washington University School of Law and public health degree from the UCLA School of Public Health. He has served on a number of national advisory and government policy working groups related to indoor air quality, environmental health, and consumer protection. Mr. Davis is a past recipient of the Crane Gargoyle Award from the Council for Disability Rights and the Carlton Lee Award from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. He is the proud father of three adult children.