Monday, March 28, 2016


The lowdown on Reiki therapy

“Do you know what Reiki therapy is?” I asked five people this question, and these are the answers I received: “Not really...” “I think it has something to do with pressure points...” “I’ve heard of it...” “No, what is it?” and “I have no idea.”

I must confess I didn’t know that much about Reiki, either, except it is rapidly growing in popularity.

Reiki (pronounced “RAY-KEE”) means “universal life energy” and is an ancient Japanese healing method that connects with the energy flow in and around the body. According to WebMD, it is thought that Reiki releases energy flow and allows the body's own natural healing ability to work.

Reiki focuses on seven main energy centers in your body called chakras The energy should flow freely through your chakras in order for you to be spiritually, physically, and mentally healthy. Practitioners believe that if energy paths are blocked, you may feel ill or weak or have pain.

People use Reiki to decrease tension, improve sleep, enhance healing, and relieve pain. Practitioners do not claim it can cure or treat cancer, but can complement traditional treatments by relieving some of the pain, stress and nausea associated with cancer and other diseases.

Kay Weiler is a Reiki Master Practitioner and volunteers at the Center for Healthcare Integration (CHI) at Backus Hospital. I asked her to share some testimonials from people who have undergone Reiki treatment. Instead of telling me secondhand, Kay had just finished giving a treatment to a woman and asked if she would talk to me about her experience. Connie was happy to do so.

Connie is undergoing comprehensive cancer treatment, but about once a week she has a Reiki session, as a complement to her regular treatment. Connie said, “Reiki keeps me going, and is an integral part of my healing.” She told her oncologist, “I am more open to healing with Reiki.” She contends, “It is the most relaxing thing you can do for yourself. I crave these sessions like people crave a glass of water.” Connie feels a real connection to Kay during these sessions and maintains, “Reiki practitioners like Kay put their heart and soul into it.”

When I asked Kay to explain a little more about how Reiki works, she offered to give me a short Reiki session. I admit I was skeptical. Fortunately I don’t have any pain or discomfort, so I didn’t see how I could feel any benefit from a Reiki session. Kay just smiled and asked if I had any stress in my life. Sold. She took me into the relaxation space where the soft lighting and décor is instantly calming. Kay’s voice is soft and soothing, and I felt the tension literally melt away with her guided imagery. I was a convert. Just like Connie said, it’s one of the most relaxing things you can do for yourself.

The Integrative Therapy room is located inside the Radiation Therapy Department of the HHC Cancer Institute at Backus Hospital, so it’s understood that Reiki and other alternative therapies are an adjunct to conventional cancer treatments, but it bears repeating: Reiki is not a substitute for conventional medical treatment; it is a supplement that may enhance its effect.

It was great to have first-hand experience with Reiki. Now I think I need to interview the practitioners for Reflexology and Massage therapy.

Alice Facente is a community health education nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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