Health: RT Editor Cassandra Tanti delves into the world of holistic therapy with a surprising result
Is Reiki really worth a try?
Once branded as 'hippie' therapy, energy healing, and in particular Reiki, is now experiencing a resurgence. So I decided to see, in this year of the Mayan calendar and new enlightenment, whether there is any weight in this age-old holistic treatment.
Energy healing is based on the idea that our body has a subtle field of energy flowing through it. If this energy is disturbed or out of balance, pain and disease follow.
There are many different forms of energy healing, and Reiki is one of the oldest hands-on methods used to promote self-healing: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Have I lost you at this point? Don't worry, I'll explain how it all makes sense.
"So when you die," explains Beverley Holt, founder of Riviera Reiki, "it's only the physical body that dies. The force spirit or energy inside goes back to the universe, and it is that collective energy connecting through me to the person that I'm giving the healing to. But your higher self will only let you heal as quickly or slowly as you can cope with." Reiki is administered by the "laying of hands" and feels like a "wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you."
"Rub the palms of your hands together," Beverley tells me, "After a few seconds hold them apart and feel the energy." There's no doubt about it, there's something there. And sometimes, when people receive Reiki, they can feel this energy moving through their bodies. Personally, I did not, but I did feel the recurring pain I have (tension in my shoulders) increase and then relax.
The main benefits of Reiki in fact are deep relaxation and the release of stress and tension. It aids better sleep, reduces blood pressure, helps relieve pain, and assists the body in cleansing itself from toxins. As the theory goes, when we are relaxed and stress-free, we are able to restore our natural ability to heal. Essentially, it is a lot like meditation.
Reiki also aids self-healing through positive thoughts and affirmations. "A woman called Louise Hays healed herself of cancer with positive thoughts and she believed any physical, emotional or mental worry will present in our physical body as a pain or disease. By treating the symptom we are not really getting to the cause if we don't treat the cause of the worry," says Beverley.
"We have over 60,000 thoughts per day, most of them are negative and most are the same thoughts every day. So I teach positive affirmation so at least we can take control of some of them."Reiki is spiritual in nature, but it is not a religion, therefore recipients don't have to believe in anything in order to receive its benefits.
Let’s be honest
"But is Reiki just a placebo then?" I ask her. "Yes, that is the point. If you think you are going to get healed, then you will. I was a sceptic, and many people come to me as a sceptic. I say I can't guarantee that you are meant to heal, how about we just do small steps, and if it works great and if it doesn't you haven't lost anything."
But with its rise in popularity, there has also been criticism that some people are being urged to replace conventional treatment with holistic therapy. Beverley, a former nurse, says it should compliment clinical treatment, not replace it.
"For a lot of people it's to do with cultural upbringing and beliefs. Some people think doctors are like gods, and if that's their mindset and that's the only way they are going to have peace of mind, then go that route. I have been in the medical background and alternative therapies and I realised that we can work together."
Personally, after one treatment, I can't say whether Reiki works or not. All I know is that I walked out of that session feeling incredibly relaxed and enlightened, motivated by the idea that I can control my body, mind, emotions and that prescription drugs are not the be all and end all.
It's a theory that is not dangerous, but can be useful in every day life. And after all, how can positive thoughts and total relaxation ever be a bad thing?