Reiki for Traumatic Stress Relief
Reiki as a Complementary Healing Therapy
I first learned about Reiki, a Japanese healing art, while working on the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Project from 2001- 2007 for the New York State Health Department. Driven by consumer demands, complementary therapies such as Reiki were slowly being integrated into hospital settings, medical school curriculum and conventional medical practices, while government policymakers were creating policy to protect consumers from unsafe and ineffective practices. Thus, New York became the first State in the country to establish an office dedicated to researching and evaluating complementary therapies.
Connecting Traumatic Stress in Children with Chronic Disease in Adults
My research grew significantly beyond its original scope and expanded to address the growing public health and economic burden of chronic disease resulting from the adverse effects of traumatic stress. A major study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, revealed a powerful relationship between our traumatic experiences as children and our physical and mental health as adults. The study demonstrated that traumatic stress is much more common than recognized or acknowledged, and suggested that these experiences are major risk factors and leading causes of chronic disease in the United States. Unfortunately, many of the western medical practices used in the United States merely manage chronic disease rather than seeking to heal the root cause of dis-ease caused by traumatic stress.
Energy Healers in the Operating Room
While working on the project, I learned first-hand the adverse effects of traumatic stress and chronic disease. Shortly after attending a medical conference on Cancer and Complementary Therapies in Washington, DC, my partner was diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately, a holistic nurse shared with me a book entitled, Hands of Life, by Julie Motz. Motz worked with Dr. Mehmet Oz at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City and was one of the first energy healers allowed to work on patients in the operating room during heart transplants and cancer surgery. Fascinated by her work, I began to explore energy healing, and specifically Reiki for traumatic stress relief and chronic disease.
Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) is Japanese for “Universal” (Rei) “Life Force Energy” (ki). It is a subtle yet effective energy healing technique for stress reduction and relaxation that supports the body’s own natural healing abilities. During a session, the practitioner delivers Reiki through their hands using a light touch or slightly above the body to help increase the amount of ki (or chi) in the body. When we experience physical or psychological trauma, our life force energy can become weak or blocked, which can lead to imbalances and dis-ease in the body. Reiki helps by increasing the flow of ki to bring the body back into balance.
Recognizing the Body as an Energetic System
Today, Reiki is one of the most effective and widely used complementary therapies. It is offered in hospitals, hospices, and private practices. Patients offered Reiki often find they require less pain medication and spend less time recovering from illness. Dr. Oz’s wife, Lisa, a Reiki Master, stated in an interview, “The next wave of medical advances will be when we come to recognize the body as an energetic system.”
Although my interest in Reiki began as a quest to heal a loved one from cancer, it became the inspiration for my own healing journey. While trauma may be a fact of life, I learned that it does not have to lead to emotional paralysis and disease. Rather, I discovered Reiki to be a profound tool for empowerment and personal growth that can help release the deeper, hidden wounds, and thereby reveal the greatest gift of all—the ultimate healing power of Reiki.
by Roberta Gilgore
**This article appeared in The Reiki Times, the official magazine of the International Association of Reiki Professionals.