While many dismiss alternative medicines, Reiki has shown to aid many who are suffering from MS.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a form of alternative medicine that is said to heal by a therapist channeling energy to a patient through their touch. Many believe that this can act as a catalyst to the natural healing processes, both physically and emotionally. Its origins come from Japan when it was developed in the 1920s, but it has spread across the world since.
Reiki itself means "universal life force energy" and aims to impact the way that energy flows both inside and outside of the body. People who do Reiki claim that it enables relaxation, improves sleep, and reduces fatigue and anxiety. Each of these benefits can assist those with multiple sclerosis, but many do it for the ease of pain and spasticity, specifically.
How does Reiki work?
The skill of Reiki can only be attained by a mastering transferring the ability to a student. Beth Kane is a licensed clinical social worker and life coach who would very frequently work with those who have chronic illnesses. After hearing about Reiki, she wondered what effect it could have on her clients. Eventually, she herself took the classes and received attunement, making her a master teacher. Now, she has been practicing for over three years.
She explains what happens during a Reiki treatment, which usually lasts anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes. She says they "are administered through the healing hands of a certified practitioner with the client lying fully clothed on a massage table."
At this point, many are probably picturing that a massage will follow. However, this is far from the case. Bones and tissues are not at all manipulated, but the practitioner simply holds their hands on or above a client's body. In this process, energy is channeled. Kane says that many clients fall asleep, even those who have deep troubles sleeping, due to the sense of warmth and relaxation it offers.
However, you do not necessarily have to be close to your practitioner to receive Reiki. Kane says it "can also be sent distantly, as it is an energy and therefore is not bound to one geographic location."
In some scenarios, patients can even learn to administer Reiki to themselves. Or, caregivers can be taught.
But does it really work?
Kane knows that there will be many who are skeptical of the benefits Reiki can offer; however, she is a committed believer. She explains, "although little scientific research has been completed on Reiki, there are many patients and practitioners who believe in its benefits."
While it is true that there is minimal evidence supporting Reiki as a scientific treatment, Reiki has been in great demand. While you might imagine patients have to seek out masters to administer the treatment in far off lands, many hospitals are actually offering the service, and nurses are becoming "attuned" every day. Three of the leading hospitals to offer Reiki are Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Multiple Sclerosis.
Plus, the fact is this. Even if Reiki is nothing more than a placebo effect, if it is helping to ease a patient's perceived pain, it is worth it. Offering people who endure chronic problems a sense of relaxation is incredibly valuable, regardless of whether or not it is backed by science.
Kane says that her experience has definitely suggested that there are benefits to those with chronic or acute illnesses like multiple sclerosis. She says, "Reiki helps reduce stress and anxiety, balancing the body's energy system to allow for healing while helping the body to heal itself."
Benefits of Reiki
Of course, as with any other form of treatment, results vary. Some clients will not feel anything after many Reiki sessions, while others experience extreme benefits after just one session.
Kane comments on the most common effects, "many people report a sense of calm, decreased stress, and improved rest following even one session. Reiki, being the highest form of energy, goes where it is needed to promote healing and, therefore, works on every level, including physical, mental, and spiritual. However, Reiki always knows what healing is needed, and so we trust in that process."
Don’t believe it? Try it out!
Reiki masters are aware that many people will be skeptical of the method; however, instead of engaging in ridicule, they invite non-believers to try it for themselves. Kane mentions that belief in Reiki is not necessary to feel its effects. She explains, "try it, and then talk to me. I've had many skeptics walk through my door and leave an hour later totally in awe of how they are feeling."
A therapy, but not a cure
While Reiki can be very useful in managing symptoms of MS, Kane finds it necessary to point out that it is by no means a cure. She says, "I don't believe it's a quick fix or a miraculous healing technique. However, the energy is known to bring balance to one's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs."
The four levels of Reiki
In order to perform Reiki, you must be attuned by a master. While anyone can do it, there are four levels of training that become increasingly difficult as you begin to manage increasingly high levels of energy. Kane points out that they are not changing the energy, but finding ways to use it for what the patient needs, and channel it directly.
She explains the steps, "level 1 is generally for people who are just learning and is mostly used for self-Reiki and for friends and family. Level 2 teaches how to send Reiki distantly and incorporates Reiki on a more emotional level. Level 3 incorporates Reiki on a more spiritual plane, and students learn more advanced techniques."
Level 4 includes the most advanced forms of Reiki, and once completed can lead to becoming a Reiki master teacher, allowing for the possibility of teaching Reiki and even giving attunements for others.
As for Lisa, she took Reiki level 1 attunement. She recalls her experience, "for the first 21 days and afterward I practiced daily as recommended. I followed a series of hand positions every evening and found it to be meditative and relaxing and I would shortly fall into a deep and restful sleep ... I would absolutely recommend anybody to try it, not only MS patients. There is no downside. Relaxation and restful sleep in itself is healing for the body. To have another available tool for relaxation is wonderful."
So, what do you think? Would you be willing to give Reiki a try, or will you stick with your current therapies?
While scientists might not be backing the method up any time soon, if it is able to offer relief of any kind to those who need it, it might be worth a shot. Also, even if you do not believe in the treatment, you can give it a chance! Perhaps you will be amazed by the effect it has on you, or simply leave knowing that you will not try it again. But if it can work on skeptics, it just might work on anyone!