Reiki Grows in Popularity

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Experts say reiki works as enhancing the body’s natural healing ability but not a replacement for standard medical care

Once dismissed in many circles of Western medicine as quackery, reiki has gained a reputation as helpful for pain, anxiety and stress relief among many healthcare providers. University of Rochester Medical Center has even hosted reiki practitioners for special events and clinics.

How reiki works and its benefits is not well understood by many people. 

Deborah Blish, owner of Heaven and Earth Connections in Rochester, said that it “works on helping the body heal trauma.”

Blish is a certified reiki master teacher, integrated energy therapy master instructor, subconscious release technique practitioner, and practitioner of emotional freedom technique.

“Reiki has a frequency or vibration,” she said. “Its focus is physical level feelings and releasing tension from the body. Emotional healing can be another effect, as there’s a mind-body connection to ‘dis-ease.’ When you have ‘dis-ease’ in the emotions, it manifests in the physical. It can be tension. It can be physical ailments or pain.”

Blish said that clients remain fully clothed and she places her hands slightly above them. As she is ordained, she can lay on hands, but she asks clients first. Unlike massage therapy, she does not manipulate tissue, but is “a purveyor of energy. It’s through intention I can connect to the divine source. I feel a fullness or a soft vibration from the top of my head through my heart and through my hands. My hands often get very hot. The client often says they are warm.”

She said that depending upon the location, touching or hovering over the energy centers of the body and major joints, she channels energy into the client’s body. Sometimes, she feels impressions of pain or heartache a client is experiencing.

“You can have things in your past that you’ve not healed that manifest as physical health problems,” Blish said. “Sometimes, a client during a session asks to stop because the emotions are very intense. If a client needs to stop or the pain gets more intense before it gets better, we stop.”

A typical session will last roughly an hour. Clients often begin feeling relief right away. Some may need subsequent sessions to work through a particular issue.

Jeanne Farrell, reiki practitioner in the Syracuse area, explains reiki as “bringing the coherence and harmony out of those energy systems in the body.”

She views it as enhancing the body’s natural healing ability but not a replacement for standard medical care.

“It’s always complementary to medical practices,” Farrell said. “It’s never in place of medical practice or advice. It’s working with it.”

She said that many clients use it before surgery or during recovery to enhance their healing process by invoking a relaxation response and reducing inflammation. Farrell encourages clients to speak with their practitioner about why they want reiki, such as a physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual issue.

“There are many schools of reiki,” Farrell said. “They’re basically the same. You find different techniques, depending on with whom your teacher was learning. There’s no one complete right or wrong way. It’s just exposure to many different ways. Each practitioner is a conduit for the natural universal life energy, which is what we all have. It’s how we were born. It is why we exist.”

She added that reiki has no contraindications and cannot be “overdone” or cause harm.