Reiki refreshes one student’s soul
At first all I felt were her hands on my head, a light but confirmed touch.
“You don’t have to receive this,” Reiki Master Teacher Michelle C. Berry, owner of Reiki Goddess in Ithaca, said to me moments before she touched me. She sensed that I was nervous.
“No, I want to,” I said, determined to understand this healing practice in a way other than words.
Reiki practitioners always obtain permission before channeling Reiki energy to someone.
I felt open, if a bit anxious, to receiving whatever it was she would be channeling into me. But lying flat on my back in this small, foreign room, I was mainly focusing on getting through my self-consciousness and adjusting to her touch.
It wasn’t long before I felt a benign shock wave course through me. It seemed to have emanated from where her hands lay and shot down to my toes. At that moment, any skepticism I had about the treatment had begun to ease. Not so much because of this palpable jolt of energy that I had never felt before, but because after the wave coursed through me, I felt calmer.
Each successive wave after that — they occurred maybe every few minutes during this brief session — similarly jolted me but similarly calmed me, making me more relaxed on the bed and open to receiving the treatment.
When I asked Berry about these waves, she confirmed to me, yes, they are normal. Others have also reported feeling the energy in this way.
Reiki is a type of energy healing based off of Eastern concepts of medical healing. Reiki Master Teacher Diane Hecht, owner of The Joy Within in Ithaca, said Reiki offers a treatment that is holistic, treating the whole body, as opposed to the more acute treatments associated with Western practices.
The healing is based off the concept that the body is broken up into chakras. The Reiki practitioner channels the energy into the body from the universe and the body sends it to the chakras where it is needed.
According to Usui Reiki practice, an individual can become capable of performing Reiki by being “attuned” to the energy by a practitioner who, having completed the third level of attunement, is at the level of a Reiki Master Teacher. Depending on a practitioner’s attunement level, Reiki can be given to others at close range through touch or by hovering one’s hands over (Level 1), or from a distance (Level 2). At Level 1, Reiki can also be given to oneself.
One of the most important concepts to understand about Reiki, Hecht explained, is that the practitioner only serves as a channel for the energy.
“We are not making anything happen. We’re not doing anything,” Hecht said. “Each individual is their own healer.”
A short time after I left Berry’s office, the sensations I had felt from the treatment were becoming less and less unfamiliar. I thought I could feel the “energy” concentrated behind my shoulders, where I had previously felt the most tension. Now it felt less like electricity and more like other times when I have for any reason felt a decrease in tension. The relaxation of my muscles was just more intense, and definitely seemed to have been initiated by the treatment.
Before Berry demonstrated on me, I had asked her if there are ways people can achieve effects similar to those of Reiki without actually receiving it. Berry named meditation as one method, as well as other practiced focusing exercises that allow for one to be still and have time to self-reflect without distractions.
“We have so many other things happening when we say we are relaxing,” she said.
For some people, the connection of the mind, body and spirit may even present a challenge. Berry said there is a hold in Reiki where she touches both the head and the heart of the client, and that sometimes people squirm in this position. She’ll ask them if they want her to stop.
“They do not want to connect these two things,” she said.
Berry said she never tries to sell Reiki to people, nor does she try to talk people out of how they feel. Similarly, when attuning people, she said she does not try to talk them out of their hectic lifestyles or make them think she herself has reached any sort of “nirvana.” She said the only thing she tries to convince people about Reiki and its calming effect is that they’re worthy of it.
Though I am not attuned to Reiki, I do at times attempt to revisit the state I was in when I was receiving the energy, doing so more through my mind than physical posture. However one interprets the “energy”, the holistic approach demonstrated for me how healing the body can mean something different from healing the ailment.
Gena Mangiaratti is a junior journalism major who will continue to experiment with alternative medicines. Email her at gmangia1[at]ithaca.edu.