Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has long been renowned for its leading-edge clinical research and high-quality treatments and therapies. But did you know that this pioneering medical institution also offers some forms of alternative and holistic healing?
Under the auspices of its Spiritual Care Department, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has been offering reiki sessions and self-reiki classes to patients and staff since 2015. The reiki program was established by Reverend Peggy Kelly, a reiki master and lead Christian chaplain in the Spiritual Care Department. It is a reflection of Cedars-Sinai’s increasing commitment to providing patients with care and healing for the whole person: the mind and the soul as well as the body.
Read on to learn more about what reiki is, how it works, and how it helps.
What is reiki?
Reiki is a type of alternative therapy that is also referred to as energy healing, palm healing, or hands-on-body healing. A combination of the Japanese word-character for “spiritual” or “universal” (rei) and the Chinese word-character for “vital energy” (ki), reiki is all about healing and soothing the mind and body through the transfer and manipulation of energy.
According to reiki practitioners, the “life force energy” that is always flowing through your body can become blocked or stagnant in response to physical injury or emotional pain. Reiki practitioners use touch to remove these blocks and restore the natural flow of energy in the body. This method is similar to the way in which acupuncture is used to stimulate key pressure points and clear energy channels.
A simple but reportedly powerful technique, reiki is believed to facilitate relaxation, decrease stress, reduce pain, improve healing, and promote overall feelings of positivity and wellbeing.
What are the origins of reiki?
The origins of reiki stretch back many centuries. However, most practitioners agree that the current form of the therapy was developed by Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist monk, in the early 20th century. Usui based his healing techniques on a number of different methods and philosophies drawn from a range of Asian healing traditions.
The cornerstone of his practice was the once widely-held belief (still common in Eastern medicine) that illness and disease are caused by imbalances in the body’s vital energy. Further, correcting these imbalances is necessary to promote healing.
During Usui’s lifetime, he reportedly taught his healing method to more than 2,000 people. One of these students, a Japanese-American woman named Hawayo Takata, was responsible for introducing reiki to the West in 1937. At that time, she returned home to Hawaii after spending an extended period of time in Japan where she trained to become a reiki master.
What happens in a reiki session?
Reiki treatment sessions are very simple: while fully clothed, you sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a table. The reiki practitioner will then gently place his or her hands either on your body or slightly above it, starting at the crown of the head and then moving downwards.
Hand placements are usually on and around the head, shoulders, and torso, but a practitioner might also place his or her hands directly on sites of specific injury or pain. While reiki practitioners are working, they are focused on transferring their vital energy to you through their touch and physical presence. Note that, unlike a massage, there is no manipulation or pressure on your body.
While a reiki session will most commonly involve a reiki practitioner and a client in the same room, it’s also possible to self-administer reiki by relaxing and placing your own hands on or above your body. “Self-reiki” classes focused on this technique are taught at Cedars-Sinai.
How does reiki feel?
People who have undergone reiki healing describe the experience in many different ways. Some people feel strong temperature sensations, from intense warmth to soothing coolness, from the hands of the reiki practitioner.
Others report feeling pulsing energy or tingling feelings in the practitioner’s hands or in their own body. Still others feel extremely relaxed and meditative, even to the point of falling asleep.
While the experience is different for everyone, most people who have had reiki treatments agree that there is more to it than the simple sensation of being touched.
What are the benefits of reiki?
As described above, reiki is believed to help soothe and calm feelings of anxiety and stress, to relieve pain and the symptoms of illness, and to promote healing in the body. And while no scientific studies have proved that reiki is, in fact, effective at accomplishing these things, there’s little question that, at the very least, the relaxation and mindfulness that reiki can bring can have beneficial effects.
The important thing to understand is that reiki is not claiming to cure illness or disease. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for other medical treatments, but rather as a complement to them.