Nurturing Whole Health
by William Lee Rand
At hospitals and clinics across America, Reiki is beginning to gain acceptance as a meaningful and cost-effective way to improve patient care. Personal interviews conducted with medical professionals corroborate this view.(1) "Reiki sessions cause patients to heal faster with less pain," says Marilyn Vega, RN, a private-duty nurse at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York. [Reiki] accelerates recovery from surgery, improves mental attitude and reduces the negative effects of medication and other medical procedures.
Vega, a Reiki master, includes Reiki with her regular nursing procedures. Because the patients like Reiki, she has attracted a lot of attention from other patients through word of mouth, as well as from members of the hospital staff. Patients have asked her to do Reiki on them in the operating and recovery rooms. She has also been asked to do Reiki sessions on cancer patients at Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital, including patients with bone marrow transplants. Recognizing the value of Reiki in patient care, 6 doctors and 25 nurses have taken Reiki training with her.
America's Interest in Complementary Health Care
The general public is turning with ever-increasing interest to complementary health care, including Reiki. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. David M. Eisenberg of Boston's Beth Israel Hospital found that one in every three Americans has used such care, spending over 14 billion out-of-pocket dollars on alternative health care in 1990 alone!(2)
A survey conducted in 2007 indicates that in the previous year 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children in the U.S. received one or more energy healing sessions such as Reiki.(3)
Reiki is also gaining wider acceptance in the medical establishment. Hospitals are incorporating it into their roster of patient services, often with their own Reiki-trained physicians, nurses and support staff. Reiki was in use in hospital operating rooms as early as the mid-90's.(4) Since then its acceptance in medicine has grown. It is now listed in a nursing "scope and standards of practice" publication as an accepted form of care,(5) and a 2008 USA Todayarticle reported that in 2007 15% of U.S. hospitals (over 800) offered Reiki as a regular part of patient services.(6) For a detailed description of 64 Reiki hospital programs, please go to www.centerforreikiresearch.org
A research study at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut indicates that Reiki improved patient sleep by 86 percent, reduced pain by 78 percent, reduced nausea by 80 percent, and reduced anxiety during pregnancy by 94 percent.(7)
In 2009, The Center for Reiki Research completed the Touchstone Project, which summarized Reiki studies published in peer-reviewed journals. The 25 studies examined were further evaluated to determine the effectiveness of Reiki. The conclusion states: "Overall, based on the summaries of those studies that were rated according to scientific rigor as "Very Good" or "Excellent" by at least one reviewer and were not rated as weak by any reviewer, 83 percent show moderate to strong evidence in support of Reiki as a therapeutic modality."(8)
Why Hospitals Like Reiki
Hospitals are undergoing major changes. They are experiencing a need to reduce costs and at the same time improve patient care. Under the old medical model based on expensive medication and technology this posed an unsolvable dilemma. Not so with Reiki and other complementary modalities. Reiki requires no technology at all and many of its practitioners offer their services for free. Reiki is therefore a very good way to improve care while cutting costs.
Julie Motz, a Reiki trained healer has worked with Dr. Mehmet Oz, a noted cardiothoracic surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Motz uses Reiki and other subtle energy techniques to balance the patients' energy during operations. She has assisted Dr. Oz in the operating room during open heart surgeries and heart transplants. Motz reports that none of the 11 heart patients so treated experienced the usual postoperative depression, the bypass patients had no postoperative pain or leg weakness; and the transplant patients experienced no organ rejection.(9)
An article in the Marin Independent Journal follows Motz's work at the Marin General Hospital in Marin County, California, just north of San Francisco.(10)There Motz has used subtle energy healing techniques with patients in the operating room. She makes a point of communicating caring feelings and positive thoughts to the patients, and has been given grants to work with mastectomy patients in particular.
Dr. David Guillion, an oncologist at Marin General, has stated "I feel we need to do whatever is in our power to help the patient. We provide state of the art medicine in our office, but healing is a multidimensional process. . . . I endorse the idea that there is a potential healing that can take place utilizing energy."
Reiki at Portsmouth Regional Hospital
Patricia Alandydy is an RN and a Reiki Master. She is the Assistant Director of Surgical Services at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. With the support of her Director Jocclyn King and CEO William Schuler, she has made Reiki services available to patients within the Surgical Services Department. This is one of the largest departments in the hospital and includes the operating room, Central Supply, the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, the Ambulatory Care Unit and the Fourth Floor where patients are admitted after surgery. During telephone interviews with pre-op patients, Reiki is offered along with many other services. If patients request it, Reiki is then incorporated into their admission the morning of surgery, and an additional 15-20 minute session is given prior to their transport to the operating room. Some Reiki has also been done in the operating room at Portsmouth Regional.
The Reiki sessions are given by 20 members of the hospital staff whom Patricia has trained in Reiki. These include RN's, physical therapists, technicians and medical records and support staff. Reiki services began in April 1997, and as of 2008 have given 8000 Reiki sessions.
"It has been an extremely rewarding experience," Alandydy says, "to see Reiki embraced by such a diverse group of people and spread so far and wide by word of mouth, in a positive light. Patients many times request a Reiki [session] based on the positive experience of one of their friends. It has also been very revealing to see how open-minded the older patient population is to try Reiki. In the hospital setting Reiki is presented as a technique which reduces stress and promotes relaxation, thereby enhancing the body's natural ability to heal itself."
The Reiki practitioners do not add psychic readings or other new-age techniques to the Reiki sessions, but just do straight Reiki. Because of these boundaries, and the positive results that have been demonstrated, Reiki has gained credibility with the physicians and other staff members. It is now being requested from other care areas of the hospital to treat anxiety, chronic pain, cancer and other conditions.
Alandydy, with her partner Greda Cocco, also manage a hospital-supported Reiki clinic through their business called Seacoast Complementary Care, Inc. The clinic is open two days a week and staffed by 50 trained Reiki volunteers, half of whom come from the hospital staff and the rest from the local Reiki community. They usually have 13-17 Reiki tables in use at the clinic with 1-2 Reiki volunteers per table. The clinic treats a wide range of conditions including HIV, pain, and side-effects from chemotherapy and radiation. Some patients are referred by hospital physicians and some come by word of mouth from the local community. They are charged a nominal fee of $10.00 per session. The clinic is full each night and often has a waiting list.
The California Pacific Medical Center's Reiki Program
The California Pacific Medical Center is one of the largest hospitals in northern California. Its Health and Healing Clinic, a branch of the Institute for Health and Healing, provides care for both acute and chronic illness using a wide range of complementary care including Reiki, Chinese medicine, hypnosis, biofeedback, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapy, nutritional therapy and aromatherapy. The clinic has six treatment rooms and is currently staffed by two physicians, Dr. Mike Cantwell and Dr. Amy Saltzman. Cantwell, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases, is also a Reiki Master with training in nutritional therapy. Saltzman specializes in internal medicine and also has training in mindfulness meditation, acupuncture and nutritional therapy. Other professionals are waiting to join the staff, including several physicians.
The doctors at the clinic work with the patients and their referring physicians to determine what complementary modalities will be appropriate for the patient. A detailed questionnaire designed to provide a holistic overview of the patient's condition is used to help decide the course of treatment. The questionnaire involves a broad range of subjects including personal satisfaction with relationships, friends and family, with body image, and with job, career, and spirituality. The clinic is very popular and currently has a waiting list of more than 100 patients.
Dr. Cantwell provides 1-3 hour-long Reiki sessions, after which he assigns the patient to a Reiki II internist who continues to provide Reiki sessions outside the clinic. Patients who continue to respond well to the Reiki treatments are referred for Reiki training so they can continue Reiki self-treatments on a continuing basis.
Dr. Cantwell states: "I have found Reiki to be useful in the treatment of acute illnesses such as musculoskeletal injury/pain, headache, acute infections, and asthma. Reiki is also useful for patients with chronic illnesses, especially those associated with chronic pain."
At this point, Reiki is not covered by insurance at the clinic, but Dr. Cantwell is conducting clinical research in the hope of convincing insurance companies that complementary care is viable and will save them money.
More MD's and Nurses Practicing Reiki
Mary Lee Radka is a Reiki Master and an R.N. who has the job classification of Nurse-Healer because of her Reiki skills. She teaches Reiki classes to nurses and other hospital staff at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. She also uses Reiki with most of her patients. She has found Reiki to produce the best results in reducing pain and stress, improving circulation and eliminating nerve blocks.
Reiki master Nancy Eos, M.D., was a member of the teaching staff of the University of Michigan Medical School. As an emergency-room physician, she treated patients with Reiki along with standard medical procedures.
"I can't imagine practicing medicine without Reiki," Eos says. "With Reiki all I have to do is touch a person. Things happen that don't usually happen. Pain lessens in intensity. Rashes fade. Wheezing gives way to breathing clearly. Angry people begin to joke with me."
In her book Reiki and Medicine she includes descriptions of using Reiki to treat trauma, heart attack, respiratory problems, CPR, child abuse, allergic reactions and other emergency-room situations. Dr. Eos now maintains a family practice at Grass Lake Medical Center and is an admitting-room physician at Foote Hospital in Jackson, Michigan, where she continues to use Reiki in conjunction with standard medical procedures. According to Dr. Eos, there are at least 5 other physicians at Foote hospital who have Reiki training along with many nurses.(11)
Libby Barnett and Maggie Chambers are Reiki masters who have treated patients and given Reiki training to staff members in over a dozen New England hospitals. They teach Reiki as complementary care and the hospital staff they have trained add Reiki to the regular medical procedures they administer to their patients. Their book Reiki Energy Medicine describes their experiences.(12) One of the interesting things they recommend is creating hospital "Reiki Rooms," staffed by volunteers, where patients as well as hospital staff can come to receive Reiki treatments. Bettina Peyton, M.D., one of the physicians Libby and Maggie have trained states: "Reiki's utter simplicity, coupled with its potentially powerful effects, compels us to acknowledge the concept of a universal healing energy."
Anyone interested in bringing Reiki into hospitals is encouraged to do so. The hospital setting where there are so many people in real need is a wonderful place to offer Reiki. The experiences and recommendations in this article should provide a good starting point for developing Reiki programs in your area.
*Editors Note:It is very important when giving Reiki treatments in hospitals or otherwise to make sure the patient understands what Reiki is and to only provide a Reiki treatment if the patient has requested one. Also, if the issue comes up, it is important to explain that while Reiki is spiritual in nature, in that love and compassion are an important part of its practice, it is not a religion and that members of many religious groups including many Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Jews use Reiki and find it compatible with their religious beliefs.
1 The comments that follow were part of an interview I did with each person either in person or by telephone and were first published in my article, "Reiki In Hospitals," which appeared in the Winter 1997 issue of the Reiki Newsletter(precursor to Reiki News Magazine).
2 Eisenberg, David, et al. "Unconventional Medicine in the United States", New England Journal of Medicine 328, no. 4 (1993), 246-52.
2 Beth Ashley, "Healing hands", Marin Independent Journal, May 11, 1997.
3 P. M. Barnes, B. Bloom, and R. Nahin, CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children, United States, 2007. (December 2008).
4 Chip Brown, "The Experiments of Dr. Oz,"The New York Times Magazine, July 30, 1995, 20-23.
5 American Holistic Nurses Association and American Nurses Association (2007), Holistic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (Silver Spring, MD: Nursesbooks.org.)
6 L. Gill, "More hospitals offer alternative therapies for mind, body, spirit,"USA Today, September 15, 2008 (Online) http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-2009-2014-alternative-therapies_N.htm.
7 Hartford Hospital, Integrative Medicine, Outcomes, http://www.harthosp.org/integrativemed/outcomes/default.aspx#outcome6. Measurements cited were obtained during the initial pilot phase of the study, December 1999 - December 2000.
8 The Center for Reiki Research, Touchstone Project, Conclusion, http://www.centerforreikiresearch.org/RRConclusion.aspx.
9 Julie Motz, Hands of Life, Bantam Books, New York, 1998
10 Beth Ashley, "Healing hands", Marin Independent Journal, May 11, 1997.
11 Nancy Eos, M.D., Reiki and Medicine (Eos, 1995).
12 Libby Barnett and Maggie Chambers, with Susan Davidson, Reiki Energy Medicine, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, 1996.
by Kathie Lipinski, RN, MSN
As a Reiki Master Teacher, Nurse Massage Therapist, and Holistic Nurse in private practice, my experience has shown that Reiki enhances all nursing skills. Reiki enhances both nursing care and judgement in a hospital, private practice, administrative, managed or home care setting.
Nurses have always been known to have a sixth sense or what many refer to as "Nurses’ Intuition." It is that ability to "know" when to check on a patient, to call a family when a patient is not doing well, to have a doctor recheck a patient, to call or visit a home care client when a visit wasn’t planned "just because" you had a feeling, or recheck paperwork. Reiki training enhances this ability to "know" or "sense" things or be more aware of subtle signs.
Because Reiki comes from the source, the nurse never has to worry about depleting his or her own energy.
Working with energy is another way of gathering information on a deeper level. It gives one "subtle clues" as to what is really going on with a person. It helps one to become more aware of the emotional or spiritual component of dis-ease that the nurse can share with the client to gain understanding or insight.
This insight fits with the nurses’ role of helping a person to understand and learn more about their health or illness and to provide guidance to change behavior and increase awareness. Reiki training makes a nurse more aware of subtle energies – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. This subtle energy phenomenon is known to Nurses as the "Human Energy Field".
Reiki enhances Therapeutic and Healing Touch techniques since it is an energy source in itself. It helps the nurse to protect herself from picking up negative energies or vibrations from the person she is working with. Because Reiki comes from the source, the nurse never has to worry about depleting his or her own energy. Reiki treats both practitioner and client.
The most important benefit of Reiki is the self-care aspect. With all the energies that a nurse has to give in caring for others, a nurse often suffers "burn out." Reiki is an excellent way for nurses to take care of themselves and restore their energy and avoid depletion.
Reiki has helped me fine tune my clairvoyance so that I can "see" the emotional component behind the dis-ease or emotional turmoil. It has enhanced my touch so that my hands are more sensitive to the muscle state. When I use guided imagery or regression with a client, it helps me to see the traumatic event and dialogue with the people involved. Reiki has taken me from traditional nursing to a more holistic model where deeper healing is addressed through the use of subtle energies.
Many of my Reiki students and friends who are nurses often tell me about the ways they use Reiki. Some use Reiki energy to help them more easily locate a vein when inserting an intravenous line (IV). Others give their patients Reiki while taking their blood pressure or pulse. The patient’s often reply that they feel "something special" or feel more relaxed. It is amazing what just a few minutes of Reiki can do.
Home care nurses use Reiki in physical and psychological assessments, changing dressings, paper work, health care teaching and working with family members. Recovery room nurses report using Reiki over the incision site of painful areas and find patients have an easier time waking up or recovering from anesthesia and surgical trauma. Emergency room nurses use Reiki to calm patients down quickly and to be more open to treatment. They find that Reiki also calms down family members. Dr. Nancy Eos explains in her book "Reiki and Medicine" how she uses Reiki to help her decide which person needs to be seen first (triage).
Nurses in administrative or management positions use Reiki when doing stressful tasks such as staffing, counseling, and reviewing employees. Reiki calms the situation, and creates a more receptive state and clearer thinking. Some managers and staff give themselves Reiki before and during a staff meeting and find the meeting goes smoother.
Nurses in private practice tell me how Reiki enhances their hypnotherapy skills, guided imagery exercises, their work as a dula in Labor and Delivery, and massage sessions, etc.
As nurses’ roles continue to change and expand, Reiki is there to assist in their professional development. Reiki assists nurses in caring for themselves and restores their energies so they can continue to give of themselves in their role as health care advocates. Nurses who practice Reiki are in the unique position to combine both Reiki and their strong medical knowledge to help clients and improve the health care system.
Kathie Lipinski is a Center Licensed Teacher of Usui Reiki and Karuna Reiki®. She is a Healing Touch Practitioner and Nationally Certified Massage Therapist. Kathie has six years experience working with Reiki and other energy based healing techniques. She is a Registered Nurse, Massage Therapist, Teacher of Massage Therapy and lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Please contact Kathie Lipinski, RN, MSN. E-Mail - KBLIP@aol.com
by Beth Simmons Stapor
As Reiki is becoming more known, people are often looking for a way to define its place in relation to traditional medical treatment. In the past I have looked at Reiki as an alternative healing technique. Several events in the past 3 months have led me to rethink my definition. I now am describing Reiki's place with traditional medicine as complementary. I have seen first hand on three occasions how Reiki has assisted traditional treatment to work for the highest good of the patient.
I recently was invited to do a presentation about Reiki to an assisted living nursing home. The residents that I worked with range in age from mid-fifties to ninety-two years old. Each of the residents has individual health challenges. All deal with the fact that they can no longer take care of themselves at home. Reiki assisted in this situation from a psychological viewpoint. After receiving Reiki, the program director noted that each person had a much more positive attitude toward her living situation. One resident, who was known to always complain, left her Reiki session saying how good she felt and that she loved everyone there. Another resident commented that after the Reiki session she felt like she could fight all the battles of her life. In this situation Reiki is assisting the residents to be more at peace living at Morningside.
The second situation involves using Reiki to assist in radiation treatments. David had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his neck in October. He began radiation treatments in November. The doctors initially gave him six months to live. Initially his energy level was very low, he was feeling defeated by his body and life. He came for sessions three times a week, directly after his radiation treatments. As time went on, his energy level became stronger and his body much more balanced. I had to be away from town for two weeks in the middle of the cycle of radiation. When I returned, David told me he had to stop the radiation sessions while I was gone. He said that without the Reiki after the treatments, he had a lack of energy and was developing side effects to the radiation treatments.
We began regular Reiki sessions again, and within a few days he was able to return to radiation and complete the cycle. His doctors are amazed at the speed of his healing and lack of side effects to the radiation treatments. David tells them it is because of the Reiki that he has such a high level of energy. In his most recent visit to the doctor, David was told that his life expectancy had been greatly improved by his attitude and treatments he had been receiving!
Reiki also assists before and after surgery. Hutch was having prostate cancer surgery. He admits to having a low threshold for pain. I arrived at the hospital the morning of his surgery and gave him Reiki for 1-1/2 hours prior to surgery. He remained calm and relaxed. He easily entered surgery. I was in his room when he returned from the recovery room. Complications during his surgery turned a 2-1/2 hour procedure into a 5 hour surgery.
I gave him Reiki for about 2 hours. He had no side effects from the anesthesia, and was alert and coherently holding a conversation with me the entire time. I continued to go every day to give him 1-2 hours of Reiki. According to the medical staff, expected complications from this type of surgery include itching, vomiting, pain, and an elevated temperature. Hutch had none of these symptoms. He continues to improve daily, has not had to deal with pain, and does not hesitate to tell anyone the reason he has done so well is the Reiki. It has been a team effort, the hospital staff have been providing excellent care and the Reiki has complemented that care every step of the way.
I constantly feel blessed to share Reiki and to assist people in having a better quality of life. I know that a force much greater than I is there guiding me. My hope is that the medical community will continue to become open to complementary techniques of healing, for when we work together we create a place of healing for the highest good of the patient.
by William Lee Rand
The word Reiki is composed of two Japanese words - Rei and Ki. When translating Japanese into English we must keep in mind that an exact translation is difficult. The Japanese language has many levels of meaning. Therefore the context the word is being used in must be kept in mind when attempting to communicate its essence. Because these words are used in a spiritual healing context, a Japanese/English dictionary does not provide the depth of meaning we seek, as its definitions are based on common everyday Japanese. As an example, Rei is often defined as ghost and Ki as vapor and while these words vaguely point in the direction of meaning we seek, they fall far short of the understanding that is needed.
When seeking a definition from a more spiritual context, we find that Rei can be defined as the Higher Intelligence that guides the creation and functioning of the universe. Rei is a subtle wisdom that permeates everything, both animate and inanimate. This subtle wisdom guides the evolution of all creation ranging from the unfolding of galaxies to the development of life. On a human level, it is available to help us in times of need and to act as a source of guidance in our lives. Because of its infinite nature, it is all knowing. Rei is also called God and has many other names depending on the culture that has named it.
Ki is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. Ki is flowing in everything that is alive including plants, animals and humans. When a person's Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on it's challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the air we breath, from food, sunshine, and from sleep. It is also possible to increase our Ki by using breathing exercises and meditation. When a person dies, their Ki leaves the physical body. Ki is also the Chi of China, the prana of India, the Ti or Ki of the Hawaiians, and has also been called odic force, orgone, bioplasma and life force.
With the above information in mind, Reiki can be defined as a non-physical healing energy made up of life force energy that is guided by the Higher Intelligence, or spiritually guided life force energy. This is a functional definition as it closely parallels the experience of those who practice Reiki in that Reiki energy seems to have an intelligence of its own flowing where it is needed in the client and creating the healing conditions necessary for the individuals needs. It cannot be guided by the mind, therefore it is not limited by the experience or ability of the practitioner. Nether can it be misused as it always creates a healing effect. ( It must be kept in mind that Reiki is not the same as simple life force energy as life force energy by itself can be influenced by the mind and because of this, can create benefit as well as cause problems including ill health.)
The source or cause of health comes from the Ki that flows through and around the individual rather than from the functional condition of the physical organs and tissues. It is Ki that animates the physical organs and tissues as it flows through them and therefore is responsible for creating a healthy condition. If the flow of Ki is disrupted, the physical organs and tissues will be adversely affected. Therefore, it is a disruption in the flow of Ki that is the main cause of illness.
An important attribute of Ki is that it responds to ones thoughts and feelings. Ki will flow more strongly or be weakened in its action depending on the quality of ones thoughts and feelings. It is our negative thoughts and feelings that are the main cause of restriction in the flow of Ki. All negative or dis-harmonious thoughts or feelings will cause a disruption in the flow of Ki. Even Western medicine recognizes the role played by the mind in creating illness and some Western doctors state that as much as 98% of illness is caused directly or indirectly by the mind.
It must be understood that the mind exists not only in the brain, but also through-out the body. The nervous system extends to every organ and tissue in the body and so the mind exists here also. It is also known that the mind even extends outside the body in a subtle energy field 2 to 3 feet thick called the aura. Because of this, it is more appropriate to call our mind a mind/body as the mind and body are so closely linked.
Therefore, our negative thoughts are not just in the brain, but also collect in various locations through-out the body and in the aura. The places where negative thoughts and feelings collect is where Ki is restricted in its flow. The physical organs that exist at these locations are restricted in their functioning. If the negative thoughts and feelings are not eliminated quickly, illness results.
The negative thoughts and feelings that are lodged in the unconscious mind/body are the greatest problem as we are not aware of them and therefore, are we are greatly hampered in changing or eliminating them.
The great value of Reiki is that because it is guided by the Higher Intelligence, it knows exactly where to go and how to respond to restrictions in the flow of Ki. It can work directly in the unconscious parts of the mind/body which contain negative Ki-inhibiting thoughts and feelings and eliminate them. As Reiki flows through a sick or unhealthy area, it breaks up and washes away any negative thoughts or feelings lodged in the unconscious mind/body thus allowing a normal healthy flow of Ki to resume. As this happens, the unhealthy physical organs and tissues become properly nourished with Ki and begin functioning in a balanced healthy way thus replacing illness with health.
This non-invasive, completely benign healing technique is becoming more and more popular. As western medicine continues to explore alternative methods of healing, Reiki is destined to play an important role as an accepted and valued healing practice.
Happy Summer, Friends.
It's been glorious and hot. The air has been clear with more blue sky than I've seen for several summers. I am so grateful for the extremely mild fire season we have had so far this year.
My summer has been full and is quickly flying by. I spent much of July traveling and guided 4 Forest Bathing Walks. I attended The First Annual International Forest Bathing Conference at Sonoma State University. It was wonderful connecting with many of my forest therapy guide colleagues and friends from North America, Europe and Asia. It was exciting to experience the collaboration that is taking place as Forest Therapy takes hold as a solid, evidence-based wellness practice. There were cutting edge insights into the world of forest therapy and forest bathing practices and sessions related to new and emerging science on the benefits of nature connection. It is a reciprocal connection. "It's not just about the forest healing humans; it's about humans and the forest healing each other." Workshops offered creative and sensory approaches to forest therapy and informed us of some very exciting collaborations and partnerships being built in the profession, including with The U.S. Forest Service and ParkRx America. It was great to meet professionals from The U.S. Forest Service and several medical professionals, doctors and educators who are now Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guides. Being at this gathering of like-minded/like-hearted people, joined together in learning, actualizing, and celebrating was incredibly heart-warming and inspiring.
I stopped in my old home of Ashland, Oregon on my return to Boise and guided a forest bathing experience in magical, Lithia Park, where we all relished the cool morning as we breathed in the crystal clean air. While in Ashland, I had a surprise meet up with my friend, Julia Plevin, founder of The Forest Bathing Club in San Francisco and author of, "The Healing Magic of Forest Bathing." We reconnected as we slowly guided ourselves through some very slow time at Lithia Park.
From Ashland, I headed North and East to Breitenbush Hot Springs, for a couple of quiet days in The Willamette National Forest, where I soaked in the healing wild waters; dunked each day in the icy Breitenbush River and immersed in the forest. I discovered a lovely new trail for the first time, called, "The Inner Path." I had a meeting with their events coordinator and after one and a half years of being wait-listed, I have been given dates for the forest bathing retreat I'll be guiding there in May, 2020. Join me at this beautiful, healing resort for some slow-time and letting-go as we connect with "The More Thank Human World", ourselves and one another in the elemental medicine of the forest.
Wild Wellness Guide has three Forest Bathing Walks coming up next week in Boise. Two morning walks, one at The Idaho Botanical Garden and one at The Foothills Learning Center. There is also a walk at the beautiful Julia Davis Park Rose Garden, in the magical evening twilight.
Next month I'm off to Colorado to assist at an A.N.F.T. Forest Therapy Guide Training for 10 days. I'll be posting more dates for Autumn Forest Bathing Experiences soon.
If you have not made it yet to one of my events, please come and discover this beautiful facilitated, mindfulness practice of slowing down and connecting in a new way, through your senses to the natural world, yourself and with others. There are still openings for all my walks next week, though The Botanical Garden date is rapidly filling.
I hope you are getting outside and slowing down. A few days ago, while doing qigong practice in The Boise Foothills, in the early evening, under my favorite Oak tree, a beautiful, large spotted Bobcat, gracefully wandered past.
Be well and may you be with the forest and may the forest be with you.
"The Forest is The Therapist, The Guide Opens The Door."
How often do you find time to play in the woods? I have childhood memories of spending my days in the forest next to my home in S.W. Iowa. I built forts with my friends along the wooded trails. We lined them with thick green moss, pine cones, rocks and sticks, making them our second homes. I also had a nature room to myself under the shade of an old weeping willow, in a partially shaded spot, tucked away next to a secret staircase near my house. The sunlight filtered through the willow branches creating what I thought was "fairy light." I filled my little room with rocks, pieces of bark, sticks, flower petals, moss, buckeyes, milkweed, dandelion fluff and willow branches I wove into works of art. When there was no school, I spent hours there in quiet solitude. I wandered home for lunch where soup and grilled cheese sandwiches awaited. Once sated, I was back in my little room for the remainder of the day, touching, listening, feeling, smelling, imagining and observing all the life around me. That was decades ago and yet, those memories remain fully alive in me.
"Today, my focus was on intricate pieces of "forest treasure", splashing in the waterfall and exploring a grove of trees spread out like a mansion, with one distinctive room after another. I was swiftly pulled out of my small sense of self and life's stresses into an experience of something much greater, as I dropped into the life of the forest."
I still go on playdates in the woods, sometimes solo and sometimes with friends and play in ways quite similar to when I was a child. Today I spent a couple hours in the forest, off the trails in the woods of Southern Oregon. When I hit adulthood, I thought play meant activities like skiing, hiking, dancing, going to the beach, going out for a meal with friends or planning my next vacation. And now, one of my favorite ways to play is through immersing in the woods. Through this practice, I have reclaimed the world of imaginative creative play that I lost myself in as a child. I readily drop in to the intricate beauty of the forest, initially starting with a hike and then, I am called by the forest to slow way down and connect with the more than human world, the sentient community of nature. Today, my focus was on intricate pieces of "forest treasure", splashing in the waterfall and exploring a grove of trees which spread out like a mansion, with one distinctive room after another. I was swiftly pulled out of my small sense of self and life's stresses into an experience of something much greater than myself, as I dropped into the life of the forest and a deep sense of awe.
Two years ago, I began moving my practice as a Whole Health Educator, with its solid basis in evidence-based health research, in the direction of the healing medicine of the forest. When I discovered the practice of Forest Therapy, also known as Shinrin Yoku, which translates to Forest Bathing, I was not surprised by all the evidenced-based research there is on the healing power of nature. Shinrin Yoku refers to the practice of spending time in the forest with the goal of enhancing health, wellbeing, happiness and connecting to nature. The practice is based on the idea that it is beneficial to spend time "bathing in the atmosphere of the forest." The Japanese began studying the positive effects of Shinrin-Yoku on health over 30 years ago when they found their nation in a health crisis and turned to the forests for healing. Today, thanks to Shinrin Yoku in Japan, we have decades of medical research, which correlates the time spent in nature with increased wellbeing.
Many have found forest bathing to significantly alleviate the source of numerous stress-related ailments. It can decrease stress hormone production, at the same time increasing mood. High stress levels can contribute to development of arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, headaches, high blood pressure and skin conditions, and numerous other health conditions. Forest bathing regulates parasympathetic nervous system activity which calms and regulates the system, conserves energy, and slows the heart rate.
Spending time in nature can also boost the antiviral natural killer cells of the immune system which can become compromised by high blood levels of stress hormones. These factors in turn offer support of increased immune function. In a 2007 study, the body's disease-fighting agents, natural killer cells, rose by 50% in men taking two hour walks in the woods over a two day period. Another factor in boosting immune function is a chemical released by trees called "phytoncides." These essential oils are part of the tree's immune system and in turn, as we breathe in the forest air, our immune system gets a boost.
"The guide opens the door and the forest offers its healing medicine, unique to each person."
In January of 2018, I completed my immersion training to become a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, through The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. Although the work I do as a forest therapy guide is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, as an A.N.F.T. trained guide, the use of the terms Forest Therapy and Shinrin Yoku do not fully reflect the specific practice as offered by A,N.F.T. Participants are guided on a very slow, mindful walk in nature in a way that facilitates and invites healing interactions. The guide opens the door and the forest offers its healing medicine, unique to each person. In cultures throughout the world, there has been a long tradition of healing through the natural world. This work is about helping people find their wholeness and helping them connect to the natural world, themselves and others in a new way. At the same time, something very subtle happens- people discover a powerful connection with nature, which fosters a new awareness, catalyzing a strong desire to advocate for the care, healing and repair of the natural world.
Wild Wellness Guide offers several Forest Bathing Experiences, including scheduled Public Group Walks; Private Groups for special occasions or life passages; Individual and Couples Sessions and Team-Building or Corporate Wellness Walks for your organization.
Come join me in the world of nature and discover the medicine of the forest through the beautiful healing and playful practice of Forest Bathing.
Though I always had a close relationship with the natural world, during a sudden, debilitating healing crisis, several years ago, something shifted on a massive level and nature fully opened to me, allowing for a deep new connection. Through this experience, I became clear that my work was as a healer, teacher and guide to facilitate others in exploring the depths of what it means to be fully alive.
During this period, I spent close to two years in solitude and meditation, practicing gratitude and medical qigong in my meadow, under an oak tree by my creek. One day I realized that the trees, the running water, the rocks, the sky, the breeze and the animals had become an essential part of my life. I began having experiences with wild animals which resembled something out of a fairy tale. While napping in my hammock by the creek one warm afternoon, I was awakened by a large buck nuzzling my knee. His twin was on the other side of me and a female was in the creek. We all gazed at one another before the two bucks moved beside the creek, rose up on their hind legs and loudly clacked their antlers in play before running off. Soon after, a large black bear appeared one evening, gazing into my kitchen window. That was followed by a pair of screech owls taking up residence in the nest box under my bedroom window. Each spring the owls breed a clutch of babies. They have taught me their hoot and continue to teach me their wisdom. One morning as I finished qigong, I looked at the beauty of the natural world around me and asked aloud, "When will I get my life back?" "This is your life now.", came the answer. I understood then that the natural world had become deeply integrated into my everyday life and played an essential role in my ability to heal.
Soon after, I discovered The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) and Shinrin Yoku. I first began integrating some of my health education coaching work into nature, taking my clients into the forest for deep stress reduction. I began offering "Elemental Forest Medicine" groups, where I discovered the power of the forest as "therapist" and its potent ability to reduce stress levels and support physical and emotional healing. I awakened to the healing power of "the more than human world."
I am grateful to be a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, through The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. I invite you to join me in the trees and discover for yourself, the healing power of slowing down; connecting with the natural world in a new way and letting go of stress and supporting your wellness through the evidenced-based healing practice of Forest Therapy.
I'm very excited to announce that Wild Wellness Guide has arrived in The Treasure Valley and Shinrin Yoku/Forest Bathing is now being offered at The Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise.
Please join me for a guided forest bathing immersion experience in this beautiful and magical garden where we will discover a new way to be in nature. During this facilitated mindfulness practice called, Shinrin Yoku, we'll let go of stress, slow way down and awaken our senses as we become fully present and connect with the medicine of the forest, ourselves and others. You will be guided through a series of sensory connection invitations to practice Forest Bathing and a new level of Nature Mindfulness. We will complete our experience with a tea ceremony, tasting locally foraged tea.
I'll see you in the trees.
Be Well; Be Whole, Sari
9 A.M.-11:30 A.M. - Morning Immersion
Choose a Date:
Tuesday, June 25th
Monday, July 8th
Tuesday, August 20th
.Hello Dear Community,
I am incredibly grateful for the gift of clear, clean air for these past two days. I have spent hours in nature since yesterday, connecting to the natural world with all of my senses. My olfactory function is quickly returning. It is such a gift to notice and differentiate scents of nature after weeks of smelling smoke and the inside of a sweaty mask. I hope those of you experiencing the summer fire season are finding ways for self-care; getting away at times if possible and getting outfitted with good masks and air purifiers of some kind. We all understand how challenging the fires have been. Unfortunately, I have had to cancel all of my Forest Bathing Walks since early July and have been unable to schedule any in August due to the unpredictability of the smoke. I am praying for early rains this year to fully snuff the last of the fires and allow us all back to the outdoors. The good news is that I have a great air purifier. The clean air has made my Reiki sessions a doubly blissful and relaxing escape from the stress of the smoke.
I am very happy and grateful to announce that in July, I completed my 6-month practicum through The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and am now Certified as a Nature and Forest Therapy Guide. This certification feels like an essential coming together of the circle of my healing and teaching work that I have been building and refining over the past many years. I am so excited to bring Nature and Forest Therapy into my practice as a Whole Health Educator™ and add it to my facilitation of Mind-Body Stress Regulation as well as my Reiki Energy Healing and teaching.
I have changed my practice name to "Wild Wellness Guide" from Forest Bathing Ashland. My practice has been a work in progress and since early June, "Wild Wellness Guide" has been has been strongly speaking to me. I feel it aptly describes me and my practice as I guide others on their path to wellness through facilitation, education and healing. The "Wild" world of nature is where I am deeply connected and a central core of my wellness work.
My work as a Whole Health Educator focuses on whole person wellness and disease prevention. It integrates evidence-based practices for physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual wellness. In my practice, through my own experience and those of my clients, I have discovered as science now demonstrates, that the stress of modern life leads to much of the disease in our society. Research is showing that stress is increased from sedentary time spent indoors; screen time and being cut-off from our roots in the natural world.
At the core of my work is calming the sympathetic nervous system to regulate stress. I am so excited to be able to offer Forest Therapy, Mind-Body Stress Regulation and Reiki Healing to help my clients develop a personal practice to manage stress levels for optimum wellness.
Nature and Forest Therapy, (also called Shinrin Yoku/Forest Bathing), is a facilitated, mindful sensory immersion in nature, for slowing down, deeply letting go of stress, unplugging and connecting to the natural world, oneself and to others in a new way. Once practiced with facilitation, it can be easily integrated into one's life as a regular practice. Forest Therapy is offered for public groups, private groups and for individuals and couples.
Mind-Body Stress Regulation includes Guided Sensory-Nature Imagery, Breathwork, Gratitude Practice, Mind-Body Techniques and Nature Immersion. It includes "Body Hacks" (practices) to help support the Vagus Nerve, one of the cranial nerves which connects the brainstem to the body, linking the neck, heart, lungs, and the abdomen to the brain. A balanced Vagus Nerve supports a healthy parasympathetic nervous system. I offer this work in individual sessions as well as sessions combined with Reiki.
Reiki Energy Healing is a very calming form of energy work which deeply relaxes the sympathetic nervous system. It helps support stress levels, mood, pain, sleep and anxiety. When the sympathetic nervous system calms down, the physical, emotional and energy body is able to relax and come back into balance. Besides individual healing sessions, I offer classes for Usui Reiki, Levels 1,2 & 3 and a half-day class called, "Reiki for Self-Care."
(Updated info here for 2019) I look forward to seeing you in the foresta and Parks in beautiful Boise, Idaho where I relocated to in February. I sold my home and said goodbye to my longtime home in Oregon, heading for new adventures. Call or contact me through my website to schedule Forest Therapy Walks, Stress Regulation Facilitation and Reiki sessions or Classes.
Be Well, Sari
Nature and Forest Therapy also known as Shinrin Yoku, which translates from the Japanese to, Forest Bathing, has awakened and deepened my connection to the natural world like nothing I have ever experienced. It has helped me connect the dots of my life. For over 25 years, I have explored whole person wellness, health and healing, and in the process, discovered my personal path to healing which has allowed me to hold space for others. My healing work includes all aspects of health- physical, mental, emotional, environmental and spiritual, which I integrate into my practice as a Whole Health Educator™, Coach and Reiki healer and now as a Certified Forest Therapy Guide.
In completing my training. month by month, I've become acutely aware of the web of connection that links and integrates my decades of life experience, study and practice. I've understood my endeavors to be related, but until now, not so deeply connected. In the past six months, I have spent more time than ever in my life, immersed in and observing the natural world. This intimate connection has brought me a clear and profound understanding of my life's trajectory and my place in it. For years, I have been on a journey of discovery; sowing seeds, exploring and gathering the experience and tools necessary to share my healing offerings. This path has included gifted mentors, guides and healers, higher education, in-depth training, mothering, relationship, self-study, self-discovery, spiritual practice and life-altering transformation. Now, Nature and Forest Therapy, brings to my work a deep sense of wholeness, added to my teaching, stress reduction coaching and hands-on energy healing. The healing power of the natural world is like the missing key that is now found, completing the circle. Last year, the first time I brought a group into the woods for an "Elemental Forest Bathing Walk", I felt complete, like I never have in my entire life. I said to myself with great relief and joy, "Ahhhh, this is why I am here." As The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy teaches, "The forest is the therapist, the guide opens the door."
Connecting deeply with nature has clearly revealed to me the Medicine Wheel of my life.-my vision; my experience and above all, my cracked-open heart. What might you see if you visualize the elder years of your life and from there look back to your early years or to where you are right now? Where has your inner compass been leading you all this time? I see the integration of all: my youth; play; imagination; isolation; sadness; my parents, young and aged; my life as a sister; friend; community member; marriage; wife and mother; my babies-now adults; immersion in meditation and spiritual path; travels; divorce; studies; degrees; certifications; passion for communication; connection; healing, teaching, wellness and wholeness; inquiry into one's thinking; organic farmer; herbs and nutrition; personal healing crisis- trauma; alone; exiled; excruciating; mind-blowing transformation; greatest gift; the world of subtle healing-breath, energy, Reiki, gratitude, mind-body, mindfulness, Qigong, animals, birds, bugs, flowers, frogs, owls, plants, trees, rocks, snakes, earth, water, fire and air; the more than human world.
Since my immersion training in January, I have found my tribe and just like wild herbal tea, I have been deeply steeped in "the more than human world." I have learned to slow way down; listen; feel; see and connect with the forest in a new way. I have spent hours scouting trails and guided many participants in Forest Bathing Experiences. I have studied wild edible tea plants; sat for hours in my three different "sit-spots"; awakened my senses; connected with birds, animals, clouds, insects, flowers, plants and trees. I have developed my eye and hand, discovering that I am an artist; honing my skills each month as I created sit-spot and tea plant drawings. Through it all, I have created a "Web of Interbeing", linking together 18 different beings who I observed and connected with during sit-spot practice. I am now more than ever, acutely awake to the diverse, thriving community in my meadow. I have created a "Deck of Invitations", activities in the forest which I invite my participants to partake of, to connect in a new way with the natural world. I have read and dipped into the works of inspired authors, naturalists and poets; a few of my favorites being, David Abram, Amos Clifford, Richard Louv, Florence Williams, Robin Wall Kimmerer, John Muir, Mary Oliver, Emerson, Rumi, Thoreau and Wordsworth.
I finished my practicum this month with a solo Medicine Journey, followed by a "Threshold Ceremony" in my Clay Creek meadow, acknowledging completion of my concentration and work of the past 6-months, as I set intention for my next steps. I am grateful to The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, my A.N.F.T trainer's, Ben Page, Alex Gesse, Amos Clifford, Geeta Stilwill and Andrea Prazmowski; my mentor, Geeta and my loving tribe, Cohort 19. I am grateful for the opportunity through my work as a Forest Therapy Guide, to facilitate others into a deeper relationship with the more than human world, for healing, connection to self and others. There is great power in the shift that takes place when we deeply connect to the natural world. This connection can guide humanity to a place of true reciprocity, caring and love for all beings that live in The Earth, offering an invitation to do the work of healing and repair, for the survival of all who exist in this delicate web-of-interbeing.
In gratitude, love, trust and remembering to let go when called to do so.
Immerse in an Instagram Forest Bath
Please take some time to slow down, immerse in and enjoy my Instagram photos below. These were taken during my immersion training in Costa Rica and throughout my 6-month practicum.
I took my first photography class in 10th grade from my biology teacher, Woody Clarke. Mr. Clarke guided our class into the woods next to my high school, in Council Bluffs, Iowa and named every tree, plant, bird, insect and animal we came upon as we meandered in the beauty of the Iowa woods. I developed my black and white nature photos in Mr. Clarke's school darkroom. Now, 45 years later, I continue to wander and play in the woods near my home in Southern Oregon, noticing as the life of the forest calls to me and poses before my digital Android phone.