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.