Wondering About Reiki?

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by Marjorie Geiser

Friends, colleagues and clients often ask me about Reiki (pronounced "ray-kee"), as it is gaining such popularity as an alternative medicine. According to NCCAM, (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), Reiki is an energy medicine practice that originated in Japan. In Reiki, the practitioner places his hands on or near the person receiving treatment, with the intent to transmit ki, believed to be a life-force energy. Practitioners also believe that they can treat themselves with Reiki and send ki across short or long distances. In the United States, Reiki is part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

The word Reiki is made up of two Japanese words: Rei, or universal spirit (sometimes thought of as a supreme being), and ki. Thus, the word Reiki means "universal life energy." In CAM, Reiki belongs to a domain (area of knowledge) called energy medicine. In this domain, therapies are based on the belief that disturbances in energy cause illness. Energy medicine practitioners seek to improve the flow and balance of energy in a beneficial way.

As always, I encourage anyone who intends to utilize an alternative therapy, including Reiki, to talk to your health care provider before starting. It is still not proven how Reiki improves health or how it improves healing. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is sponsoring studies to find out more about Reiki's effects, how it works, and diseases and conditions for which it may be most helpful.

Reiki practitioners perform the therapy with their hands, in the hopes to reduce negative energy and to increase the ki in the client. The client is usually fully clothed and sitting or lying comfortably. The practitioner places his hands on the client's body using several different hand positions. The positions are held as long as the practitioner feels the energy is continuing, usually two to five minutes.