Wednesday, May 24, 2006


One of the intriguing things about living in India has been experiencing (second hand!) Eastern medicine in action. Our yoga instructor is also a specialist in a variety of other arts including “twist therapy,” acupressure and acupuncture with which he claims he can cure anything from the common cold to cancer. We remain politely skeptical. But last night I got to see another kind of therapy, called Reiki. It’s actually a Japanese healing art that involves channeling a spiritual energy into healing. It’s sort of like Christian laying on of hands, except that the healer doesn’t actually touch the patient, just hold his or her hands above and sort of cleanses the patient’s aura.

Our yoga instructor brought a pupil from another class with him last night to observe our class and she is a Reiki master. My friend Brian broke his back a few years ago and still has chronic pain so she asked if she could perform Reiki on him. He agreed so we settled down to watch. And it was really fascinating. First she rubbed her hands together and then held them a few inches apart for a few seconds. Then, keeping her hands about 5 inches above Brian, she swept them down and along his body, with a little wrist flick at the end, for all the world like she was sweeping the negative energy away from him.

Then she circled him a few times before deciding where to begin. She knelt at his side and then, sort of picked at the air above him in various areas and in differing patterns. She held a stone between the fingers of one hand and drew designs in the air with it. Perhaps it should have been silly but somehow it wasn’t because she clearly seemed to be responding to something. She would pause, hold her hand still for a bit, then begin again in a slightly different area. The idea is that she was pinpointing areas of pain (which can be felt as heat) and then drawing them away.

The process lasted about 10 minutes and finished with another round of sweeping movement. Brian wasn’t too wowed by the experience, though. He said he felt a little bit better but not perfect. Then again, I think that with most healing, it’s a matter of degree. You can't expect to feel 100% better immediately after one treatment of anything, be it western medication or eastern energy channeling. If you feel a bit better, that’s a good thing. Of course, I’m not going to be signing up for acupuncture or twist therapy any time soon. I’m brave enough to watch but not to participate!


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