As a consumer of massage, you already know there are wonderful benefits to receiving therapeutic touch. And you’ve likely tried one or two variations of massage or bodywork as you’ve meandered along this path of complementary healthcare. But did you know there are at least 250 kinds of therapies that are part of this growing massage and bodywork tradition? From acupressure to Zero Balancing, there are a multitude of lush, leaf-filled branches on this bodywork tree, making it a perfect spot under which to throw a blanket and sit a while.
What is reiki, how does it work, and how can it benefit bodywork practitioners, both personally and professionally? The concept for this article began with a newly published book, written by reiki master Pamela Miles, simply titled Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide. I had collaborated with Miles a few years back when reporting on a reiki study for Massage & Bodywork’s Somatic Research column. Despite Miles’ best efforts to guide my understanding of this spiritual healing practice, my mind remained in a muddle.
Like a first kiss, I will never forget my first experience with energy work. I had only been exposed to the massage and bodywork profession for one month before attending a polarity conference, in Colorado. I had done my homework, chosen the courses I wanted to attend, made myself familiar with the players and their work, and prepared myself for whatever I might be exposed to — or so I thought.
The “unknowns” of energy medicine are the aspects that make it seem unusual, unique, and — unquantifiable. The very things that make the work profound are also the things that have kept much of the medical establishment at arm’s length on this side of the world. Now, as science is slowly proving out what energy practitioners have always known about their work, traditional medicine is gingerly extending its hand. Will it be welcomed?
While the U.S. spa industry has consistently struggled with the definition of “spa,” the market continues to expand, explore, and test the boundaries of consumer expectations and demands. Although “mind, body, and soul” is the mantra many spas have used throughout the last decade, the “mind” aspect of the spa movement was rarely a priority until energetic services began to attract clients’ intrigue and dollars.
After months of hot flashes, fatigue, and irritability, oftentimes the last thing a woman in the throes of menopause wants is to be touched. Yet, this is exactly when a woman needs to experience touch, especially massage and bodywork. When she most needs to be nurtured, comforted, and reminded of her beauty and inner spirit, is often when a woman’s body rebels and begins fighting against her.
You already know about the power of massage and may even have exposed your children to its gentle ways. Maybe you’ve been educated in infant massage yourself so as to offer touch to your child when it can be most effective — after baths, before bedtime, or when cradling your colicky baby in the middle of the night. Or maybe you take your pre-teen to the spa with you for a day of rejuvenating bodywork. So you know massage has incredible soothing power, but have you ever considered energy medicine for your child?
With its simplicity and gentleness, reiki is capturing the attention of the traditional medical field as a practical, effective component of integrative care. Not all complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches are without contraindications, and some not so easily adapted to administration during procedures such as in acute trauma situations or surgery. Reiki, a subtle energy therapy, can be applied with or without actual touch and only requires the presence of the practitioner.
Miranda was a dying woman who served as a challenge and inspiration for me in the last months of her life. My experiences with her marked the true beginning of my realization of the importance of energy work in hospice-based massage. Since Miranda’s death, I have come to fully accept and integrate energy work into my practice and I now routinely use it alongside other manual modalities. Working with her was a privilege for me.
Most mothers will tell you that as a child begins to develop within the womb, he feels the effects of her life decisions. Live a stressful life, and the unborn child is sure to fight back. Indulge in food or drink, and that baby will play havoc with your body throughout the night. Be filled with anger, and feel that baby do belly flops in protest. And just as the unborn can be affected by their mothers’ negative states, they also can be affected by positive energies.