In Reiki Shalala, I shared details of a disappointing conversation I had with Donna Shalala, former secretary of Health and Human Resources. Susan Alger of Nashville, Tennessee, emailed a thoughtful response, which I asked to share with you.
Susan’s been an RN for 20 years and is preparing her BSN in teaching. She’s been practicing Reiki for the past year. Susan wrote:
“My Reiki Master teacher forwarded your article about Donna Shalala and I am very proud of the efforts you are making to elevate Reiki to the medical community.
“It was disappointing to read of Shalala’s response to your questions, but I think you countered beautifully. As a RN and a level II Reiki practitioner, I appreciate both sides.
“A Johnson & Johnson commercial says, “I believe in science and medicine, but I also believe in stacking the deck.” Reiki does this. I have seen it. I have experienced it.
“The next step for Reiki, as I see it, is finding the science to back up what we already know. Otherwise, Reiki will be viewed as something akin to religion. This, of course, takes financial backing and credible studies.
“Perhaps the best place to start is teaching and encouraging nurses to practice Reiki self-treatment to help heal the dents a nurse takes everyday. In my experience, Reiki self-treatment promotes empathy with patients.
“Nurses, like teachers, are naturally inclined to care for others, and less diligent regarding self-care. Looking at the high burn-out rate in the nursing profession, we have to ask ourselves, how high a price are we paying for the privilege of caring?
“The ripple effect of nurse burnout radiates both outward, in our home lives, and inward, to our own immune systems. When nurses and other health care professionals practice Reiki self-care, we set an example for our patients and for other arms of the conventional medicine machine, including institutions that could fund and oversee credible studies of Reiki practice.
“A friend was offered Reiki at the Cleveland Clinic before and after valve replacement surgery. Given her weakened condition due to recently having a baby at 40 and the sudden onset of her symptoms during that pregnancy, there is no question in her mind that Reiki played a vital role in her rapid recovery. She made it home three weeks sooner than average.
“On a professional level, I am currently practicing Reiki on a bilateral knee replacement patient with an underlying heart condition. His perception of pain is immediately reduced, as is his anxiety. He is able to sleep soundly despite the pain, which facilitates his healing.
“I am seeing remarkable progress with his incisional healing. Four days out of surgery, his incisions have very little edema or redness that one usually sees with a post-op knee replacement, even after an hour of physical therapy. Twenty-four hours out, he could do a ninety degree bend and a zero degree press with both knees.
“Reiki treatment given to a patient in pain decreases the perception of pain, increases blood flow to the operative site, and relieves anxiety. I can see it, hear it, and feel it. It is measurable. Does Reiki treatment eliminate the need for pain medicine? No. But it stacks the deck.
“When I begin or end a long day and treat myself with Reiki, I feel deeply relaxed, centered, and less fractured from the chaos of the day. I can feel it, see it, and hear its effects in my voice, thought process, and my body. It doesn’t eliminate the need for my yearly check-up and unfortunately hasn’t replaced the coffee I drink, but it stacks the deck in my favor and benefits everyone around me.”
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My Reiki & Medicine Masterclass equips Reiki practitioners to collaborate with doctors, nurses, and other licensed healthcare professionals, including how to more effectively communicate the benefits. Even without sufficient research, there’s a plausible mechanism we can share, and ways of presenting the practice that are relevant to health care, and more credible, than the usual Reiki energy presentation.