Reiki & the Bishops in the Boston Globe

Bishops Syndrome has made it to the Boston Globe.

A colleague from the North Shore sent me an alarmed email, referring to it as a “horrid article.” I respectfully disagree.

There are only minor inaccuracies: depicting Usui as a doctor who developed the practice at the turn of the century (he was not a physician and it was the 1920s), saying Reiki came to the U.S. in the 1940s (it was the late 1930s), and saying Takata taught Reiki “to a handful of Americans” (I don’t know of any data on this but Takata trained 22 Reiki masters, and since, like Usui and Hayashi, she reserved such training for a very few of her students, she clearly trained far more than a handful of Americans).

Of course a Boston Globe reporter would reach out to local hero and early proponent of mind-body medicine Herbert Benson, even though Reiki is not mind-body medicine. It would have taken a bit more digging to find a medical expert qualified to comment on Reiki, someone such as the NIH’s Ann Berger.

Benson clearly is not well-versed in Reiki; he’s much more a placebo kind of a guy, so it’s no surprise that he brought placebo into his comments. But it’s a valid point, one that many discerning minds would raise.

The overall evenness of the article is evidence that Reiki practice now has enough mainstream recognition to be taken seriously, regardless what the Catholic Bishops think.

Remember the first rule of advertising: no publicity is bad publicity. Although I feel for the patients who are being denied care as a result of the bishops’ pronouncement, it sparked a fire of public interest in Reiki that’s warming this practitioner’s heart.

Bishops’ Syndrome is raising Reiki’s profile, and in a sympathetic context, no less (public perception of Catholic bishops vs. patients in pain? — my money’s on the patients).

I encourage you to read the article.

When a story on Reiki receives a lot of public response, it signals the media that Reiki is a topic of interest, which leads to more stories on Reiki. If you take the time to comment on the Globe’s site, and to compose your comment carefully, all the better.

Self-righteous Reiki practitioners leaving poorly thought out comments gives evidence to support the bishops’ prejudice. It’s much more effective for people to simply share brief personal stories of how Reiki benefited their loved ones.

That’s what I think of Reiki in the Boston Globe. What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “Reiki & the Bishops in the Boston Globe”

  1. Takata-trained Reiki master Paul David Mitchell is a practicing Catholic. He will speak to me about Hawayo Takata, Catholicism, and the future of Reiki in a free webinar at 6 PM EST on Monday, January 30, 2012.

    Click here to register now and you will receive the recording link even if you are not able to be with us live. Registration closes when the event starts.

  2. I think Jesus would have approved so much of reiki and wonder what he would have told the bishops. I am so thankful for Jesus’ teaching. His life was living God’s Love and compassion. I put my trust in that belief before the bishops.
    I agree with Rosanne Spinner. Reiki has brought me close to God as I understand God, as Universal Love and the All there Is.
    Thank you to Nancy Arnott too. I have seen what Reiki does to help people in the medical setting and it does not get in the way of medical care. The nursing staff are pleased to see me as they know the patient will find soothing and peacefulness sometimes in the middle of a noisy unit where nursing staff have no extra time to spend with patients.

  3. I personally know quite a few Catholics who have either recieved a Reiki treatment or practice reiki in some way, including nuns. I hope that the American Bishops will take another look at what they are proposing and reconsider their statement in light of the many benefits that Reiki offers. I agree with what others have written and completely resonate with what Roseane has written. I know many of her faith who would agree with her, as do I.

    The medical community is embracing Reiki more and more as well as embracing other modalities that address integrating mind, body, and spirit. Even though we do not have all the answers, the research that is being done is showing positvie benefit for patients when these modalities are introduced as part of good and comprehensive patient care. A local college in the community where I reside is offering Reiki level 1 and 11 to nurses and other health care practitioners. The brochure states: “healthcare practitioners are recognizing that spiritual and emotional imbalances affect our physical health and well being. reiki restores balance to body, mind, and spirit, maximizing the natural healing process. when we remain out of balance, we become more susceptible to dis-ease…”

    Many in the Catholic church as well as other religious communitites have already embraced Reiki as a wonderful miraculous way to connect to Source. Reiki is now in hospitals and in hospice. Reiki is here to stay. If anything, I feel that the article will invite the curious and the open minded, and even the healthy skeptic to experience reiki for themselves.

  4. What troubles me so much about the Bishops’s decision is that as a Catholic myself, my Reiki practice has ALWAYS drawn me closeer to Jesus/God. I’m reminded of the Bible verse in the Gospel of John, 14th chapter, 12th verse, which is embraced by the Catholic church, which references the miracles Jesus produced by His laying on of hands , which goes like this (and this is Jesus speaking): “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me, can do the same miracles I have done, and even greater things than these will you do.”

    Enough said.

  5. I agree with Sheiila that ghe publicity can help let people know about the obvious benefits of Reiki. The article attempts to show “both sides” of the controversy, but I think it ends on a positive note, with a quote saying that Reiki is comparable with the discoveries of Galileo!
    Aiyana Stern, Reiki Master, Writer, NYC

  6. I agree that the article is a clear, well-balanced consideration of a controversial subject, and, if anything, would be likely to open rather than close the mind of someone who read it with no prior knowledge of Reiki. I also like the fact that the reporter lets people know that they can still request Reiki treatment even in Catholic institutions that no longer officially offer it — I hope the word gets out about that, to minimize the suffering brought about by the bishops’ ill-informed statement.

    I posted a comment drawing on my own experience practicing Reiki in a conventional medical setting:
    “As a Reiki practitioner volunteering in a New York City hospital, I can confirm from my own experience the author’s statement that Reiki supports, not supplants, conventional medicine. Healing takes place on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well as the physical, and doctors and nurses generally have the time and resources to address only the physical. By offering patients a simple, nondogmatic way to access their own inner resources for healing, Reiki practitioners support the medical staff’s objectives. When offered in medical settings, Reiki makes patients feel truly cared for in a way that every doctor and nurse would wish but few have the time to provide.”

  7. Thanks to Pamela and Sheila for your comments (and to Pamela for drawing attention to the article in the first place).

    I quite liked the article. I thought, if I only knew a tiny bit about Reiki, would this put me off or attract me? I think attract, but with skepticism (the same healthy skepticism I had in my early acquaintance with Reiki and that I still work through after so many years from time to time).

    The article seems to present Reiki as something that works for people — somehow — to support (not “supplant”), non-invasively, other healing methods. And I loved that it closed with the detail that patients still sometimes ask for Reiki at St. Joseph even though it isn’t actively promoted there any more. Also the very final quote from Sarah Bishop was to me a very positive and meaningful end note: “Galileo was denounced by the Catholic Church,’’ she says. “I don’t mind being in his company.’’

    I recently had the pleasure of meeting a Franciscan brother who practices Reiki in a hospital system, and he emphasized that this “ruling” does not come from the Vatican, only from a group of American bishops. He continues his work, believing it to be a Godly practice and well within Catholic principles. I have also met several nuns who quietly (or not so quietly, depending!) continue to use Reiki in their work.

    The Catholic Church as an entity has been threatened over the centuries and reacts defensively at times, just as all large entities do. But the followers are made up of individuals, many of whom want only good in the name of God and are less concerned with the “organization”.

    As Pamela and others have said many times, Reiki is something that is best understood from experience, not talk, so it is no wonder that those who have experienced Reiki can support it within the context of the Church, and those who have not can’t wrap their minds (and doctrines) around it and are frightened by what they do not understand. It can be hard to articulate even for those who live it every day.

    With that in mind, I got a sense of “what’s all the fuss about” from the article…what’s the harm? Perhaps this can only be a good thing? I don’t want to underestimate what the Catholic Church can achieve if it puts its resources behind something, but hopefully the nature of Reiki itself can quietly sidetrack these misguided efforts.

    Alice (in Brooklyn, NY)

  8. It was with some amusement I read the article about Catholic bishops “retracting” Reiki in NH area Catholic hospitals. As a Reiki practitioner for over 12 years, I have experienced the many powerful benefits for myself, my family, and clients. Most recently, Reiki master Pamela Miles brought Reiki to my husband when he was recovering from open heart surgery in the hospital. Reiki colleagues and I continued over the next several weeks. His doctors and nurses said they’d never seen someone recover from surgery so fast. After a cab accident, I used it myself on neck pain, and my somewhat skeptical elderly parents and other family members ask for it to aid major and minor issues. It is NOT a replacement for medical treatment, and Benson is right, it is NOT “science.” However, the placebo terminology he uses belittles its immediately felt effects. The Bishops may have a point from a strictly literal religious interpretation–but God works not only through medical personnel, as they claim, but through healers, Reiki practitioners, and others. There is no harm, no thrusting of belief systems in offering Reiki, any more than would be in offering vitamins or a cup of herb tea. Reiki is a gift whose time has come. Publicity, good or bad, might simply aid its growth.
    Sheila Lewis, Reiki Practitioner, Writer, NYC

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