by Heather Von St. James
As a cancer survivor, I can attest to how beneficial complementary therapies can be while undergoing harsh traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Reiki is one of many alternative healing practices being used to reduce stress and promote healing. Derived from the Japanese words for “Higher Power” and “life force energy”, the ancient healing art is performed by trained practitioners who place their hands near or lightly on the body to channel energy. It may also be administered to oneself with little training, including within the treatment programs of cancers like mesothelioma.
Used both to maintain good health and to create conditions for the body to repair itself, Reiki has recently been endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Oz, one of the nation’s leading cardiologists and talk show hosts. As its benefits become increasingly more well known, the practice is also gaining favor as an adjunct to traditional medical treatments. It is now being used in many hospitals to decrease the discomfort of treatments for cancer and to relieve symptoms of chronic diseases, potentially increasing mesothelioma life expectancy.
Because Reiki is “transferred” by a master teacher to a student in a process called an “attunement”, it is easily learned and practiced – thus allowing the recipient to tap into an unlimited source of universal energy for healing both oneself and others. The energy that supports life flows throughout the body and nourishes its organs and tissues. When negative thoughts or trauma disrupt its natural flow, energy is blocked or weakened. It is important to realize that Reiki does not heal illnesses; it helps to repair the energy field so that the body can resume its normal processes.
Although spiritual, the practice is not a part of any religion and requires no personal beliefs or dogma. Reiki does, however, promote a harmonious, ethical, and peaceful lifestyle that is compatible with the teachings of all cultures. Because Reiki’s energy comes from God, it may have positive spiritual and emotional components, as well as physical ones.
While all energy healers channel energy, Reiki is different from other styles because it can only be accessed by being passed from a Reiki Master to a student. Energy healers who use other methods may also be attuned to Reiki, and many report an increase in energetic ability as a result. The use of symbols is one of the ways Reiki energy is channeled, and some masters stress the importance of intention. Regardless, the energy is said to have an intelligence of its own that directs it to the area of the body where it is needed.
The American Cancer Society has endorsed Reiki as a form or complementary medicine for mesothelioma and other kinds of debilitating malignancies, and many hospitals now hire Reiki practitioners. Although more studies are needed to prove the benefits of Reiki in cancer care, it appears to help patients feel better without creating side effects.