Good Vibrations: Healing and the Biofield

img_0933Installing the “Canyon Wren Wellness Center” sign at my new building in Maupin a few weeks ago, the reference to “Reiki” on the sign reminded me that the topic of biofield healing (of which Reiki is one modality) would be a good topic for this blog, since these gentle, powerful, and age-old methods of mind-body healing are at the forefront of the “new big things” in western medicine today.

In fact, the term, “biofield healing” is a fairly recent one, having been coined in  1992 (at a conference sponsored by the National Institute of Health) to refer to those healing methods that work directly with the fields of information, energy and other vital forces that surround and permeate all living beings. Some frequencies of this field are
measurable: for instance, electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram machines (on which western cardiology and neurology depend) measreal-human-aura-kirilianure biofield frequencies of the heart and brain. And Kirlian photography can register and display –in color–  visual images of the layers and pulses of that electromagnetic field surrounding the body of living beings known as the “aura”.

But while  biofield healing practices have been used for millennia in various cultural communities for the purpose of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing, they have only recently begun to be seriously studied by Western science.

As western medical science does more research on these modalities (which include both self-healing practices such as yoga, Tai Chi,embracing_tai_chi meditation, prayer and Qigong, and “laying on of hands”-type guided energy practices used to heal others, such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch and internal Qigong), a rapidly-growing number of studies have found solid evidence of a wide range of psychological, behavioral and physical benefits associated with these approaches and methods. And since these generally come with no known risks or negative side-effects, and do not interfere with other forms of treatment (in fact, they generally help to increase the positive effects and minimize the damage of medications, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy), what’s not to like?

Which is exactly what I thought three years ago when my husband was facing cancer surgery. Talking about it to Dr. Mary Zega, my friend and chiropractor in The Dalles, I said that I wished there was something I could do to help ease his experience and support his recovery.

“You should learn Reiki!” said Mary, explaining that Reiki treatment can be a great help in accelerating recovery from medical procedures, and in decreasing pain and anxiety, among other benefits. In fact, I learned that Mary herself was a Reiki Master, and incorporates Reiki into her chiropractic work (which explained why her treatments always seem to do much more good for my general well-being than can be accounted for by simply realigning my spine!)

“Where do I sign up?” I asked.

Mary put me in touch with master teacher Jacquie Hashizume in The  Dalles. While Jacquie didn’t have classes scheduled in the near future, she said, she kindly offered to train and attune me individually at the basic level, given the circumstances I described.

To make a much longer story very short, the Reiki treatments I was able to subsequently give my husband during and after his surgery helped him so much (by his own report, not mine) to recover quickly and completely, with minimal need for pain medication, that he eventually became trained and attuned himself (since a wonderful thing about Reiki is that you can give it to yourself as well as others).

For my part, in the months and years that followed, I pursued more advanced Reiki training and attunement levels, with the objective in particular of becoming able to train and attune others in our community interested in having this gentle, powerful healing tool available to help friends, family members, and (in the case of our local doc and medical clinic manager, Sharon DeHart), patients who would like to incorporate Reiki into their medical care. I was also interested in incorporating Reiki energy work to support the effectiveness of traditional psychotherapy. Since it is possible to do so without the need for hands-on treatment, this is how I most often use it in my work (I do give hands-on Reiki treatments when people come for that, just not when I am practicing under my psychotherapy license). 

What is Reiki?

The word “Reiki” itself is a combination of two Japanese kanji (word symbols)reiki-symbol-1“Rei” means “universal source” or “highest spirit”  and “Ki” is an individual’s “life force” or “vital energy.”  Reiki can therefore be described as “spiritually-guided life-force healing” Therefore, while Reiki itself is not a religious practice (religious and non-religious people alike practice it, the same as other kinds of medicine), conservative Christians and members of other faith traditions who are concerned about the “spirit” part may be reassured to know that the term in Japanese means, in effect, “Holy Spirit-guided healing.” In that way, Reiki can be considered to be a  “technology” for practicing the healing touch demonstrated and encouraged by Jesus (John, 14:12).

The technique was discovered and developed in Japan in the late 1900s by  Mikao Usui, and was brought to the U.S. in the 1940s by a Japanese M.D. and a Japanese-American woman who developed a school for practitioners in Hawaii. It has developed and flourished in the U.S. and worldwide ever since, and is now one of the most respected and accepted-as-effective biofield healing modalities in current use. 

The practice itself is a holistic method of stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing, and is administered through a series of hand positions on or above the body. reikiIt brings about deep relaxation, dissolves energy blockages, detoxifies the system, accelerates cell regeneration, reduces inflammation, and supports and increases the body’s general vitality. At the psychological/emotional level, it can relieve depression, anxiety, and even heal the long-term ravages of trauma on the nervous system.

While Reiki practitioners do not diagnose (nor do they need to, as Reiki energy itself knows where to go), a skilled practitioner is able to “read” the body in such a way as to know where to place his or her hands to do the most good. And since it is also a quality of Reiki energy to only go where it is welcome, no-one ever receives any healing they are not ready for or do not want.

A Reiki treatment itself often feels like a warm, relaxing radiance that flows through and around the person receiving it. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind, and spirit.

However, it is recommended that if someone receiving Reiki has a serious medical or psychological condition, they also consult a licensed physician or other licensed health or mental health care professional, since Reiki works well in conjunction with all medical or psychological care. For this reason, Reiki and other biofield healing methods are considered “complementary medicine” practices, since they both work on their own and also support the effectiveness of other medical, emotional and spiritual care of all kinds.

Getting Back to the Biofield:

While I have focused in this blog on Reiki in particular because it is the modality with which I am the most personally familiar, the field of biofield therapy includes many powerful and effective modalities (internal qigong, Therapeutic Touch, Healing Touch, “toning” and other methods using sound, and Sufi healing practices are just a few of these) for inviting the loving, benevolent field of higher intelligence that is Consciousness itself to vibrate more fully with our individual fields of vitality, with healing results.

And since I have really just barely scratched the surface of what biofield science and biofield therapies are about, those interested in learning more might check out the article on Biofield Science and Healing in the Huffington Post, and/or this podcast interview with Dr. Shamini Jain of the Consciousness Healing Initiative.

Then do yourself a favor and choose one of these methods (your own intuition/attraction is probably your best guide to which one), find a practitioner, and…receive. Your biofield will thank you for it.

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