Advances: Medical News for Patients

The Healing Energy of Reiki and the Mind-body Connection

The natural state of the mind-body connection is one of harmony and unity. When that balance is disrupted, illness can ensue. The science of Mind-Body Bridging (a branch of mind-body medicine) seeks to restore a smoothly functioning connection. It is based on the principle that one can learn to use one’s thoughts to positively influence some of the body’s physical responses, thereby decreasing stress.

Aviva Fisher, RNC MS CADC, Patient Care Director at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center in White Plains states, “The majority of our patients come in physically, mentally and spirituality depleted and need assistance in reconnecting.”

The mind, body, and spirit all operate independently and are unique for each individual. This is an essential component to the principles of Reiki — a modality offered by specially trained nurses and psychosocial rehabilitation therapists. “It is not necessarily a religion but, rather, a spiritual practice,” says Ms. Fisher.

Reiki is a holistic Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation, and spiritual healing. Rei means higher knowledge or spiritual consciousness, and Ki means life energy. Reiki, as a whole, is spiritually guided life energy. People are susceptible to illness when there is a restriction in the flow of energy and Reiki seeks to restore it.

Catherine McQuade, MS, a Rehabilitation Specialist at New-York Presbyterian’s Addiction Recovery Unit, explained that “Many of our patients come into the hospital with a history of medical problems. They are malnourished, fearful, hopeless, and can be in severe physical, spiritual and mental pain.” She notes that Reiki has proven helpful in dealing with these issues for each patient in their own way. “It can be a meditative, spiritual experience; patients may experience warm feelings, they may become tearful during the process, they may feel more secure and peaceful, or they may even fall asleep.”

The goal of Reiki is to quiet the mind, and it is often used in conjunction with music, aromatherapy, deep breathing, movement therapy, pet therapy, and complementary relaxation techniques. All of these modalities do not conflict with other psychiatric or medical medications. “Our goal on the Addiction Unit,” states Catherine McQuade, “is to provide patients with alternative coping strategies for early recovery to reduce anxiety, decrease pain, promote sleep and reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol.

How Reiki is performed

Patients can choose how their Reiki session is administered — hands on, light touch or hands-off, or hands just above the patient’s body. It can be given sitting in a chair or lying on a massage table. Patients are fully clothed, and sessions are typically offered for various durations, individualized to what the patient can tolerate. Ms. Fisher says, “Our Reiki program takes a patient-centered approach. Patients partner with their treatment team to develop a wellness plan that can be used when they are discharged. We meet the patients where they are in their recovery, providing them with the tools they need to be successful.”  

Anyone can be treated with Reiki.  No prescriptions are necessary, it will not interfere with medications, and there are no side effects. People can use Reiki to heal themselves, with specific self Reiki hand positions.

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