This past week, I decided to try Reiki for the first time. For those who don't know, Reiki is an alternative healing method in which, to put it bluntly, there's a lot of touching involved. The practitioner uses hands-on-healing to tap into and transfer a "universal energy" to the recipient, which is meant to encourage physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Debbie Attias, the healer I went to see at Maha Rose in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, described Reiki like this:
Reiki is the transferring of life force energy through the hands from one person to another. When your body is full of energy, it knows how to heal itself. It is also extremely relaxing, and when you are relaxed, your body can restore its natural harmony.
That life force energy is considered the central principle in many Eastern healing and energy work modalities. Rooted in Taoism and traditional Chinese medicine, according to these philosophies and practices, anything living has that vital life force and is a source of universal energy.
And sometimes, you need a little help recharging or reactivating that force if it's been depleted somehow.
That's where Reiki comes in. A quick search online will show you Reiki may help with a number of maladies, including depression, loneliness, and anxiety, just to name a few.
Some studies have even demonstrated the therapy's positive effects on the emotional well-being of cancer patients, and Reiki has thus been offered as a complementary healing method in some hospitals, such as NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.
Still, as with many alternative forms of medicine, Reiki is often identified (by the more skeptical, I suppose) as a “psuedoscience."
As for me? A friend of mine suggested I try Reiki after hearing me complain one too many times about some self-esteem issues I've been having since, like, birth.
She was emphatic that a few sessions of Reiki helped rid her of some “old emotional garbage” she was carrying around.
Yes, of course it could have been a placebo effect or a mere coincidence. But I decided to give it a shot anyway, because why not?
When I first met my healer, I found myself feeling immediately comfortable with her overall vibe.
She made great eye contact, wore a very rad tube top, and moved with the strong grace of a modern dancer.
Before we got started, I explained to Debbie my recent self-esteem issues, how I believed they stemmed from my childhood, and the specifics of how they seemed to affect my life today.
After hearing this, she suggested we focus on my "power chakra" during the session.
Not overly familiar with chakras (fun fact: there are seven of them), I came to learn they are thought to be different centers of the body through which energy flows.
The power chakra is located at the solar plexus, and is thought to affect or control self-worth and self-confidence.
So, I hopped onto a comfortable massage table, where I was instructed to lie on my back with my palms up and my eyes closed. Debbie put on some soothing music, and I felt my body begin to relax.
Throughout the session, the healer placed her hands on different parts of my body -- my arms, my feet, my head, and of course, my power chakra.
I turned over on my back halfway through the session, and she continued to work her magic on my body.
At some points, I felt like I was truly on the verge of falling asleep -- but the experience involved so much more than just sleepy relaxation.
As Debbie placed her hands on different parts of my body, I actually saw different things in my mind's eye, as if I were dreaming.
I saw images from my childhood, for example, and the faces of members of my family. At one point, I even smelled, or thought I smelled, the basement rug of my childhood home.
And, believe it or not, when Debbie touched my diaphragm -- the spot we discussed focusing on -- I felt a little irritated or angry. I actually had the urge to growl, and I dreamily saw the image of a tiger or a big cat.
When we finished up, Debbie and I checked in, and I described to her the images I saw and how I felt throughout the session.
After I told her about seeing an image of a tiger, she encouraged me to figuratively "let my inner tiger out" from this point forward -- meaning I don't have to hold back my thoughts and feelings just for the sake of pleasing others. Which might also mean I give people a little attitude sometimes, or say things not everybody wants to hear.
Even if it means sometimes getting an "attitude" with people, Debbie said I shouldn't worry if people don't like me. It's about doing what's best for me, not for everyone else.
Of course, people will always be skeptical of alternative therapies like Reiki, regardless of how much I try to tell you it deeply affected me.
When it comes to addressing the skeptics, Debbie says they have more than a little catching up to do.
She tells Elite Daily,
We know that touch and attention are powerful forces. In addition to the energy work, Reiki brings your brain into a state of meditation. We now know that stress can make people sick, and doctors prescribe meditation all the time. Energy is real; you know when you are full of it, and when you are not.
After the session, and now, almost a week later, I still feel better. I feel calmer; I feel more confident; I feel more centered than I ever have before.
And, to be honest, for whatever reason it may be, I feel a little freer to be myself -- tiger and all.