Reiki: Real or Ridiculous?

Relatively Interesting August 28, 2012 11
Reiki:  Real or Ridiculous?

Reiki, a spiritual practice developed by a Japanese Buddhist in 1992, has developed into various traditions. Some call is palm healing, others label it hands on healing – bottom line, it’s complementary therapy and a form of meditation. That being said, Reiki stands out in the world of meditation – but why?

A traditional Reiki whole-body Reiki treatment would go like this: The Reiki practitioner has the patient lie down and relax on a massage table, and then helps bring the patient to a clear and more peaceful state of mind. The practitioner places his hands either on or above various positions and is kept for a few minutes on each position. The main areas covered by this process are the head, back and front of the upper body, the knees and the feet. A general treatment usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

The practitioners believe they are “transferring universal energy (known as reiki) through the palms that allow self-healing and a state of equilibrium.” The process is energizing as a massage and there is a unique emotional/mental level of enhancement that the form of meditation provides. Reiki is unique for having its own array of formats and soundtracks.

A Typical Reiki SessionSome hospitals have adapted Reiki principles in their programs to help cancer patients and other ill-bodied folk. Throughout the country, Reiki has become a regular practice for them. However, according to the American Cancer Society, “Available scientific evidence at this time does not support claims that Reiki can help treat cancer or any other illness. More study may help determine to what extent, if at all, it can improve a patient’s sense of well being.” Backed by the NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) on that theory, Reiki has no scientific evidence to help anyone with anything. But then again, the art of meditation and massage has never been backed by science (other than for general relaxation and localized improvements, respectively) – it dates back for centuries and is based on anecdotal results rather than scientific research. There must be something to it; otherwise the tradition would have died down over the years instead of finding its way into modern-era hospitals.  That something is called “the placebo effect“.  Throw in a little confirmation bias, and a dash of  personalized 1-on-1 attention from another person, and you’ve got yourself an “effective treatment“.

The Committee on Doctrine of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops stands strong against Reiki’s practice for Catholics. Issuing a decree stating that, “since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholics institutions, to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy.” Reiki is not religiously affiliated, but is opposed by religious denominations. http://old.usccb.org/doctrine/Evaluation_Guidelines_finaltext_2009-03.pdf

Overall, Reiki seems to stand out in the world of meditation practices with its apprehensive style of practice and controversy in the media. Perhaps the most controversial form of meditation, yet booming and up-and-coming, Reiki practice is growing fast… and who knows? Maybe the great Reiki debates will be fished up in somebody’s net. In the meantime, OMM away!

 

Article written by guest author Motti E.  For more of Motti’s work, visit his page at https://plus.google.com/u/0/116196706871612860838

11 Comments »

  1. Fred August 28, 2012 at 7:59 am - Reply

    Being a cancer survivor and having experienced Reiki, I can say, that for me, it helped my feeling of well being. It may just be the touch of a caring human but we are social animals and perhaps that is enough. I will admit that I am a card carrying Skeptic and believe in scientific method. That being said the value of human kindness may never be measurable.

    • Relatively Interesting August 28, 2012 at 8:12 am - Reply

      Fred, you raise a good point. For a lot of alternative medicine, the fact that the patient is receiving one-on-one attention certainly helps alleviate the mental strain that’s caused from serious illness. Human kindness, while not measurable, certainly does make people feel a whole heck of a lot better. BTW – congratulations on your victory over cancer – I can only imagine how difficult it might have been!

  2. Duke Abbaddon August 28, 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Healing practice and nature

    i’m sad to say that many scientists or others would have rather a handful of food that thy have made than the abundance nature can give when governed.

    there are various beliefs about scientific and or faith / magic practice…

    a properly defined and useful service is one you have ground upon principle and logic,
    Not all ideas are founded on logic , however some logics are not seen to be so by biased opinion..

    prayer for example is found to have positive results and its called placebo …
    how ever in the research on pain the prayer was not found to release endorphins or other usual placebo effect suspects ;) but was still found to work.

    meditation and music / arts help people with pain handle their burden better and some times complementary to morphine and other pain blockers.

    imagine the situation where you combine these effects together in a healthy manner :)

    a calm mind with self healing (placebo , prayer etc) , pharmaceuticals and clean educated therapies and medical practice.. Result = harmony

    the lesson to learn is :

    sharing practice , peace and direction ; heal people
    angry words ; strife and misery all reduce the survival of patients and the customer experience.

    let a little logic and firm science into your life :
    balanced practice of logical tranquillity and zen spirituality/logic with science and genuine kindness works

    never make a negative placebo about peoples happyness/spiritual belief’s , sure you feel proud to banish faith but all you have done is remove a proven tool from your arsenal.

    facts truth’s and hopes are the rewards of proven theorems ,
    lies , disappointment and lost years are the result of blatant pigheadedness.

    take your faith with a pinch of salt but take it non the less.

  3. Anthony Webber August 28, 2012 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Finally! I’ve been interested in reading about Reiki for a long time. A buddy of mine practices it on Tuesdays and Thursdays and has been nudging me to check it out. This article pretty much covers everything I need to know… and that’s why I make Relatively interesting my homepage.

  4. TiagoR2 August 28, 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

    “Through in a little confirmation bias,”
    I believe you mean “Throw in”.

    • Relatively Interesting August 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      Nice catch – fixed!

      • Shahin December 30, 2012 at 6:20 am - Reply

        Buddhism has been a part of many peoples lives since befroe Christianity. Over thousands of years, the priests manipulated the teachings of Jesus and then implanted in the people’s head feelings of guilt and sin so that they should redeem themselves by paying money to them. But in truth, all you need is in your heart. Your love for others, not for an imaginary man with a beard sitting on a throne. Don’t live for self is the only important part in your comment.

  5. SargeantPepper22 August 29, 2012 at 2:12 am - Reply

    Hmm… i find it interesting that the Catholics deem it useless. I never knew Reiki existed it seems theres alot to it if my religion bans it (heh).

  6. Reikibyglenn August 31, 2012 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Dear all,

    As a Reiki Master, practitioner and developing medium I need to correct some inaccuracies here. Reiki has been going since the early 1900’s and not since 1992. In addition, the roots of Reiki can be traced even further back than that. You could also consider that Jesus when he put his hands on people was using the same principle as Reiki or even Spiritual Healing. The intent to want to help is one of the guiding principles here. The channeling of the Universal Energy (Reiki) is available to anyone and it is also not Dogma specific.

    Finally, I ask a question here. Why do you need proof of Reiki being effective? Your own currency bears the saying I believe of “In God We Trust”. There is no proof that God exists but the US feels that confident that it puts it on its own currency.

    Thoughts?

  7. Dave August 31, 2012 at 10:50 am - Reply

    @ Reikibyglenn

    For the sake of argument, the date that Reiki started is irrelevant to the efficacy of the practice itself. It is a logical fallacy to assume that something “works” just because it is very old. Many Chinese “medicines” are also “thousands of years old”, and while some may have some efficacy, it wasn’t until the advent of modern medicine that the human life span jumped so dramatically.

    I’m quoting you here: “Why do you need proof of Reiki being effective?” Why shouldn’t we? Why shouldn’t any treatment require proof? The answer is simple. Because when people forego proven treatment for disease in favor of “might work” treatments, they risk their own lives. Reiki, and all treatments (standard medicine included) require scientific evidence. This means controlled, double-blinded experiments that are statistically significant and have been put through the scrutiny of peer review by other scholars.

    The “In God We Trust” thing is more of American thing, since Christianity/religion played a role in the development of many cultures. Using currency as an argument for efficacy is kinda backwards. And, to assume Jesus used Reiki is a huge stretch of the imagination… you have to first believe that 1) God exists, 2) Jesus was the Son of God and had magical powers, and 3) that he used Reiki. We don’t even know if the story of Jesus’ healings are fact or legend. So it’s a pretty big leap if you assume it’s “Reiki” that he was performing.

    Look – I get that alternative medicine has it’s place, but it still needs to go through the scientific method before anyone an legitimately claim that it “works”.

  8. Cristina July 19, 2013 at 8:05 am - Reply

    You would have to be an idiot to use any alternative therapies in place of actual medical intervention. Reiki will not cure cancer BUT it *may* help in other ways; if the patient feels a bit better (even if just emotionally) for a few hours or days as a result, then it’s worth well worth it.

    In the hospital setting, things are often quite clinical; doctors/nurses don’t have the time to pay attention to your emotional needs; they’re there to save your life. But when the patient is facing serious illness or the prospect of death, they sometimes need more; placebo or not, if it works in any way, good.

    But no one is saying Reiki is an alternative to medicine and if they do, they’re insane. It’s not – it’s not even in the same ball park.

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