Growing up in a small town in East Tennessee, I was an active child and adolescent. Softball, track, cheerleading, martial arts, theatre, and being a lifeguard. It’s no surprise that I developed back and hip pain in early adolescence has continued into adulthood. Sound familiar?

My parents proactively took me to our primary care doctor, who recommended anti-inflammatories and physical therapy, which provided valuable insight and helped to a degree but the pain kept creeping back in. Then, as a teenager, I fortunately had my first encounter with “non-conventional” medicine, through chiropractic care and massage therapy. In these I found the most relief,  and I continue chiropractic care and massage therapy as part of my well based routines today. 

And, as an adult, now living in Asheville, I have a plethora of alternative and integrative health styles and practitioners from which to choose, not only for myself but for my son, who has dyslexia and anxiety, and my mother, who has chronic pain and lupus. But, with so many choices, how does one integrate other healing modalities into conventional care? 

Simply start with one. 

An April 2020 article in The Atlantic highlights the practice of energetic integration of the body’s natural healing processes, or Reiki, as it gains popularity and is being used in trials in hospitals, as a companion to conventional care. In the case of the Atlantic article, the curious but skeptical author observes Reiki practitioners assisting doctors in the care of veterans who suffer from PTSD or depression or chronic pain. The author writes, “In Japanese, rei roughly translates to “spiritual”; ki is commonly translated as “vital energy.” A session often looks more like mysticism than medicine: Healers silently place their hands on or over a person’s body to evoke a “universal life force.” A Reiki treatment can even, practitioners believe, be conducted from miles away.” Reiki has a long history and is now gaining popularity in the western world, particularly the U.S. 

My first significant Reiki session came from my best friend and Reiki practitioner, Kathy Hampton, again, for chronic hip pain. On the table, and after, I felt not just relaxation and relief but the ability to reach inside myself to assist my own healing through deep meditation and visual process. From there, I was hooked. 

I went on to study Reiki from a gifted and experienced practitioner here in Asheville, Christen Rinaldi of Return to Balance With Reiki, and am now a level 2 Reiki practitioner myself with aspirations of becoming a Master Level practitioner (when we get out of quarantine).  The Atlantic article is titled, “Reiki Can’t Possibly Work. So Why Does It?” I can’t answer those questions for anyone but myself. Through my experiences with receiving Reiki and sharing Reiki with clients, everyone’s experience is different, personal even. Which, again, points to the body’s individual ability to heal itself with assistance. 

I can say that my son asks me for Reiki when he is feeling anxious now and that he recently connected an anxiety attack with “a possible traumatic experience” that he could not fully remember cognitively but could access the feeling. He is only 11! 

I can also say with certainty, I am not a healer, nor is any Reiki practitioner. My background is in art and education. I even faint at the sight of blood!  But I believe that our bodies and our conscience, when in sync, have a unique ability to assist in healing ourselves. Reiki cannot diagnose or treat illnesses, doctors and specialists are needed for that. But, as my Reiki teacher, Christen Rinaldi, taught me, “Reiki can do no harm. It is only a force for good. And it will go where it is needed.” 

So, what’s the risk? 

I encourage all reading to give Reiki a try! Incorporate it as an integrative health method. Find a Reiki practitioner with which YOU connect. Just like with doctors, therapists and even stylists, you gain more from a reiki session when the practitioner is someone with whom you connect. Sessions last about 30 minutes and cost about the same as a half-hour massage. Asheville Community Yoga Healing Arts Center even offers Reiki Sessions on a tiered pricing model in an effort to make it accessible to anyone. Reiki can even be received via distance, so no need to come into contact right now!