Explaining Energy Work

In our “fix-me” culture, supporting wellness might seem like a soft target. It might seem less powerful or important than fixing disease. But in fact, helping a person to balance and strengthen their system can be very powerful, for healing and for prevention.

What we do is not a substitute for medical care. Reiki and other forms of energy work are often referred to as complementary care, holistic care, or wellness practices. We work alongside health care providers. A client with a health condition should be seen by an appropriate medical professional. A completely healthy client should at least receive regular check-ups.

Although we are not medical professionals, experienced energy work practitioners understand that what we do can have profound healing effects. I’ve seen clients and students reduce or eliminate the need for medications, greatly decrease symptoms, and heal rapidly from injury or disease.

We help clients heal by working to increase balance and wellness in the body, mind, and spirit. We support the whole system and the healing process.

Energy workers never “treat” any particular condition. We do take our clients’ conditions into account when considering how to work with them. For example, if I am giving Reiki to a person who has an active case of pneumonia, I will probably spend extra time in the area of the lungs and the axillary lymph nodes. But this is not because I am “treating” pneumonia. It is because the lungs and lymph system probably need extra support, since pneumonia is present.

Similarly, if I am providing shamanic sessions for a person who is dealing with cancer, I might consult with colleagues about what types of energy imbalances they have seen occurring with cancer. I might do a bit of research to find out more about the form of cancer, so I can understand which body systems are most affected. I want to be as prepared as possible to help the client. This doesn’t mean that I’m treating the cancer, but rather that I am viewing the cancer as a clue to the person’s energetic imbalances.

In other words, a client’s health conditions help us to assess underlying energetic issues. We assist the person to transform their energetic issues. The client is then in a better position to heal any conditions that have manifested.

I find that clients and students are often confused about what energy workers do. For many, it’s a new way to think about health. They aren’t accustomed to thinking proactively. They aren’t accustomed to thinking holistically. They aren’t accustomed to thinking about deep causes. For some, to even consider subtle energy patterns is a complete paradigmatic shift. And our clients are often under stress and feeling desperate – which doesn’t help any of us to think clearly or assimilate new ideas!

Sometimes I need to explain repeatedly what I am and am not doing, and why it could be helpful. I often wonder if I’m failing to communicate clearly, but in fact, it’s not surprising that repetition is required. For all of us in US culture, and probably in all Western cultures, it is a big stretch to think about health in ways that are proactive, holistic, and deep.

Those of us who do energy work are at the forefront of that stretch. So we need to take a deep breath, and explain energy work as clearly as we can to each other, to our clients, and to our society. By doing so, we can help our clients, and we can also help our society grow out of an approach towards health that has, in many ways, become superficial, narrowly utilitarian, and alienating.

Health care practitioners have an absolutely essential role to play, and so do we. We help our clients and students to access their natural healing abilities. We carry the much-needed message of balance, deep wellness, and personal power.

Upcoming Events

Virtual Reiki 1 Class — Thurs 7-9pm EST, Feb 2 – Mar 9

Reiki Q&A Sessions — Schedule TBA

Shamanic Development Group — March – July, details TBA

To contact me, please use my website contact page.

To Allow Healing From Something So Simple

Last week, a colleague of mine in the energy world said, “Are you still teaching Reiki?” The implication was that surely by now I had outgrown Reiki and gone on to bigger and better things.

Many of us have a tendency to look for the next big thing, to keep searching for something more powerful, and to assume that a simpler approach is a less effective approach.

After more than 40 years of seeking, I can say with some confidence that I have found nothing simpler or more powerful than Light.

As a client, I have experienced yoga, chi gung, tai chi, Feldenkreis, Alexander, energy psychology, lots of energy healing methods, scores of meditation techniques, and pretty much every type of counseling invented. Over the last 20 years, I have studied a wide variety of energy methods, and I have been authorized to professionally practice Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Eden Energy, and shamanism.

During all this time, I have found nothing more powerful than Light.

I have learned a vast array of techniques for balancing energy, for clearing congested energy, for bringing in needed frequencies of energy, for vitalizing energy, for circulating and reorganizing energy…

During all these studies, I have found no tool more powerful than Light.

Whether we are getting down to basics, or reaching the pinnacle of understanding, we are always faced with something brilliant: the No-thing Every-thing, the blinding Source, the continuum of rainbow frequencies….We are always faced with some form of Light.

So yes, I am still teaching Reiki. I plan to teach Reiki for as long as I can — because simpler is often better. When a client asks me for help, I choose from a wide variety of specific methods, but they are all fueled by Light. And often, the best method is simple Reiki touch, especially when someone is very vulnerable.

It’s true that sometimes we can see the bottom of the ocean because the water is shallow. But sometimes we can see the bottom of the ocean because the water is pure and illuminated. Reiki, when taught well and practiced sincerely, is a deep dive into that illuminated water.

Are we brave enough to allow healing from something so simple that it cannot be defined or controlled?

I am experienced enough now to claim some measure of wisdom. I wasn’t born yesterday. And I wasn’t born into an easy life. In all my moments — blissful moments, anguished moments, desperate moments, stubbornly hopeful moments – in all my moments, I have found nothing more powerful than Light.

The simple truth is that my greatest personal empowerment has come from surrender – surrender to a force essential to us and yet so far beyond us. When the Light moves through me, I seem to simultaneously lose and find myself.  

And when the light moves through me to another, that being has access to healing far beyond my own small human reach. I am experienced enough now to claim some measure of wisdom. I understand that my clients heal not through anything I have done, but from what they have allowed themselves to be. It is amazing what can occur when they allow themselves to be Light.

Why licensure of alternative and complementary care is a really bad idea

Please note: Through organizing and contacting our elected representatives, practitioners and clients of energy work were able to prevent the passage of a licensure bill in Massachusetts. This issue remains relevant in other states, and may become an issue again in Massachusetts. It’s important that we stay vigilant and that we work together across the many energy work disciplines in order to keep our work accessible to those who need it.

Perhaps you are aware that practitioners of Reiki and other forms of energy work are fighting against an effort to license our profession. What you might not understand is why this fight is so important. I include below my letter to the legislative committee that is currently considering a licensure bill in Massachusetts.

If you agree with me (and with the vast majority of clients, practitioners, and teachers) that licensure is a bad idea, I encourage you to email committee members now. Although the hearing is on December 13, written testimony is generally accepted for at least a week after the hearing. If you are not from Massachusetts, your testimony can still be helpful — you should be aware that this legislation is seen as a test case. If approved, other states will likely launch similar efforts.

Email should have the following subject line: Testimony in Opposition of S.221 and H.350, An Act Regulating Alternative Healing Therapies.

It should be sent to these addresses: jointcmte-consumerprotection@malegislature.gov, Michael.Brady@masenate.gov, brendan.crighton@masenate.gov, edward.kennedy@masenate.gov, Bruce.Tarr@masenate.gov, Tackey.Chan@mahouse.gov, paul.feeney@masenate.gov, Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov, Rady.Mom@mahouse.gov, david.leboeuf@mahouse.gov, Tricia.Farley-Bouvier@mahouse.gov, Joan.Meschino@mahouse.gov, tami.gouveia@mahouse.gov, Danillo.Sena@mahouse.gov, Steven.Howitt@mahouse.gov, Jacob.Oliveira@mahouse.gov, joseph.mckenna@mahouse.gov, susan.moran@masenate.gov.

Links for more information:

Detailed information on sending email. https://reikiinmedicine.org/protect-reiki/massachusetts-state-hearing-on-licensing-reiki-and-other-holistic-practices/

Reiki Unified, an organization to oppose licensure across the United States. https://www.reikiunified.com/ They also have a FaceBook group that you can join and will keep you up-to-date. The licensure fight is not specific to Reiki, so any type of practitioner/client/student can join.

Change.org petition. https://www.change.org/p/protect-the-right-to-practice-teach-and-access-alternative-healing-therapies-in-ma?recruiter=1194838943&use_react=false&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_content=cl_sharecopy_28437779_en-US%3A7&utm_medium=copylink&utm_source=share_petition

My email to the legislative committee:

Dear Senators and Representatives,

I am asking you to oppose SB 221/HB 350 for the following reasons:

  • A profession should only be regulated because of the actions of its own practitioners.
  • Alternative healing practitioners do not need to be regulated. Harm is extremely rare.
  • Licensing alternative healing practitioners would not significantly affect sex trafficking.
  • Law enforcement can already easily distinguish between genuine practitioners and prostitution establishments.
  • A court challenge on this basis of freedom of religion is nearly inevitable.
  • Requiring state licensure of traditional practices with strong ethnic roots will be seen as discriminatory and an intrusion into cultural traditions.
  • The proposed Board and Advisory Council cannot adequately establish guidelines for this extremely diverse set of practices.
  • Each individual on the advisory board will have tremendous power over the discipline that they represent – power that could easily be abused.
  • The bill would prohibit volunteering except under strict supervision or with immediate family members; cutting off this source of help seems particularly cruel.
  • Burdensome licensing fees and procedures would cause many practitioners to close their businesses.
  • Hard-working and sincere practitioners would lose their source of income.
  • Supply would drop and prices would increase. Many clients would be priced out of receiving services.
  • Licensing these practices would do far more harm than good.

Please see below for a more detailed explanation:

A profession should only be regulated because of the actions of its own practitioners, not because of the behavior of criminals who are pretending to be members of the profession.

Alternative healing practitioners do not need to be regulated. Harm to clients is extremely unusual, as is made obvious by very low liability insurance rates (approximately $150 per year).

Licensing alternative healing practitioners would not significantly affect sex trafficking. Traffickers still attempt to use “massage” as camouflage, despite the fact that massage is licensed.

Law enforcement can already easily distinguish between genuine practitioners and prostitution establishments. There are clear signs that an establishment is providing sex (name, photos used in advertisement, descriptions used in advertisement, listings on sex-work websites, etc).

These disciplines are holistic. They address the whole person — body, mind and spirit. Many disciplines consider their work to be spiritual or even religious in nature (for example Christian laying on of hands or pagan healing ceremony). Because of this, attempts at regulation may very well cross a line into limiting freedom of religion. If this legislation passes, a court challenge on this basis of freedom of religion is nearly inevitable.

Some of these disciplines are specific to particular cultural groups. Requiring state licensure will be seen as discriminatory and an intrusion into cultural traditions (for example, Native American shamanic healing, Cuban Santeria, Roma divination and prayer). Claims of discrimination and a court challenge are likely.

These disciplines are numerous and diverse. Even within methods that call themselves by the same name, there is much diversity. A Board and Advisory Council cannot adequately establish guidelines for this extremely diverse set of practices. Also, each individual on the advisory board will have tremendous power over the discipline that they represent – power that could easily be abused.

The bill would prohibit volunteering except under supervision or with immediate family members. Many practitioners provide free treatment to friends or neighbors, and these treatments can be very beneficial. They are especially important to those who can’t afford to pay for treatment. Cutting off this source of help seems particularly cruel.

Burdensome licensing fees and procedures would cause many practitioners and especially practitioner/teachers to close their businesses. This would reduce supply and increase prices. Those who do continue practicing would need to pass the cost along to their clients/students – which would again raise prices.

Many hard-working practitioners who provide valuable services and reap only modest financial rewards would lose their source of income. The majority of practitioners are women, many of whom are supporting families.

Many people depend upon the help they receive from alternative healing practitioners. We are currently in a crisis of exorbitant healthcare costs and inadequate insurance coverage. We are also in the middle of a pandemic. There would never be a good time for this bill, but now is a particularly bad time.

Licensing these practices would do far more harm than good. This bill has been under consideration for quite a while. At every step of the way, there has been an outcry from clients and practitioners. Please listen to those of us who truly understand the field of alternative health. Please oppose SB221/HB350.

Somehow, Always, My Heart Breaks Open

There are moments when I become acutely aware of suffering. This morning, when I was walking, I came across an injured sparrow. She was lying motionless in the middle of the street, one of her little legs splayed out at an awkward angle. I guessed she had been hit by a car windshield or bumper.

I didn’t want her to be run over or stepped on. Although I knew she might not welcome my touch, I picked her up, holding her between my hands, and went over to a little park by the side of the street. I sat on a flight of stone steps and pondered what to do.

The sparrow lay quietly between my palms, not struggling, not trying to escape, not trying to peck me. Not a good sign. I thought about taking her home and calling to find someone for small bird rehab. But it looked to me like she was beyond rehab. And when I thought about leaving the area, it felt like panic arose from the bird. This little piece of the city was all the world that she had ever known.

I thought maybe someone would come by with a cell phone. I always leave mine at home when I do my morning exercise and meditation. But no one came. I prayed, asking for help for the little bird, and help for me.

The little bird urinated and began to struggle and I let her go. Her poor little wings tried to fly but couldn’t. Her back arched and her legs pumped and she made her way over to the garden area beyond the steps, about a foot from where I was still sitting. She lay there, heaving, clearly in pain and distress. I wondered if I should leave, whether my presence was stressful for her.

But when I imagined leaving, I felt a pull towards her. I didn’t know if it was her or me – my not wanting to leave her to suffer and die alone, or her not wanting to be alone. She was clearly in pain, her body vibrating, eyes shutting and opening.

We sat there for a while. I was motionless, to cause her the least possibility of distress. Other sparrows flew in and fed from the plants nearby. I saw the shell of a little egg in the dirt between me and the bird. This little park seemed to be a center of sparrow life.

I prayed for the bird. I asked Sparrow Spirit to come to her, so she would be comforted. I prayed for all the nature spirits and guardians in the area to come to her, and for the Great Light to shine brightly on her. Having done this, I felt it was time to go. I wished her well and walked away.

There are people who deal with death every day of their lives: doctors, nurses, pastors. This is not my experience. But rather, every day of my life, I deal with suffering. Beneath my palms, palpable, present, overlapping my awareness, is the grief and fear and suffering of my clients. And beneath my palms is the strength of my clients. And within my palms is connection to the Great Light.

I often feel that my heart will break. This morning, I thought that my heart would break as I witnessed the suffering of a precious sparrow. But somehow, always, my heart breaks open. Inside our shared pain is embedded the beauty of life, pure and simple. It is so good to be here, so good to share this planet, so good to breathe, together.

Tomorrow morning, I will go back and look for the little bird’s body. She may have been carried away by a predator or scavenger. But if she is still there, I will bury her, and pray for her good journey.

Especially lately,  it often feels that I – that we – are holding tiny candles in the midst of a moonless night. And indeed, night comes to us all. But I will continue to hold my candle, regardless. Each candle may be small, but many of us are holding strong, and light only comes in one size: infinite.