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

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.

Sacredness Becomes Obvious

I have completely lost patience with anyone telling me how to Be.

I am not young anymore. I do not look up to anyone. Nor am I living the illusion of superiority. I am looking across to everyone and everything.

This existence that we’re swimming in – I don’t begin to understand it. I won’t pretend. I refuse to pretend wisdom. I have gone deep enough into myself to know mystery. And so, when others claim sureness, I find myself quite skeptical.

I don’t care what the tradition is; I find myself quite skeptical.

I begin to understand the point of consciousness that we are calling Me. I gaze at myself and there is recognition, there is some reality in here somewhere, there is something I begin to understand.

And I notice. In this exact moment, through the magic of my ears and brain, through the magic of air and wings, I hear the cicadas’ whirr. It is familiar and beloved, and fresh. I don’t understand it, and it whirrs through me, electric in my cells. My heart samples its beat.

I am not going to tell you how to hear cicadas. I am not going to tell you how to hear me, how to hear yourself, how to hear your own heart’s beat.

If I let you Be, I can find full joy in you. Your sacredness becomes obvious, and there is nothing that either of us needs to prove. I have completely lost patience with any aspect of me wanting to tell you how to Be.

You and I – if we can sit here noticing, then maybe something has started between us.

I don’t want to take away any parts of you. And I am done letting anyone take away parts of me. When I pay attention, I notice that my love is indiscriminate. I love you, and I love myself, and I love the cicadas, and I love the air.

That is simply how it is. Your liking it or disliking it, my liking it or disliking it – changes nothing. I have completely lost patience with anyone telling Be how to Be. Existence moves inside us and I am powerless to make it any less.

On Sparsity of Mind

We are so accustomed to accumulation. We live in houses full of objects that are supposed to take our discomforts away. We live in bodies full of junk and disarray. We exist in minds full of input and reactions, worries and desperate dramatic hope.

Life is not so bad. It is painful, inherently. It is challenging or why else would we be here? It is apparently the gravel upon which we hone our essence. It is essentially what it is meant to be – a school for soul(s), a way for the universe to learn and expand.

The universal mind seems to be sparse and expanding, and expanding in its sparsity. Our essential minds are sparse and expanding. My essential mind watches and listens. It does not clap or complain. It is not particularly wise – no more wise than any other being’s essential mind, and no less wise than the essence of the universe.

All around us in our human world, accumulation beckons. We should have and we should want. Marketers of all sorts push us toward desires that will line their pockets and fuel their own accumulation. Even much of what passes for spirituality turns out to be a means to someone’s gain, or a promise to teach us how to “get what we want.”

But what about the deeper want? What about the desire within, what about the desire of the great without? Our essential selves sit watching us struggle, aware that all we could ever have is here now. We have always been just our selves, complete in the universe, sparse and expanding, stamped with the essential desire to Be.

It is when we allow this sparsity of mind – in those moments between our suffering – that we begin to understand.

Peace and War Stand Looking At Each Other

There’s a part of me that secretly treasures every experience I’ve ever had, even the very difficult ones. This part feels like a renegade, an outlaw, because surely I’m supposed to judge. Surely, I’m supposed to call this good, this bad. That is what I have been taught.

But this part just notices. This part just revels in what is and all the ripples that occur when something occurs.

For many years this part was hidden to me, and when I found this part, it was like finding a limb that had gone numb from too much pressure.

Now, when I’m quiet, this part notices me and says, “There you are.” I notice her and say, “There you are.” She remembers that we dropped into embodiment to experience everything, not just the pleasantries. Now I remember her.

This is an awakening. One of the many, one of the long list that happen gradually as we breathe, as we breathe and be.

Do I treasure every time I thought life would break me down? Well, I treasure each moment when I found it hadn’t, each moment when I discovered that my essence is essentially unbreakable. And I treasure every facet of my being, all the parts that suffer, and this renegade who understands: truly each moment of life experience is clay in my willing hands.

Some people find peace in forgiveness, in compassion. For me, peace and war stand looking at each other, acceptance and outrage gaze lovingly across a very crowded room. In the tension between them, I am.