After decades of often disputed validity, the effectiveness of Reiki, a holistic energy treatment is gaining new respect within the medical community.
After decades of often disputed validity, the effectiveness of Reiki, a holistic energy treatment is gaining new respect within the medical community.
Because there were going to be no attendees at our monthly Sharing Time this month, some away, others with conflicting commitments, and some too far away (physically), I decided to try something different. How about creating a virtual Sharing Time, and intend it be shared by using the Distant protocol (my word).
So I put it out there on the groups FaceBook site, then figured I could record the Sharing and put it on FaceBook, but the file is too large, so I have to post it here on my blog site and linked to it from FaceBook.
So here it is, should you decide to listen and work through the hour long Sharing, please share with me any constructive opinions you have about it. Would it be something you’re interested in, perhaps in a video?
A blog by my wife, Mary Dixon about her coaching journey.
About 17 years ago I was fortunate to have a friend offer the use of their cabin in south central BC for a couple of weeks, to which I gratefully agreed. The cabin was beside a small lake, about 25 miles from the nearest accumulation of humans. I had just spent 3 years (after graduating from massage school) working as diligently as I could to establish my new career as a massage therapist, and I desperately needed a break. So I loaded my vehicle with supplies, picked up the keys and directions from my friend, and off I went. No electricity, no radio, no TV, no phones (I didn’t have a cellular phone then), just me, some food and a desire to ‘get away from it all’ for a few days.
The first 3 days were spent in trying to meditate, only to have the ‘silence’ feel so uncomfortable that I would have to get up and go for a walk, or a swim, or make tea or coffee, or read a book, only to jump up and ‘do’ something else. I felt I was going stir crazy or shack whacky, but I was determined to enjoy my time away by myself. By day 5 I had settled enough to spend upwards of 90 minutes each morning and afternoon in mediation, interspersed with walks in the woods, observing and listening,… just observing and listening. The effect was to quiet my ‘monkey mind’ to the point it became a quiet conversation with an old friend, and I found myself no longer snacking between meals. I don’t know that I found ‘satori’ but the experience of that silent retreat left a sense of quiet wonder inside me, a refreshed mind and body, and a profound desire for more silent moments.
A number of years later I came across an article in what was then Ode magazine (now The Optimist magazine) entitled “Because God Whispers” by Tijn Touber, a senior editor at Ode magazine. It was about his (and others) experiences of being in silent retreat. I kept that article, and I came across it again a couple weeks ago, and re-reading it awakened a desire to re-visit my silent retreat experience. To enjoy a period of extended inward reflection, hopefully achieving greater clarity of mind by limiting outward distractions.
So I booked off last weekend from Friday evening until Sunday evening for my silent retreat, which involved having Mary make and serve me meals in our downstairs guest area (bedrooms, family area, etc.), all while I attempted to find the quiet I had previously experienced so many years ago. I allowed myself one book of significance (not work related or distracting novel), my journals, the Power Deck-Cards of Wisdom and plenty of tea and water. Also, I decided to continue with my usual morning routine of feeding and watering the small chicken flock, morning dog walk, topping up the fire wood supply in the basement and scooping the cat litter. I didn’t need to talk during this time and, as before, realized that even in retreat there are some things/responsibilities that we cannot abnegate. In doing those actions I realized that I can be in retreat in every moment and still apply myself to the demands of daily life; although being in undistracted retreat allows for a deeper awareness of those moments.
Unfortunately, a Saturday snow storm required that on Sunday I attend to the snow clearing with our tractor, effectively truncating my retreat.
I found that even though we live a very quiet life here, it still takes some time to quiet the mind to the point where deep inner reflection is achieved. I did enjoy the meditations and quiet contemplation, so I’ve booked myself quarterly 2 day retreats this year, I may even make it a life-long habit.
Posted: 27 Feb 2014 01:15 AM PST
I often get emails asking for my opinion about bodywork. While I’m not necessarily one to easily dismiss any treatment conventional wisdom would devalue, I also approach this arena with some healthy skepticism. The question becomes what’s effective and what’s simply “woo-woo,” to use a somehow unmatchable term. I’ll leave much of that specific discussion to you all today, but I did want to examine one modality that has more research behind it than most, even if that body of studies is still somewhat patchy. Most people have had a massage sometime in their lives. We certainly have our own opinions about its impact. Unless we were truly unlucky, most of us likely came away with a pretty good impression. Many of us have gone back many times since with perhaps a sizable financial and personal investment in the therapy – maybe even with a specific therapist. (It’s funny how people guard the availability of their favorite massage provider even as they clearly want to extol their endless virtues.) Our personal anecdotes aside, what does existing science say about the benefits of massage? For what conditions/circumstances is it especially effective? Can it benefit healthy as well as ill people? Let’s take a look.
A review of massage related studies claims the therapy appears to result in lower cortisol levels and higher dopamine and serotonin measures across many studies with different types of subject groups. Research related to the impact of massage on blood pressure has in some cases shown significant results. Not surprisingly, massage appears to be effective for low back pain, chronic neck pain and knee pain that is the result of osteoarthritis. In terms of exercise science, studies (while somewhat mixed) generally show that massage is helpful for muscle recovery. As little as ten minutes of massage, as one study indicates, can curtail inflammation and encourage the growth of new mitochondria.
Study results are mixed when it comes to ascertaining recommendations for frequency. A biweekly massage protocol in one study resulted in higher measures of oxytocin and lower levels of both arginine-vasopressin and adrenal corticotropin hormone (ACTH) when compared to a weekly protocol. However, the subjects who received biweekly treatment also demonstrated measures suggesting a higher production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It’s unclear how many ancillary factors could be at play, but clearly more studies are needed to further explain this picture.
Still other research looks at the psychological and pain related benefits of massage. One study examined the effect of massage on a group of grieving relatives who had recently lost loved ones. Subjects shared that the massage times were a great consolation and source of both energy and rest during the transition. Not surprisingly, the comforting effects of massage work with other kinds of pain and distress. Massage appears to significantly reduce depressive symptoms and in another study have immediate impact on advanced cancer patients’ perception of pain as well as mood. Patients recovering from surgery respond better to a combination of massage and pain medication than they do to medication alone. It’s interesting how this archive study noted that massage used to be regular protocol following surgeries but is limited now with the shifts in hospital efficiency protocols.
Children, not surprisingly, seem to respond significantly to the therapy in a variety of circumstances. From pre-term babies who gain more weight with regular massage to children who experience less nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy with massage, the therapy can offer clear physical advantages. Finally, research measuring the impact of massage on infants’ melatonin secretion even indicates that parents can use massage to help coordinate their babies’ circadian cycles with environmental cues. Why don’t we see this nugget in more infant care books?
All this said, what’s the take home message?
If I ever become ill with any of the aforementioned conditions for which massage apparently offers therapeutic benefit, would I take advantage of massage? Of course! If I’m healthy now with no presently manifesting conditions and am cognizant that research is scant regarding full and confirmed benefits for healthy individuals, would I take advantage of massage – and consider it an act of health rather than indulgence? Darn straight.
Sometimes we don’t need a mountain of randomized, controlled research to tell us what has the natural power to fill our well or enhance our well-being. You see, I’m a big believer in the basics of health – you know, those things like a solid, primal eating strategy, lots of Grok style exercise, quality sleep, and ample sun. That said, I think every choice we make around our well-being matters. To use the bank account metaphor here, I’m going to make as many deposits (and as few withdrawals) as possible. Every choice to feel good naturally is a deposit. While the research on play and outdoor time and massage might be in its relative infancy, I personally think there’s a decent enough scientific paper trail to support what already makes good Primal sense. I’ll never get a definitive measure for the cumulative impact of every massage I’ve received, but I can tell you every single one felt life-giving at the time. However major or modest a shift it made physiologically, each offered a ripple effect that continued days if not a couple of weeks past the event. Sometimes it was better sleep, more emotional resilience, additional patience, better (mental and physical) flexibility or just a happier outlook. My wife tells me I’m more laid back and agreeable – that much nicer to be around – after a massage. Maybe that point alone is the ultimate Primal logic.
Do you invest in massage or other kinds of bodywork? What do you feel it’s added to your health or well-being? Share your thoughts or stories about what massage can do for general wellness or particular health issues you’ve dealt with. Thanks for reading, everyone.
Interesting that at this time of year we (seemingly) take the stresses enjoyed in our daily lives and multiply them exponentially in the celebrations of the holiday season. Additional social gatherings to attend, gifts to be purchased, additional cooking and cleaning to attend to, for some the joys of crowded airports and airplanes, for others readying the home for guests, and so on….
While these situations are for some enjoyable, for many others the additional stresses are overwhelming, resulting in body aches, headaches, difficulty breathing, feeling anxious, feeling worried, difficulty sleeping, the list of stress-induced symptoms is a long one. And while short term stress can be beneficial, long term stress (unattended to) can have significant debilitating effects on our body and our life.
Much information can be found on the internet about stress, its mental, emotional and physical effects on the human system, and myriad means to address those effects. Some more effective than others.
One of the methods I recommend to my clients and I use when I feel that chest tightening, shortness of breath sense of anxiety or worry making itself known:
is to immediately (unless operating equipment, then stop if you can, and take a 10 minute break):
What is accomplished with the foot massage applied per above instruction?
This is just one of many means of addressing stress, anxiety and worry, and it is my personal favorite.
Because it’s easy, can be implemented immediately and is effective.
Also recommended is that you do this in the morning upon rising and at night before going to bed. You could incorporate into your foot massage the essential oils of either lavender or peppermint mixed into a neutral skin/foot care cream base (increases the sense of self-love).
For an even more grounding experience, massage into your feet a little of the essential oil blend known as Earth Star from Upala Botanicals. Locally these Upala Chakra blends can be obtained at the Co-Creative Healing Arts clinic, or the Cosmic Hippie Boutique in Mahone Bay.
There are certainly many other means of addressing stress, anxiety, worry, etc., (see: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11847/7-ways-to-control-your-anxiety-so-it-doesnt-control-you.html) and I recommend educating oneself as to what they are, how to implement them and their effectiveness. Some methods will be more effective than others, depending on the person and their circumstance(s).
A practice I find most effective for me (as do many, many others), is incorporating Reiki into my daily routine of self-care. The calming, grounding, centering and healing I experience in my Reiki self-healing practice is a gift I give to myself, so that the best of who I am is available to those I engage with during my day. I have studied Reiki since 1997, have been teaching it since 2001 and currently offer Reiki courses to those interested in becoming responsible for their own health and well-being.
Our best wishes that you and your family enjoy a safe and a more stress-free holiday.
Edward Howell, RMT
Reiki is a spiritual practice.
Initiated and developed by a Japanese Buddhist, Mikao Usui, (who started teaching of his Reiki experiences in 1922), Reiki has since been adopted and adapted by various teachers of differing traditions. Reiki uses (in its basic forms) a technique commonly called palm healing or hands-on-healing to transfer energy to an intended recipient (including the practitioner) to effect a balance in the individual’s energetic systems, facilitating and supporting the individual’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies return to a state of health and well-being.
Among the initial teachings of Reiki is the practice of self-healing, as it is true that if one can look at one’s self and work toward healing and making ones self “whole”, this naturally affects their surrounding world. And so the practice of Reiki moves from the inside to the outside.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”, Mahatma Gandhi
While there are people who speak about ‘Reiki’ as something they are born with (or can do without training), and it is true that each person has an innate ability to heal themselves as the universal life force energies flow through everyone and everything, the system of Reiki is a product of the influences of its founder. Not everyone can ‘do’ Reiki as they have not trained in the specific elements that the Reiki system is comprised of. There are many energetic methods around the world, each one is comprised of its own unique elements and this must be respected.
There are two main branches of Reiki, commonly referred to as Traditional Japanese Reiki and Western Reiki. Though differences can be wide and varied between both branches and traditions, the primary difference is that the Westernised forms use systemised hand-placements rather than relying on an intuitive sense of hand-positions (more commonly used by Japanese Reiki branches). Both branches generally have a three-tiered hierarchy of degrees, usually referred to as the First, Second, and Master/Teacher level, all associated with different skills and techniques.
A great Tedx talk by neuroscientist Sara Lazar on the benefits (neurologically speaking) of meditation.
Give it a look.
I‘ve had the following quote hanging on my wall for almost 20 years now, and it fills me with inspiration every time I read it. Often attributed to Mother Teresa, it was originally part of a talk given by Kent Keith. Regardless of its origins, I appreciate this, I hope it inspires you as well.