I spent eleven hours training last week with Reiki master Pamela Miles, author of “Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide.” She speaks accessibly on the topic and seems to understand and have contacts within the mainstream medical community. It seems like she could be the one to catapult this form of hands-on caring into settings where it’s never been practiced, or even discussed. Her website contains many medical papers on the success of Reiki healing in hospitals, and she has trained myriad hospital personnel in the method.

What is Reiki? Sometimes people incorrectly think of it as a “Beam me up, Scottie!” practice of laying hands to magically zap wounds or cancer cells. Others consider it Jesus’s healing method, or God’s love. While the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) classifies Reiki as a form of “energy medicine,” Miles disagrees. When trained Reiki practitioners calmly place their hands on themselves or others according to the designated protocol, Reiki consciousness (a term Miles prefers to “Reiki energy”) “affects the subtlest level of the biofield [a.k.a. energy body or aura]… Unlike energy therapies, Reiki is accessed through, but not directed by, the practitioner. Once accessed, Reiki flows as water seeks its own level, gently encouraging the biofield toward balance.”

If you have ever kissed a boo-boo to make it better, you have a notion of what Reiki is like. Unfortunately, you can’t learn how to practice from a book. So precious and subtle are the initiations (or empowerments) bestowed by the trained Reiki master, and so edifying are the conversations you’ll have within your class, you need to find a teacher who can “give” you Reiki in a way you’ll find accessible. Miles recommends the Reiki Alliance’s teacher directory as the most reliable international source of instruction. Since Reiki can become a loosey-goosey modality subject to New Age distortion, beware of teachers who promise Lazarus-style miracles.

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