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  • Aditi Upadhyaya

Reiki- Healing or Hoax?

In late nineteenth-century Japan, as a Buddhist monk navigated a nearby mountain's unknown territories and fasted and prayed for 21 days, he had an epiphany that changed how the world looks at natural healing techniques. Mikao Usui saw a beam of bright light around his forehead. Through the help of his reawakening and ancient Sanskrit symbols that he was able to see, he developed the technique of Reiki.

Reiki, meaning universal life force, is an alternative healing approach where Reiki masters use a method known as palm healing or hands-on healing. An omnipresent force seems to be transmitted from the practitioner's palms to the recipient to facilitate emotional or physical healing. It is based on qi (pronounced chi), which practitioners believe is a universal life force, even though there is no empirical evidence.

The first female Reiki practitioner - Hawayo Takata - took Reiki to the West for the first time in the 1930s. The new form it took in the United States contained the same energy lineage running back to Mikao Usui and several of the same techniques and had new methods that emerged in the East. These involved a novel system of attunements, traditional hand placements, specific hand positions for different illnesses and conditions, and a Reiki handbook development. However, there were still doubts in the West as to the credibility of Reiki; some translation equivalents from Japanese-English dictionaries are "feeling of mystery," "an atmosphere of mystery", and "an ethereal atmosphere". An alternate pronunciation, ryōge, meaning demon or ghost, also proves how people viewed it initially. Reiki also spread to other parts of the world and took up several new forms, such as that of Tibetan Reiki.

Reiki is based on the pre-scientific concept that the living is animated by an invisible life force energy (prana). When this energy is low, one feels upset, while when it is high, one is more likely to feel healthy and secure. Reiki helps heal tension, discomfort, and even chronic diseases by removing blocks to our bodies' energy flow and facilitating balance and support at all stages. In a sequence of hand positions, the practitioner lays their hands on or near a person's body. Places around the head and shoulders, the chest, and the feet are chakra sites. Energy is then carried from the practitioner to the patient, restoring and balancing the natural life force energy inside the body. When Reiki is performed, a person's physical and emotional balance generally improves. However, it does not involve control of a person's subconscious mind. Reiki has nothing to do with black magic, hypnotism, psychology, necromancy, or anything of that sorts. It has no dogma, and you don't have to believe something to understand and use Reiki.

Reiki has gained popularity as a non-invasive, non-pharmacological treatment option. According to anecdotal data, the profound calming effect positively influences anxiety, tension, and pain perception. It encourages a sense of wellness, which is related to the essence of psycho-spiritual wellbeing. However, there is a paucity of evidence to back up its use in clinical practice. Reiki has had an increasing influence over the years and has become a more attractive option for several medical professionals and patients due to the lack of side effects and easy way of administration. However, several people take a sceptic view of this practice and think of it as 'black magic, or 'hocus pocus.' Reiki's existence is especially perplexing to critics since it has demonstrable beneficial results without a proven explanation.

Reiki therapies have been shown in various studies to help mitigate the harmful side effects of chemotherapy, enhance surgical outcomes, control the autonomic nervous system, and drastically change people's views of physical and emotional pain associated with illnesses over the last two decades. However, no definitive, peer-reviewed research has clarified or validated its mechanisms, much less the presence of a healing force that can be directed between bodies. A US practitioner said that her colleagues directed rude and insensitive comments towards her each time a patient came in and referred to it as 'crap' or 'woo-woo'. However, Reiki has been associated with some side effects such as discomfort or awkwardness during a session, a drop in blood oxygen levels, and a feeling of tiredness and fatigue.

Reiki therapy lacks formal organisation. Not one association sets a national or global standard for education, training, credentials or certification.

People with no background in healthcare can become Reiki practitioners. Furthermore, different practitioners can receive certification based on various requirements and qualifications. Master practitioner Aprajita Dwivedi from Kolkata combats these criticisms by saying that the ease of becoming a Reiki healer makes this field more open and accepting of people no matter what their qualifications and background. Although she admits that Reiki might fall into the pseudoscience category according to several definitions, one should always explore before making such a judgement. After coming across it by chance, she got involved with this Japanese concept and earned all three degrees shortly after.

Dwivedi claims that practising Reiki had a very positive significant impact on her life. She feels calmer, less frustrated, and can adjust to new situations quicker. She also says it took care of her long-suffering physical ailments. She started to believe in Reiki's power because of its immediate and notable effects after administration. It gave her a whole new perspective of life and a new and better way to deal with obstacles that come her way. She encourages everyone to try Reiki and feel the effects themselves before judging its credibility or deciding to practice it professionally. While there is still debate and controversy about Reiki's status as a practical medical science, it is gaining rising prevalence in the contemporary world. It will bring revolutionary changes in the future.


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