The helping touch of a stranger

I was pretty sure I wasn’t asleep. My mind was still thinking conscious thoughts, but my body felt heavy on the table. I was barely aware of the hands on my body. Or this could all be a placebo. Kitty Oliver and I had just been attuned and Reiki 1 certified, and we were practicing table treatments.

I met a woman over the summer from San Francisco who was Reiki level 2 certified and she had amazing stories of healing and growth. She was always positive and was very well versed in meditation, yoga, crystal healing and so on. Before departing to our flights, she urged me to get certified.

Reiki is a type of energy work that works with hands on the body. The hands are placed on the head, the forehead, chest, etc., depending on the client’s issue in relation to the body’s chakras.

Bill Kelley, our instructor for the weekend intensive course at JSC, is the founder of Pyramid Holistic Center in Rutland. Pyramid hosts Reiki sessions, fitness, yoga and energy work, as well as counseling in various capacities.

When Kelley introduced himself he explained that he did not believe in Reiki until he witnessed its miracles in front of him. Joyce Leonard, one of the last known founders of Usui Reiki, taught him directly. Leonard, originally from California, traveled the United States teaching Reiki. Oddly enough, she was in Vermont one year when Kelley was teaching at Green Mountain College.

There was a Wellness Weekend at GMC, and Leonard was invited to come. She did a Reiki session for the whole class and Kelley recalled how transformative it was for everyone, including the young and old, and local dairy and quarry workers alike.

Chakras are, by Indian definition, centers of spiritual power in the body and there are seven main ones amongst thousands. The seven main chakras are the root chakra (belly button down), the sacral chakra (pelvis and down), the solar plexus charka (upper abdomen), the heart chakra (chest), throat/thyroid chakra, the third eye chakra (forehead) and the crown chakra (top of head).

Each chakra is connected to emotional issues to relate to practices. For instance, if you were having relationship issues or self-worth problems, a Reiki practitioner might spend most of his or her time working with your sacral chakra, located around your lower back and hips.

Over the weekend course intensive, I learned how to do chair treatments and table treatments. The chair treatment can range from five to 20 minutes, or however long it needs to be for the client. The client sits in the chair, and the practitioner stands behind the chair.

The first position is the crown chakra. The practitioner places their hands on top of the client’s head and lets warmth and energy pour through. Next, the practitioner places one hand on the base of the skull at the back of the head and the other hand over the forehead gently, to completely cradle the head. After this, both hands are placed on the shoulders with energy and warmth transferred. The final position, before returning to the starting position, is to place one hand on the chest with another hand parallel to this but between their shoulder blades.

The goal, or common theme, that occurs in Reiki healing is the response of, “Wow, I felt such warmth radiate through me!” from both the practitioner and the client. Another common theme is almost a psychic connection; the practitioner seems to know just where to touch and why. Stories of intense visions, complete meditation, and being in a dream-like or sleeping conscious state are all common also.

The next day we spent the whole morning doing one-hour table treatments on each other. With the table treatment you have more fluidity to choose where to begin and end, and it is more client-driven. When I was receiving treatment, I lay down on my back and my practitioner started at my feet and worked her way up my body, ending at my head. I then flipped over and she worked on my back, which has been consistently hurting for years.

Previously to taking this weekend intensive, I spent a month in India, where we practiced meditation daily. I would have such a hard time shutting my brain down and focusing on the present. With Reiki, everything was quiet and calm. I felt like I had drifted off to sleep, but I still was aware of the room and everyone around me. I think I even wondered what I wanted for dinner. It was such a bizarre feeling of being asleep and immobile but consciously still thinking.

By the second day, I really did become a believer in Reiki. I was sure that traveling across the world would help me quiet my brain, but really it was laying on a cold table in a building at my college with the helping touch of a stranger.

I highly recommend Reiki 1 for the curious spirits of the Johnson community, even if you are not a believer. As Kelley would say, “Who cares if it is a placebo? It feels good.”