Why reiki?

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Beautiful chakra photo courtesy of http://yogendrasinghrathore.com

The reason why I practice reiki is kind of an interesting story that I thought I would share with you today. I realize that it may open me up to some public ridicule but what the heck! It’s good for me. Why today? Well who knows. I woke up in a sharing mood I suppose and once I get started writing I have a hard time stopping. A little over two years ago my good friend Jen gave birth to her first child. A day after the birth I stopped by her house to drop off some baby clothes. Not knowing anything about babies and birthing or how they pretty much kick your butt out of the hospital as soon as you can stand, I assumed that everyone was still at the hospital so I stuck the bag of clothes between the two front doors. Just then my friend’s husband whipped open the door and invited me in to see Jen and the baby. I remember looking past him into the hallway and seeing a strange black cloud emanating from the living room. He told me that she and the baby were in there and that they’d love to see me. I tried to convince him that I was in a hurry and that I would stop by later but his begging made me feel like a total jerk. Who declines to see a friend and her newborn baby because of some scary black cloud? That’s just weird. So despite every fiber in my being wanting to run away, I went in, walked through the cloud, and sat down next to my friend and baby. There was a lot of oohing and ahhing, admiring the beautiful baby, taking in how lovely Jen looked, general catching up, asking about how the baby was adjusting to being home, etc… All was well and the black cloud was semi-forgotten. Then I asked her how labor was for her, in which she replied that is was “fine.” When someone says something is fine it usually means one of two things: that the rug was completely pulled out from under them in some way or another and they’re now trying to save face or that it was rather crappy/boring and they’re just trying to be polite. I knew in an instant that it wasn’t fine because I felt an unbelievable amount of pain shooting through my body. Added to these unpleasant physical sensations were intense emotions of disappointment, fear, and being absolutely traumatized. In an instant my eyes began to well up with tears. The room felt like it was a million degrees so much so that sweat began to pour out of me. I turned every color known to man because I was fighting back the urge to vomit. My friend saw my reaction and she began to cry and tell me how awful it all was. Labor was nothing like what she’d expected and now she was also dealing with the disappointment of not being able to nurse. None of it was going according to plan and despite her happy exterior, she was distraught. Her hormones being all over the place did not help matters either. I did what I could to console her and then left as soon as I possibly and politely could. At this point I honestly thought I was losing my mind. I just couldn’t shake her energy. It felt like she was literally stuck to me. It felt like a film of emotion all over my body and on the way home I tried to rub it off. I quite literally was scrubbing my skin like some demented madman in the car. The first thing I did when I made it home was look up online how to cleanse yourself of energy and that’s when I found tapping. After a few rounds of tapping I felt a million times better and was able to calm the heck down.

After that day though, the floodgates opened full force. Something in my mind had totally snapped and that’s exactly how it felt. Working in an office setting became absolutely unbearable. Everyone’s personal burdens became my own. Their marital problems were mine, their job stress was mine, their family problems were mine, and don’t even get me started on my pregnant friends and co-workers… those babies tormented me from the womb. I’m not even joking. The worst part was that when I was unhappy, I could close myself off to all of it but when I came into work feeling good, well let’s just say that it didn’t last long. I learned pretty quickly that happiness is openness and openness for me was painful so I had to put up walls in order to protect myself. I left my job for more individualized work and I’ve avoided office situations like the plague ever since.

Now, I like to think that I possess a good balance of faith in the unknown and also scientific rationality. I got that this experience was what people call “empathy” and that perhaps, at times, I experience it more than the average person does. However, I struggled with the science behind it and I needed a way to explain it to others so they didn’t think I was insane or overly hippy-dippy. What is the physicality of empathy? Is it measurable? If you can’t measure it, does it really exist? And if it doesn’t exist, am I a nut job? I know that auras have been proven. An aura is simply a cool sounding term for the electromagnetic field that surrounds and emanates from all living things. They are proven and measurable. In fact, the human heart generates an electromagnetic field that can be measured from several feet away. We all emit an energy field and I was okay with the idea that maybe I just have a keen sense of them. Perhaps I have an electromagnetic sensitivity, which I’m sure we all do to some degree.

My online search fielded me with even more scientific fodder, however.  I came across an interview with a mother and son scientific team that completely blew open the entire mystery for me. I’ve written about their work several times before so bear with me if this seems old hat. Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee wrote a book called “The Body Has a Mind of It’s Own” and in a nutshell it’s about how your mind literally maps everything from your physical body to your external surroundings to your emotions to your memories to your senses…freakin’ everything. That’s why there are phantom limbs for example. Adjacent to the mental map for that missing limb is the map of the cheek. So when someone touches the cheek of a person with a missing limb, that nearby piece of their limb map (which wasn’t updated) gets stimulated as well and they’re able to feel the limb once again. We also map our external world. So when, for example, people wear a cowboy hat they automatically duck their heads when going through a doorway. That cowboy hat is now a part of their physical map and it’s treated as part of the body. If you don’t wear hats, just think about how we use a broom handle to “grab” something that is out of reach. Our brain’s have quickly mapped that broom to be used as an extension of our arm. This mapping also includes physically knowing when someone is right behind you even without making themselves known. This mapping is flexible as it shrinks when you get into a crowded elevator and it expands when you’re walking through an empty parking lot. This proves to me that our brain is capable of mapping things that extend beyond our physical bodies. Our brain is actually working and mapping within that electromagnetic field or aura. So maybe my issue is that my mental map extends a little farther at times. I’m happy with all explanations from empathy to electromagnetic sensitivity but mind maps seem to happily bridge the gap for me and put me more at ease.

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I find these Penfield models to be beautiful representations of mind maps. Photo courtesy of http://workinghandsproject.com/agents.php

The nice part is that reiki works within that electromagnetic field so to me it’s as credible as any other healing modality. I may not be massaging sore muscles but instead I’m working with the part of the body that is continually straddling both the outside world and the physical and emotional world within. And if you feel an area of this field that’s blocked (to me it feels like a heavy magnet pulling my hands down towards a specific area of the body or sometimes intense heat) it usually corresponds to a deeper issue happening within their physical or emotional map. Knowing this, you can help people release some of the energy surrounding this issue–within the electromagnetic realm in the very least. It’s a beautiful thing but knowing that there’s science behind it makes it even better.

How do I keep the juju of other’s off of me? Well as I said before, tapping sometimes works when it gets bad. Tapping is great for all sorts of anxieties. Reiki teaches you to surround yourself in white light, which also sometimes works when my head is clear enough. But dancing is actually my great equalizer. When I dance, my mind clears completely and the movement releases energy. Strangely enough I’ve found that walking/hiking is the worst because that’s when I contemplate. Normally this is great but sometimes the stuff I contemplate is not my own and I only realize that halfway through my walk. Hah!

On another note, the prospect of working with mind mapping and my Alzheimer’s patients has always fascinated me. I just wouldn’t know exactly where to start. Also, the connection between empathy, the body’s electromagnetic field, and the brain is wondrous to me. Can we teach people, especially children, how to be more empathetic through energy work and mind maps? It could put an end to bullying.

An article you may find interesting if you want to learn more about reiki and science:

Science Measures the Human Energy Field

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