What is energy medicine? - Energy healer performing reiki

Reiki practitioners use their hands to perform energy healing. (Photo: Sanjay Deva/Shutterstock)

The term energy medicine usually refers to putative energy fields (energy that is presumed to exist). Although it can’t be measured in conventional ways, therapists or energy healers say they can see it, sense it or feel it.

Energy healing or energy medicine is based on the fundamental premise that everyone's thoughts, emotions, beliefs and attitudes are made of energy. Therefore, if we are all infused with this life force often referred to as qi (pronounced chee), we can channel or use its power for healing.

In Chinese medicine energy is called qi; in Ayurvedic medicine it is doshas; in traditional Hindu metaphysics the word is chakras (illustrated in the photo at bottom). Therapies such as acupuncture and acupressure, reconnective healing and reiki work on these energies to restore health and well-being.

“In Chinese medicine the theory is that energy flows through 12 channels that cover your body. When you are healthy, this energy flows smoothly and your body remains in a state of balance. When you experience a physical, emotional or spiritual trauma, the energy gets disrupted, depleted or stuck,” says Tom Ingegno, a licensed acupuncturist with a masters of science in Oriental medicine and a certified animal acupuncturist in Baltimore.

Acupuncture is a form of energy medicineIf left in this state too long or if the trauma is severe enough, disease or pain manifests. “By placing needles in points along these pathways we can help restore proper flow of energy and allow the body, mind and spirit to heal itself,” says Ingegno.

“What reiki does is actually use the universal life-force in association with the qi of our own body, so it’s a combination of those two,” says Dr. Kathy Gruver, a massage therapist, reiki master and author of “Conquer your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques.”

“The great thing about reiki is I’m not using my energy, so when I put my hands on somebody, they’re not getting my bad morning, my illness, my karma; I’m a conduit. I’m a total empty vessel for the energy to flow through.”

How reiki works

To do reiki, practitioners have an attunement, which consists of a reiki master giving you reiki energy. They teach you the symbols and the hand positions and perform a ritual, which awakens your hands and allows you to perform energy healing on someone else. Gruver advises people to receive an attunement in person, never over the Internet.

“I think it’s a complete misconception that there are these special gifted people that can do it. Certainly people have gifts that are unexplainable, but reiki is not one of them; anyone can do it,” says Gruver.

During a session Gruver lays her hands on or hovers them above the part of the body she wants to heal or send energy. She also does it unconsciously when she rests her hand on her husband’s leg during a movie, for example. If he has any pain or something going on emotionally, the energy goes to where it’s needed.

The majority of people seek reiki for emotional issues, physical problems or because they are terminally ill. Reiki provides peace, comfort, healing and relaxation. Cancer patients often say it’s the only thing that helps their pain. There are some preliminary studies that suggest reiki can knit bone back together more quickly and heal wounds faster. The American Hospital Association says 15 percent of hospitals (more than 800) offer reiki in the U.S.

After a session people are relaxed. They may fall asleep, giggle or cry; it opens up many emotions. Some find it completely energizing, while others want to curl up and sleep. It’s also a powerful treatment for grief, loss and sadness.

Chakra energy centersA massage for the soul

Shani Enns, spiritual coach, energy healer and founder of www.embraceyourhumanity.com in Kansas City, grew up around energy healing. She has certificates from many modalities but says she’s practiced her own brand of energy medicine for the past 10 years.

Enns performs energy healing along with spiritual coaching and says whatever problem someone comes in with, she works to shift their beliefs, patterns and habits with both coaching and energy healing.

Some people come in with cancer, some with health problems, others with depression; many come for emotional issues. It usually goes in tandem. “People who don’t feel good physically also don’t feel good emotionally,” says Enns.

Someone once described her work as a massage for the soul.

Similar to reiki, Enns lays her hands on various parts of someone’s body such as their head, heart or belly and sends energy inward. She frequently works with entrepreneurs who are looking to manifest wealth and success in business.

During or after a session people feel buzzing, tingling, dizziness, a sense of heaviness, and may see colors, Enns says. Many feel a state of peace or nothingness. Occasionally people say they don’t feel anything other than well rested. Enns says one of the most gifted energy healers she knows doesn’t feel anything giving — or even receiving energy work. He goes on faith because his clients experience amazing effects.

Results are very individual for any type of energy work. Enns says she had a client in kidney failure who was cured and didn’t need further dialysis. She also had a client with advanced breast cancer who was comforted and benefited from pain relief. “Sometimes healing means being OK with dying,” says Enns.

There are many ways practitioners provide reiki. Some use crystals and gemstones; others play music; some chant.  “If it’s too weird for you or too mainstream for you, find another practitioner,” says Gruver. Enns offers her first session free for just this reason.

Many practitioners provide distance energy work via phone or Skype, and many offer animal healing. Enns explains that practitioners of energy medicine draw energy from the endless source that the universe provides. She always comes out of energy work feeling better than before she gave it. “I feel joy, peace and bliss giving it.” People who receive energy healing often feel the same way.

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Acupuncture photo: Bork/Shutterstock

Chakras photo: shooarts/Shutterstock