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Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's all about YOU, and some of it is about Reiki

The weather was perfect in New York last Sunday, yet 1,500-plus people, this reporter among them, chose to spend the whole day indoors. We gave up a sunny summer Sunday for our health, and that of the people around us, attending the all-day "It's all about YOU!" tour, based on the YOU! series of books by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, with Lisa Oz and other contributors. You may have heard of those books, as they've sold more copies worldwide since 2005 than any book series except Harry Potter. You may have seen Dr. Oz on Oprah or Larry King, or even read here in The Reiki Digest about the time he mentioned Reiki on TV. We discovered a couple of weeks ago that Mrs. Oz is a Reiki Master, and when we saw that she would include a few words about Reiki in her portion of the YOU! event, we were sold.

We were not disappointed. If this tour comes to your area, don't miss it (Philadelphia is next). The very fact that you're a Reiki practitioner, or at least someone interested in Reiki since you're reading The Reiki Digest, means that you are more interested in health than the average person. As Dr. Oz said to us on Sunday, "By the very fact that you're here, you're caregivers." And so are you, or as Dr. Oz would put it, "YOU!"

When he's not appearing in front of crowds or on TV, Dr. Oz is also Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He showed us some photos of what heart surgery is like these days. To avoid the trauma and risk of opening the chest cavity, surgeons now use small robotic devices inserted through small openings at various points around the chest. "These operations are done without me actually seeing the heart," Dr. Oz said.

While those amazing advances mean Dr. Oz and his colleagues can save more heart patients than ever, that's not enough for him. The point of the YOU! books is that when it comes to survival and health, nothing the doctor does makes as much difference as what we do in our everyday lives: how we eat, how we move, and how we deal with stress. "You can do it better than I can," he told the crowd.

Dr. Roizen, co-founder of, campaigns for the same cause, and obviously follows his own advice, since his chronological age is 61 and his RealAge is 42.3.

These images from my cellphone camera aren't very good, but they'll have to do. Here are Lisa Oz and Dr. Roizen giving a cooking lesson:

And here is Dr. Oz being mobbed by fans. You can't see them in the photo, but he was using actual preserved body organs to demonstrate:

The presenters were tossing facts at us so fast we couldn't possibly catch them all, though I scribbled notes as fast as I could. Here are just a few that are at least sort of Reiki-related:

Most of us don't know how to breathe correctly (exercise guru Joel Harper taught us the correct way, which Reiki practitioners already know, of course -- the abdomen goes out, not in, when you inhale).

Stress is the greatest factor in inflammation of the arteries, and the greatest ager: it can make your real age 32 years older.

You (YOU!) control more than 70 percent of how well and how long you live.

Blocking stress can prevent all but two years of aging.

And a couple that have nothing to do with Reiki, but are still interesting:

If you walk 30 minutes a day, you turn on a protein in your body that stops cancer, and walking 30 minutes a day doubles the survival rate for colon cancer.

Ten tablespoons a week of tomato sauce can decrease your risk of breast or prostate cancer.

When a patient gets a second opinion, 30 percent of the time the diagnosis changes.

Mrs. Oz's presentation on "Energy, Spirit, and Making Sense of Life" was the last of the day, but worth the wait. Health is a combination of body, mind, and spirit, she began.

"I'm a Reiki Master," she told the crowd. " I use energy to heal." She paused to let that sink in. "I was skeptical, too," she said. "My father's a doctor, my brother's a doctor, my husband's a doctor. I was actually a little contemptuous of Reiki at first. But life is energy. The difference between those body organs over there and you is energy. Everything is energy." Using Einstein's world-changing equation (E=mc2) to make her point, Mrs. Oz said, "Physics has evolved. It's not the old mechanistic model anymore. But medicine hasn't." She showed us an image of an operating room centuries ago (from "Thou: The Owner's Manual," she joked), and then the same image her husband had used that morning of closed-chest heart surgery.

"Scientific advances are linear," she said. "We view the body as a complex machine. We also see the body as chemical, but still, a complex chemical machine. The next wave of medical advances will be when we come to recognize the body as an energetic system."

Until science catches up, Mrs. Oz offered some practical exercises for reducing stress and living a happier, healthier life. "As Mehmet always says, you have to give the heart a reason to keep beating," she said.

For example, the gratitude exercise. Practice saying "thank you" every day. At first, just say "thank you" to everything that happens, good or bad. Just be grateful for it all. Then try alternating: one day, say "thank you" for everything that goes your way; the next, say "thank you" for everything that doesn't.

"The goal is to see how often things really do go your way, and to see the gift in things you thought were negative," Mrs. Oz said.

She followed with a couple of similar exercises, then finished with what was for me the day's highlight: her own personalized version of a Reiki classic: the hatsurei-ho meditation, this time for hundreds. The energy in that cavernous room at the Javits Convention Center shifted palpably as Mrs. Oz led the crowd through progressive relaxation, envisioning a golden light all around, drawing the light inside and then breathing it back out into the space around us, adding our own energy with each exhalation. There was no need to explain what Reiki was -- everyone felt it, even without touch.

By the time she finished, I could see couples reaching to hold each other's hands, or hugging, and eyes welling with tears.

"Go in wellness," she concluded, "Knowing that you have brought light to the world."

All the presenters went back onto the stage after that to answer a few more questions. "Maybe we should let Lisa talk first next time," Dr. Oz said. Nobody argued.


The top item on the Reiki Roundup this week also gives us this week's Celeb-Reiki. It's also the only story in the Roundup this week, since we've run out of room. Reiki made the sports pages of The New York Times this week in an article headlined, "When in pain, PGA players turn to healers." The article includes a photo of golfer Phil Mickelson receiving Reiki from practitioner Jim Weathers. That makes Mickelson AND Weathers this week's Celeb-Reiki's, along with many other golfers and the Chicago White Sox -- when they were receiving Reiki, they had a bit of a winning streak.

We'll have to wait until next week to show you some images from the "What Does Reiki Look Like?" contest, and the following week we'll announce the winner. Thanks for your patience.

This week's Reiki Show podcast is about online Reiki meetup groups. Hosts Bronwen and Frans Stiene talk to New York Reiki Meetup founder Jackie Rose.

Speaking of Meetups, I've just founded a Meetup group myself for qigong: we meet on Fridays at noon.

And speaking of the Stienes, there are still spaces available in the Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) course with Frans Stiene in New York City in October, sponsored by The Reiki Digest.


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