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Friday, May 01, 2009

No longer welcome: Fallout from Catholic bishops' decision on Reiki continues to spread

It's been more than a month now since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued new guidelines -- based in large part on misinformation and misunderstandings -- denouncing Reiki and declaring it inappropriate for Catholic institutions. The repercussions have now spread not only through the Catholic health-care system but beyond.

Here are a few of the latest news items:

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reiki teacher resigns from Dominican Center. . . .

And there are other stories that haven't made headlines. Here's a letter we received from a Reiki practitioner who lost her practice space as a result of the bishops' guidelines:


I just wanted to share a situation that happened to me recently to see what you (and or others) think.

I am a Reiki Master Practitioner. In Dec. of 2008, I approached a local chiropractor asking if he had space to rent me so that I could begin to practice clinically. After a few discussions, he said yes and was excited to be able to tell his clients what I was offering, but also excited to help me get up and running.

Jan. 2009 I began my own practice out of the Chiropractic office. It's a small office with two massage therapists, a chiropractic assistant, and an administrative woman. I saw clients in January, February, and March. I even held an open house with a "Reiki Information Session" for the public in February that had a large draw, including a few people who traveled over 100 miles for the information session! I was only renting space on Tue and Thurs, and acquired a second location to see clients on M-W-F. From Jan - March I accumulated 48 clients!

At the end of March, I received a call from the Chiropractor who seemed disturbed asking to meet with me. I asked what it was regarding, and he said, "Contra Indications to 'what I was practicing' ". I agreed to the meeting. When I arrived to the meeting, the chiropractor grabbed a stack of papers and led me into an office. As I was sitting down, he said that the office admin had a 'problem' with Reiki. It seems that it was "against her religion". He showed me a stack of papers that she had printed off from the internet with highlighted sections of things like: Against Jesus, occult practice, work of the devil, etc. The chiropractor told me that he was ok with what I was doing. In fact, as a result of my working with his wife, she is now in the process of signing up for her first Reiki course. There was a knock at the door, and in came the admin woman. She was quite red in the face, and very nervous, shaking and at one point, even through her pen! The meeting lasted a little more than an hour and a half with the first half grilling me on my own personal beliefs. The chiropractor had a client to treat, so he left, and the admin continued to grill me about the information she found about Reiki. I told her at first that I really didn't feel qualified to discuss her Religious concerns as I did not have formal training in that area. I shared that Reiki was a spiritual practice, and not affiliated with any religion. I tried to talk about the difference between spirituality and religion, and she just got more red in the face. I guided her to speak with a member of her religious order, and she stated she already had. I asked her what she wanted from me. She gave me a laundry list of things she was demanding to have me prove that they were not evil in nature. From the "sacred attunements", the use of symbols, to the fact that it was a Buddhist monk who was "enlightened"...and much more! I told her I would have to gather some data for her, but that I would do it from an educational stand point, to share what Reiki is....and is not.

A week later, after much contemplation and discussing the issue with my husband, Reiki Masters, friends, and from leaders from my church, I met again with the Chiropractor, the admin woman, and I brought one of my 3 Reiki Masters along to help me "smooth things" if necessary. It was another fairly long meeting. I spoke, and so did my Master about the peaceful nature of Reiki, what it is, etc. The admin woman was still adamant, and actually told my Master and I that we were doing "the work of the devil" and she would "pray for our souls". I shared that I understood and respected her opinion, but that I held a different one. I stated that I was going to continue to practice Reiki. I asked the Chiropractor where this left our rental agreement. He stated aloud to everyone, that he did not feel that Reiki was harmful to clients, and that he supported it. He asked the admin woman how she would feel if I continued to practice at the clinic. The admin woman said she could not deal with it, and would have to leave. The chiropractor then stood up, paced, said, "I can't believe you both are putting me in the middle of this". He turned to me, and said, if one of you has to go, that I would have to leave. She has been working with him longer, and he does not "pay" her for her services...she does it in trade for chiropractic. I was given no notice, and had to leave. He then left the room, left the clinic and drove away.

I have had many responses to this situation. One of my Reiki Masters said to let it the bigger person and walk away. One of my Reiki Masters said get a lawyer!

I am a very peaceful person. Even more so since I started practicing Reiki! I pretty much avoid conflict like the plague. I do completely understand that the admin woman was only able to see this from her (as skewed as it seems to me) perspective. One with certain beliefs that dictate how she acts. I can respect her desire to follow her beliefs. I am not ok however, with her expecting me to change my beliefs because they do not match hers. This is where the situation changed from one of ignorance to one of intolerance.

I have contacted a couple of attorneys, and I also spoke to someone from the Department of Human Rights in our state. The attorneys stated that I could pursue the business issue of "breech of contract", but that it could get drawn out, and may cost more than the current awards are being given. The man from the Department of Human Rights could not help me either. Although religion is a protected class, there are 7 categories it could fall under. In this case, it would be business as I was not an employee of the Chiropractor. Wouldn't you know that religion is NOT covered in only one I asked the man from the department why this was, he did not know and suggested I contact my local representative or senator's office. I did. The local representative's aid blew me off and told me to get an attorney. The senator's office aid was much more responsive, and said although they could not help me currently, that they could look into this in the next session. He wanted to know more about Reiki.

I am torn on this issue. I have not been able to locate a new location to practice from that is "clinical" as of yet. Many of my current clients do not feel comfortable coming to my second location (my cousin is a Massage Therapist and has one location from her home that she has aloud me to utilize if I need) they prefer the "clinical feel". I can understand that.

What do you think??

Laurél Kimpton

Thanks, Laurél, for sharing your story.

Paul Prakash Dennis writes:

A bit of a better story about the Catholic Church and Reiki.

Wanja Twan, one of Takata's 22 Masters, taught several Catholic nuns and priests in Poland in the early 1990s; some up to Master level. I met some of them in Canada at the Reiki Alliance conference in 1993.

They had all asked for the Polish Pope John Paul's blessing to learn and teach Reiki and had received it.

Wanja said that she saw a framed letter on the wall of one of the Priests' office from the Pope himself giving his blessing to the priests.

Now she wished she had had a camera or photocopier handy!

Later in his life, while suffereing from Parkinson's disease and other ailments of old age, the Pope received Reiki regularly; some say even daily.

When some of our Irish colleagues met opposition from Catholic diehards, they told them about the Pope's support for Reiki. The opponents of Reiki checked it out and shut up!

Sadly the new German Pope is not so broad minded and some French Reiki Masters have felt the effect of this new chiller square headed wind in the church.

Thought you and others would want to know this.

Love and all the best for the Reiki Digest,


Thanks, Paul!

Julie Romanko in Ohio writes:

Hi Janet,

The latest news about the Pope denouncing Reiki is not surprising. I was raised Catholic and had so many unanswered questions about their practices and beliefs. I actually challenged some of the priests and nuns to try to make sense of some of the things they believe to only receive an answer like, "it's wrong to question the church".

To me, spirituality is so much more expanded than religion. Who wants to be contracted, limited, small, or close minded? With Jesus himself being a Master Healer and many references to healing in the Bible, it really makes no sense to me. But the main reason I am writing is because of my own feelings about Reiki over the last few years. I have encountered much criticism from 'religious' individuals. The name Reiki is a Japanese name for what is generally considered "energy healing" or even "spiritual healing". If spiritual healing or energy healing is going on in the Catholic institutions, and forgo the Japanese reference of Reiki, would it still be denied?

My understanding is that every culture in the world has a form of energy healing but by different names. Even Reiki itself is a Japanese version of healing that has ancient Tibetan roots. The symbols are Japanese because they were taught to Japanese students. The concept is Universal though.

Maybe we would be more accepted if we just called it "Energy Healing". What do you think?

Julie Romanko

Thanks, Julie. Actually, that bit about ancient Tibetan roots is one of the common myths about Reiki, but I know a lot of people were taught that. (Those myths are one reason for my Reiki Update Training on May 9.) 

Maria Doglio writes:

People usually ridicule what they don't understand and it is usually out of fear. As a former Catholic I know first hand that the Catholic leadership controls through fear tactics to keep you in the club and here is just another example. Today we have a Pope who preaches the misinformation that condoms spread aids. Have they proven what they are stating and with what scientific methods? (smile)We could all send the unenlightented Bishops Reiki to help them rise to a higher consciousness and retract their statement. If we all hold that intention, then change will occur. Maria

Thanks, Maria.

And finally, an anonymous reader writes:

This was my first experience with Reiki the other night. I had never heard of it before this lady came over while in the restaurant the other night and put her hands on my brother-in-law. He is very feeble because of lung cancer that left him without a voice box a few years back. His health is failing but my sister trys to take him out if he wants to go. The lady said she was a Reiki student and after she did that to him he seemed to liven up and smile. even though he is very fragile he did seem happy. We are Catholic and I didn't see anything different then the laying of hands they used to practice.

Thanks, Anonymous!

To join in this ongoing discussion or tell us how the bishops' statement is affecting your Reiki practice, add a comment to this post on our web site or email


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