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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Reiki Clinic at Harding Family Center

First clinic flyer February, 2003
By Susan Mitchell

In 2002, Reiki Magazine International ran a story about Reiki clinics in New Hampshire. Barbara, my partner at Reiki Healing Arts, and I were inspired by the idea. Two other Reiki friends had similar fantasies so the four of us joined forces, wanting to see if a public clinic would work in our community.

Our mission was two-fold: We wanted a way to give back to the community by offering Reiki treatments for people who were not able to afford complementary care. We also imagined the clinic as a way to introduce Reiki to people who were curious but hesitant to make an appointment or take a class.

Getting started

We were hoping to find a neutral location and a community sponsor. Folks in semi-rural north Idaho are known for being conservative and cautious. We weren’t sure if anyone would even consider sponsoring something as “unusual” as Reiki.

As we thought about all the possible locations in Coeur d’Alene, we were attracted to a homey and bustling community center run by North Idaho College Head Start, the Harding Family Center. This 1920s former elementary school in the older part of town is full of life—Head Start, Running Start, the North Idaho Council on the Arts, high school driver’s ed, on-going community theatre auditions and rehearsals, they all meet here. It seemed to us a perfect match.

We wrote our proposal and awaited the director’s reply with a bit of trepidation. He was enthusiastic. They would give us a classroom one night each month. In exchange, we agreed to charge nothing. Over the years, we’ve started accepting donations and those monies support Head Start programs.

We contacted our Reiki students and everyone we knew who did Reiki to build a volunteer pool. Then we sent out press releases, listed the clinic in all the local community calendars, and put flyers around town. People began calling for appointments and the clinic opened in January 2003.

Every few years, the local paper writes an article about us. Nine years later, we’re still going strong and following our original format.

What it looks like

The clinic runs from 6-8:30 p.m. one evening a month. The first half hour, the volunteers have a check-in and we set our intention for the evening. If we have new volunteers, we review the hand positions we’ve adopted. It’s been important to us to provide a standardized treatment experience so clients know what to expect regardless of which volunteers treat them.

We offer half-hour sessions by appointment. We currently fill three tables per session—sometimes we’ve had as many as five—and two to three volunteers are treating each client. The lights are low, the music soft. Beyond our quiet classroom swirl the center’s activities. Last month, a group of college-aged actors belted out tunes to their upcoming musical. It can be a bit wild and yet this juxtaposition of sacred space in the very midst of daily life is a particularly sweet quality of the Reiki clinic.

Giving and receiving

Clients are welcome to come as often as they want. Some people attend for years. While they sign an initial waiver, we ask nothing about their medical or personal history, only their name and phone number. Over the years, as we visit with clients before or after sessions, we often learn what has brought them.

People are finding relief from chronic pain, the side effects of chemo and radiation, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, asthma and allergies, to name a few. Some come because they are struggling with emotional upheaval or chronic stress. We’ve seen time and again—and still continue to be amazed—the benefits that result from receiving even one treatment once a month. About two-thirds of those we treat have visited the clinic more than once. A small percentage eventually learns Reiki and a few have become clinic volunteers.

Like our clients, the volunteers keep coming back. A small core has been there from the start. We’ve become a community, looking forward each month to spending time with one another doing something we love.

Nine years running is a testimony to what we each receive. Clinic evenings consistently end with comments about the intimacy and vulnerability we share with strangers. We still marvel that people who know nothing about Reiki sign up for a public clinic, lie down in a classroom with others they don’t know, and allow us to put our hands on them.

Reiki clinic brings us an on-going reminder that no matter what is going on in our lives or in the world, there is a deeper truth. We experience how close we are to everyone and how alike we all are. We bear witness each month to the human longing for connection and healing.

Editor’s note: If you’d like to start a clinic in your community, I’m happy to share our materials with you. Feel free to adapt them to your specific needs. You can email me at susan @ reikihealingarts.com and I’ll send you the set.

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