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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Reiki Digest for March 28, 2007: Back to Japan

We begin with our first dispatch from Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa. Born in Japan, now a New Yorker and a Reiki Master Teacher, Michelle left Japan as a teenager and is now visiting her homeland, reconnecting not only with her personal heritage, but the roots of Reiki as well. English is not Michelle's first language, so we commend her and thank her for courageously writing in a foreign tongue. Her first post from Japan is titled, "Take Off":

(Editor's note: Rather than copying Michelle's posts in their entirety, we're just giving you the first few sentences here, and you can follow the link to read the entire post.)

Take Off

Finally, I am leaving to Japan. I still cannot believe that I am going there. I have been so busy past couple month, time really flied. I am at the Detroit airport waiting for my flight to Osaka. It was very funny that I heard “Usui” on the announcement as one of the person who needed to report to the counter at the terminal... (
Click here to read the rest of this dispatch)

Whenever Michelle posts a new dispatch, we'll post an update here at The Reiki Digest, even in between our regular Wednesday editions. Michelle will be visiting historic Reiki sites and connecting with contemporary Japanese Reiki practitioners.

Next in the news, our regular Reiki Roundup. We've found no further news since last week from the Indian state of Maharashtra, where legislation known as the "Black Magic Bill" could outlaw the practice of Reiki. Meanwhile, in the state of Punjab, the Times of India reports on another bill also threatens Reiki as well as such other globally recognized practices as acupuncture, reflexology, hypnotherapy, and aromatherapy.

Reiki is also under attack from a minister and newspaper columnist in the U.S. state of Maryland who obviously has some major misconceptions about this natural healing art. In a column headlined "We Must Remove Our Idols," The Rev. Mike Taylor begins by mentioning the U.S. television show American Idol and then seems to think Reiki has something to do with idols:

"For instance, we lift holy hands on Sunday and sing "Jesus is all I need," and then on Monday we practice Reiki healing techniques on someone, or we quote New Age sources as if they were gospel. We may not erect statues to all our gods, but we are allowing these things in our spirit and in our worship."

We've said it before, and we'll say it again (and again and again): Reiki is not a religion. It is practiced by people of all faiths, and no faith, all over the world. Reiki is not magic. It is not massage. And it has nothing to do with idols.

By contrast, here's a much more typical scenario when it comes to Reiki and religion: Unity Church in Bonita Springs, Florida, is offering Reiki classes, and here's an article about the teacher.

In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, we find another Reiki teacher, a 77-year-old British woman who set out to teach 10 Reiki masters before returning home and has nearly reached her goal.

Reiki makes the Evening Post in the United Arab Emiriates in an article about a Reiki (and other modalities) practitioner who helps expatriate Indians and others there deal with stress.

The Journal News of New York's Hudson Valley finished its series on alternative health practices last Friday with an article headlined, "Reiki Practitioner Looks for Balance." The reporter found a new twist on the story: instead of receiving a Reiki session, he observed one.

This week's Celeb-Reiki is jazz musician Jeannie Gagne, also a Reiki practitioner.

In sports, specifically the Cricket World Cup, we hope Team India is still being assisted by a Reiki practitioner as they recover from the losses that eliminated them from the tournament.

The Sounds of Reiki: This week The Reiki Show podcast goes to high school. After this week, the show goes on hiatus for a month because hosts Bronwen and Frans Stiene will be traveling to San Francisco and then New York City to teach workshops. Speaking of which, the New York City workshop is now full, but we do still have a waiting list in case anyone cancels, as well as a list of people waiting for the next workshop (not yet scheduled). And there's still room at the Stienes' talk and book signing at East West Books in New York on April 12.

Finally, if you've got a Reiki event scheduled, you might want to let Phylameana Iila Desy know about it. She's the guide to holistic healing at, and she'll include your listing for free. Same goes for listings in's Reiki practitioner directory.

Did today's edition seem much shorter than usual? Remember, in order to read our lead story by Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa in Japan, you'll have to follow the link to her blog and read it there. We'll be posting updates here whenever Michelle checks in with us on her journey.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Reiki Digest for March 21, 2007: Reiki gets a reprieve

Last week, as you may recall, the natural healing practice of Reiki was under threat in the Indian state of Maharashtra and the U.S. state of New Hampshire, in both cases from bills before the legislatures that would have, if enacted, banned or severely restricted the practice of Reiki.

This week, things are looking up on one of those fronts: the New Hampshire bill, apparently intended to regulate the practice of massage therapy, was amended to specifically exclude Reiki -- appropriate, since Reiki is not massage. Meanwhile, opposition to the bill has grown to include an editorial in the Portsmouth Herald headlined, "Heal this bill, or let it die a natural death."

Meanwhile, the so-called "Black Magic" bill has passed the lower house of the Maharashtra legislature and is now before the legislative council. One news article quotes a section of the proposed bill and interprets that as meaning it would not apply to Reiki: "For the removal of doubt, it is hereby declared that nothing in this Act shall apply to the acts involving religious rites and rituals which does not adversely affect any person mentally, physically or financially."

Reiki is not a religion, or a religious rite or ritual, but it also has never been found to harm anyone, so that exemption is ambiguous, to say the least.

A Hindu group still had some doubt as to whether the bill would outlaw their religion: they held a three-day hunger strike this week to draw attention to their objections.

Speaking of India, the nation's Reiki-assisted cricket team lost to Bangladesh in their first test in the 2007 World Cup, then rebounded to whip Bermuda by a record margin. If you happen to be interested in distance Reiki, whether or not you care about cricket, you might want to send some Reiki to the World Cup coaches, two of whom (one active, one retired) have died of heart attacks during the series so far. At least one of those deaths is being investigated as "suspicious" by the local authorities.

In other Reiki Roundup news items this week, The Guardian reports on an experimental project to fight crime by offering Reiki, head massage, golf and cooking lessons to help at-risk boys stay out of trouble.

One young man who didn't stay out of trouble -- he killed his own mother during a psychotic episode -- tells his sad story in The Independent under the headline "The day I lost it: Confessions of a killer." He says Reiki has helped him heal.

In Glasgow, Scotland, Reiki is among the therapies offered at the Phoenix Center, now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

In Bakersfield, California, we find a minister and Reiki practitioner who's retiring after 30 years in the pulpit, and planning to devote more time to her healing practice.

In Australia, the Herald-Sun features an article on Reiki for pets.

Reiki gets a mention this week in the venerable gray lady herself, The New York Times, but the story itself isn't about Reiki -- the subject is pet channeling.

The Journal-News in New York's Lower Hudson valley mentions Reiki in a series on the alternative health economy, but the best seems yet to come: this Friday, the series will conclude when the reporter goes into the "Reiki room."

In Maryland, another reporter offers a first-person account of his visit to a Reiki Circle, although he didn't stay long enough to observe or receive any Reiki. Apparently the discussion of things unrelated to Reiki made him uncomfortable, a cautionary tale for all.

Perhaps a reporter will soon check out the Reiki house parties offered in the Chicago area by Paula Battaglio, this week's guest on The Reiki Show podcast from the International House of Reiki.

Speaking of the International House of Reiki, there is still one space remaining in the Shinpiden workshop with Frans Stiene in New York City April 14-16, 2007, sponsored by The Reiki Digest.

Frans and Bronwen Stiene will also be giving an evening talk at East West Books in New York on April 12, followed by a book signing.

This week's Celeb-Reiki report features some well-known names in the world of Reiki itself. First, New Age musician Deuter, whose music is often used to enhance Reiki sessions, recently did a signing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to publicize the release of his 11th album, Koyasan. If you click on the word Koyasan, you can hear some free previews.

In Bahrain, Frank Arjava Petter, author of numerous books on Reiki, will speak on "The Legacy of Dr. Usui" on April 20. As Petter was one of the people who debunked the false claim that Reiki founder Mikao Usui was a doctor, perhaps he will explain why the word "Dr." is included in the title of his talk.

Next, meet entrepreneur and Reiki practitioner Mandy Allen, whose line of skin-care and fragrance products is a success in the UK.

Two young British boys have achieved Celeb-Reiki status: Ben and Charlie Bright of Warminster, England, have made their Reiki practitioner mother proud by being invited to audition for celebrity judge Simon Cowell. Ben, 12, and Charlie, 10, are being considered for a new television show, Britain's Got Talent.

Rest in Peace

Reiki Master Teacher Kristine Rasmussen, 53, North Baltimore, Maryland.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Reiki Digest for March 14, 2007: Outlaw Reiki? That's just not cricket!

We begin this week's edition in the West Indies, where the Cricket World Cup has just begun and at least one team is using Reiki to get into the best shape possible for the contests ahead. Team India's official masseur, Manesh Rame, is using Reiki along with other techniques to help the players overcome stress, sleep problems, and performance anxiety. Enjoy that Reiki while you can, Team India, because Reiki may soon be outlawed in some parts of your country.

If Maharashtra's so-called Black Magic Act is passed, not only Reiki would be banned -- so would Hindu epics, the Bible, and the Koran. Public rallies are being held this week in numerous Maharashtra cities to protest the bill and call for its rejection by the legislature.

It's just not cricket, as they say.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. state of New Hampshire (state slogan: Live free or die), a bill with a less sinister sounding name, HB 0908, also threatens the practice of Reiki. Although it seems intended to regulate massage therapy, the bill would also apply to Reiki. HB 0908 would replace the professional standards now governing bodywork practices with a new massage regulatory board with sweeping powers. And while a group of massage, bodywork, somatic, movement and energy practitioners has been working with the state for more than a year on the issue of professional standards, those representatives were not included in the development of this bill. At a public hearing in August, 2006, the bill met near-unanimous opposition from all professionals who testified. If the new governing board is set up, it is slated to include only massage therapists, with no other types of bodyworkers represented. So if you're a Reiki practitioner anywhere, and especially if you're in New Hampshire, please give the state your input on this bill.

Whatever types of practices politicians are trying to ban, Reiki is neither religion nor magic nor massage. It's too bad there are so many misconceptions about Reiki.

A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle perpetuates some of those misconceptions this week in an article headlined, "Things that make you go 'hmm': Reiki, ancient healing art." The writer calls Reiki "a form of hands-on faith healing" (no faith involved, actually, and it can be hands-on or off); she refers to its founder as a doctor (he wasn't) and said he rediscovered it in the 1800s (it wasn't a rediscovery, and it was in 1920); she says Chujiro Hayashi was the only student of Reiki founder Mikao Usui (no, there were others). Just for the record, there is no such thing as a Reiki grandmaster, although you can buy a certificate that says you are one for under $10 on eBay. We won't go into some of the things the reporter quotes Reiki practitioners as saying that have nothing to do with Reiki.

A Reiki practitioner who read that same Chronicle article posted some comments about it on his blog, including this zinger: "Reiki is alternative medicine, not an alternative to medicine."

It's a good thing our regular Celeb-Reiki report isn't an elevator, because this week it would be really crowded. K9s Only, a new wellness center for dogs offering Reiki among other treatments, will roll out the red carpet for its grand opening later this month to welcome actors Kim Basinger (many movies), Wayne Knight, (Seinfeld) Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under), Michelle Stafford (The Young and the Restless), Allison Janey (West Wing) and Galen Gering (Passions). No word on whether Lassie will attend, but presumably there will be some canines there as well.

Another dog resort featuring Reiki, K-9 Tailshakers, also made the news this week in a suburban Chicago paper, but without any mention of celebrities.

For more of those, we travel to Malvern in the UK, where we find a Reiki Master who has treated such stars as Madonna, Cher, Beyonce, and Sylvester Stallone in an article headlined, "Stars were safe in Anna's hands." Stallone made headlines this week for other reasons when he was arrested in Sydney, Australia, and charged with illegally importing human growth hormone.

On to Washington, D.C., where previous Celeb-Reiki Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) has issued his first statement since he suffered a brain hemorrhage three months ago. While Sen. Johnson was unable to speak for himself, Reiki was requested for him.

And we end this week's Celeb-Reiki report back in India, where Reiki Master and business coach Olivia Stefanino is also the author of a new book: Be Your Own Guru: Personal and Business Enlightenment in Just Three Days.

Let's move on to the Reiki Roundup.

In Lakeland, Florida, USA, Reiki breathing techniques turn up in an article headlined, "Ways to Rejuvenate During Your Workday."

In East London, South Africa, a man who lost a leg became a Reiki practitioner on his doctor's advice and is now helping other disabled people.

On the island of Mauritius, a doctor recommends Reiki and other natural health practices while advising caution with vitamins and other supplements.

In Brooklyn, New York, the Amsterdam News finds a Reiki practitioner who works with (among others) people with HIV.

We lost an hour here in the USA Sunday morning when we set our clocks ahead to Daylight-Saving Time a couple of weeks early, presumably saving a bit more daylight. The Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph (yes, that's its name) marked the occasion by interviewing people who get up early every day, a Reiki practitioner among them.

This week's podcast of The Reiki Show features a special treat: one co-host interviewing another about the latest product from the International House of Reiki.

Speaking of the International House of Reiki, there is still one space remaining in the Shinpiden workshop with Frans Stiene in New York City April 14-16, 2007, sponsored by The Reiki Digest.

Frans and Bronwen Stiene will also be giving an evening talk at East West Books in New York on April 12, followed by a book signing.

We sign off with an obituary: Linda Tilton, Director of the Wellness Department at the New York Open Center, died March 13. Although her modality was aromatherapy, not Reiki, she was a great friend of Reiki and oversaw the development of one of the most respected professional Reiki programs anywhere. According to the Open Center, she was a senior executive in the fragrance, cosmetic and skincare industry for 15 years before becoming an aromatherapist. We will miss her, but her contribution to the world of Reiki will live on.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Reiki Digest for March 7, 2007: Coming soon -- Dispatches from Japan

The Reiki Digest now reaches 46 countries and counting, but in a few weeks we'll be going international in a whole new way. We'll soon have reports from our special correspondent, Reiki Master Teacher Michelle Shinagawa, as she returns to her native Japan in search of Reiki, its origins, and contemporary Japanese Reiki practices. For a preview of her Reiki-packed itinerary, check out the new blog she's launched to chronicle her adventures. She'll be visiting Mt. Kurama, the legendary birthplace of Reiki, and later studying with some of Japan's most famous Reiki teachers. Michelle is also offering a special service at Mt. Kurama to the first 200 people who request it -- details available on her blog.

During Michelle's Reiki journey, The Reiki Digest will be posting updates here between our weekly editions to alert our readers to new posts from Japan. The e-mail edition will still be published only once a week, so you'll have to visit here to read the latest, or sign up to receive dispatches directly from Michelle herself.

While we're thinking globally, here's another item of international interest: the first new subscriber we get from our 47th country will receive a special gift. So if you're in, say, Bulgaria, or Zambia, or Cambodia, or Jamaica, or anyplace we don't already have subscribers, you're eligible.

If you're in the United States, within commuting distance of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, and you happen to have prostate cancer, you could be eligible for some Reiki along with medical treatment as part of a study now recruiting patients, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health.

Speaking of studies, a recently completed study found that more than half of Americans over the age of 50 use some kind of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), but most don't tell their doctors. One in 10 of those surveyed who use CAM therapies said they use Reiki. The survey was co-sponsored by NCCAM and the American Association of Retired People (AARP).

A medical doctor who is also a Reiki Master has a very interesting column in a Florida newspaper on the question of just how much evidence is needed to prove a healing method is safe and effective.

Some readers have noticed that our weekly Reiki Roundup has been a bit brief in recent weeks, partly because we've had lengthy feature articles, and partly because, frankly, much of what we've found out there hasn't been worth linking to.

To demonstrate one of the biggest (and most frequently mentioned) misconceptions about Reiki that we've seen repeated ad nauseum of late, I shall now transmit this edition of The Reiki Digest to you psychically, because so many reporters have recently equated Reiki with psychic powers. Since nearly all of you are Reiki practitioners, why should I bother typing? You already know what I'm going to say. For the gazillionth time, Reiki isn't about psychic powers!

Reiki also isn't about religion, but that fact hasn't quelled the ongoing disagreement within the Catholic faith over Reiki. Even though many Catholics, even nuns, practice and teach Reiki, and Reiki is practiced in many Catholic hospitals, every week there's another article in some publication of that denomination denouncing Reiki. This week's installment, at Catholic Online, calls Reiki a "new alternative religion" and insists it is incompatible with Christianity.

For the record (and also for the gazillionth time), Reiki is not a religion; it requires no belief on the part of either practitioner or recipient, and it happens to be practiced by people of every faith, or no faith, all over the world.

On the other side of that argument are the numerous Christians of all denominations who practice Reiki. For example, here's a Reiki Master nun in an article headlined "Healing Hands Transcend Faith." And here's another Reiki-practicing nun in Pittsburgh. Then there's, which has now given birth to a new blog, Reiki Ramblings.

There are some very nice items about Reiki in the news this week, including a special Mother's Day pampering package at Tesco that includes complimentary Reiki.

Mostly kudos to the Milton, Pennsylvania, Standard-Journal for a mostly accurate article about Reiki headlined, "Need to Recharge your Batteries? Try a Reiki Session." Mostly, but not completely accurate because it says Reiki includes a full-body massage. (Nope -- that's a different modality entirely.)

More kudos to Knoxville, Tennessee's MetroPulse, for an article on the power of touch that doesn't link Reiki to massage.

And at the University of Indiana, we find a mention of Reiki in an article headlined, "Natural or Supernatural? Traditional barrier between medical and spiritual healing coming down."

Maybe we should start a new feature: Reiki: Believe it or Not, because you aren't going to believe this next item. In St. Paul, Minnesota, Reiki gets a mention in an item about Minnesota laws prohibiting bodyworkers from having sex with former clients within two years after any professional contact. That article refers to a case in which a massage practitioner admitted having sex with a former client -- he's the man she married 17 months after he stopped being her client -- and then had to spend three years and more than $30,000, even undergo psychological testing at her own expense, to avoid losing her license.

On that bizarre note, let's move on to this week's Celeb-Reiki feature. First, we meet freelance writer and Reiki aficionado Colette Dickinson of Oxfordshire, England, whose short story (inspired in part, she said, by her Reiki sessions) was chosen from more than 10,000 for inclusion in The Sun Book of Stories.

Our second Celeb-Reiki this week is Monica Tata, a television executive in India, who told a reporter that "Reiki is a very close part of my existence."

And our third Celeb-Reiki this week is Australian artist Siobhan McLeod, this week's guest on The Reiki Show podcast, discussing Reiki and Creativity with hosts Bronwen and Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki in Sydney, Australia.

Speaking of the International House of Reiki, there is still one space left in the Shinpiden workshop with Frans Stiene in New York City, April 14-16, 2007.