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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reiki Past, Present, and Future: A Simulpost

This week's edition of The Reiki Digest is a simulpost with The Reiki Show from the International House of Reiki. While not exactly simultaneous, The Reiki Show and The Reiki Digest are addressing the same subject at the same time: Reiki Past, Present, and Future.

On this week's Reiki Show podcast, regular hosts Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the guests, while yours truly fills in as guest host. It's a little longer than a typical Reiki Show, but we did have a lot of ground to cover.

Rather than duplicating that discussion here, we're augmenting it with a few more words on one aspect: the future of Reiki. The following is not reporting: it's speculation. We hope you'll find it enjoyable reading in any case.

***begin speculation***

Reiki, 2012: Scenario A

NEW YORK, August 30, 2012 -- The U.S. National Health Service announced today that Reiki treatments and training are now covered under the universal health insurance program. The United States was the last country on earth to provide insurance coverage for Reiki, a powerful and inexpensive healing and stress-reduction method developed in early 20th-Century Japan.

"That's poppycock and balderdash," said the proprietor of, who says that about everything short of surgery and prescription drugs.

More than 20 studies published since 2010 in several countries have shown that even though we don't quite understand how it works, we know that Reiki can be helpful to those dealing with everything from the challenges of everyday life to the most serious health problems. While Reiki is not a substitute for medical care, it can be a valuable part of a holistic health care plan. Other studies have shown Reiki to be effective in preventing health problems as well, possibly because it is such an effective stress reducer.

Reiki can be learned in a weekend at the basic level, while further training is required for professional practice. As a personal practice, it has become nearly as popular as yoga and qigong worldwide.

In a professional Reiki session, the recipient typically lies fully clothed on a table, mat, or hospital bed, while the practitioner lightly places her or his hands on or near various places on the recipient's body. If conscious, the recipient often enters a sleeplike state for the duration of the session. Healing can take place on a physical, mental, spiritual or emotional level, and results are so individual they have been difficult to measure by conventional scientific means.

Reiki was developed in the 1920s by Mikao Usui, a Japanese lay Buddhist monk. It is practiced by people of all faiths, or of no faith, in every country of the world. It is not dependent on belief on the part of either practitioner or recipient, and is not a religious practice. It has been practiced in hospitals and other health-care environments for decades, but it was only in the past five years that its use became a standard part of comprehensive patient care.

"We believe that paying for Reiki will be the best bargain this country ever got, because keeping people healthy is much less expensive, any way you measure it, than fixing them once they're sick," said a government accountant. "Reiki not only helps keep people healthy, it helps them recover faster and at less expense when they do get sick or injured."

Reiki, 2012: Scenario B

NEW YORK, August 30, 2012 -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Stabilization today announced that the controversial practice of Reiki has now been outlawed, making the United States one of a growing number of nations to ban the much-disputed quasi-religious practice some believe can help in healing, and others dismiss as new-age nonsense.

Reiki practitioners themselves have never been able to agree on even the most basic facts about their modality. Some say it came from ancient Tibet, others say it is from the lost continent of Atlantis and still others believe it was developed in the early 20th Century by Mikao Usui, a Japanese lay Buddhist monk. Some of the latter group believe Usui was a doctor, but there is no evidence that he was or that he even claimed to have any medical training.

Some Reiki practitioners insist that Reiki is not a religion, but others claim that Reiki is guided by ghosts, angels, fairies, and/or space aliens, which has provoked some religious organizations to denounce it as a competing religion.

One government official said research into Reiki might have continued for at least a few more years if practitioners themselves had reached enough of a consensus to at least give the practice a clear definition. "Some of them say you have to use crystals, others say you have to use drums, and still others claim that the energy cannot flow if the practitioner is wearing clothing of a certain color. Then there were those people offering Reiki over the Internet. We got terribly confused, and we expect all that makes the average consumer a bit dizzy, too," the unnamed official said. "Since our job is to protect the public, we've decided not to take a chance on Reiki, at least until its proponents get their act together enough to decide what it is and what it isn't."

Reiki, 2012: Scenario C

NEW YORK, August 30, 2012 -- Whatever happened to ...

High Fructose Corn Syrup -- This ingredient was banned in 2009 worldwide after it was shown to be a factor in the global obesity epidemic.

Tibet -- Didn't that used to be a country?

New Orleans -- Didn't that used to be a city? Hey, at least we still have the jazz it left behind.

Lindsay Lohan -- Does anybody have any idea who this is, or was, or why anyone should care? The name shows up in old news reports but we can't tell why -- maybe this is one of those "famous for being famous" characters?

The "Hold" Button -- Before telephone equipment was improved, you pushed this red button down to put a call on "hold," and it stayed in place, blinking, until you pushed it again to take the call off "hold." Primitive, but effective.

Betamax -- This video tape format lost out to rival VHS, whatever that stands for. Video tape is an antiquated form of recording.

The Studebaker -- These compact cars were years before their time, which may explain why the company went under and there are none around today.

Reiki -- Wasn't this some sort of natural healing practice where people got their chakras fluffed up with feathers or something? Nobody could agree on what it was even in its heyday, but it has indisputably gone the way of Betamax and Studebakers now.

***end of speculation***

Which of those scenarios do you prefer? And which do you think is most likely? If you'd like, send us a speculative scenario of your own about where Reiki might be five or more years from now. The address is Or if you prefer, you can join in the discussion by posting a comment to this post on our web site.

To put this speculation in context, be sure to listen to the other component of this simulpost on The Reiki Show podcast.

There are still a few spaces left in the Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) class with Frans Stiene in New York City October 19, 20, and 21, and there may also be spaces available in upcoming Shinpiden classes in Holland, France, and England.

Rather than mixing real news with fanciful speculation, we'll save the Reiki Roundup for next week. This week's Celeb-Reiki is the aforementioned Lindsay Lohan, only because she's mentioned in one of our speculative scenarios.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Reiki practitioner Scott Kravis of New Jersey, USA. He's the winner of the very first contest sponsored by The Reiki Digest, for both the quality and quantity of the images he submitted in response to the question, "What does Reiki look like?"

Scott submitted not one, not two, not three, not four, but five different images. Here is the winner:

Scott's winning image will adorn the product of his choice at the Healing Movement Gifte Shoppe at He will receive that product, plus a royalty for each product sold through our store.

One reader, Keri Ann Lenhart, sent us not an image, but a verbal description of Reiki: "When I turn Reiki on it comes down in the form of a spot light, into my head and hits my heart and shoots down my arms to my hands, out into the recipient. The light is not see through but more solid and very golden. The beam of Reiki that flows into my head is very bright, a white and gold color of light. This is what Reiki looks like to me."

Our thanks to everyone who entered or commented. Although the contest has ended, we've decided to make "What does Reiki look like?" an ongoing feature, so you are welcome to send your images anytime to Or, if you'd prefer to follow Keri Ann's lead and use words instead of images, we'll publish those, too. Please make sure to put "What does Reiki look like?" in the subject line.

Speaking of images, Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa has posted another installment in her report from Mt. Kurama in Japan on her Reiki Photography blog. This week's post, Tenporin Temple, features a Buddha that can only be touched via a rope, and a device that offers a handy meditation shortcut. Will Michelle reach the top of the mountain? We'll have to keep reading to find out.

Would you like to be a special correspondent for The Reiki Digest? You don't have to travel, or even climb a mountain. All you need to do is write an article for us -- but before you do, send us a brief description of what you'd like to write about, and we'll let you know if we're interested. There is no guarantee of publication, and no payment at this point, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing your article went out to readers in 62 countries (and counting). Articles must be about Reiki, and you can be from any lineage or style of Reiki, whether Japanese or Western. You don't even have to be a Reiki practitioner to write for us -- Reiki recipients may have something to say on the subject as well.

Did you catch the big mistake in last week's edition? So far, only one person has noticed it, or at least mentioned it. It wasn't that big a mistake: we were only off by 10 years. Last week's Celeb-Reiki, Elvis Presley, died 30 years ago, not 20 as we said. We thank our reader for pointing out the mistake, and especially for adding, "That's the only mistake you've ever made."

This week our Celeb-Reiki is a special correspondent, not for The Reiki Digest but for The New York Times. It's science writer Sandra Blakeslee, co-author, with her son Matthew Blakeslee, of a fascinating new book coming out next month. We received our review copy of The Body Has a Mind of Its Own this week -- haven't had time to read much of it yet but we are already blown away. While you're waiting for our review, and for the book's publication, check out this news article by Blakeslee in today's Times headlined "Scientists Induce Out-of-Body Sensation." That article is about a study just published in the journal Science, which shows just how close Blakeslee is to the cutting edge of neuroscience, because at least one of the researchers in today's news article is also featured in the book. There's a little something about Reiki in the book also, and the whole book gives us a different name for, and a different way of thinking about, what science refers to as the "putative biofield." Ms. Blakeslee is a third-generation science writer, which means Mr. Blakeslee, her son, is a fourth-generation science writer, and the two are the world's only mother-son science writing team.

This week's Reiki Roundup begins atop a mountain, not in Japan but Arizona, where more than 4,000 people hiked and raised more than $125,000 for the American Cancer Society in honor of the late Wayne Marinelli, who found Reiki and other complementary therapies very helpful in sustaining his spirit during his final days.

Next stop, the United Kingdom, where a blogger who goes by the name of Witch Doctor tells us about a plan for standardizing Reiki care in the National Health Service.

On to Michigan, where a Detroit News article includes Reiki in a list of suggestions for dealing with cholesterol and lowering your risk of a heart attack.

There are still a few spaces left in the Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) class with Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki scheduled for October 19, 20, and 21 in New York (sponsored by The Reiki Digest, but they're going fast -- one person registered even as we were about to publish this week's Digest. For more information, contact us at

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What does Reiki look like? Here are some answers

Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration and contemplation, The Reiki Digest hereby presents the entries in our first contest. "What does Reiki look like?" we asked, and here are the answers we got from our readers. Next week, we'll announce the winners, so if you've got an opinion as to which of these images looks most like Reiki to you, please vote by adding a comment to this post on our web site, or if you prefer to comment privately, send your responses to Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we'll go straight to the pictures, and follow up with this week's regular features. Many thanks to all those who entered the contest.

If you click on the images on our web site, you can see larger versions of them, but that might not work in your email.

Yes, some of the contestants submitted multiple images, which explains why there's a family resemblance between some of them.

Thankee, thankee verr verr much. Don't get all shook up, because this week's Celeb-Reiki is still very much a part of our culture even though he died 20 years ago today. That's right, it's Elvis Presley. And what does Elvis have to do with Reiki, or vice versa? Reiki Master Kristi Weldon has just come out with a new book, "Health and Happiness Elvis Style, "a personal guide to living life to the fullest, just like Elvis did."

Well, maybe we shouldn't try to do everything "just like Elvis did," but in any case, Weldon's work reminded me of a touring display of Elvis memorabilia I saw a decade ago in the Czech Republic. The show featured one of his Cadillacs, some other items I can't recall, and a cryptic note said to have been written by Elvis himself:

"Less than 1/2 of 1% of the pop. has any concept of true spitual (sic) wisdom of what we are discussing."

Uh-uh-huh. Wouldn't you love to have been in on that conversation?

On to this week's Reiki Roundup. We begin back at Mt. Kurama in Japan, where Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa paused in her visit to the legendary birthplace of Reiki at a cafe called Senshintei (Washing your mind).

From there, we follow the bouncing story. Last week, as you may recall, Reiki was included in the news that The New York Times found fit to print. This week, that same article about Reiki practitioner Jim Weathers and his pro golfer and baseball team clients is still bouncing around cyberspace, and has made it into The Reiki Digest's inbox at least 10 times, sent by people who apparently didn't realize we'd already taken note of it.

Next stop: Florida, where Naples Sun Times columnist (and Reiki Master) Silvia Casabianca tells us that the demand for wellness in the corporate world is growing.

Meanwhile, in Sarasota, Florida, Reiki practitioners are among those looking back at the "Harmonic Convergence" 20 years ago and ahead to 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar, which some say will bring about anything from the end of the world to the beginning of a, pardon the expression, new age. (Last year I was in a class with a teacher who told us the earth would "ascend" in 2012, but when I asked him what he meant by that, he got a bit irritated with me and said he didn't have to defend his beliefs to anyone. Maybe not, but it would be nice if you explained them....)

In Monroe, Wisconsin, we find a therapist who uses Reiki-Reflex and Reiki-ssage, both developed by our friends at The Reiki Council in suburban Chicago.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, we find another Reiki hybrid: Sufi-Reiki.

Have you come up with a Reiki hybrid of your own? If so, tell us about it.

Finally, all the early registration specials have expired for the Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) class in New York City with Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki, sponsored by The Reiki Digest, but there are still a few seats available.

The Reiki Digest and its parent company, Healing Movement LLC, are looking to sponsor some other natural health workshops in New York, so if you'd like to send us a proposal, the address is

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.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

And the meme goes on....

The Reiki Digest is becoming more popular every day, with readers in 56 countries and counting. Still, we don't expect this publication to ever become an Internet phenomenon, like Mahir ("I kiss you!") Cagri, the dancing hamster, or even those rumor emails that get forwarded and forwarded and forwarded without any fact-checking.

We are delighted, however, to report that The Reiki Digest has been tagged by The Thinking Blogger's meme.

What's a meme? According to, a meme is "a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes." An Internet meme is "A meme, a catchphrase or concept, that spreads from person to person on the Internet," according to the Wikipedia.

The Thinking Blogger's meme was started in February 2007 by blogger Ilker Yoldas, aka The Thinking Blogger, who was tired of meaningless memes. Yoldas began by tagging five "blogs that make me think," and the phenomenon spread from there. Last week, Reiki Master Doreen Gordon of the blog Key on Garden Door passed on the meme by tagging five blogs that make her think, including The Reiki Digest.

Thanks, Doreen!

The rules of the meme are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

So here are five of the many "blogs that make me think":

1. Jet Li's blog at Alive not Dead. Yes, THAT Jet Li -- the world-famous martial artist and movie star. I am now fan number 7886, though I know he already had millions before I ever saw him fly across the screen or even discovered his blog. Jet Li makes me think when I see his movies, of course, but his blog makes me think for different reasons. A decade ago, he began focusing more on the spiritual aspect of working with the energy known in Chinese as qi or chi, what we in Reiki call ki. Since then, among other things, he has survived a tsunami, set up the One Foundation, and become a blogger. He writes from the heart in Chinese (look closely at those characters and you'll see some Reiki symbols!), but there are English translations also. Ni hao, Jet Li, and tag. (I realize this form of tagging is as close as I'll ever get, though I would relish the chance to engage in a little push hands....)

2. Michelle Shinagawa's Reiki Photography blog. As regular readers know, Michelle is a Special Correspondent for The Reiki Digest who recently revisited her native Japan and climbed Mt. Kurama, the legendary birthplace of Reiki. She's been telling us about it in her posts there, and this week she has another entry, Middle Gate and Temple of Art Goddess.

3. Joan's Going for the Cure! -- Diagnosed with cancer and told her only hope was a bone marrow transplant, Joan Griffith found another doctor, underwent gallbladder surgery and is now starting chemotherapy. And she's blogging her way through it all -- succinctly and downright elegantly. We send her Reiki, along with kudos for her blog and her courage. We also understand if she's got more important things to do than tell us which five blogs make her think, but we'd still be interested.

4. Intentblog -- Dr. Deepak Chopra and others. Intentblog is a community blog whose authors' intent is "to reach critical mass with a message of personal, social, environmental and spiritual wellness." It's a very active blog -- we don't know what might happen if they do reach "critical mass," but we wish them well and hope they tell us about the five blogs that make them think.

5. Reiki authors Bronwen and Frans Stiene always make us think, whether through their books, their weekly podcast, their courses or their authors' blog. One of the things they make us think is how do they manage to do so much and do it so well? (Maybe Reiki has something to do with it?) By the way, this week's podcast of The Reiki Show is about Reiki and the Environment.

And there are still spaces available in the Shinpiden course with Frans Stiene in New York City this October, (sponsored by The Reiki Digest)but who knows for how long?

With all that food for thought, not to mention reading matter, we'll let those five blogs serve as this week's Reiki Roundup. This week's Celeb-Reiki's are, of course, the aforementioned bloggers.

One last item, not quite about Reiki but still perhaps of interest, particularly to readers in the New York City area. After more than 20 years of practicing the ancient Chinese energy cultivation art of qigong, I am founding my own style of qigong: My Chi: Easy Energy Exercises for Everybody.

At noon tomorrow, August 3, I will be teaching the first ever My Chi class at Chelsea Studios, 151 W. 26th St., 5th Floor. The classes will normally cost $10 a person, but the first class is an open house and you're all invited to join us at no charge. Hope to see some of you there! If you'd like to find out more or let me know whether you're planning to attend, check out the new My Chi Meetup Group. Or you can just click on the image below to see a full-size version of our flyer:

If you've got some extra time for lunch on Fridays, join us and we'll give you some extra energy for the rest of the day and beyond.

All the entries are in for our "What Does Reiki Look Like?" contest. We'll show you some of them next week and announce a winner soon.