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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Carnival of Reiki Premiere Edition

(Cue the calliope...)

Laydeez annnd gennntlemennn! The Premiere Edition of the Carnival of Reiki is here! Step right up and take a gander at one of the most fascinating collections of Reiki-related posts anybody's seen anywhere, from your local blogosphere to the far corners of cyberspace. We've got videos! We've got an article from a scholarly journal! We've got a Reiki box, and we have a cow!

But first, we have some breaking news that can't wait until next week's Reiki Roundup.

We take you now to Toronto, Canada, where a beauty pageant has turned ugly. For those with broadband, here is a video report. The "Miss Toronto Tourism" contest has dropped judge Stephanie Conover because her hobbies include Reiki and Tarot reading.

The pageant sent a letter to Conover, who was crowned Miss Canada Plus 2007, telling her she was off the panel for the Feb. 2 competition because "Tarot card reading and Reiki are the occult and is not acceptable by God, Jews, Muslims or Christians." The letter went on to urge Conover to "repent."

Miss Toronto Tourism pageant organizers, you are misinformed. Reiki is not a religion. Reiki is not religious. It is practiced by people of all faiths, as well as agnostics and atheists, in every country on earth. Torontans are speaking up on the subject via letters to the editor. It's also possible to contact the pageant organizers directly.

Some Reiki practitioners also read Tarot cards, just as some Reiki practitioners enjoy needlepoint or ice cream. But that doesn't mean that needlepoint, ice cream, or Tarot cards have anything to do with Reiki. Catholics practice Reiki, Jews practice Reiki, Pastafarians practice Reiki. Some Reiki practitioners are Buddhist, and some, like Conover, are Wiccan (a nature-based religion). But that doesn't mean Reiki and Wicca have any more connection than Reiki and ice cream. (Hmmm, this is making me hungry...)

We now return you to the first-ever Carnival of Reiki, already in progress. The Carnival of Reiki is a blog carnival, one of the latest online trends. A blog carnival is simply a collection of blog posts on a given topic, although for the Carnival of Reiki we are also including other types of web sites. Here is a comprehensive list of all current blog carnivals.

We'll be publishing another Carnival of Reiki on February 28 (deadline February 25), so if you'd like to contribute a Reiki-related item, just click here to submit it.

As regular readers know, I believe strongly that in order to call yourself a Reiki practitioner, you have to maintain a regular personal practice. Some of you may also recall that one of my New Year's Resolutions for The Reiki Digest was to add video, and our first contribution makes that wish come true. From Bronwen and Frans Stiene, authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, The A-Z of Reiki, The Reiki Techniques Card Deck and Your Reiki Treatment, we have a couple of videos, the first demonstrating a simple but powerful method for giving Reiki to others, and the second illustrating a Reiki self-care session. Please note: the videos are accompanied by the beautiful sound of a shakuhachi flute, so if you're watching them in a less than private setting, be prepared to adjust the volume on your computer.

The Stienes have more videos available here. We look forward to seeing them at next month's Reiki Symposium at the New York Open Center, where Bronwen will be among the presenters.

Next up, an article from the peer-reviewed medical journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine submitted by the author, Pamela Miles: Reiki for Mind, Body, and Spirit Support of Cancer Patients (the article is in PDF form and will open in a new window).

Other articles and resources on Reiki and medicine are available on Pamela's web site. She is the author of Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide.

At Reiki Artist, Beth Hansen-Buth explores the hara system of traditional Japanese Reiki.

Lexi Sundell of the blog Energies of Creation has sent in two posts: in the first one, titled "Encounter with Cow Energy," she describes her first experience using Reiki on a bovine recipient, and in the second, she tells us about Reiki for the road.

Although the "Reiki box" isn't part of traditional Japanese Reiki, it is used in some Western Reiki traditions. Ariel (whose last name doesn't show up on her blog) contributed this post about her own experiment with a Reiki box.

The next item isn't about Reiki, but it could be helpful for those who feel uncomfortable practicing Reiki professionally. Intuitive business coach Jenn Givler asks, "Is it wrong to be abundant AND spiritual?"

Another post that isn't exactly about Reiki, except that it addresses something that's mentioned in the precepts: worry, or in this case, fear. Joshua Wagner of the blog Total Possibility tells us how he dealt with his own fears while discovering his "Inner Cheetah" on a ropes course.

Wandering Hillbilly buddy don, who loves to receive Reiki and has found it helpful in dealing with his chronic migraines, has contributed this post describing one of his more memorable Reiki sessions. buddy don writes in hillbilly dialect with phonetic spellings, so if you have trouble understanding, just read it out loud.

There are a few submissions that didn't make it into this edition. One was merely a pitch for a line of products sold through network marketing, another was a post unrelated to Reiki that the author has apparently submitted to every blog carnival in cyberspace. Finally, there was one submission from a blogger who concludes her post with a request for a donation. We're all for abundance, but we won't be linking to any posts that ask for money. That's not what the Carnival of Reiki is about.

Next week, another regular edition of The Reiki Digest, complete with our Reiki Roundup and Celeb-Reiki features. Many thanks to all our Carnival contributors!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reiki as Celeb-Reiki

Our quest to get Oprah to feature Reiki on her show remains a quest, but meanwhile we're happy to report that Reiki has at least made its way onto daytime television -- not to mention nighttime television and at least one movie.

That's the good news. The bad news is that it wasn't presented quite accurately. But as they say, as long as they spell the name right, publicity is good.

This week our Celeb-Reiki is Reiki itself -- that's R-e-i-k-i, with a capital R. And our Reiki Roundup features not newspaper or magazine articles that mention Reiki, but recent Reiki appearances on TV and in the movies.

First stop: The soap opera All My Children. An alert reader happened to transcribe the scene for us:

Candle lit room. Couple (male and female).
The man has a single long stemmed yellow rose that he gives to the female as the male says, "Tonight is all about relaxing. .... Tonight is about being gentle and soft."
She says, 'OK'
He says.... "so just lie down on your front and let me do what I do best."
Camera change... 2-shot of couple. She is lying on her stomach and he is to her side with his hands about one - 2 inches above her shoulder blades.
She says, "What are you doing?"
He says, "It's called Reiki."
She smiles and asks, "Does it come with sushi?"
Camera change. medium CU of man smiling.
He smiles gently and says, "No. it's a Japanese term for Universal Energy that promotes healing on every level."
Music continues.... cut to her smiling and relaxing. (Use your imiganation. It's a soap opera after all. Love in the afternoon.)

several scenes later..... she is talking to her business partner (a female) and she tells her about the evening before...
She says, "We had the most amazing night. He taught me this new massage technique called Reiki. We were on the floor..... "

It's understandable that a soap opera would weave Reiki into a steamy scene, but unfortunate that they made the mistake of calling it a "new massage technique" -- Reiki is not massage.

From the daytime drama land of "Pine Valley", we move on to a dystopian future: Earth, a generation from now, except there is no new generation. We mentioned the film Children of Men here when it first came out in 2006, because one of the characters was said to be a Reiki practitioner -- a midwife who helps a young woman who miraculously is pregnant with the planet's first child in nearly 20 years. I hadn't seen it, though, until the other day when it showed up on cable. Sure enough, the character Miriam, played by Pam Ferris, does put her hands in positions that seem a lot like Reiki, but the recipient is deceased at that point. And she does teach her client a few relaxation techniques, but chanting "om mani padme om" is not Reiki.

The best representation of Reiki we've seen in the mainstream on-screen media lately, however, is not in a drama but a reality series: Project Runway, where designer and Reiki practitioner Elisa Jimenez represented one of the most important aspects of Reiki, the precepts, in her everyday behavior. While the show exaggerates the drama by including snippet after snippet of the contestants talking about each other, Elisa did not indulge in snarky comments about her competitors -- she just did her best and was grateful for the experience, even when she got kicked off the show. Now THAT'S Reiki.

I'm not that interested in fashion, but I do find Project Runway fun because of the creative challenges the designers face. Speaking of creativity, that's the theme of this year's Reiki Symposium at the New York Open Center on February 18: Reiki and the Creative Spirit. The symposium is open to Reiki students and practitioners of all lineages, and there are participants coming in from all over -- even as far away as Australia. Hope to see some of you there!

And speaking of big events, The Carnival of Reiki debuts next week. We've already got some great entries, but there's still room for more. We have such a good head start that we can extend the deadline for submissions until Monday, January 28. So if you've got a blog or web site with a Reiki-related post you'd like us to include, click here to submit it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Reality check

Stomach pain. Diarrhea. Nausea. Jaundice. Chest pain. Difficulty breathing. Hepatitis. Pancreatitis. Depression.

No, those are NOT side effects of Reiki or any other alternative or complementary healing modality. They are some of the possible side effects of a prescription drug worth $5 billion in sales last year. Not only that, but a study released this week showed it "failed to benefit patients" over a 2-year period. And it gets worse. The same study, released by the drug's manufacturers only after pressure from The New York Times and the U.S. Congress, found that when used in combination with another prescription drug for the same purpose, it actually worsened the very condition for which it has so popularly been prescribed. (The Times reports that 60 percent of the estimated five million people now taking the drug worldwide are taking that combination.)

But wait -- there's more: the study leaves the medical world reconsidering the question of whether the condition for which this drug is prescribed is even a problem, or whether it is even associated with the life-threatening condition doctors thought it was.

Let me run that by you once more, just to be clear:

1 million prescriptions a week
5 million patients worldwide
$5 billion (with a B) in sales in 2007
"Failed to benefit patients"
Worsened the problem for which it was prescribed in some patients
That problem might not even be a problem, or associated with the problem doctors thought
Side effects may include: Stomach pain. Diarrhea. Nausea. Jaundice. Chest pain. Difficulty breathing. Hepatitis. Pancreatitis. Depression.
As one doctor told The Times, "People may have been on this drug without the ability to know that there was additional data that may have thrown into question its effectiveness. "That’s extremely unfortunate, and that’s an understatement." In addition to its excellent reporting on the subject, The New York Times also ran an editorial lambasting the drug's manufacturers for "cynically sitting on the results for more than a year."

What does any of that have to do with Reiki? Hang on -- we'll get to that.

"Ask your doctor," the pharmaceutical ads implore us, and lots of people actually do just that. A young man I know who works for a medical answering service takes calls not only from patients trying to reach their doctors to ask for a prescription drug they saw advertised, but even pharmacists trying to contact the physicians of patients who simply went straight to their local drug store to ask for it there.

Yet if you "ask your doctor" about Reiki, she or he is likely to caution that there isn't enough research on it yet, or warn that it might be useless at best, dangerous at worst (much like that headline-making drug, it turns out). Some of those medical professionals who caution against Reiki don't even know that it simply involves the gentle placement of hands on or near the recipient and has never been found to harm anyone. I've encountered doctors who dismissed all natural healing methods as "voodoo," or who won't even listen when their patients ask -- or more likely, tell -- them about the complementary modalities they've tried or are considering.

The Zetia/Vytorin news is a reality check for all of us. Reiki isn't a $5-billion-a-year product available only with a doctor's prescription. It has no shareholders, no dividends, no marketing department, no trade association, no TV commercials, no coupons for a free one-week supply. I've never heard of a Reiki practitioner treating a doctor to an expensive dinner courtesy of Reiki; I've heard of plenty of doctors being wined and dined by pharmaceutical reps.

Scientists, medical and otherwise, like to insist that their work is based on solid, carefully controlled research. There's science, they tell us, and then there's faith. For example, the U.S. government's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine advises that "Since little is known scientifically about Reiki, accepting its teachings about its healing properties and about ki is a matter of faith." Suddenly, doctors are having to ask themselves whether the connection between cholesterol and heart disease, just as one example, might be more a matter of faith as well -- their own faith in a system that might not be as purely scientific as they believe.

From the world of hard science and big business, we move on to this week's Celeb-Reiki feature, which, unfortunately, is a clear example of why some people have trouble taking Reiki seriously. The other day I noticed that a visitor found The Reiki Digest web site via a search on this question:

"Did Princess Di practice Reiki?"

Unfortunately the search did not lead to a conclusive answer to that question. However, it did reveal that there are quite a few Reiki practitioners out there who claim they also channel the spirit of Princess Diana. With apologies, I cannot bring myself to link to any of them -- at least not until I can include a Diana-channeling physician as well. In any case, the late Princess of Wales is this week's Celeb-Reiki.

Just a brief roundup this week, but it's a globetrotting one, starting in the Middle East where Reiki plays a role in a Palestinian/Israeli youth retreat.

We stay in the Middle East region for our next stop, Bahrain, where Frank Arjava Petter, described as a "Reiki 'guru'" is doing some teaching.

From there we move on to the popular vacation destination Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where a fairly accurate article about Reiki includes this whopping blooper:

"Sources agree that in the mid-19th century, a Japanese physician and monk named Dr. Mikao Usui developed this healing approach...." Which sources agree on that? Usui, who was not a doctor, was born in 1865, and did not develop Reiki until the 20th century.

Reiki also turns up in this month's FitYoga magazine in an article that emphasizes the chakra system and says nothing about Reiki's original hara system. The chakra system does seem to fit a yoga magazine, since its roots are in yoga and ayurveda.

Submissions have been trickling in for the Carnival of Reiki, which debuts January 31. If you have a blog or a web site with a Reiki-related post, click here to submit it to the Carnival of Reiki. The deadline is January 24.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008 brings recognition, regulation to UK Reiki

Breaking news this week from Britain, where holistic health advocate Prince Charles has moved his cause a step forward with the establishment of a new regulatory body to oversee voluntary registration for Reiki practitioners and other complementary health therapists.

Beginning in April, the new Natural Healthcare Council will be launched, and practitioners of Reiki as well as Alexander technique, Bowen technique, cranial therapy, homeopathy, massage therapy, naturopathy, nutritional therapy, shiatsu, yoga therapy, aromatherapy and reflexology will have the option of registering.

We begin our coverage at the horse's mouth: the January 7 press release from the Prince's Foundation for Integral Health announcing the new council. That announcement stipulates that "there are no plans for these complementary therapies to be statutorily regulated," although officials are looking into such regulation for acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbal medicine, all of which are more invasive than Reiki.

From the official announcement, we move on to newspaper coverage of the new council:

The Times Online headline is: "New laws to govern alternative medicine"; "Complementary Treatments Regulated," the UK Press Association tells us. The Daily Mail puts a little twist on its headline: "New laws to regulate alternative medicine in bid to weed out dodgy practitioners." And a columnist for The Guardian twists it another way: "Quackery & superstition available soon on the NHS."

If by "quackery and superstition" the columnist means Reiki, then it's time to fact-check the fact-checkers, because Reiki is already available through the UK's National Health Service, as evidenced by the work of Reiki Master Angie Buxton-King, author of the 2004 book The NHS Healer.

As you may recall from last week's edition, Reiki practitioners in Australia also are dealing with new regulations this year.

There are enough headlines about the new regulations to fill an entire Reiki Roundup, but we must keep moving. In the U.S., Reiki makes the pages of the fairly conservative magazine U.S. News & World Report, part of a larger feature on alternative therapies.

In Canada's Financial Post, we learn about a pricey new trend for men: spa getaways that include Reiki and cost more than $10,000, not including airfare. (Wonder how much of that goes to the practitioner?)

Reiki for animals is also trendy, so a publication for horse owners features an article on Reiki and flower essences for our equine friends.

In the field of dentistry, the editor of Oral Health Journal is calling for the integration of more alternative therapies, including Reiki, as a way of treating the whole person.

In a Dallas, Texas, hotel spa, we find a Reiki practitioner who keeps her hands off her clients.

We have not one, not two, but three Celeb-Reikies this week, one from the UK, one from the US, and one from Ireland.

"Opera singer cured after losing voice," The Lancashire Evening Post reports. Opera singer Dave Salter got his voice back after just three Reiki treatments, the story says.

In the US, designer, Reiki practitioner, and reality TV star Elisa Jimenez was able to see the bright side when she was kicked off the Bravo TV program Project Runway.

And in Ireland, we meet artist, cancer survivor and Reiki practitioner Elsie Nolan, for whom painting and healing go hand in hand.

Coming soon: The first edition of the Carnival of Reiki will begin right here in The Reiki Digest on January 31. What's that? It's a blog carnival, which is a collection of blog posts, in this case on the topic of Reiki. If you have a blog or other web site, and a post about Reiki there that you would like to share with our readers, click here to contribute it to the carnival.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Our New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! We hope 2008 is a great year for you and if you made any resolutions, we hope you'll be able to stick with them. We've made a list of resolutions for what we'd like to accomplish with The Reiki Digest in the coming year, and we're stating our intention and offering you a preview of coming attractions by publishing them here.

1. To continue our personal Reiki practice, of course -- first things first.

2. To publish at least four printable special reports in handy PDF form. Our first topic will be Reiki in a medical environment.

3. To establish a global online Reiki practitioner directory.

4. To provide more special offers, discounts and privileges for our subscribers.

5. To hear from YOU -- we resolve to do more to encourage comments and other reader involvement.

6. To establish a Carnival of Reiki. We enjoyed hosting the Carnival of Healing last month, and it inspired us to establish a Carnival of Reiki. Our first Carnival will be published January 31, 2008, and the deadline for submissions is January 24, 2008. If you've got a Reiki-related blog post, please contribute it by clicking here. We'll be hosting the first edition of the Carnival of Reiki right here, but we'd like to share the fun, so let us know if you're interested in hosting a Carnival of Reiki edition yourself by writing to

7. To bring in more correspondents and features by guest writers. If you'd like to contribute an article or become a correspondent, contact us at

8. To add an occasional audio or video feature. Stay tuned.

9. To break 1,000 -- we still haven't topped 1,000 subscribers, but we hope to punch through that ceiling in 2008. Meanwhile, we've reached 80 of the world's 193 nations, and we hope to bring that number up to at least 100 by year's end.

10. To break even? That would be fantastic, though this year most likely as in the stuff of fantasy. So far The Reiki Digest is nowhere near that point, though we dream of being profitable someday -- we have to in order to survive for the long haul. Maybe next year...

How about you? If you made any resolutions this year and you'd like to state them publicly, post them as a comment to this post on our web site (that will help us get a good start on Resolution #5 above). Whether or not your resolutions have anything specifically to do with Reiki, you can, of course, reinforce them with Reiki.

We also resolve to keep bringing you the regular features you've come to expect: the Reiki Roundup and Celeb-Reiki reports.

This week our Reiki Roundup begins in Australia, where Reiki is among the natural health practices that will be overseen by the national Health Care Complaints Commission under a new draft code of conduct. Reiki practitioners, psychotherapists, massage therapists, naturopaths, homeopaths and herbalists could be disciplined for doing things that are already considered unethical by most of us, such as diagnosing, claiming to cure cancer or other diseases, and dissuading clients from going to medical practitioners.

Next stop: Toronto, Canada, where Reiki plays a role in a story headlined, "Couple survived jet crash, but marriage died."

On to Sandusky, Ohio, USA, where Reiki is among the comforts offered to hospice patients.

In nearby Cleveland, a study of Reiki for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers has received a $45,750 grant from the Mt. Sinai Foundation.

And elsewhere in Ohio, the Cincinnati Enquirer features an article headlined "Suppress Stress" about a wellness center where Reiki is among the modalities offered.

In suburban Philadelphia, Reiki practitioner Irene Gares is among the 2007 Making a Difference honorees.

In Holley, New York, Reiki gets a brief mention in a report on a New Year's Psychic Faire.

And in Kansas City, Missouri, a Reiki practitioner gets a big writeup in the Kansas City Star, an article that divides Reiki and attunement into two separate practices and gives Reiki credit for having been developed a few decades before it was.

We find more on Reiki and other modalities for hospice patients in the United Kingdom in a Times Online article headlined, "Helpers find generosity is repaid with interest."

And we wind up this week's roundup in the town of Crosby in the U.K., where this week's Celeb-Reiki, performer Jonny Sheldon, is using Reiki as he recovers from being hit by a car.

Wherever you are, whatever your plans for the coming year, we wish you all the best for 2008.