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Friday, May 28, 2010

Exciting news coming June 1

It's a holiday weekend here in the United States, so we'll see you on Tuesday, June 1 with exciting news about big changes coming to The Reiki Digest.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Please welcome guest editor Heather Alexander

Dear readers,

This week's edition was put together entirely by guest editor Heather Alexander, a former BBC reporter who's now a Reiki practitioner and teacher at Brooklyn Reiki. She teaches weekly classes, offers sessions and also organizes the annual visit to New York of the International House of Reiki.

Heather Alexander

I've been a fan of Heather's journalistic work for years, so I knew she'd do a great job. And I'm glad she included a radio report in her special edition as well.

Heather has also agreed to stay with us during the next week or so for discussion on the issues she covers in this edition. Just add a comment to any of Heather's articles on our web site, or you can email her at

Many thanks, Heather!

Stay tuned for a different guest editor each month.

And stay tuned for an important announcement next week about our new format as we enter our fifth year of publication!

Janet Dagley Dagley, Editor and Publisher

Reiki and Parkinson's

Photo by Selma Shepard

By Heather Alexander
Guest Editor

71 year old Jim Atwell was on a train traveling from London to Chichester in the South of England when he first noticed his right hand start to shake. He turned to his wife with a throw away comment, ‘‘too much running with heavy suitcases for the old man,’’ but a fellow passenger wasn’t going to let him brush it aside so easily. He leaned over to urge Jim to get checked out as soon as possible. By the time the Atwell’s returned to the US, the tremors were worse and it wasn’t long before Jim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Plus - regular Parkinson’s disease with extra symptoms on top.

That was three years ago. Now Jim is acutely aware of the harsh reality of his position, “I have a degenerative, incurable, chronic disease, very likely a mortal disease and I’m probably only about three years away from the last phase of whatever this is, a phase of dementia with the loss of a great deal of bodily function.”

Jim is not someone afraid to look at the cards he has been dealt - he speaks with a directness that only the most present people seem to possess, ‘‘It’s not the happiest picture, but I live in a real sense of serenity because of my Quaker faith.” It was through that Quaker faith that Jim got introduced to healing energy. He went to a seminar hosted by John Calvi who describes himself as a Quaker healer. After teaching the principles of offering healing, he placed two chairs in the center of a circle of those gathered and asked anyone who felt called to come and sit and receive healing. Jim says he immediately took the opportunity, “Honestly, I don’t know how to describe the sensation, it wasn’t some sort of zap of energy, I wasn’t cured by any means but I had just this astounding sense of an influx of healing love coming in from every direction.” Mr. Atwell says he went in leaning heavily on a cane yet left the meeting without it. Six months later he says he still rarely uses it.

During those six months he has kept his energy work up with regular Reiki sessions from fellow Quaker and Reiki practitioner Stephen Leslie. Stephen and his fiancee Victoria Hux have done several treatments with Jim. Stephen says at first they were so dramatic it was very intimidating, “His whole body would start to shake, almost convulse. I was overwhelmed, I didn’t quite know what to make of it.” Stephen had checked in and made sure Jim was okay so in the end he simply carried on with the session and felt an intense connection, “I was doing a combination of yoga healing, Qi Gong and Reiki; we were so connected that when I would start to have the intention of changing what I was doing, his whole body would react. I felt like I was playing the cello, as I shifted, the vibration (in his body) shifted.” Victoria agrees the sessions were intense. She says she had talked to her teacher, Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki beforehand and that had put her mind at rest, “Frans had mentioned that people often twitch, I was really thankful we had talked about it, I wasn’t alarmed at all.”

For Jim, the sessions have been tremendously helpful. “The effect is a kind of ordering of myself from head to foot, as if somehow I’m being realigned.” He describes feeling jerks and tremors in his legs or sensing energy patterns moving up and down his body, even to the point where he can visualize them in colors. But none of this moves him from his classically down-to-earth outlook, “It sounds spooky and new wave but I’m not a spooky and new wave kind of person. I’m just a person who believes that reality extends far beyond the limits of our human capacities.”

Jim describes PD as a ‘snarly’ disease, saying the lack of dopamine means you forget things you’ve learned since childhood, like talking at the right volume or even walking. He says Reiki makes him feel like the snarls are coming out - that he’s being combed smooth from top to bottom. “After a session I notice a great calm; I just don’t want to move. Just sitting here now, inside my shoes my toes are doing a kind of line dance - an endless game of this little piggy comes to market but no-one ever goes home; the sessions seem to stop that, sometimes for days.” On his next trip to his neurologist the effects didn’t go unnoticed. “He said, ‘What have you been doing? Why are you walking better and talking better?’ I had nothing to attribute it to apart from maybe the build up of the drugs I was taking but I’m convinced that a lot of it is flowing from just bringing some order back into a disorderly neural system.”

“More research is needed”

In talking to the National Parkinson Foundation, it is clear that there is broad support for the use of complementary therapy by patients. President of the Foundation Joyce Oberdorf says the NPF has long supported a comprehensive model, “We believe in not just taking a pill but in interdisciplinary care and complementary therapy is part of that.” When pushed for examples, though, it is exercise, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and music therapy that come out first because studies have been done which have shown definite benefits. “We don’t have much experience with Reiki” she says.

As is often the case for energy work, much of the information comes in the form of anecdotal evidence from people like Jim Atwell. Leading Parkinson’s neurologist Dr. Melanie Brandabur has become the Foundation’s resident speaker on complementary therapy. She says what the industry really needs is more research but that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get projects funded. She has just had a pitch for a project looking into the effects of yoga on PD rejected. “There is huge competition: funding of research projects has really gone down and those that are still funded are funded by drug companies and they’re not going to fund a study into something like yoga. This has really slowed down the growth of complementary therapies.”

“Some people consider it Voodoo”

However, on talking further with Dr. Brandabur, it is obvious there are other problems that Reiki in particular faces. She says one of her nurses wanted to put together a study of Reiki and PD, so she did some research into it and was put off, “I did a Google search and saw that some people consider it Voodoo, so I chose yoga for the study instead.” So clearly there is a need for more overt and responsible coverage of Reiki to counteract any misrepresentation.

The level of seriousness at which Reiki is taken is also affected by the fact that it is so difficult to measure what is or isn’t happening and by the prevalence of the placebo effect in Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Brandabur says that with PD is there is a huge placebo effect, “If patients expect to get better, they will get better; they release dopamine, so therefore anything can cause an improvement, therefore anecdotal evidence is not very helpful.” Parkinson’s is also made worse by stress, so any form of relaxation technique tends to help too. But in the case of Jim Atwell, the level of intensity in the sessions, the violent shaking and vibrating of his body, would seem to point to something more than improvements due to good expectations or simple relaxation. Practitioner Stephen Leslie says it was more like some kind of “neural cleansing.”

The idea of a placebo effect does not mean that patients are not encouraged to try Reiki, though. Dr. Brandabur’s main concern is a worry that placebo opens the door for patients to be exploited. She says there have been cases of companies telling people they can make Parkinson’s “go away” and charging a fortune to do it. She says because of the placebo effect a person might notice a difference at first, but it may not have anything to do with the treatment. She says if practitioners are responsible and honest, then she tells her patients to go for it, “My view is if it’s not going to hurt you or empty your bank balance, give it a try, but I have a huge problem with people making big claims; it is highly unethical.” She welcomes well-grounded complementary therapists who want to work in conjunction with a patient’s whole health care team.

In all of this, the main point for Jim Atwell remains that “this stuff works.” He says no-one is trying to claim a cure, but what he has found is that you can give yourself some real relief from the symptoms. He also says it is very important to be able to do something for himself, “When you see that the body that has always just responded is suddenly doing things on it’s own, that is scary stuff when it starts to happen.” He has talked about taking Reiki classes so he can give himself treatments whenever he likes. For this man who is neither ‘spooky’ nor ‘new wave’ the logic of Reiki and other forms of energy healing is clear, “When you think of the medicine of 100 years ago it seems astoundingly primitive and one has to presume that in 100 years from now medics will also look back and think our medicine is astoundingly primitive. What those factors suggest is that capacity runs far ahead and beyond anything in our possession at any given time. So if there is a way of reaching beyond present scientific limitations to touch in some way dimensions of human experience that science has not yet caught up with then why not try it?”

Jim Atwell is a retired professor and lives in Fly Creek, New York, with his wife Anne.


This week a slightly different take on the Celeb-Reiki section - we’re going to focus on a Reiki practitioner doing something amazing. Stephen Leslie pictured above with his fiancee Victoria and mentioned in the Reiki and Parkinson's article works as the spiritual counsellor at his local hospice in Upstate New York. The people living there have usually been told they have only 6 months left to live and Stephen and the other staff nurse them through the process. He provides spiritual guidance, music therapy and Reiki when requested. He shared some of his experiences with us.

“Reiki is different for me when people are dying - the idea of curing is not there but sometimes healing might be giving comfort or helping them feel like they’re not alone. Reiki often gives a jolt of energy and people feel more active and can do things but it fades. It’s a very odd job, I have to say, because the idea of curing is not there. If people are actively dying I play my flute to help alleviate fears they might be feeling. It is not so much melodies, for example if their breathing is agitated, I match the flute to their breath. Then I start slowing my playing down - I often find their breathing starts to slow as well. Sometimes they fall asleep, sometimes they then pass away. For myself there is a feeling of sacredness to being there when someone is dying. It is a very intimate moment in your life. There’s birth and death and then maybe having a child or getting married, you are there at a very critical time and it can be very emotional for everybody. When someone is dying an important part of what I do is bringing a clam, meditative presence. For me the boundary between Reiki, Spiritual Care and Meditation becomes blurred. Sometimes instead of ‘doing Reiki’, I simply ‘be Reiki.’”

Stephen would like to connect with anyone else who does Reiki in a hospice. You can contact him at: gofigure2006 @

Comments Please!

If you want to share your experiences about using Reiki with Parkinson's Disease or would like to ask more questions about my research into the subject, including the reactions of the National Parkinson's Foundation please add your comments to this post ...we'd love to hear from you!

Audio Thought for the Day: Sand Mandalas

A job like Stephen Leslie's brings the impermanence of life right to the fore. The end is the same for all of us. So for this week’s special feature, have a listen to our thought for the day about Tibetan Sand Mandalas, which are used by Buddhist monks to demonstrate the concept of non-attachment. The monks spend days creating an elaborate picture of a mandala using colored sand, once it is finished it is swept up and put in a nearby river or lake. Joe Mangrum spends his days creating sand paintings all around New York, at dusk he gets out his dustpan and sweeps them up.

Use our media player to listen to this report, or click here to download it:

The Reiki Roundup

Vancouver British Columbia: The Nuu-Reiki project - A group of Reiki practitioners bring hands on healing to remote West Coast Nuu-chah-nulth communities.

Braintree, Massachusetts:
Animal Reiki makes local TV news once again!

OpEdNews: Volunteers Reiki items to send to troops in Afganistan.

Calimesa, California: Free Reiki seminar offered at local Holistic Wellness Center.

South London Press: Reiki practitioners walk to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Today News of India: Animal Reiki makes news in India.

The Sault Star: Columnist 'spring cleans' her energy with Reiki session.

Music we love to practice Reiki by

Stan Richardson's Shakuhachi Meditation Music is my personal favorite - just love to gongs and flute and in typical Zen tradition the silence is just as much a part of it as the actual sounds. Click on the Stan Richardson - Shakuhachi Meditation Music button to check it out.

The Weekly Waka

I have chosen a waka I love to work with. It is one that was translated and is copyrighted to Japanese Reiki teacher Inamoto Hyakuten. I find it really gives me a sense of opening up and letting go in the same way as the Sand Mandalas do.

As a great sky in clear light green
I wish my heart would be as vast

You can also listen to this Waka in Japanese here courtesy of the International House of Reiki.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brought to you by...

This week's edition of The Reiki Digest is brought to you by:, Inc

Centering Prayer-On Demand

Hay House, Inc.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Unscheduled downtime

See you next week!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Waka Challenge concludes


Our mothers give us
Life, care and independence,
Proving selfless love,
For which they ask for nothing
But a child’s pure gratitude.
By budo adana

Thanks to all who made our Waka Challenge such a success! We look forward to next year's Waka Fest, but meanwhile, we still need contributions for our regular Weekly Waka. Send your waka to editor @

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Waka Challenge Day 30

Stay tuned for at least one more waka tomorrow as our monthlong Waka Challenge concludes.

We walked in the woods
for the first time since winter
of trees lay everywhere while
everything around them bloomed

Friday, May 07, 2010

Waka Challenge Day 29

Just two more days to go: our Waka Challenge ends on Sunday. Today, a few more from one of our favorite waka writers:

Broken legged doe
lay sleeping in my driveway
I changed my habits
and long after she'd moved on
I remembered her sweet face

Just before sunrise
the deer gather on my lawn
for a silent feast
from inside, my barking dogs
awaken the neighborhood

On a rainy day
I light a lamp inside
for a chance to curl up
with a good book and a dog

the abandoned cats
down by the railroad station
napping in the sun
a few moments of pleasure
before dashing off to hide

To contribute your waka, just add a comment to this post, or email editor @

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Waka Challenge Day 28


Buds spring forth anew
Blossoming into flowers
All too soon are gone
Once more become potential
Sleeping, waiting their re-birth.

We've almost reached our goal of publishing at least one waka a day from April 9 to May 9. It's not too late to contribute yours: just add a comment to this post, or email editor @

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

How has Reiki helped you? Please share your story

Our friend Yadira at California Reiki has received a very important invitation: She's been asked to speak about Reiki to a group of doctors at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine, and we're sure she'll represent Reiki responsibly and eloquently.

To prepare for her presentation, Yadira is asking for help from clients, students, and Reiki Digest readers. We'll let her tell you more:

"I am thrilled to have been invited by UC Irvine School of Medicine to speak on behalf of the Reiki community at an upcoming colloquium lecture on Reiki in the field of integrative medicine.

"I see this as a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the Reiki community to make their voices heard among the doctors who may one day more readily embrace Reiki as a complementary therapy, and I am calling on all those who have experienced Reiki to share their stories with me so we can put your personal accounts in front of an audience capable of making such a huge difference to our future healthcare.

"Since my partner and I first founded California Reiki, it has been my goal to reach out to the medical community so that the benefits of Reiki as a complementary therapy could be better understood and accepted as a means of providing care to those suffering from illness.

"I would like to ask for your help in achieving this. This is an opportunity for all of us who have experienced the benefits of Reiki to share our experiences with the medical community so that they in turn may one day help countless others.

"To all those who have felt the healing touch of Reiki, either as a practitioner or the recipient of Reiki treatments, please send me an account of your experiences — all are welcome, particularly if Reiki has helped you with a serious medical condition that conventional medicine has struggled with, such as cancer, mesothelioma, fibromyalgia, AIDS, arthritis, depression, etc. My goal is to compile and share this information with the doctors so that they may benefit from the knowledge of our first-hand experiences.

"Please write to the Inquiries address shown on the
Contact Page of our website. (Information can be anonymous if you wish, simply mention this when you write.)

"The date for the lecture is yet to be finalized, but it is likely to be in May, so please send me this information as soon as possible."

You can also post your personal Reiki stories as comments to this post on The Reiki Digest web site, and we'll be happy to share them with Yadira.

With thousands reading this publication each week, we ought to be able to come up with a few Reiki success stories, or maybe even a few hundred. So let's start sharing!

Waka Challenge: Only 4 days left

We're just four days and four waka away from reaching our goal of publishing at least one waka a day from April 9 to May 9. Can we make it?

Today, two more by Contributing Editor Beth Lowell:

a robin's nest
in the rhodedendron
the cat who sleeps below
we all do the best we can

The deer in the woods
oblivious to thunder
stand under the rain
and drink from the cups of leaves
while lightning scorches the sky

This week's specials

This publication comes to you at no charge thanks to our advertisers: Please keep the energy flowing and support those who support us. (And in the process, you can take advantage of some great deals):

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FIJI Water Company

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250x250 Past Life Fears Quiz

 Self-Hypnosis Online Course w/ Steven Gurgevich  250x250

Practicing Mindsight An Online Course w/ Daniel J. Siegel 250x250

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Thanks for your patience...

...and for all the Reiki. We hope to publish the next edition of the Digest by Wednesday.

Waka Challenge Day 26

Only five days left in our monthlong Waka Challenge. Today, another contribution from budo adana:


My dog this morning
Demanded a walk in spring rain
So he could show me,
Strolling in the warm wet air,
Two souls bobbing in the mist

We still need more waka to reach our goal. Add them as comments to this post or email editor @

Monday, May 03, 2010

Waka Challenge Day 25

Our Waka Challenge continues as we wind down in our final week.

I sat at my desk
willing and waiting for words
that never showed up
the birds continued singing
and I remained lost in thought

A reverie
who knew what it portended?
idle thoughts
I wish that I could catch them
before they fly away

By Beth Lowell

More waka wanted! Help us achieve our goal of publishing at least one waka a day from April 9 through May 9. Add your waka as comments to this post, or email them to editor @

Schedule change

Dear readers,

With apologies, this week's edition of The Reiki Digest will be delayed while I give my attention to an ailing loved one going through an acute healing crisis. We had hoped to get the web and email editions ready by today, but under the circumstances, tomorrow seems more realistic.

Thank you for your patience and understanding (and distance Reiki),


P.S. We will be publishing a daily waka later today as usual.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Waka Challenge Day 24

Our Waka Challenge continues with two more contributions from Beth Lowell:

While I languished here
the plants went unwatered
and the dogs unwalked -
the fat sun in my teacup,
and a honey lemon sky

A coyote
in lower Manhattan -
how did he get here?
I heard he's from Jersey and
he took the Holland Tunnel

More waka wanted! Help us achieve our goal of publishing at least one waka a day from April 9 through May 9. Add your waka as comments to this post, or email them to editor @

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Waka Challenge Day 23

As our Waka Challenge enters its final week, we offer a few words from the editor:

Priorities shift
as new crises intervene
The wise sailor tacks,
eyes fixed on the horizon
and destinations beyond
By Janet Dagley Dagley

More waka wanted! Help us achieve our goal of publishing at least one waka a day from April 9 through May 9. Add your waka as comments to this post, or email them to editor @

Look for a roundup of the past week's waka in our next weekly edition of The Reiki Digest on Monday.