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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The weekly waka

at Watnong Brook
in the water -
a cold December day

by Beth Lowell

The Reiki Digest wants your waka! Submit yours by sending it via email to waka @ and be sure to include the word "waka" in the subject line! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Animal Reiki Friday: The polls are still open!

Since we instituted our Animal Reiki Friday feature earlier this year, we asked readers to respond to three polls. We published the results for each after one month, but the polls are still open. If you didn't get a chance to vote and want to respond to 

November's poll, which asks: Which came first, the animal or the Reiki? 

October's poll on receiving special training for treating animals, or

September's poll about where Animal Reiki practitioners' clients come from

just click the links and make your selection. We'll be posting the results after the new year.

The Reiki Digest wants your animal Reiki stories!  For a copy of our writers guidelines, click here. Send your submissions to, and be sure to include the words "animal Reiki" in the subject line.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Music we love to practice Reiki by: A review of Reiki Gold by Llewellyn

By Beth Lowell, Managing Editor

Reiki Gold by prolific recording artist Llewellyn is an uplifting collection clearly influenced by nature that includes twelve tracks perfect for listening to while practicing Reiki or meditating. (In fact, I’m listening to it yet again while writing this review!)

Llewellyn, a Reiki practitioner himself, whose mainstream work with singing partner, Juliana, has been compared to that of Enya, worked with Reiki Masters to compose this album, which is both relaxing and healing for all who experience it. There is a consistency among tracks, yet subtle differences give each its own distinctive healing quality.

The first track, White Light, immediately puts the listener at ease, and is followed by four tracks whose titles combine colors associated with the chakra system and elements of Reiki practice, for instance, Green Gassho and Violet Contemplation. There’s a selection for each of the precepts as well, and the album concludes with Healing Waterfall and a reprise of White Light to signal the end of the peaceful journey.

This was my first exposure to Llewellyn’s work but after listening, it’s no wonder that his original Reiki album achieved Silver status in the UK and has remained a best selling healing album ever since. Listening time is one hour.

You can order Reiki Gold directly from The Reiki Digest here:

Or click here to purchase individual tracks or the whole album on iTunes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The weekly waka

2 A.M.
The dog barks, "ahem."
She's cold.
I deliver her blanket
and the other one steals my place.

by Beth Lowell

The Reiki Digest wants your waka! To submit yours, include it in an email addressed to

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reiki in healthcare

By Deborah Flanagan, Contributing Editor

Editor's note: This article appeared originally in the November 15, 2010 International House of Reiki newsletter and appears on the International House of Reiki website in the Articles section.

I’ve been working at the Initiative for Women with Disabilities (IWD) at NYU Medical’s Hospital for Joint Diseases for almost a year now, offering patients Reiki and reflexology sessions. I researched many hospitals in New York City to find out more about the integrative therapies being offered, and was thrilled to discover IWD, as it is truly a remarkable and unique place.

About IWD

The Initiative for Women with Disabilities Elly and Steve Hammerman Health & Wellness Center is a multi-disciplinary center committed to providing respectful medical, gynecological, and wellness services for women and adolescent girls with physical disabilities. Empowering women with disabilities to pursue a healthy lifestyle is central to all IWD components including mind-body physical therapy, nutrition consultation, exercise/fitness classes, and social work services. Wellness services include acupuncture, massage, Reiki, and reflexology.

"All too often we're touched and we’re considered medical objects and we lose a sense of ourselves," says IWD Director Judith Goldberg. "Our goal is to bring us back into our bodies through all the complementary and other modalities we have here."

Many of the patients at IWD are dealing with issues such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and rheumatoid arthritis, and mobility varies greatly from patient to patient. Goldberg herself was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a brittle bones disorder. She can relate to her patients' experience, and the patients coming to the center can relate to her: "I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and also encountered a lot of different barriers that the women have here. So I serve as a role model. I'm out in the community. I work. I'm management in a major medical center, and by my example I show them that I can go out and do what you need to do.”

Working in a medical setting

Working in a medical setting, is in many ways, very different from the way I see clients at my private practice. At IWD I see patients for 30-minute sessions once a month (normally I see private clients for hour sessions). IWD makes the most of their limited office and treatment room space (they even convert offices temporarily into treatment room space several times a week!) but even so, there's a waiting list for Reiki sessions. As a result, I don't see returning patients more than a few times a year. This lack of frequency makes it harder to assess the effectiveness of the Reiki sessions, though I'm happy they are able to make Reiki available as much as they do. The other integrative therapies and programs at IWD face the same space and scheduling restrictions.

Beyond these major differences, the need to be flexible is key (and something I enjoy as it helps me in my personal Reiki practice). For example, some patients aren’t able to transfer easily to the massage table and so I do their sessions in their wheelchairs. Sometimes it’s too painful for a patient to lie on her front or back and she’s only able to lie on one side on the table. I do the session placing my hands in positions differently and a bit more creatively than I normally do, and use lots of pillows to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
This makes it more of a collaborative effort and is a good reminder that a Reiki session should always be collaborative. It’s less about a giver (the practitioner) and a receiver (the client) and more about sharing Reiki the way you dance with a partner (an analogy Frans Stiene uses in class, and one that really resonates with me).

Judgement and compassion

At IWD I don't have access to patients' charts and therefore I'm not aware of various diagnoses, unless the patient mentions something in passing at the beginning of her session. This is good in many ways, again, it keeps me flexible and doesn't allow me to make a judgment determining what I think the patient needs (e.g. "spot treating" a painful knee or lower back instead of letting the Reiki energy guide me). This also ties in with the precept, "Be compassionate to yourself and others," because I can't be compassionate if I'm judging.

It also helps me to cultivate "beginner’s mind," a term used in Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts, which refers to having an attitude of openness and lack of preconceptions. Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki put it this way, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." Similarly, with Reiki I want to tap into the many possibilities for healing.

Instead of focusing on the person's illness, pain, and/or diagnosis, I focus on staying present and being that "great bright light." I focus on the "great bright light" that lies within the patient as well, seeing her whole and healthy, and sharing with her whatever she needs during the Reiki session.

Talking with patients about Reiki

Many of the women at IWD participate in more than one program at the Center. Approximately 50% of the women I see are familiar with Reiki and have experienced it before or are practitioners themselves. The remaining 50% have tried other healing modalities so are usually very open to trying a Reiki session. It's wonderful to work with women who are not only open to trying something new, but also are looking to play a key role in their treatment, and find Reiki or other integrative modalities useful in supporting themselves in this way.

The previous Reiki practitioner at IWD gave readings after each session, so when I first started working at IWD I needed to explain to patients that I don't work this way. In response to patients' questions, "what did you pick up or notice?" I would explain that sometimes my intuition isn't always correct, and in fact, it can limit and sidetrack them from connecting with their true self and the Reiki energy. I would ask them what they noticed and tell them that each of us usually has the answers we seek within us, and that connecting to this is far more powerful than anything I could say.

A sense of community

Another thing that sets IWD apart is the sense of community among the staff and patients. Everyone knows each other and is quick to offer support and encouragement and a welcome smile whenever anyone enters the Center. For example, a patient was coming to see me for a Reiki appointment and she takes her electric wheelchair on the subway. Many of the subway stops don't have elevators and those that do, unfortunately don't always work. She encountered a broken elevator and had to go back uptown to the next stop that had a working elevator, and then traveled 20 blocks back downtown in her chair (in the rain, by the way) to get to the IWD offices. By the time she arrived (still in good spirits), she had missed her appointment and I was scheduled to see another patient. The second patient gave up her appointment and let the first patient (who had traveled for over two and a half hours by this point) take her spot. That day both women had a lot to teach me regarding the Reiki precepts, "Do not anger," "Do not worry," and "Be compassionate," and I deeply value the opportunity to learn from them, as well as to be a part of IWD.

Deborah Flanagan is a Reiki teacher/practitioner and reflexologist who has a private practice in New York City and works with patients at the Initiative for Women with Disabilities, part of NYU Langone Medical Center, as well as Spa Services for in-patients at the Hospital for Joint Diseases.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Please welcome guest editor Jeffrey Hotchkiss!

Dear readers,

December's issue of The Reiki Digest was put together by Jeffrey Hotchkiss.

Jeffrey Hotchkiss
Jeffrey Hotchkiss is a Reiki Master and founder of EldersBloom, a nonprofit project introducing Reiki to elder communities. He lives in Yarmouth, Maine, teaching and practicing Reiki. He also works as an emergency medical technician and community bus driver, as part of his apprenticeship in understanding the daily lives of elders. A new grandfather, he is well on the way to his own joyful elderhood.

Thanks, Jeffrey!

Reiki and elders

Photo by Audrey Hotchkiss

By Jeffrey Hotchkiss

The world is aging rapidly. In my home state of Maine, the population of age 65 and over is expected to double in the next two decades. According to the World Health Organization, the median age of the world's population is projected to increase by 10 years between 2000 and 2050.

At the same time we are aging, we are learning Reiki in unprecedented numbers. The 2007 National Health Survey [for the U.S.] showed that "...more than 1.2 million adults had used an energy healing therapy, such as Reiki, in the previous year."We are aging, and learning Reiki. We are learning to take care of ourselves, and to help others, with our healing hands. We will not stop doing Reiki when we turn 65.

The world is full of problems, conflicts and wounds old and new - wars, natural disasters, trauma, starvation, and on it goes. It all seems overwhelming; we are like children in the face of danger. The wisdom of the elders seems lost to us.

What if Reiki could help us reconnect, elders and their children, to work together to heal the world? We are forming that future, now, as we do the work of healing with our hands. Each day, as we age another day, add another fine layer of wisdom, our practice deepens and our presence here on Earth brightens. Our work as elder healers beautifies each wrinkle, each gray hair.

Working in elder communities

To introduce Reiki to elders, you have to go where they are - community groups, independent and assisted living communities, and long term care facilities are a few of the venues you might visit. Your approach to doing Reiki has to adapt. For example: massage tables are unlikely to be useful, given space constraints and risk of falls for frail elders; permission and informed consent may not be as straightforward as with younger clients; and you must gain the trust of staff responsible for elder care.

My first elder client was referred by staff at a local nursing home, where I volunteered and had done Reiki presentations. He rarely spoke -- he was bedridden with end-stage Alzheimer's in a local nursing home. Treatment had be given in his bed or reclining chair. Permission was obtained in writing from his daughter. Further, I sought nonverbal consent from him, reaffirmed at every visit. Sometimes, his body language said, "not today".

Reiki helped him relax his tightly clenched muscles, improving his ability to swallow food. I found an intuitive connection with him that allowed unspoken storytelling between us. To help him self-treat between sessions, I attuned him and reminded him at every visit that he could do Reiki for himself. In the last year and a half of his life, he received regular treatments, and a massage therapist and a reflexologist, both Reiki-trained, joined me to assure he had this work for at least a half hour a day, six days a week.

This gives you an idea of what's possible. Imagine a world where all elders could have this kind of support.

When I introduce Reiki to a new group of elders, I sometimes find Reiki practitioners among them. Carl Barker, an elder friend, learned Reiki years ago along with his then-wife Nancy, who had Parkinson's disease. Carl writes " of the major symptoms of Parkinson's is uncontrollable tremors of various parts of the body. Many times,at bedtime, Nancy would experience extreme tremors of her legs which would make it difficult to get to sleep or to stay asleep. We had great success in controlling these tremors by my administering Reiki to her for a few minutes at bedtime." Carl self-treats as well: "I have just had a new surgical procedure on my heart to control atrial fibrillation.... Many times during this ordeal I have self administered Reiki and found it very helpful."

Reiki for caregivers

Judy McCracken, CEO of Reiki Rays of Hope for Caregivers in Ohio, urges us to "get out there, get into hospice, get into nursing homes where people are." Reiki Rays has been in existence for three and half years, and has already taught their 1,000th caregiver, free of charge, supported by significant grants and collaboration. They started with caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, funded by the Mt. Sinai Healthcare Foundation, and collaborated with the Alzheimer's Association of Ohio and Case Western Reserve School of Nursing. A pilot study showed reduced stress and improved quality of life for caregivers, along with improvement in memory-related behaviors among the patients.

Judy's enthusiasm and dedication are infectious. She told me that "...of all I've done in life, the most fulfilling thing has been the Reiki work, sharing it and spreading it...opens so many doors...can't teach it fast enough!"

If you want to do Reiki with elders, visit and study their website. A good start would be the Reiki News article about them.

Reiki research for elders

The gold standard for clinical research, convincing to medical audiences and major funding sources, is the controlled double-blind study. These are expensive, and challenging to design. There are just a few of these studies on record, and what I can find of the study reports show mixed results.

Pilot studies are less rigorous, with smaller groups of study subjects, and are used to indicate promising directions for larger studies. Results from pilot studies are therefore not considered conclusive - a good thing to remember if you are planning to present Reiki to audiences responsible for elder clinical care.

Here are three pilot studies that concern the effect of Reiki on elder populations. I have corresponded or met with authors of these studies, and trust in their sincerity and qualifications.

1. Potential benefits of Reiki treatment for Alzheimer's patients.

2. Potential relief of pain, anxiety and depression in older adults.

3. Preliminary and measurable clinical benefits of Reiki in post-heart attack patients.

Be careful and balanced about how you present Reiki to elder care facilities. Reiki research is in early stages yet, therefore making extravagant claims of benefits, or citing pilot studies as if they are conclusive, will be unhelpful to your credibility with clinical audiences. Simply explain Reiki's non-invasiveness, ease of practice in a variety of settings, and the potential for more relaxation and less stress among the elders in that community. Giving sample treatments is also a great convincer.

Reiki for healing the world

Rahel Warshaw-Dadon teaches Reiki to Israelis and Palestinians together, overcoming tremendous obstacles to hold her classes. The nonprofit project is Reiki for Peace. I met Rahel on two occasions, on her visits to the U.S. to teach Reiki and publicize her project. I am eternally grateful to her for awakening me to the importance of self-treatment. Reiki for Peace is a great example of how projects for good can be formed around Reiki. Elders have the life skills, connections and vision to create these projects.

A bright future

This brief view of Reiki and elders barely touches on the work already being done. People are digging into the details, organizing projects and nonprofits, doing research, and learning Reiki for the sake of themselves and others.

Imagine - millions of elder Reiki hands awaken, as the world ages and faces new challenges. Watch, as those hands heal, stitch together torn social fabric, and reweave the web of life.

Can you see what might blossom?

If you practice Reiki, and if you become older every day, then you are part of this movement. Let it spark the joy in your heart.

Jeffrey Hotchkiss is an elder, Reiki Master, and founder of EldersBloom, a nonprofit bringing Reiki to elders.



The Reiki Roundup

Elder News

Beijing, China: A beautiful example of an elder healing the world, with Qiqong – sets a high example for us Reiki elders.

Bayit Bakra Kfar-Sava, Israel
: A peaceful photo of a Reiki circle at an elder community in Israel.

Baltimore, MD, USA: An article about Reiki for seniors.

Montclair, NJ, USA:
A home care service offers Reiki as part of their Integrative Medicine service.

Santa Cruz, CA, USA: Reiki Master Joyce Leonard helps a kitten in his dying time, and takes the call to work in hospice.

Other news

Beverly Hills, CA, USA: David and Victoria Beckham use yoga and Reiki to deal with stress.

Seattle, WA, USA: Eileen Dey treats veterans with Reiki.

Hartford, UK: Reiki Masters help people stressed by hard financial times.


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For this issue, we honor two who have passed, on either side of the Atlantic.


Betty Meyler was famous as the president of the UFO Society of Ireland. If you read down through the article, you'll see her generosity of heart, including her practice of Reiki. "Her enthusiasm for helping others was her most endearing quality." You can almost see the twinkle in her eye.


My good and dear friend, Madelyn Mortimer, died last June after 86 years on this earth. She was a celebrity in every way, famous in the nursing home where I visited her, constantly on the phone, playing Bingo, cheering on visiting musicians, and eating well with her one good hand. Though confined to her wheelchair, she took a keen and active interest in everyone around her. She and I went places: money Bingo in the city, eating out around town, visiting her friends, and in good weather going for walks down Main Street.

Maddy earns this spot in celebrity Reiki because she had the true heart of fame in her. By her loving interest in other people, she raised herself up, and brought us all on stage with her. She often enjoyed receiving Reiki, and was an early supporter for
EldersBloom, talking it up to everyone, and coming faithfully to our monthly hands-on gatherings at the nursing home.

The last time I saw Maddy awake, resting on her pillows, her eyes lit up and her smile grew wide, as she saw my granddaughter for the first, and last, time.

Bless you, Maddy, and peace be with you.

Music we love to practice Reiki by

Years ago, I came home late in the evening, tired and wanting to go to bed. The little voice within picked that moment to whisper, "turn on the TV". I consider TV mostly a waste of time, so we fought a little, the voice and I. After some back and forth, I grumpily turned on the TV, and what came up on the screen was a documentary about unique young musicians. One of them was Hovia Edwards, a young Western Shoshone woman who had broken the gender barrier to playing Native American Flute. The ethereal beauty of her music evoked Earth, trees and wind.

At the next opportunity, I went out and bought the first CD I could find. It's been a mainstay of my Reiki treatments and classes ever since. Time to buy a new one, it's getting scratchy!

I am deeply thankful for that little voice, even if we fight sometimes.

The weekly waka

Veined and wrinkled hands
Rest gently on my forehead

Warm, I float, timeless
Thoughts quiet, body settles
I've forgotten why I'm here

By Jeffrey Hotchkiss

photo by Audrey Hotchkiss

Waka wanted! Submit yours by attaching it to an email with the word "waka" in the subject line and send it to

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Personal Practice Monday: a new poll!

December's poll delves into the different ways Reiki is taught and practiced. What's your answer?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The weekly waka

rainy morning
the first day of December
a thick sky
and slippery roads
a cup of gunpowder tea

by Beth Lowell

Waka wanted! Submit yours by attaching it to an email with the word "waka" in the subject line and send it to