Reiki: Wisdom meets energy

If you could hear a Reiki treatment, it might sound like this: whoosh, faroooom, whisssh.

It would be the sound of energy moving around -- from the universe through the Reiki practitioner's hands to your body.

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a practice dating to the 1800s in Japan, though there's evidence it originated much earlier in Tibet. Reiki translates from Japanese as "universal life force energy." The "ki" is the same word as "chi" or "qi," the Chinese word for the energy that underlies everything.

"It's a way to bring in the energy available to heal," said Reiki Master Teri Baldwin. "As a Reiki practitioner, it allows us to be a conduit of that energy."

Reiki is based on the belief that there is a life force energy that permeates our bodies -- and which our bodies use for maintaining health and healing from injury or illness. When there is a shortage or blockage of this energy, illness results.

Reiki is a way to tap into that unlimited supply of energy and channel it for the purpose of healing. It is believed that when someone who is ill receives the energy, it can accelerate the natural healing process. Reiki treatments also induce deep relaxation, which eases stress and physical and mental tension.

Baldwin was introduced to Reiki several years ago when she was seeking help in treating her fibromyalgia, a syndrome that causes severe pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons.

"With fibromyalgia, your muscles feel tight," Baldwin said. "And there's a lot of stress that goes along with it." Reiki helped "to release emotional blocks I had so my body could heal itself," she said.

In a Reiki treatment, which lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, the practitioner moves around the "receiver" placing his or her hands on each of a number of positions corresponding to the major organs, ******* chakras ******** and endocrine glands of the body for several minutes at a time. Sometimes, the practitioner merely holds her hands above the receiver's body in these areas.

"It's like acupuncture without the needles," Baldwin said. Her fibromyalgia symptoms improved after she began to get Reiki treatments. She also felt a sense of self-empowerment and a boost to her self-esteem. After several sessions, she was so sold on the practice that she began learning the process so she could do Reiki on herself.

"Originally, I never saw myself giving Reiki treatments to others," Baldwin said. But eventually she became such an advocate of it that she wanted to share it with others. She took classes and progressed through "levels" of Reiki to become a Reiki Master, which allows her to teach Reiki to others.

"Reiki is such a loving, peaceful energy," she said. "There are no bounds. Any number of people can walk in and get a treatment and feel wonderful." Baldwin said another of the benefits of Reiki is that practitioners get as much benefit when doing a treatment as the receiver does.

"The energy doesn't come from me, so I'm not drained by doing a treatment," she said. "I'm more energized when I get done." Baldwin said she often cries when she finishes doing Reiki session.

"I just feel so much love," she said.

Baldwin and co-owners of The Power Spot, Julia Rein and Laura Williams -- who also are Reiki practitioners -- are working to spread the word, and the energy, about Reiki through Reiki Connections of the Columbia Gorge.

Reiki Connections, which is headquartered at The Power Spot, is a group of Reiki practitioners that volunteer their time twice a month to offer Reiki sessions to the public.

"We want to educate the community," said Baldwin, who is coordinator of Reiki Connections.

The goal, according to Rein, is to provide a place for Reiki practitioners around the Mid-Columbia to meet, share Reiki and practice on each other, as well as offer it to adherents and newcomers alike.

The twice-per-month sessions take place the second and fourth Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at The Power Spot. People are invited to come in and learn more about Reiki -- and get a Reiki treatment if they like. Donations are accepted since Reiki practitioners are volunteering their time.

The Power Spot also offers Reiki classes in levels 1, 2 and 3. The first two levels are for those who want to do Reiki on themselves and practice on others. The third level -- Reiki Master -- is for those who want to teach.

Baldwin also is working to get Reiki out in the community beyond the walls of The Power Spot. Reiki practitioners recently visited Helping Hands Against Violence to offer sessions -- which were received enthusiastically, according to Baldwin.

"They want us to come back," she said.

Baldwin also would like to see Reiki used along with Western medicine. "We'd like to see ourselves reaching out into the health field and working in complementary care," she said, adding that because Reiki is a simple technique, it can easily work in conjunction -- even enhance -- other treatments.

Rein agreed, adding that it can also complement other "alternative" therapies.

"A lot of times, Reiki is used with different energy practices, like aromatherapy or massage," she said. "Reiki can be complementary care with anything that we do here." The Power Spot offers everything from massage and acupuncture to astrology and spiritual guidance.

But Reiki is a big part of The Power Spot's raison d'etre.

"Reiki has been our foundation here," said Rein. "But we're finding that as people come in to learn about Reiki, they're learning about other alternative therapies, too."

The Power Spot is located at 216 Cascade Avenue in Hood River. To find out more about Reiki, call 387-3730.

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