VICUS.COM (19 July 2000) -- Michael W. Smith is a Reiki (pronounced
"ray-key") master. Vicus.com interviewed him during the
Johns Hopkins Nurses' Alumni Association symposium titled,
"Nursing in the New Millennium: High Tech/High Touch" on
June 9, 2000, in Baltimore, Md.
Smith practices Reiki at the Women's Place at Carroll County
General Hospital in Westminster, Md.
Vicus.com: What is Reiki?
Smith: Reiki is the practice of channeling energy from the
practitioner's hands to the recipient in order to increase the body's
ability to heal itself. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning
"life-force energy." "Rei" means universal or
present everywhere. "Ki" is the life force, which is also
known as the nonphysical energy that gives life to all living things
and which can be used for the purpose of healing. When your life force
is low, your body becomes stressed and creates an increased
susceptibility to illness.
Vicus.com: What are the benefits of Reiki?
Smith: Practitioners and recipients of Reiki have
experienced many benefits. In general, following Reiki treatment there
is a sense of peace and calm. There may also be relief from pain,
anxiety and shortness of breath. People have also reported a lessening
in the build-up of fluid (edema) under the skin. For those in the
final days of their lives, Reiki may provide time to relieve their
fear and anxiety and permit them to more fully enjoy their final days.
Vicus.com: How does Reiki heal?
Smith: It is believed that Reiki heals by flowing through
the affected parts of the person's energy field and charging it with
positive energy. This increases the vibratory level of the energy
field in and around the physical body where negative thoughts and
feelings are stored.
Vicus.com: What is the value of Reiki in people who are
Smith: For those in good health, Reiki can balance their
energy system to provide greater relaxation. People find that after a
series of Reiki treatments, they are able to take greater
responsibility for their lives. They are able to change their attitude
and lifestyle and enjoy a happier and healthier life.
Vicus.com: Is it necessary to believe in Reiki for it to
Smith: No. Reiki supplies subtle energy to your system. The
energy runs in all treatments, whether you are focused on energy or
Vicus.com: What are the levels of Reiki?
Smith: There are three levels of Reiki. At Reiki level 1,
the student learns the basics of channeling energy (e.g., pulling the
energy through you) and the positions of touch. For those who wish to
continue with their training, Reiki level 2 can take place about six
months later. The student becomes more adept at sending energy through
time and space. I mention sending energy through space because it is
not necessary to actually be in the presence of the person being
treated. Finally, in Reiki level 3, the practitioner becomes a
"master" and learns to teach and give an attunement to
Vicus.com: What do you mean by "attunement?"
Smith: Attunement means coming into balance with your
surroundings. It is the process of becoming attuned to the ability to
channel energy for healing. Another word for attunement is
Vicus.com: How do we know that Reiki actually works?
Smith: To answer this question, you have to speak with those
who give or receive Reiki treatment. There are few scientific studies,
although one study of Reiki combined with opioid therapy to treat
pain, including pain associated with cancer, reported a statistically
significant reduction in pain following Reiki treatment (Olson and
[The famous physician and theologian] Dr. Albert Schweitzer once
said, "We physicians do nothing. We only help and encourage the
physician within." I would suggest that anyone interested in
experiencing Reiki continue to see his or her physician in order to
treat what is ailing you. Use Reiki to assist your body in
Vicus.com: What can I expect when I visit a Reiki therapist?
Smith: Receiving Reiki treatment is very simple and
nonintrusive. The treatment will last about an hour. The recipient
lies down, fully clothed, on a massage table. The practitioner then
gently channels the Reiki energy through the hands to the recipient's
head, front of the body, back, knees and feet. Reiki energy flows
evenly through the body, even through bandages and casts.
Vicus.com: What does the recipient experience during
Smith: There will be a pleasant sensation of warmth or
gentle tingling. As energy is balanced throughout the body, stress and
tension [are] released, and there is a feeling of well-being.
Vicus.com: What can the recipient expect to achieve in terms
of physical or psychological benefits?
Smith: Reiki enhances the response of medical treatment. It
can reduce negative side effects and hasten healing and reduce pain.
Vicus.com: What is the appropriate role for Reiki treatment
Smith: The appropriate role for Reiki is as a complementary
therapy with traditional [conventional Western] medicine. For example,
treatment of a fracture will include repositioning of the fracture,
with immobilization and analgesics for pain. Reiki would be used in
conjunction with the pain medicine to provide greater comfort.
Jr., Pharm.D., is senior vice president of medical communications
at Vicus.com. He is a pharmacist and medical writer with more than 20
years of experience in medical education.