By Adrian Zupp
A lot of people probably still haven’t heard of Reiki. And among those who have, there are likely a healthy number of skeptics. However, Reiki is gaining acceptance among many different populations – including the military.
First things first: What is Reiki? Reiki is a Japanese technique that involves the “laying of hands” to help reduce stress and promote relaxation and healing. It is based on the idea that there is an unseen “life force energy” that flows through us. If that life force is low, Reiki practitioners believe, we are more likely to feel stressed. If it is high, we can be happy and healthy.
Laying of hands? Okay, before you jump to head-shaking conclusions, bear in mind that a great many people swear by Reiki – from the ever-bourgeoning yoga crowd to, you guessed it, military PTSD sufferers.
Its roots in the military go back to July of 2007, when a Dr. John Fortunato, a Vietnam veteran, clinical psychologist, and former Benedictine monk started the Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience center in Texas (it offered meditation, yoga, massage, and Reiki in addition to other holistic healing methods). The then Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and Army Chief of Staff General George Casey both praised the program and felt it should be replicated throughout the military.
And the Department of Defense “is dedicated to supporting evidence-based approaches to medical treatment and wants to support the use of alternative therapies if they are proven efficacious,” notes a recently-issued request for proposals.
A German military base recently ran a seminar on Reiki. Service members and families who attended the seminar had a chance to experiment with their energy.
If you’re wondering what one can expect from a Reiki session, here are the basics:
- A brief discussion between the practitioner and client; a building of rapport and exploring needs and energies.
- Client lies down on a massage table, on their back, fully clothed.
- The practitioner then follows certain hand positions – starting at the head and working down – pausing for two to five minutes at each position.
- Next, the practitioner will have the client turn over and the same process is repeated down the back.
Maybe you’d like to try learning it yourself; maybe with a buddy. Still skeptical? Think of it this way: What have you got to lose… except perhaps some of your stress.
Adrian Zupp is the marketing and communications writer for Screening for Mental Health, Inc.