In Japanese, Rei means 'God's Wisdom or the Higher Power' and Ki means 'life force energy'. So, the actual meaning of Reiki is 'spiritually guided life force energy'.
How can it help in Parkinson's?
There is little research on the benefits of Reiki in Parkinson's. However, some limited studies in the general population have shown that it can help with pain relief, mood and depression.
Many believe that Reiki can trigger feelings of wellbeing, calm and a sense of being in control - which is of obvious benefit to family and carers too. Its healing energy addresses mind, body and soul:
Mind – Reiki calms the mind and relieves stress, harmonising and balancing your emotional state.
Body - Reiki energy helps to nourish and heal damaged tissue and encourages the body's natural healing and detoxifying processes. It can help to release any energy blockages.
Soul - Reiki channels' life force energy' and engages with the soul, gently nourishing and healing deep within.
Some of the potential benefits in Parkinson's cited by Reiki Masters are:
the channelling of Reiki energy to the part of the brain that regulates dopamine levels
improvements in the function of the blood-brain barrier so that Parkinson's medication can be delivered more efficiently to the brain
improving the body's vitality and natural healing processes by channelling energy into the organs affected by Parkinson's medications.
Each person will respond differently to this treatment, but you may find that it helps with deep relaxation and improves your vitality. As a method of channelling positive energy, it can be an excellent way to combat feelings of negativity which may help with depression.
As Reiki is non-invasive, it is generally considered safe.
What should I expect at an appointment?
Reiki is not regulated in many countries. It is, therefore, a good idea to ask your doctor or other healthcare professional for recommendations. Friends, family, other people with Parkinson's or your national Parkinson's association may also be able to advise based on personal experience.
It is advisable to see a teacher who has experience of Parkinson's, so do ask about their understanding of the condition as well as their qualifications.
Reiki sessions may take place in a clinic, your home, the practitioner's home or a place of worship. You will generally be asked some questions about your condition, medical history and lifestyle. Reiki is usually given when you are sitting or lying comfortably. No clothing needs to be removed, and the practitioner will probably stand or sit next to you.
As in other forms of healing, a 'laying on of hands' is used, but in Reiki, it is somewhat different. A practitioner becomes a channel for the 'life force energy' by placing their hands on or above your head or above a particular part of the recipient's body to release energy directly into it. Most Reiki treatments do not involve physical contact - the practitioner's hands are generally held a few inches from your body, and energy is drawn or manipulated from there. Sometimes there is cradling of the head, but you can always request not to be touched as Reiki does not rely on physical contact.
When receiving healing, you may experience sensations of tingling, heat or coolness. Your practitioner may recommend that you rest after to allow the energy to continue its work, and also drink plenty of water to help the body detoxify.
A Reiki session can be very short, or as long as an hour. Although you may notice the benefits with just one session, a course of regular treatments is usually more effective. Appointments could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on your needs.