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Reiki quiets the mind to hem hear God.

I was first introduced to Reiki when I was in a very unhealthy relationship, I saw no way out of financial woes, and I had forsaken my career in theater. The longer I stayed trapped, the sicker I became mentally, emotionally and physically.

By the time I had my first Reiki session, I had been seeing a therapist twice a week for depression, I had developed all kinds of food allergies, and I was an emaciated 99 pounds.

Although I was skeptical, I called my diocese to see if they knew anything about Reiki, and to my surprise, I was transferred to a nun who actually taught it. She told me, "We find that Reiki aids to meditation and prayer." I later discovered for myself that when you relax the body, the mind just naturally follows. Reiki helps you achieve a meditative state, enabling you to quiet your mind.

Soon afterward I was lying on a massage table for my Reiki session. I had no idea what to expect--which to retrospect was a good thing because I was open to the experience. When she first laid her hands on my head, I immediately felt heat. The warmth traveled to different parts of my body throughout the session as her hands changed positions. It was like being submerged in a comforting hot bubble bath.

I was so relaxed that my conscious thoughts simply gave way, and images started to float through my mind. When the hour was over, I felt refreshed, and as I walked down the street afterward, it was as if my feet weren't even touching the ground.

After several Reiki sessions, I felt strong enough to tackle life. I let Reiki slide, looking at it as an indulgence I no longer needed. Within a year, however, I was back at the Reiki clinic, deeply depressed with life, seeming hopeless. The effects of Reiki are cumulative, and at that point I was definitely in need of a "booster shot."

By the time the Reiki master's hands reached my shoulders, tears flowed down my cheeks. The tears led way to sobs, and the sobs seemed almost unbearable. I can still remember the emotional pain that surfaced in me at that moment. That session was a catharsis. I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders--which, indeed, it had.

A short time later, I was studying to become a practitioner. I soon found the strength to extricate myself from the relationship in which I had felt so trapped. Money matters seemed to work themselves out almost miraculously, and I went back to my career in theater. All of my food allergies disappeared, and I am now a healthy 124 pounds.

As a practitioner, I have been blessed to witness similar changes in others. A friend who was in constant pain from a year of chemotherapy was pain-free for an entire day after an hour of Reiki. My boyfriend, who had a serious back Injury and subsequent fusion surgery, had been taking an average of six Vicodin a day--which, among other things, was affecting his personality. After a half hour of Reiki, he was smiling, relaxed and feeling physically better. He later told me the best part was that it gave him a new attitude toward life. He realized it was possible to feel better. He then added; "I knew that." (Reiki does not tell you anything you don't already know; it merely reminds you of what you forgot.) A month later, he is now almost completely off painkillers. He's begun to eat healthy foods to lose weight, and is going to acupuncture to quit smoking.

I like to think of Reiki as an invitation to hear God's answers. In order to "hear" God, we first need to have complete faith and trust in him. How often when we pray are we fearful--perhaps even of hearing an answer we won't like? God is our benevolent Father. How could he not give us what is good? Jesus tells us that. Jesus also tells us that when we pray with faith, we will receive. Do we honestly believe that, though? Reiki helps ease my fears and quiet my mind to help me feel God's presence in my life.

Healing, whether it be physical, mental or emotional, cannot occur unless we are unafraid and open to God's healing power. In short, it takes faith. Fear is the antithesis of faith. Reiki helps get us past our fears so we can listen to the Father's guidance.

[Maureen Griffin is a Reiki practitioner and lifelong Catholic who grew up on Long Island, N.Y.]

The U.S. Catholic bishops last month advised Catholic chaplains, health care facilities and retreat centers not to promote or support Reiki therapy, a Japanese alternative healing practice.

The practice of Reiki, the bishops said, "finds no support either in the findings of natural science or in Christian belief."

"A Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition," the bishops said.

After the bishops' document on Reiki become public, a number of Catholic Reiki practitioners contacted NCR and spoke of their experiences. One was Maureen Griffin, who has been a practitioner for more than five years. NCR asked her to tell her story.
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Title Annotation:VIEWPOINT
Author:Griffin, Maureen
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
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