In this blog post, I want to discuss how important Reiki is for nurses and how important nurses are to Reiki. Here are some of my thoughts.
Reiki for nurses
As nurses, you sometimes forget that being in a state of health and well-being allows you to provide even greater benefit to those you are caring for. Mrs. Takata, who was responsible for bringing Reiki from Japan to the West, often said, “Reiki you first.” She understood the importance of being balanced and caring for oneself before offering the gift of Reiki to another. Carolyn Myss, a well-known medical intuitive and healer, has reminded us that we cannot drink from a well if the well is empty.
This indicates the importance of filling one’s own vessel first before inviting another to drink from it, and the old saying “Physician, heal thyself” is also another good reminder of how important it is to take care of oneself so that we can come from our abundance and not our lack when caring for others.
Nursing is a rewarding profession. Many believe it is a call to service: a desire to help and/or reduce the suffering of others. And if I weren’t totally blind, I would have trained as oncology and palliative care nurse long ago. When a nurse is a Reiki practitioner as well, their dedication to being of service is often intensified, making them even more susceptible to burnout and stress. Not only can it be stressful to the body (long hours, physical workload, overwhelming responsibilities), it can also be draining on one’s mind and spirit. Being with people every day who are in pain and suffering, dealing with death and dying, dealing with challenging situations can be draining for a person with a compassionate heart. Seeing the worst of the human condition can wear on anyone’s spirit. With the increasing stressors in health care, it is becoming more important than ever for nurses to take care of themselves: to nurture their spirit; to maintain their stamina; to replenish their well. Self-care and maintaining balance in one’s personal and professional lives becomes of utmost importance. What better way than Reiki!
I have trained many nurses over the years who felt that Reiki would be the ideal self-care. All those nurses feel that practicing Reiki on themselves also had a wonderful influence on their nursing practice.
Practicing Reiki on oneself
The importance of daily self-Reiki can not be emphasised enough: it can make the difference between staying balanced and burning out. Giving yourself Reiki for just a few minutes before you get out of bed, when stopped at a traffic light, during a break at work, at bedtime or at any time that you get a few minutes to yourself all contribute to maintaining balance and well-being in your personal and professional lives! A study discussed the importance of a single Reiki treatment for nurses diagnosed with Burnout Syndrome. Diaz-Rodriguez et al. (2011) investigated the immediate effects on immunoglobulin a (sIgA) (an indicator of immune system function), a-amylase activity and blood pressure levels after a 30 minute Reiki or placebo session. The Reiki treatment showed a statistically significant improvement of both immune system function and blood pressure regulation. Whereas the other group showed no changes. It also suggested that Reiki treatments could be a cost effective way to manage and prevent job stress for those at risk for burnout.
Bringing Reiki to your working world can be rewarding. But it is important to start with yourselves first. As you give Reiki to yourselves, it automatically radiates out into your energy field causing your patients to feel better just by being in your presence. Being in a state of health and well-being allows you to provide greater benefit to those you is caring for.
REIKI YOU FIRST!!!!
Nurses for Reiki
Nursing is one of the most trusted professions worldwide. With this in mind, it is easy to see how nurses’ play a very important role in bringing Reiki to health care. With that high a level of public trust, it is easy for nurses to bridge the gap between western medicine and complementary therapies. They can speak the language of both worlds. Nurses are on the front line of patient care, so giving Reiki for even just a few minutes can ignite a fire and spread the word. For example, I know of a nurse who works at a New York hospital. She is also a Reiki practitioner. One day, when she had to prepare someone for Chemotherapy treatment who was really afraid of the line being put in, she placed her hand for a good 10 minutes on his arm. The man calmed down, became very relaxed and sleepy, and agreed for her to put the line in. A hospital administrator had seen this and was so impressed that she suggested to bring Reiki into the hospital for patients in the outpatient department, but soon Reiki became a standard holistic therapy treatment in all departments of the hospital.
I am impressed to see that in the US and the UK many hospital and hospice volunteer Reiki programs have been set up by nurses. Some provide the Reiki training and supervision. Some provide a foot in the door for non-medical Reiki practitioners to bring Reiki in. Having a nurse to support a program can offer credibility to something that can seem so foreign and different to many in the medical profession. Nurses can dispel the myths of complementary therapies and educate the public as to their many benefits.
Finally a word on Reiki research. One of the issues that often comes up when bringing Reiki into a health care facility is the issue of evidence based research. In the past it was felt by some that it may not be possible to research Reiki in a traditional way. This was based on the idea that there is no scientific evidence that demonstrates the mechanism for Reiki; what Reiki is and what makes Reiki work. However, we must consider that aspirin was used by medical doctors as an effective medicine for over 60 years before the mechanism for its effectiveness was discovered. In the same way, while we do not yet have a clear scientific understanding of the mechanism that makes Reiki work, we do know that it does work and we therefore have to continue with research to eventually be able to find its working mechanism. Some questioned the possibility of creating a double blind system for scientific studies that would rule out the placebo effect. However, research has proven this to be premature. A valid method of ruling out the placebo effect has been developed involving the use of sham Reiki practitioners who have no energy work training and simply mimic the hand positions used by trained practitioners. In this way well designed studies have been conducted to measure the effects of Reiki on heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate variability, cortisol levels, temperature and other physiological markers. In addition qualitative studies have been conducted that measure relaxation, pain, anxiety and depression. Some hospitals that have Reiki programs in place have already conducted pilot studies and found that Reiki can decrease the length of stay, decrease pain, decrease anxiety and strengthen the immune system.
Nurses are on the front line and directly involved in patient care on a day-to-day basis and in various settings. They see the pain, the suffering, the anxiety and their effect on the patient’s hospital or testing experience. They know the relaxation and healing that Reiki can bring. They are in a prime position to include Reiki into their routine care as well as to suggest areas of investigation for the use and effectiveness of Reiki.
My hope is that more and more nurses will do Reiki training in the coming years and continue to educate the general public on its effectiveness and that we will eventually see Reiki become an intrinsic part of our healthcare system and nursing practice.