Science & Research

Wellness program examines unconventional healing techniques

Reiki, an alternative form of medicine from Japan, is used to channel healing energy through a practitioner

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reiki, a Japanese healing technique, was the focus of the Wellness at Brown series’ second program. Bourne said use of the method is expanding, adding that it is currently employed by hospitals and the military.

Making grabbing motions in thin air and tossing invisible balls of energy behind her, Bridget Bourne, Reiki master teacher and practitioner, demonstrated the 80-year-old Japanese healing process of Reiki on an audience member in the Peterruti Lounge yesterday.

The second program in Wellness at Brown’s series on alternative healing techniques such as acupuncture, “Reiki; What is it? How does it heal?” presented brochures, information about Reiki and a demonstration about the unconventional form of medicine to the 15 women in attendance.

Reiki involves practitioners laying their hands on another being to transfer energy and encourage relaxation and healing.

Bourne said she “immediately connected to the energy” of Reiki when her tarot card reader performed it on her. Reiki, Bourne said, has completely changed her life — leading her to leave a bad marriage, lose 185 pounds and even leave her job at the United Health Center to devote her career to the technique.

To become a Master Teacher and Practitioner in Reiki, Bourne said people must first familiarize themselves with the practice. Then, with more formal training, someone can become a practitioner and eventually a master teacher, she said.

“Fifty percent of my clients become my students,” a testament to the connection others feel to the energy that Reiki transmits, Bourne added.

Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui, who studied health and healing at a Japanese school of Buddhism during the early 20th century.

Usui realized that while healing people, his own energy was depleted or the sickness would be transmitted to him instead, Bourne said.

To keep his own energy intact, Usui developed Reiki to channel healing energy through a practitioner’s hands, Bourne said.

Such energy is everywhere in the universe, connecting everything around us, she said. Stress or injury may cause an energy block, where the energy “feels heavy,” she added.

“There’s nothing (Reiki) isn’t good for,” Bourne said, adding that aside from curing migraines, sinuses, joints, digestive problems, addiction, fertility problems and anxiety, Reiki’s healing energy is applicable to animals, plants, food and even inanimate objects.

At her old job, Bourne said she would perform Reiki on the faulty printers.

“I would hug it and give it Reiki and people would laugh at me but it would only work for me,” she said.

Bourne said she also used Reiki on a friend’s son affected with Dwarfism before he underwent a dangerous operation with a 50 percent chance of survival.

The child recovered unusually quickly, Bourne said — and though she acknowledged the proficiency of the doctors involved, she said she believes Reiki played a role in the quick recuperation.

Though Bourne said Reiki is not massage, meditation or a spiritual process, she said all these mediums are interconnected and achieve the same brand of “inner peace.” Reiki is quickly expanding and is even used in hospitals and the military, Bourne said.

Some audience members received the presentation with skepticism.

During Bourne’s demonstration on audience member Norah Bradbury, Bourne attempted to guess where Bradbury’s tension and injuries were.

The first two guesses proved false, and only when Bourne guessed that Bradbury was right-handed was the Reiki practitioner correct.

After the event, Bradbury said “it didn’t work for (her),” but added that she noticed a complete shift in Bourne’s countenance during the process as her breathing became much deeper.

“I was a bit nervous,” Bradbury said.

“I don’t know, I might give it a try,” said Michele Wise, senior benefits special programs coordinator, who is in charge of the string of alternative medicine workshops at Brown.

She said much of modern medicine combines traditional and non-traditional methods, and their effectiveness depends on the individual.

“Not everyone has to accept it or have it,” Bourne said, adding that the process does not work on non-believers.

Bourne said her clients react differently to the treatment. Some cry during the process, and one laughed the entire time simply from the happy energy Reiki provided, she said.

  • Heather Callanan

    I am the mother of the boy with dwarfism that was mentioned. My son has achondroplasia the most common form of dwarfism. With that comes some difficult surgeries. My sons progress continues to amaze people. We had stellar surgeons and are beyond grateful for that. I am also grateful to have learned the practice of reiki to treat myself and others including my son. Reiki does not make for a substitute for medical professionals and care. It is a bonus. We are all made of energy, we come in contact with others and absorb their energy to an extent. Remember feeling frustrated or upset if you had dealings with an angry or ignorant person? Part of that is the energy exchange you experience. Just like a random act of kindness makes you smile. There are studies that show Reiki is beneficial. Perhaps it would be helpful to have a link to those studies, as it would seem this article has been written from a skeptical point of view.

  • Bridget DeBose

    Bridget Bourne is an amazing Reiki Master healer. She has her own style, which is like no other I have had before. I trust her completely with my energy. Many times I do not let everyone do healing on myself. One day, I did receive a miracle through her. She invited me to a Reiki session. My knees were bothering me with heavy pain. All related to emotional issues. Bridget did Reiki on me and took away the pain in my right knee and it never came back. Not everyone can do this. It is her positive energy that lets her do this work of the creator. Glad to have met such a beautiful soul and have her heal my knee. The pain was gone and my life got better and better. In reality, there is not many healers who are as compassionate as she is. Most are in it for money or the ego, she is in it because she loves people. She is pure hearted. You should try a session from her. The article does not do her work justice. Often I have sat in her healing chair and have her clear up unbalanced emotions. She is not in a pill form, she is in human form and again I am thankful for her.

  • I´ve been a Reiki Master since 1999 and recently started up Reiki Center in north Sweden. My experience of Reiki is that it is exactly what we need in this times when economy and technology make us stressed. We do need something that balance us

    clear our minds. Holistic perspective to life and health is the future.

  • John Coleman

    …Making grabbing motions in thin air and tossing invisible balls of energy behind her….
    this does not sound remotely like any Reiki training I know of.. Reiki practitioners are conduits of the Universal life force energy. simply put hands on Reiki on Hands off Reiki off.. the grabbing and tossing makes Reiki sound like something completely different..

    • LuvUrLivr

      See above, from the thoughtful practitioner herself.

  • Bridget

    I am the practitioner who gave the presentation on reiki. I did an exercise with the group to help them feel the energy between their palms which is a very common practice when becoming familiar with energy work. However, there was no “tossing energy balls” or plucking anything out of the air. I do have Tourette Syndrome so it’s very possible I was having tics as I spoke/worked.

    It was also not noted that the woman who assisted in the demonstration had been chosen prior to the presentation by the department coordinating the event and not an enthusiastic volunteer from the group attendees. She was clearly uncomfortable with the situation, understandably, sitting in front of a room full of people having them watch while she was about to experience something new to her. As it was a brief demonstration, I did not do an intake with Ms. Bradbury as I typically would with a client. I was not making guesses regarding her injuries, but asking questions.

    Also stated in the article is that I indicated that non-believers will not benefit from reiki. I was asked by an attendee if someone is resistant to the healing, will it work. I explained that if someone is resistant, or rejects it (someone absolutely does not want the healing), they will most likely not benefit, but it could still plant a seed to open a doorway to healing. However, in no way meant to imply that if someone is simply not familiar with, uncomfortable with, or nervous about receiving it that it will not work. This is true of any form of healing.

    I would also like to mention, that there will always be skeptics, that’s expected, however, there were also several guests who approached me after the session who left feeling much more informed, and excited by and happy with the presentation.

    I sincerely appreciate Ms. Dee’s attendance and interest in reiki, and her willingness to share her information in the article she has written. She was pleasant to speak with and was very open to and excited about reiki during our brief chat after the informational session, and was enthusiastic about her writing.

    I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share information regarding reiki, and very happy to see that Brown University is helping to expand awareness for less traditional healing methods for their employees to promote a happier, less stressful life.

    Warmest Regards,

    • John Coleman

      Thank you Bridget for clarifying and keep up the great work.

  • Nancy Arnott

    Both the subject and the writer of this article have my sympathy. Having practiced Reiki personally and professionally for seven years, I am well aware of the gap that often exists between perception and reality when it comes to this practice. As a former journalist, I am also aware of how challenging a reporter’s job can be, especially when one is attempting to explain a subtle, spiritual healing practice such as Reiki.

    I am glad to see that the practitioner who gave the demonstration has commented to clarify what she said and did during it — and equally glad that she was not, in fact, “tossing invisible balls of energy,” as this has absolutely nothing to do with Reiki treatment. I do wish that her demonstration had also not included any attempt to guess the source of the “tension and injuries” of the woman receiving treatment, or at least that she had made it clear that this too is not part of Reiki practice.

    As I and most of my colleagues practice it, Reiki treatment is remarkably simple, with no attempts at diagnosis or psychic readings. It offers little entertainment to any observer but potentially great benefit to the recipient, encouraging the healing capabilities of his or her own system and gently helping to restore a sense of balance and well-being. I recommend that anyone seeking a thoroughly researched and clearly written exploration of Reiki read Pamela Miles’ book “Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide.”