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Wellness program examines unconventional healing techniques

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

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.



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