Respectful Insolence

Reiki is a “sin”?

Many are the times when I’ve pointed out that many “complementary and alternative medicine” CAM or “integrative medicine” (IM) modalities are very much more based on religion or mystical ideas akin to religion than on anything resembling science. I realize that my saying this is nothing new, but every so often I see something that reminds me of this concept to the point that, self-important logorrheic blogger that I am, I can’t resist commenting, particularly when I’m amused by the story. This particular story is amusing, to me at least.

You see, it’s about what happens when one religion encounters a CAM modality whose religion-inspired ideas don’t mesh with its tenets. The last time I remember this happening was a couple of years ago, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a warning against the use of reiki as being unscientific, unproven, and, worse, “dangerous to Christian spiritual health.” As I pointed out at the time, the Catholic Church was right about reiki being unscientific, unproven, and worse, but what amused me was that the bishops’ objections were based far more on their perception that reiki violated Catholic religious teachings than its disapproval of the lack of science behind it. One month ago, a similar story appeared. I missed it at the time because, well, it was in the Pocono Record, which is probably why I didn’t become of this story until recently, in which a Broadheadsville pastor warns that reiki is a sin:

Reiki. While its practitioners and some local doctors view the Japanese technique as a way to promote healing and relaxation, one local clergyman says it’s an occult practice that goes against Christian belief.

Pastor Kevin Garman, head of the Pleasant Valley Assembly of God Church in Brodheadsville, sent a letter to Monroe County’s clergy members Thursday warning them of the alternative therapy, recently promoted by Pocono Medical Center.

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation and is thought to promote healing. It is based on the notion that a “life-force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. Practitioners conduct sessions with the intention of healing specific conditions or improving overall health. By using their hands, practitioners get the life-force energy flowing, leading to an overall sense of calm and well-being.

Pocono Medical Center recently began promoting reiki, which is performed by six trained volunteers who use a “hands off” technique, holding their hands about 6 inches above the area to be treated.

I suspect you know why I find this story absolutely hilarious. The reason, for those unfamiliar with reiki (and if you’re unfamiliar with reiki I know you’re a newbie to this blog), is that reiki is pure faith healing. Really, I’m not exaggerating. At its heart, basically, reiki is a form of faith healing that substitutes Eastern religious beliefs steeped in Buddhism and Shinto, among other religions, for the Christian beliefs at the heart of most faith healing that we hear about in the U.S. and Europe. This is not so difficult to see, either, as the basic idea of reiki is that there is a “universal source” into which reiki practitioners can tap. They do so by holding or waving their hands over their clients and scrunching their brows, as though they are thinking, concentrating, or (dare I say it?) praying really, really hard. Sometimes there are symbols that must be traced out in the air over the client. Sometimes it’s just holding the “healer’s” hands a couple of inches above the body part that is afflicted. By doing these things, reiki practitioners believe that they are somehow directing this “universal force” into the patient to healing effect. As I like to emphasize again and again, it really is nothing more than another form of faith healing.

Don’t believe me? Think of it this way. Substitute the word “God” for “universal source.” Think of the hand motions and symbols reiki practitioners make over their subjects as rituals. Think of the meditation to “channel” the energy from the “universal source” as praying. Now do you see what I mean? Whereas Christian faith healers lay on hands in order to direct the healing power of Jesus into the faithful, reiki masters lay on hands (well, sort of, often they don’t even touch their clients) in order to direct the healing power of the “universal source” into them. There really isn’t any substantive difference between the two that I can see, other than that these days reiki practitioners can be found roaming the halls of academic medical centers not as chaplains (which would not be entirely inappropriate), but rather as actual health care practitioners. Hell, they’ve even been spotted at a hospital where I spent about 1/3 of my residency training back in the 1990s! After I learned of this incursion, I asked a couple of surgeons who helped train me and are still at that hospital about it. Sadly, they basically thought it was massage and didn’t see the problem.

I was disappointed. It showed how much work we in the medical profession have to do among our own.

But back to reiki. There are more parallels with faith healing than even what I listed above. To see this, we just have to look at Dr. Mikao Usui, the founder of reiki. What few people know is that Dr. Usui’s quest to learn how to heal was inspired by the example of Jesus:

Some of the students asked him one day, in the 1870’s, if he believed in the miracles Jesus did (raising dead, etc.). Being a Christian Monk he answered “Yes”. They asked if he knew how Jesus had done this, “No” he said. He realized that he must find out how Jesus healed. This immediately set him on a journey of many years. Studying, first at Christian schools in the US with no results. Someone suggested Buddhist writings since the Buddha had also healed. This meant more years at monasteries in the Orient. Nowhere could he find the answers. In Japan he toured all the monasteries there asking about how Jesus or the Buddha had healed. In one small monastery, he found some ancient Sanskrit writings. After a few more years of study, he felt he had come to an understanding and that to go further required serious meditation.

After this came a classic spiritual quest very much like 40 day fast described in the New Testament that Jesus undertook on the mountain before he began his ministry:

He went to the mountain and settled in with 21 stones with which to count the days. On the 21st day nothing had come as yet, and he turned over the last stone saying “Well, this is it, either I get the answer today or I do not”. At that moment on the horizon he could see a ball of light coming towards him. The first instinct was to get out of the way, but he realized this might just be what he was waiting for, so allowed it to hit him right in the face. As it struck him he was taken on a journey and shown bubbles of all the colors of the rainbow in which were the symbols of Reiki, the very same symbols in the writings he was studying but had been unable to understand. Now as he looked at them again, there was total understanding.

After returning from this experience he began back down the mountain and was, from this moment on, able to heal. This first day alone he healed an injured toe, his own starvation, an ailing tooth and the Abbots sickness, which was keeping him bedridden. These are known as the first four miracles.

“Miracles”? And reiki practitioners like to try to claim that their practices are based in science.

I don’t know if this story is true or apocryphal (accurate information on Usui is hard to come by), but in a way it doesn’t really matter all that much whether this story is an accurate representation of how Usui developed reiki or not. Believers in reiki are telling this story as though it’s true. Remember, I got this off of the oldest reiki website on the Internet, a website that’s been in existence since 1995. It’s how many reiki practitioners view Usui, and how they view Usui is very much how Christians view Jesus, at least in the stories that are told about him in the Bible. The parallels to Jesus and his reported life and methods are unmistakable. Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness; Usui spent 21 days meditating. Both represent an obvious and classic ritual purification often required of religious figures. In fact, Usui even goes one better than that in that his story resembles that of Moses climbing the mountain and receiving his revelations from God in the form of a burning bush, although, in all fairness, he wasn’t tempted by Satan, as Jesus was. In fact, large swaths of “energy healing modalities” and not just reiki echo similar stories.

Garmin doesn’t see it that way, obviously. Or maybe he does. It’s unclear. What is clear is that the reason he doesn’t like reiki is exactly the same reason that the Catholic bishops don’t like reiki. It’s a competing religious world view to his own religious world view:

Garman said reiki has its foundation in Buddhism and the practices of Usui and Shintoism, which he said both worship animal spirits, mountains, trees and people.

“The Bible definitely speaks against forms of spiritual communication with spirits of any kind, except the spirit of God. This type of communication or energy invoking activity is rejected in the Bible as witchcraft, sorcery, mediumship and idolatry,” Garman said in his letter.

Garman said he isn’t asking the hospital to stop allowing reiki, because he knows that request would be unreasonable.

“I don’t think the technicians should be allowed to visit the rooms without being invited there. I think patients should have a full disclosure that this is a Buddhist religious practice, because if they were Christian, I think they would say, ‘Please don’t bring that into my room.'”

Which is actually a fair demand. You shouldn’t be required to admit into your hospital room a chaplain whose religious beliefs are contrary to yours or someone who tries to foist his religious views on you. On the other hand, I also think it’s a fair demand to stop representing reiki practitioners as legitimate health care providers. They are not. I don’t care if they’re represented as chaplains or something akin to ministers or priests who can “pray” or counsel patients the same way chaplains do with fellow believers, because that’s what reiki practitioners really are, but telling patients that reiki is anything more than an elaborate religious placebo is lying to them.

Perhaps the most unintentionally hilarious part of this whole article is the comments section, where various defenders of reiki descend, enraged and outraged, to attack the article, the journalist who wrote it, and the criticisms of reiki by pastor Garman. For example, here’s Patty Penner weighing in:

When I read something like this, I wonder how anyone can be so in the dark in this day and age. I find it incredibly sad and scary! Reminds me of witch burning times and the Inquisition. I am a Reiki Master Teacher. I have studied, practiced and experimented with Reiki for a long time so that I know without a doubt what it is I am working with. I am also a Christian (Episcopalin) The roots of Reiki are Buddhist and Shinto because it’s founder was Buddhist and Shinto but what is wrong with that? Reiki is a not a Buddhist practice or any relegious practice and definitely not a cult, it is a healing modality like acupuncture, massage or acupressure. Reiki energy is DIVINE life force energy from God channelled through the practitioner for the purpose of healing.

Wow! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Reiki is faith healing in which the healing power of God is used to heal! One wonders, of course, how Ms. Penner can state that reiki is not a religious belief and then turn around and immediately state that reiki energy is “DIVINE life force energy from God.” The cognitive dissonance must be astounding. It’s also comedy gold!

Then there’s Kristin King:

If the Pastor had cared enough to make a statement regarding Reiki, then maybe he should have at least gotten his facts straight. Reiki draws energy from the universal life force that is all around us. One might ask that if God is the one who created all, then isn’t it his energy that is drawn upon?

Why yes. Why not?

In any case, the numerous posts from believers in reiki and reiki practitioners expressing outrage at the pastor’s comments about reiki practitioners being “sinners” echo almost perfectly the religious nature of them, but the commenters are completely un-self-aware. In any case, I would argue that virtually every so-called “energy healing” modality is at its heart far more religious in nature than anything else. Certainly there is no science there. Yet reiki practitioners deny the religious underpinnings of their practice because they want to think of themselves as more akin to physicians and nurses than to chaplains. Chaplains, at least, don’t claim they can heal disease, and physicians (most of them at least) don’t represent pseudoscientific religious practices as science-based medicine.

Well, except for Dr. Oz, of course.

Comments

  1. #1 Jojo
    March 18, 2011

    Reiki energy is DIVINE life force energy from God channelled through the practitioner for the purpose of healing.

    I always get a sense from comments like this that for the practitioner they get a real ego boost out of channeling God’s/the divine life force/whatever.

  2. #2 Militant Agnostic
    March 18, 2011

    I wonder if the “Innate Intelligence” of Chiropractic is in conflict with Christianity.

  3. #3 Fleegman
    March 18, 2011

    Is there anyone who’s actually learning Reiki? I mean, it seems that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who goes on and on about how great Reiki is is some kind of Master Teacher or something.

    I think I know why this is. A friend of mine once explained to me how in to Reiki she was and that she was a second level master or something after going on a (presumably expensive) course to get her mastership.

    When pressed further it sounds like there were a whole lot of people on this course. I thought it sounded quite intensive, you know, being trained to be some kind of master practitioner, or whatever. So I asked her how long the course was. Expecting something in the region of “3 years,” I was somewhat speechless when she said “a whole weekend.”

    Oh, right…

    “At the end of the course, she touched each of us on the shoulder in turn, and said we were now tuned to the energy. Although it felt like nothing had changed, it was amazing to be able to channel the energy!”

    I guess it must be…

    so, “Master Reiki Practitioner” = “Paid money for a weekend course”

    Doesn’t really sound so impressive, now, does it?

    Oh, also, something really important she told me that I thought I’d share. It’s vitally important that the receiver of energy believes 100% that it’s going to work. Otherwise, the energy is blocked by the negativity.

    Convenient, eh? It also explains why “everyone feels it in a different way.” If someone’s waving their hands over your head and you feel an itch in your big toe, it’s easy to see how that can be attributed to feeling the energy working!

    I find it astonishing that people actually believe this sh*t.

  4. #4 Rene Najera
    March 18, 2011

    Sounds similar to the arguments of the Bible Answer Man, a Christian Apologist. He’s been writing articles against all forms of CAM, even against prayer/faith healers and Christian Scientists. Sure, he can be off the mark in some instances.

    However, I have noticed some undercurrents (countercurrents?) of anti-CAM and even (Oh, the horror!) pro-science in some of my fellow Christian folk. I wonder if it’s only as prevalent as those who use biblical arguments against vaccines and the like (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Vaccine-Machine/59188273283), though?

  5. #5 Enkidu
    March 18, 2011

    The comments to that article are pure comedy gold. Reiki may not be a sin, but it doesn’t belong anywhere near a hospital.

  6. #6 MikeMa
    March 18, 2011

    @Fleegman,
    A whole weekend? That really is quite a sacrifice to spend a whole weekend among credulous dolts learning magic.

  7. #7 Prometheus
    March 18, 2011

    Orac, you need to start posting warnings about drinking beverages (or eating, I suppose) while reading posts like this. It’s taken me nearly 20 minutes and several paper towels to clean the coffee off of my monitor and keyboard.

    When I read the part about how the Sky-pilot in Broadheadsville said that Reiki was, in essence foolish superstition (i.e. it differed from his foolish superstition), I merely though “Pot. Kettle. Black.”

    However, when “Reiki Master” Patty Penner said “When I read something like this, I wonder how anyone can be so in the dark in this day and age.”, well, it was a choice between aspirate and expirate. Not wanting to drown in my latte, I chose the latter and my computer monitor and keyboard paid the price (the “T” still isn’t working quite right, so pardon any mis-spellings).

    It’s the arrogance of ignorance writ small. An Assembly of God preacher (who may have gotten his divinity in night school) calls Reiki “sinful” and is castigated by a “Master of Reiki”, whose “credentials” are at most a weekend course or several hours “researching” on Google (or Yahoo, to be fair).

    Who wouldn’t laugh? (Damn! Now the “H” key is acting up.)

    One question for those people “channeling” all that “energy of the Universe”: are you being 100% efficient? This is a serious question because losses due to inefficiency would show up as heat in the “channel”. Too much heat and the “channel” starts to cook. Just something to consider before starting a large project, especially if the “Reiki Master” isn’t at peak efficiency.

    Prometheus

  8. #8 Mary P
    March 18, 2011

    While waiting for my daughter at the student union building a couple walked around offering to do Reiki. They had a few takers and lots of rejects. I was tempted to follow them doing a survey about why people accepted or rejected the offer. Maybe next time I get the opportunity I will do some follow up to see how many actually know what Reiki is.

  9. #9 Todd W.
    March 18, 2011

    @Enkidu

    Reiki may not be a sin, but it doesn’t belong anywhere near a hospital.

    Yet sadly, it is. I know of a rather prominent rehabilitation hospital that offers reiki. They also hold occasional classes, even offering CME credit!

  10. #10 Jojo
    March 18, 2011

    @Enkidu

    Reiki may not be a sin, but it doesn’t belong anywhere near a hospital.

    A quick search on the caner center that my mother is going to shows some of the services they offer. Here is one of them, “Reiki Therapy – gentle hand placement on a fully clothed body, which assists in rebalancing the body’s energy”. While I’m not thrilled that they offer Reiki, they were the least woo infested cancer center in the area. I guess we’ll have to settle for the lesser of two evils.

  11. #11 Enkidu
    March 18, 2011

    Todd & Jojo: The very prestigious hospital associated with my university offers reiki (I was visiting a friend who is undergoing chemo, and saw that they had given her a flier promoting the benefits of reiki for cancer patients).

  12. #12 lilady
    March 18, 2011

    A mixed bag of comments along with the link Orac provided. I’m wondering just how these “practitioners” are paid?

    I suppose the first medical center in a given geographical locale to open a CAM/integrative medicine department scored big time financially… with patients opting for these services and most physicians having privileges at several area hospitals. Now that every university-affiliated hospital in my area has CAM/Integrative departments…just how do they bill the costs into every patient’s bill?

    Hospital billing is very specific now and computerized supply rooms and pharmacies make certain that the cost of every pill, every bag of IV fluid/tubing and every catheter are immediately added to the patient’s bill. We all know that a (not inconsiderable) percentage of the final bill pays for uninsured/indigent patients’ care…but Master Reiki practitioners!!!

    If not-for-profit hospitals have any “spare” cash, it would be far better to fund some hospital-based studies and research or update their technology which benefits all patients.

  13. #13 scott
    March 18, 2011

    I don’t know if any of you have watched this music video yet, but its a must see for all the skeptics in the room.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OPs_j1EEplI

  14. #14 OleanderTea
    March 18, 2011

    You’d think with all the inappropriate touching going on by priests, that the Catholic church would be promoting Reiki.

  15. #15 scott
    March 18, 2011

    I’m sorry, I didn’t see the previous post by Orac. He was already on top of it. As usual, I’m always one step behind.

  16. #16 Anonymous
    March 18, 2011
  17. #17 Pablo
    March 18, 2011

    Fleegman – like others, my response was “A whole weekend?”

    But I’m not sure it is for the same reason. For example, I hope that the whole weekend includes things like sleeping at night, and lots of coffee breaks and social activities.

    Because honestly, I can’t see why it should take that long to show them how to wave their hands and mumble…

  18. #18 Dianne
    March 18, 2011

    unscientific, unproven, and, worse, “dangerous to Christian spiritual health.”

    Am I the only one whose first thought was that this accusation against reiki was sort of like the joke about being charged with murder, arson, and spitting on the sidewalk?

    Oh well, 2 out of 3 is close to a passing grade and one might even give partial credit for the third: a person who went for reiki therapy and noticed that it did nothing for them might start questioning all sorts of rituals…which could be bad for their continued “spiritual health” as a Christian (i.e. they might start getting skeptical about it all and become an atheist.)

  19. #19 Militant Agnostic
    March 18, 2011

    Oleander Tea

    You’d think with all the inappropriate touching going on by priests, that the Catholic church would be promoting Reiki.

    Given the location of the base chakra (groin area), this would be a bad idea.

    Fleegman – prior to taking the Rieki Master training, the student has to have completed levels I (amateur status) and II (can do it for money), so that brings it up to 4 whole days. However, many Master courses only last one day which brings it down to 3 days.

    Pablo

    Because honestly, I can’t see why it should take that long to show them how to wave their hands and mumble…

    Remember, there are symbols to memorize, attunements to be given and much woo to be absorbed.

    The economic problem with Reiki is that the big money is made by training other practitioners, especially at the Master Level (typically $1000), since several customers can be processed simultaneously. Since a Master can train and “attune” other Masters, this has lead to exponential growth. In fact, all Reiki practitioners can trace their lineage back to Usui through a fairly short sequence of Masters. As result, like an MLM scheme, it has rapidly expanded to saturate the market. This why you see it everywhere woo can be found and why it is being wedged in anywhere and everywhere. Supply is running way ahead of demand.

  20. #20 Abelard
    March 18, 2011

    I’ve always thought that people interested in Reiki CAM, whatever faith healing you have, see it as a way for them to be “spiritual” without subjecting themselves to the nonsensical dogma of religious leaders, principally male. These weird practices seem to attract people who style themselves as religiously independent, who invariably style this independence as a spiritual difference, not religious. They clearly do not understand that their metaphysical beliefs are for all intents and purposes exactly the same as any Judeo-Christian religion, right down to mimicking metaphysical interpretations of Biblical quotes, and invoking God. They do not see Reiki as a religion only because it does not have the priestly trappings of traditional religions. I would not be surprised to find out that most Reiki Masters, faith healers are women who under traditional religions are often locked out from the spiritual estate. Reiki does have a metaphysical dogma, just like any religion …its only a matter of time before some heretic Reiki Master claims her healing power comes from Jupiter instead of the “universal life force”, and the schism that would inevitably occur between traditionalists and reformers would not be long after ….when will humanity ever free itself from such idiocy?

  21. #21 rob
    March 18, 2011

    sceptic: Well, ‘ow did you become a reiki-ist then?
    reiki-ist: Usui,[angels sing] his face engulfed in the purest shimmering fireball, held aloft his hands from the bosom of the universal force, signifying by eastern religious practices that i, a reiki-ist, was to carry the reiki force.[singing stops]that is why I am a reiki-ist!
    sceptic: Listen — strange men climging mounts distributing universal forces is no basis for a system of evidence based medicine! supreme medical knowledge derives from a sytem of hypothesis formation and validation from double blind clinical studies, not some farcical mountainous conversion!
    reiki-ist: Be quiet!
    sceptic: Well you can’t expect to wield supreme medical knowledge just ’cause some sky tart threw a fireball at you!
    reiki-ist: Shut up!
    sceptic: I mean, if I went around sayin’ I was an healer just because some airy bint had lobbed a ball of light at me they’d put me away!
    reiki-ist: Shut up! Will you shut up!
    sceptic: Ah, now we see the denial of reality inherent in the system.
    reiki-ist: Shut up!
    sceptic: Oh! Come and see the denial of reality inherent in the system! HELP! HELP! I’m getting sued for slander!
    reiki-ist: Bloody scientist!
    sceptic: Oh, what a give away. Did you here that, did you here that, eh? That’s what I’m on about — did you see him suing me, you saw it didn’t you?

  22. #22 Todd W.
    March 18, 2011

    @rob

    I hereby award you 1 Internets!

  23. #23 Hamstur
    March 18, 2011

    “The Bible definitely speaks against forms of spiritual communication with spirits…”

    I agree – non-spiritual forms of communication with spirits is way better. Like drinking them.

  24. #24 mikerattlesnake
    March 18, 2011

    Ah, dueling magic. Of course, to the rest of us it looks something like that famous “magic missile!” LARPing video.

  25. #25 Scott Cunningham
    March 18, 2011

    Fleegman wrote

    Is there anyone who’s actually learning Reiki? I mean, it seems that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet who goes on and on about how great Reiki is is some kind of Master Teacher or something.

    What’s the point of playing make-believe if you can’t have immediate rewards for your ego with basically zero investment?

    I wish these loons would be as honest about what they do when they have to justify their presence in a hospital as they are in those comments.

    “Oh yes, I belong in the ER because, uh, I’m a 20-something college freshman who spent a whole weekend talking glib nonsense in a city park, and I watch Oprah while stoned?”

    Yeah. Fire exit is thataway.

  26. #26 sharon
    March 18, 2011

    @Abelard, I really like your gendered analysis on this. I have only met female reiki ‘practioners’. And have even eaten reiki cake! Made by a woman who on sold them to a cafe in my local area.

  27. #27 sharon
    March 18, 2011

    @Abelard, I really like your gendered analysis on this. I have only met female reiki ‘practitioners’. And have even eaten reiki cake! Made by a woman who sold them to a cafe in my local area.

  28. #28 jre
    March 18, 2011

    This is an area where honest rationalists may clash. A little while ago I had a philosophical difference with the excellent and highly respected SkeptVet over whether Dr. Walt’s view of alternative medicine was deserving of respect. My feeling is that, so long as Dr. Walt objects to quackery for essentially religious reasons, there is no guarantee that he won’t go off the rails himself. SkeptVet, in contrast, sees skepticism as a big tent where we can differ on issues of faith while still making common cause on issues we agree on.

    Fair enough. You can still count me as belonging to the “no faith healing” caucus.

  29. #29 Sastra
    March 18, 2011

    After a reiki practitioner was unsuccessful on selling me the idea that reiki was “fully supported by science,” she told me that I was “worse than the fundamentalists” — more narrow, closed-minded, and cruel! Evidently, the people at her old church had criticized her new profession on the grounds that it was not of the Spirit of God, and she was flirting with heresy and the Devil.

    But at least they granted that it actually worked!

  30. #30 lilady
    March 18, 2011

    @ Anonymous: Thanks for the link. It seems that Sister Madeline Gianforte has the tacit approval of her Bishop to offer reiki (pastoral) services…in spite of the official Catholic Church stance…hmm.

    Perhaps as Militant Agnostic states it is a multi-level marketing scheme and it will die out for the want of new “patients” and the competition for them by the reiki masters…I hope so.

  31. #31 sadmar
    March 19, 2011

    Hi Abelard:
    Awesome post offering plausible cultural analysis of Reiki’s appeal. One needs to know how these things work for the people who get sucked into them in order to combat them.
    Hi Llady:
    Excellent question about the political economy of Reiki’s incursion into the hospital system. Would single-payer be a disincentive to this kind of thing? What’s the status of CAM in the healthcare systems in Canada or the UK?

  32. #32 a different anonymous
    March 19, 2011

    I dislike Dr. Oz for many reasons, some of which you’ve written about on this blog. However, I don’t fault him for supporting reiki. His wife is a practitioner. If I were in Dr. Oz’s position, I’d profess a belief in reiki too.

  33. #33 sadmar
    March 19, 2011

    Another informational question: how does medical insurance deal with this crap?

  34. #34 Raincitygirl
    March 19, 2011

    Great analysis, Abelard.

  35. #35 gdave
    March 19, 2011

    “…what amused me was that the bishops’ objections were based far more on their perception that reiki violated Catholic religious teachings than its disapproval of the lack of science behind it.”

    Well, yes, they are Catholic bishops, and thus experts on Roman Catholic theology, not medicine. Their public statement seems entirely reasonable – reiki is not supported by scientific evidence AND it contradicts Catholic teachings, therefore it should not be practiced by Catholics. If you are not Catholic, their religious objections are irrelevant, and there are far better sources to go to for a scientific analysis of reiki.

    As for Pastor Garman, again, he is a religious leader, offering a religious opinion. He makes, as Orac acknowledges, the entirely reasonable request that the hospital in question clearly inform patients that reiki is a religious (Buddhist and Shinto), pastoral service, not a medical one. I’m not sure why that would be amusing, beyond the level of “Those Xtians sure are stupid for having beliefs I don’t share.”

    And neither the Catholic bishops nor Pastor Garman, as far as I could tell from the linked articles, tried to make the case that their form of faith healing was clinically superior to reiki, contrary to some of the “dueling magic” comments above. Pastor Garman doesn’t even mention Christian faith healing in any form.

  36. #36 gpmtrixie
    March 20, 2011

    @ #33

    Here’s what our insurance offers related to CAM: “A Wellness Discount Program which offers discounts on complementary and alternative medicine, products and services such as fitness centers and spas, nutrition counseling, yoga and pilates, tai chi, massage and body work, health magazines, mind-body therapies, holistic practitioners, acupuncture, personal trainers,
    vitamins and chiropractic.”

    So, no coverage, but here’s a discount card, knock yourself out. We have used the discount on YMCA membership.

    The Pocono Record is my hometown newspaper, so this gave me a chuckle. Thankfully, I did not recognize any of the commentors.

    And gdave @#35, good point.

  37. #37 CAM Practitioner
    March 20, 2011

    I would be curious to know if the blogger and any of the posters had ever experienced a Reiki session with an experienced and professional Reiki practitioner? Or if any of them had ever had other CAM modalities, like chiropractic care, acupuncture/acupressure, massage therapy, reflexology, nutrition, (to name a few). It’s rather hard to give an unbiased criticism when you have never tried or personally experienced the thing you are criticizing.

    Learning alternative and complementary therapies can be somewhat intimidating, especially if you have been trained in western medicine and are used to thinking that only invasive measures, like surgery, or prescribing pills/chemo/radiation which are toxic to the human body and can cause damage to organs like the liver and kidney are the only methods for healing. Or should be used to heal in ALL circumstances. The blogger acknowledges that he/she saw someone doing Reiki during his/her third year intern, so I am wondering if he/she is a practicing medical doctor, and whether this inhibits his/her neutrality on the subject. Or whether this person may have the belief that since they are a doctor, they are the healer, rather than the instrument. I wonder if this person has a deep seated fear of being rejected and ridiculed if he/she comes over to the en-lighted side and recognizes that there are many tools available to use in conjunction with Allopathic Medicine. There are many reputable doctors, like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, and Dr. Northrup who see the positive benefits of using Integrative Medicine to treat the whole person, and not totally relying on Allopathic methods. And no, they aren’t crazy or crack pots. They are intelligent human beings who understand that people are made of body, mind, and spirit, and that healing occurs best when all these levels are engaged and integrated.

    Medical students are taught that one third of healing happens because of the placebo effect, and yet only a small percentage of their education is spent on this subject. Studies are available and you can find information by Dr. Bruce Lipton on this subject. One-third is a lot of people who are healed because they may simply believe that the sugar pill worked, or that the sham operation worked. If the worst thing that happens is that a patient or client believes that whatever modality they are using, regardless of whether there is current scientific evidence available to prove that it works (positive thinking, visualization, Massage, acupuncture, prayer, Reiki, etc) is successful and they heal themselves, then that’s not such a bad thing now, is it. And it’s certainly not a sin.

  38. #38 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 20, 2011

    @CAM Practitioner,

    Before I’d ever undergo any form of treatment, there are three questions I’d like to have answered:
    1. is it effective for the particular condition I’m being treated for? In particular, is it more effective than a placebo?
    2. Is it safe (relatively speaking)?
    3. Is there some basis to understand why the treatment does what you say it does?

    Is there any evidence that a Reiki master can do what he/she says he/she can do? Is there any evidence for the energy fields the Reiki master claims to be able to manipulate and any for showing that they are actually able to do so? Are there studies that show that Reiki works better than placebo Reiki?
    Assuming there is evidence of both effectiveness and mechanism, is it really safe? How do we know?

  39. #39 Chris
    March 20, 2011

    CAM Practitioner:

    I would be curious to know if the blogger and any of the posters had ever experienced a Reiki session with an experienced and professional Reiki practitioner? Or if any of them had ever had other CAM modalities, like chiropractic care, acupuncture/acupressure, massage therapy, reflexology, nutrition, (to name a few). It’s rather hard to give an unbiased criticism when you have never tried or personally experienced the thing you are criticizing.

    So what? I know that leaping off of the roof of my house is not a good idea, even though it is something I have not experience.

    Nutrition? What makes you think none have ever experienced nutrition. I don’t believe we would be able to use a keyboard if we were starving, or suffering from scurvy or other diet related disease.

    I would guess that what you would consider nutrition is the diet pushed by Kevin Trudeau. I know that if someone tried 500 Calorie a day diet that it would be dangerous, because of basic health knowledge (oh, and that it has actually caused death). I also know that Robert O. Young’s ideas are pure bunk because of the simple fact that he does not know lemons are acidic (any basic cooking course will tell you that!).

    By the way, massages are very nice and relaxing. I just don’t think they provide any kind of magical healing.

    Acupuncture? Sticking sometimes non-sterile needles is supposed to do something other than insert microbes past the skin barrier?

    When chiropractors finally find the elusive subluxation, I might consider something more than expensive physical therapists.

    Same goes for anyone who thinks waving their hands over a person is effective.

  40. #40 Todd W.
    March 20, 2011

    @CAM Practitioner

    It’s rather hard to give an unbiased criticism when you have never tried or personally experienced the thing you are criticizing.

    Not really. See, personal experience is fraught with all kinds of biases and errors. Our senses, no matter how confident we are in them, may mislead us. Visit any good stage magician or sleight of hand artist and you will see how easily your own senses can mislead you.

    Not only that, but one does not necessarily need to personally experience something to be able to give an unbiased critique of it. For example, I do not need to experience a fist fight to be able to say that it is best avoided and that it would most likely hurt. I also do not need to experience homeopathy to be able to say that it is utter and complete bollocks.

    For the record, I have taken a homeopathic product. In fact, I took so much of it that I should have overdosed, had it been a real drug. Not only did the product do absolutely nothing of what it claimed, it did nothing at all, except leave a sweet taste in my mouth from the sugar.

    The same can be said of reiki. I do not need to personally experience it to say that it is self-delusion, at best, and conscious fraud at worst. If reiki works, then there should be some published evidence, like a well-designed, controlled, preferably blinded clinical trial. Here are some questions for the reiki practitioner or client:

    1) What is the energy that is involved?
    2) How is this energy detected? How do we know that it is actually there?
    3) What is the evidence that this energy has any actual effect on health or the functioning of the human body?
    4) Assuming that this energy exists, how do you know it is flowing? In other words, how do you know the practitioner is actually doing reiki and not just waving their hands around in the air?

    Before you can ethically offer reiki as a treatment for anything, you need to be able to answer all of those basic questions. After that, you still need to show that reiki works better than a placebo.

  41. #41 scott
    March 20, 2011

    CAM Practitioner:

    If you perform Reiki then you must believe that there is a ‘universal energy force’ that you can channel into your patients.

    What scientific evidence do you have for the existence of this ‘energy force’? What does it look like? Which physicist discovered it? Do you think it has a built in intelligence? Do you give it instructions that it can follow as it enters your patient in order to target a particular ailment?

    Do you realize a young girl named Emily Rosa devised an experiment that made a bunch of reiki practitioners look like fools: http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/reiki.html

    Do you also realize that you don’t actually have anything but anecdotal evidence on your side. Have you ever read about the scientific process and why it doesn’t use anecdotal evidence as a good measurement for proof. Let alone using it as the only evidence needed, like almost all CAM practitioner do. Have you noticed that you ignore all the evidence that goes against your position. No matter how solid it is.

    Your simply have faith in your ‘universal energy force’, the same way a religious person has faith in whatever god they believe in. You’ve replaced ‘god’ with ‘energy force’. Its like the Indiana Jones move where he replaces the goods with a bag of dirt in hopes of not setting off the boobie trap. Only your replacing a bag of dirt for a bag of dirt.

    Basic science isn’t that hard to understand, Why don’t you look into it. And sorry, but you can’t claim that we don’t understand CAM because we don’t participate. That’s a fallacy. It is possible to educate yourself on something without participating in it. How long would you have to read about Leprechauns before you realized Leprechauns weren’t real? Or would you say I have to go to Ireland if I really wanted to understand Leprechauns.

    All your arguments will eventually reduce themselves to absurdity, Good luck with that.

  42. #42 Sastra
    March 20, 2011

    CAM Practitioner #37 wrote:

    It’s rather hard to give an unbiased criticism when you have never tried or personally experienced the thing you are criticizing.

    Wouldn’t it be the opposite? If you’re trying to avoid inserting a personal bias (from either direction, pro or con), then it’s best not to be personally involved.

    Before you start a psychological analysis of why critics fail to believe, you need to focus on whether there’s reason to doubt.

  43. #43 scott
    March 20, 2011

    @ Todd W.

    Kinda of similar comments, typed and posted at almost the same exact time, Coincidence? Or maybe it was the Universal Skydaddy of Science that was channeling through us at the same time in order to get its message across.

  44. #44 herr doktor bimler
    March 20, 2011

    The blogger acknowledges that he/she saw someone doing Reiki during his/her third year intern, so I am wondering if he/she is a practicing medical doctor,
    I take it that you were too busy practitioning CAM to actually read the blog. Either that, or there is some Complementary / Alternative Reading Comprehension to go with the CAM.

  45. #45 Militant Agnostic
    March 20, 2011

    Cam Practitioner:

    reputable doctors, like Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, and Dr. Northrup

    This must be some definition of reputable with which I am unfamiliar. I believe you are confusing “famous” or perhaps “notorious” with reputable.

    Oz is blatant publicity whore. He had the notorious conman John Edward on his show. John Edward is slimeball who exploits grieving people by doing cold readings (and not very competent ones at that) and pretending to communicate with their deceased loved ones. As Tim Minchin puts it “that is fundamentally sick”. The APA (American Psychological Association) spokesperson who appeared on the show is complaining that her statements were edited to make it appear as if she endorsed John Edwards. Pam Ronald of the Tommorow’s Table blog was also a victim of the same dishonest editing.

    Dr Weil is an advocate of “stoned thinking” and is notorious for promoting unevidenced bullshit.

    Dr. Northrup peddles vitamins from an MLM scheme (Usana) and is regularly in their top 3 recruiters of preferred customers. Where I come from that is a conflict of interest. If my doctor recommended something he was selling, I would be looking for another doctor. She also promotes potentially dangerous treatments such as bio-identical hormones.

    In addition Northrup and Oz owe a lot of their fame to promotion by America’s Queen of Bullshit, Oprah Winfrey. In case you don’t remember Oprah promoted the vile nonsens known as “The Secret heavily, one of her self-help gurus killed three people with a poorly designed overcrowded sweat lodge. The current issue of MacLean’s Magazine (sort of the Canadian equivalent of Time/Newsweek) has as it’s cover story Oprah’s Bad Advice. The article is an expose of the self-help Gurus that have been promoted by Oprah Winfrey. Being on Oprah makes someone reputable only to the credulous gullible people that her advertisers exploit.

    To call these 3 quacks reputable is to stretch the definition of “reputable” so much that it would include Bernie Madoff and be red shifted down to 1 Hz.

  46. #46 iwashi
    March 20, 2011

    Off to update my living will/HCPoA to exclude all forms of sCAM up to and including “faith-based healing” (Reiki, therapeutic touch, chiropractic), homeopathy, any supplements where no proven efficacy data exists, etc. (although I would accept massage therapy if no pseudo-medical claims are made, just because it feels good).

  47. #47 Imogen
    March 20, 2011

    I was Reikied once, by a collegue (Master), after I injured my arm at work. It did jack shit for the soft tissue trauma in my arm, but it sure felt nice having a kind friend fuss over me for half an hour.

  48. #48 JohnV
    March 20, 2011

    @cam practitioner,

    Do all living entities possess an aura that enables reikie or is it the doman of humans or what?

  49. #49 sadmar
    March 20, 2011

    It’s rather hard to give an unbiased criticism when you have never tried or personally experienced the thing you are criticizing.

    The question is not whether criticism is biased, but whether it is informed. And the relationship between experience in a thing and being informed about a thing depends on the nature of the thing. In the current right-wing defamation campaign against teachers, a lot of utterly bullshit claims about teaching and teachers are being made by people who have never spent an hour in front of a classroom: claims that anyone who had ever experienced being a public school teacher would be extremely unlikely to make.

    But students don’t necessarily understand education having experienced it. To properly have ‘personally experienced’ Reiki to the point of being truly informed about it, one would have to have ‘trained’ to be a Reiki master and performed the procedures. Which, in this case, begs the whole question of bias, since one cannot ‘learn’ or ‘perform’ this sort of ‘therapy’ without accepting it’s spiritual claims.

  50. #50 lilady
    March 20, 2011

    @ Militant Agnostic: “If my doctor recommended something he was selling, I would be looking for another doctor”. Joe Mercola’s latest blog (the chemicals in meat can give you cancer) at the Huffington Post attracted the usual adoring posters. Some of the posters actually “pushed back” at Joe, questioning the unproven junk science…and also questioning his ethics by selling “organic” meat, chicken and fish on his website.

    I’ll be searching the internet for the MacLean’s Magazine article; thanks.

  51. #51 OleanderTea
    March 20, 2011

    It’s rather hard to give an unbiased criticism when you have never tried or personally experienced the thing you are criticizing.

    So is “knowledge” merely the sum total of each individual’s actual personal experiences?

  52. #52 Militant Agnostic
    March 20, 2011

    Lilady – here is the article – it is nothing exceptional, but in the comments there is a link to an SBM post by Orac’s “friend”.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/03/08/oprahs-so-called-experts/

  53. #53 OleanderTea
    March 20, 2011

    Oh, hell, that first sentence is a quote from cam practitioner. HTML issues.

  54. #54 Narad
    March 20, 2011

    To call these 3 quacks reputable is to stretch the definition of “reputable” so much that it would include Bernie Madoff and be red shifted down to 1 Hz.

    LEAVE CLAM LAKE OUT OF IT!

  55. #55 Militant Agnostic
    March 20, 2011

    Oleander Tea

    So is “knowledge” merely the sum total of each individual’s actual personal experiences?

    In the woo world, yes.

    Oh, hell, that first sentence is a quote from cam practitioner. HTML issues.

    You sound angry and you admit to having “issues”. It looks like you could benefit from a nice relaxing Reiki treatment :)

  56. #56 lilady
    March 21, 2011

    @ Militant Agnostic: Thanks for the link to MacLean’s Magazine. The article was sorta lightweight, but did point out how Oprah anoints certain people and her audience immediately goes out to buy the book, book the “doctor” and buys the supplements.

    I suppose if you are a nail technician and tire of manicures
    or the Amway sales doesn’t work out for you…the natural career trajectory would be to become a Reiki Master.

  57. #57 feralboy12
    March 21, 2011

    If the worst thing that happens is that a patient or client believes that whatever modality they are using, regardless of whether there is current scientific evidence available to prove that it works (positive thinking, visualization, Massage, acupuncture, prayer, Reiki, etc) is successful and they heal themselves, then that’s not such a bad thing now, is it.

    If they paid for it, and it was really just their body healing itself as it often does, then it sucks.

  58. #58 Anonymous
    March 21, 2011

    Schism!

    “This is a must read special report from Lighthouse Trails Research regarding Rick Warren’s new Daniel Plan for his Saddleback Church. It may be the most clear evidence to date of the direction Warren is leading his followers into contemplative spirituality and mysticism (CSM). If you are a supporter of Rick Warren or attend his church, I implore you to prayerfully consider what is being presented to you here. He is opening the door to a tsunami of deception for all who follow him and his models. Will you continue to blindly follow this man, or test him against the Word of God like the Bereans?”

    http://airo-cross.blogspot.com/2011/01/rick-warrens-daniel-plan-new-age.html

  59. #59 Koltuk Takımları
    March 21, 2011

    i couldnt understand what does want to explain this video??

  60. #60 Andreas Johansson
    March 21, 2011

    Chris wrote:

    I would guess that what you would consider nutrition is the diet pushed by Kevin Trudeau. I know that if someone tried 500 Calorie a day diet that it would be dangerous, because of basic health knowledge (oh, and that it has actually caused death).

    500 kcal/day? Are you engaging in hyperbole or is this Trudeau person seriously advocating a starvation diet as good nutrition?

  61. #61 Vicki
    March 21, 2011

    CAM practitioner:

    Do you not understand the difference between “we can’t prove this works” and “people have proven that this doesn’t work,” or are you hoping we won’t. There isn’t just no evidence that reiki and homeopathy work, there are large amounts of evidence showing that they don’t.

    Your standards of evidence appear to be that endless failures to prove something works mean nothing. And proofs that it doesn’t work mean nothing. By those standards, anything is true. By those standards, Zeus is real and is standing outside Rockefeller Center deciding whether we should have some thunder in this rainstorm. By those standards, you owe me 5000 euros, just because I say so. (I will not be sending a debt collector, because the courts are more rational than that, and because I have standards.)

    By those standards, every medication ever tried works and is safe, because we can and should ignore all evidence of adverse effects. Just as we’re told to do with injuries and deaths related to chiropractic adjustments.

    Doctors following your standards would prescribe thalidomide for morning sickness. They would bleed their patients to death. And they would charge large amounts of money for worthless water and handwaving.

  62. #62 Denice Walter
    March 21, 2011

    @ Andreas Johansson : I’ve heard that also. Some woo-meisters even claim that as a long. term. diet, one should keep to 1500-1700 ( based on height) calories to maintain that social x-ray chic. It appears that someone once starved rats and the rats had an increased life span. I can understand why the woo-meisters believe that rat science would translate well to themselves. The usual suspects brag about their ultra-low body fat and ultra-low cholesterol ( e.g. see HeathRanger.com/ stat).

  63. #63 Chris
    March 21, 2011

    Andreas Johansson:

    500 kcal/day? Are you engaging in hyperbole or is this Trudeau person seriously advocating a starvation diet as good nutrition?

    Indeed he is. There was a presentation of this “diet” at our last Skeptic’s Meetup. It is called the “HCG Diet”, and there are several websites about it, but I’ll just point you to this article. Also, if you can’t get a doctor to give the HCG injections, they will sell you homeopathic HCG drops.

  64. #64 Andreas Johansson
    March 21, 2011

    @Chris: Ah, so it’s a weightloss scheme, which makes something resembling sense. I took your post to mean he recommended as a long-term diet.

    I confess to a certain morbid curiosity about how I’d look on a 1700 kcal/day diet. 1700 kcal/day happens to be just about what the Mifflin formula predicts for my current basal metabolic rate (and I’m pretty thin already: BMI ~19).

  65. #65 Chris
    March 21, 2011

    Andreas Johansson:

    Ah, so it’s a weightloss scheme, which makes something resembling sense. I took your post to mean he recommended as a long-term diet.

    Actually the “maintenance” part is also Calorie restricted, plus the 500 kcal/day can extend to months. Here is the website shown at the Skeptics Meetup:
    http://www.greenhcg.com/phases-of-hcg-diet-plan.php

    It shows where the Calorie intake can be increased to 800 kcal/day for women and 1000 kcal for men. That is still dangerous. Though you don’t have to take the homeopathic HCG drop anymore.

  66. #66 fran
    March 21, 2011

    I am interested in whether you have actively lobbied to have clergy removed from the hospitals.

  67. #67 Room
    March 21, 2011

    Also, if you can’t get a doctor to give the HCG injections, they will sell you homeopathic HCG drops.

  68. #68 Chris
    March 21, 2011

    fran:

    I am interested in whether you have actively lobbied to have clergy removed from the hospitals.

    Who is this question directed towards? Also, what does it have to do with the subject of the article?

  69. #69 Sastra
    March 21, 2011

    If the worst thing that happens is that a patient or client believes that whatever modality they are using, regardless of whether there is current scientific evidence available to prove that it works (positive thinking, visualization, Massage, acupuncture, prayer, Reiki, etc) is successful and they heal themselves, then that’s not such a bad thing now, is it.

    A lot of my pro-CAM friends will make this argument, which boils down to ‘so what if it’s placebo?’ Placebo = it will please. If someone thinks it helps, does it matter whether or not a therapy technically did anything measurable?

    Perhaps a form should be presented to all patients, and then some of them can be issued a special code, or given t-shirts, before they see a physician.

    It can say “LIE TO ME.”

    That way, we have informed consent, and the CAM artists would know who should get reiki, and who wouldn’t want it.

  70. #70 Andreas Johansson
    March 22, 2011

    @Christ: I said it made something resembling sense, not that it made actual sense.

    Putting my data into the calculator on the page you linked to, it turns out, not surprisingly, that the people behind it are idiots; it tells me “You need to lose -7 kilograms to reach your healthy weight.” It goes on to say my current weight is a health risk that should be dealt with by radical caloric restrition …

    (It also seems to have a strange notion of “lifestyle” – it says I need a lifestyle change, but it doesn’t recommend any long-term dietary changes, just a 45 day slimming scheme.)

  71. #71 Leila
    May 1, 2011

    I do reiki (note that I used the term do, instead of practise) and have done for 6 years. When learning Reiki I was not indoctrinated into any dogma and the teacher was very clear that you do not have to have an religious or spiritual beliefs, which is a relief being agnostic. People’s personal beliefs are irrelevant.

    We were also told in no uncertain terms that reiki is not going to do anything like fix broken bones or cure AIDS, and that if someone was clearly in need of medical help they would be directed to a hospital. It is there as a compliment to make people feel better. Practitioners I know issue a questionairre to the client before and after treatment to monitor how they feel. These changes in how the feel are recorded. In regards to charging, in London anyway, many people do not charge (personally I don’t charge). Those that do often charge for their time, not the treatment, and others charge for their time as they do with other therapies they offer.

    Those that charge extortionately, or that claim that they can completely heal people from cancer or whatever ARE frauds.

    I don’t believe in God, but I do believe that there’s a lot about the universe we don’t know (apparently 4% as discussed by Richard Panek). I believe that the universe has energy and at present we are unable to measure this but that Reiki interacts with this. That doesn’t make it anything mystical or kooky wooky, it simply means for me that there is phenomena currently outside our breadth of understanding and admitting I don’t know everything, no one does. I don’t fully understand how it works, and when I think about its origins I do thing it sounds like a pile of turd(!) but having seen reiki work for myself I know there is something in it even if I don’t understand how or why it works.

    I have a Masters in Science and am pretty skeptical, I like to see or feel things for myself and saw a course advertised at my local college fairly cheaply and thought Id try it for myself. We learned how to practise reiki on ourselves or others, and went through case forms to see what specific differences the person felt before and after their treatment.

    I don’t consider myself a nurse nor do get an ego boost from channelling energy. I do, however, get a boost out of seeing someone that leaves me after having reiki feeling relaxed and happier. When I have done it on people many say they didn’t expect to feel anything but afterwards they talk about how they felt during the treatment, which differ greatly to simply sitting in a chair for 30 minutes.

    I have seen the effects it has had on other people and myself and if I thought it was a pile of shit I would not have carried on for so long. While I can’t explain why people feel relaxed in scientific terms, I have seen it work. If Reiki is being volunteered (not charged for) in hospitals and is there solely for people, who are probably in a lot of discomfort, to have half an hour or whatever where they can relax and feel better about themselves then why not?

    There seem to be a lot of comments from people who have never tried Reiki. Surely by experiencing and feeling something you can make your own conclusions and there are plenty of people that volunteer their services for free. I’ll probably get harpooned for writing the comment, but I really see no harm in anything that makes people feel better and isn’t of detriment to their health or wallet, whether it can be explained in scientific terms or not.

  72. #72 Guest
    May 1, 2011

    I have also remained rather skeptical about energy work in general even tho I have had training in Reiki and Qi Gong. Much of the “evidence” is very anecdotal and I am not completely comfortable with that. At the same time I have to admit that after a Reiki treatment I was given, I felt more relaxed and had a more profound body buzz than I have experienced after most of the massages I have had.
    Sub-atomic physics claims that at that level we are primarily made up of vibrations of energy that have at best a tendency to exist, and the relative distance between sub-atomic particles is comprable to the distance between the earth and sun. If this is correct, then we are comprised of primarily empty space and vibrations of energy that give us the perception of a solid physical reality. This perception, accordingly, is then only an illusion.
    Then if you get into quantum physics it would seem to imply that there is in actuality no separation between any one thing and any other thing at that level. Energy and matter are interchangeable, and in fact, sometimes sub-atomic particles appear and disappear in a vacuum. Deepak Chopra in one of his books used this point to suggest that if someone has a bad spine or bad heart and every cell in the body is replaced periodically then, at some level, that person has recreated their bad spine or heart. If we could come into contact with that quantum level why could we not recreate a healthy spine or heart? This may be a scientific point that lends potential credence to energy work, tho I think delusions of grandeur need to be guarded against rather than embraced in favor of more pragmatic attitudes.
    I have had success helping people with minor aches and pains, tho I haven’t spent a great deal of time cultivating these practices, so I believe there is definitely something to it, tho I believe it takes openness on part of all involved in the treatment. It should be seen as what it is, facilitating, not healing. What I can’t stand is the fact that this area of study seems to attract a lot of kooks with delusions of grandeur and bizarre pretentions along with well meaning and competent practitioners.

  73. #73 Narad
    May 1, 2011

    I believe that the universe has energy and at present we are unable to measure this but that Reiki interacts with this.

    Define “energy.”

  74. #74 Pablo
    May 2, 2011

    I have a Masters in Science and am pretty skeptical,

    Wow, Leila, you have a Masters Degree? In SCIENCE? (am I the only one reminded of Dr Science? But I digress)

    You must be really smart or something.

    Seriously, what was the point of that?

    and am pretty skeptical

    Evidence to the contrary notwithstanding…

  75. #75 JayK
    May 2, 2011

    ” Deepak Chopra in one of his books used this point to suggest that if someone has a bad spine or bad heart and every cell in the body is replaced periodically then, at some level, that person has recreated their bad spine or heart. ”

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Oh, was that rude?

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Thanks for the hearty laugh, probably not what you intended, but that was hilarious.

  76. #76 Leila
    May 2, 2011

    Pablo, I wrote that I have a Master just as an indication that I understand research methodologies and testing. I didn’t mean to sound condescending so there is no need to be rude, doesn’t do much to prove your point (which Im not really sure what it was, poking fun apparently) by belittling others. And as for evidencing my scepticism, just because I am not sceptical of one thing, which is the topic thread, does not mean that I am not sceptical about other topics.

    Narad, that’s an interesting question. It’s tricky to explain succinctly, but hope this attempt is clear. For me, energy is an external force that can be channelled and transformed into something else. I do not think that energy is ‘intelligent’ in that it has a brain, but that it can be interacted with and channelled, for example solar energy through panels being used to power electricity.

    I’m not interested in having the last word, just wanted to give my two cents, which was ultimately I’ve seen the relaxing effects it has, and and I don’t think anything that makes people feel better and isn’t bad for their health or cash flow is bad.

  77. #77 Prometheus
    May 2, 2011

    Leila responds:

    “…just wanted to give my two cents, which was ultimately I’ve seen the relaxing effects it has, and and I don’t think anything that makes people feel better and isn’t bad for their health or cash flow is bad”

    Ah, but Reiki is bad for cash flow – at least, for the “patient”. For the Reiki “master”, the cash flow effect can be very good.

    I have no objection to people practising “Reiki” on each other for amusement or relaxation (just between consenting adults, mind you); where I object is when Reiki “masters” charge money to “channel energy” (or where gullible people are convinced to use Reiki for real medical problems).

    While the “master” may believe in this nonsense, there is no energy being channeled, so any benefit the “patient” receives is due to their own expectations.

    How would you feel about someone who waves his hands over computers and “channels energy” (or “unblocks” their “Chi”) in order to make Windows (or Snow Leopard) “work better” (not necessarily faster, but “better” in a holistic sense)? Wouldn’t you be the tinyiest bit upset that this person is taking advantage of gullible people?

    No? Well, never mind, then. Maybe it’s just me who objects to other people being ripped off.

    Prometheus

  78. #78 JayK
    May 2, 2011

    @Leila: Does reiki work on hysterical women as well as the previously prescribed devices? I need a comparison to something tangible.

    Also, since there is this “energy” you keep talking about, there seems to be a massive opportunity for a capitalist minded person to investigate technology to investigate it. Can you point us to someone doing such an investigation and the possibilities they put forth?

  79. #79 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    May 3, 2011

    “Sub-atomic physics claims that at that level we are primarily made up of vibrations of energy that have at best a tendency to exist, and the relative distance between sub-atomic particles is comprable to the distance between the earth and sun. If this is correct, then we are comprised of primarily empty space and vibrations of energy that give us the perception of a solid physical reality. This perception, accordingly, is then only an illusion.
    Then if you get into quantum physics it would seem to imply that there is in actuality no separation between any one thing and any other thing at that level. Energy and matter are interchangeable, and in fact, sometimes sub-atomic particles appear and disappear in a vacuum.”

    Sacred saviour on a fucking thunderbox! Where to begin ….

    *sigh*

    “Sub-atomic physics claims that at that level we are primarily made up of vibrations of energy”

    It says no such thing. It allows for particles that vibrate, and the vibration is a measure of the energy they possess. Energy is defined as the capacity to do work. Nothing else. It is a property of an object that is based on the motion of that object or on its position relative to a known datum. Energy is not something that exists in its own right.

    “If this is correct, then we are comprised of primarily empty space and vibrations of energy”

    Well, it’s not correct so you don’t get far on that track.

    “if you get into quantum physics it would seem to imply that there is in actuality no separation between any one thing and any other thing at that level.”

    Wrong again. There is separation but we cannot measure it… at the quantum level, we deal with probability functions, which decay exponentially away from the most likely point at which we could find a given particle; but this does not mean that nothing is separate from anything else. It just means that we cannot measure the separation. Go ask Werner Heisenberg why this is!

    “Energy and matter are interchangeable,”

    No they’re not! I don’t know where you get that idea but E=mc² does not mean that energy and mass are the same thing or interchangable! That equation relates to the increase in the measured mass of a particle as its energy increases. If anything, that equation implies that they are not interchangable!

    The number of times I’ve had to re-teach people this stuff because people have understood it wrong … a euro per time would have made me rich enough to own Finland!

  80. #80 Bilgisayarkursu
    May 16, 2011

    Thank you this information was missing a lot.

  81. #81 Mexicanrose
    June 28, 2011

    What an EXTREMELY interesting article! My best friend took all these so-called Reiki courses…& she too got her ‘Masters’ after spending just 1 weekend. She has poured HUNDREDS if not a few thousand dollars on this crap. Now she’s into Equine assisted healing whereby the horses project some sort of energy into someone. This is totally unbelievable.
    Someone wrote in this article that if a person doesn’t believe what’s going on 100%, they are told not to be negative. This is my friend to a ‘t’. My friend refuses to listen to reason, & will not discuss anything further if you try to get her to see reality. She’s totally in a dreamworld, putting all these ‘courses’ ahead of promises & commitments she’s made to others, thereby creating disappointment & hurt. She feels that God is guiding her to do this stuff..it’s meant to be, etc.etc. She has let me down & disappointed me a few times over this crap. She also speaks of the “Divine” when this topic arises. I do feel she’ll wake up one day only to realise all of this s*** is nothing but a money waster & a scam. “A fool & his/her money are soon parted”..this will be the case with my friend.
    Oh by the way, she & her ‘partner’ are breeding their horses & buying other animals to set up their Equine assisted healing centre. They don’t have their own property (yet). I highly doubt this involvement with Reiki or equine assisted healing will fade any time soon. She’s involved with many like-minded people. Personally, I think they’re all nutty..but support each other in this ridiculous belief.

  82. #82 Mexicanrose
    June 28, 2011

    What an EXTREMELY interesting article! My best friend took all these so-called Reiki courses…& she too got her ‘Masters’ after spending just 1 weekend. She has poured HUNDREDS if not a few thousand dollars on this crap. Now she’s into Equine assisted healing whereby the horses project some sort of energy into someone. This is totally unbelievable.
    Someone wrote in this article that if a person doesn’t believe what’s going on 100%, they are told not to be negative. This is my friend to a ‘t’. My friend refuses to listen to reason, & will not discuss anything further if you try to get her to see reality. She’s totally in a dreamworld, putting all these ‘courses’ ahead of promises & commitments she’s made to others, thereby creating disappointment & hurt. She feels that God is guiding her to do this stuff..it’s meant to be, etc.etc. She has let me down & disappointed me a few times over this crap. She also speaks of the “Divine” when this topic arises. I do feel she’ll wake up one day only to realise all of this s*** is nothing but a money waster & a scam. “A fool & his/her money are soon parted”..this will be the case with my friend.
    Oh by the way, she & her ‘partner’ are breeding their horses & buying other animals to set up their Equine assisted healing centre. They don’t have their own property (yet). I highly doubt this involvement with Reiki or equine assisted healing will fade any time soon. She’s involved with many like-minded people. Personally, I think they’re all nutty..but support each other in this ridiculous belief. Want your mind blown!!????…her sister is an ordained Baptist Minister, & her brother is an ordained Anglican Minister. They know she’s into animal talk, but I highly doubt just to what degree she’s into all this stuff, especially about a weird religion she’s attending. I only hope she wakes up before she finds that people who love her are gone because they can’t take her crap any longer.

  83. #83 Calli Arcale
    June 28, 2011

    I’m sorry to hear that, Mexicanrose. I don’t have any good advice for you, except that if it feels right, you can continue to be her friend — and be there for her if/when she eventually learns it’s all hooey. There’s no guarantee she will, though. A good friend of my mother’s has gotten into all kinds of woo, and one of them is reiki. She spends significant amounts of money to attend training seminars, and got my mom to come along to one of them. (My mom went out of politeness, but couldn’t get out of there fast enough. One can only bite one’s tongue for so long before there is blood.) They’re still friends, and she’s been very supportive of some hard times my mother is going through — but my mom’s actually worried that the woo will kill her. Reiki’s fairly harmless, except for the MLM-scam-structure that is costing her so much money and the potential for delaying effective treatment. Not all woo is so harmless. My mother’s friend was put on high dose thyroid hormones to treat something or other and was very sick because of it; finally, at my mother’s urging, she told her regular doctor about it, who ordered her to discontinue them immediately and gave her actual thyroid tests. Of course she had no actual thyroid problems, and she felt massively better once she discontinued the hormones. Amazingly, that close shave did nothing to discourage her. People will believe what they want to believe, and there’s only so much that can be done to fight that.

    I hope your friend wakes up before the money is gone, or before she gets in over her head with the equine therapy thing; I hope she has experience with horses. The current market makes it difficult to unload unwanted horses, so if the therapy thing doesn’t pan out, she could find herself in a difficult situation financially.

  84. #84 lilady
    June 28, 2011

    I’m just surmising that Mexicali Rose’s friend, did not transition from a rational way of thinking directly into Reiki.

    I suspect that “friend” did some selective TV watching (Dr. Oz) and then visited some websites such as Huffington Post to view their panel of experts on alt/cam medicines, supplements and treatments. Perhaps if “friend” is basically healthy she has drawn some conclusions about vitamins and supplements because she has been inundated by information from “nutritionist”…not Registered/Licensed Dieticians…about vitamins as preventive medicine. She may have read somewhere that for most people on a balanced diet supplemental vitamins are not necessary (a waste of money)…but that didn’t sink in…or she grossly misinterprets that vitamins and minerals obtained through balanced diets are good for you, ergo more vitamins, minerals (and supplements) are “better for you”.

    It has been my experience with some of my friends and acquaintances that plugging into “nutrition” is the start of going down the woo path. I have been quite successful at convincing them with proof that doubling, tripling or quadrupling down on any vitamin is a waste of money and can lead to dangerous vitamin overdose (vitaminosis). I suspect that some of my intelligent friends and acquaintances were diverted from giving credence to, or indulging in any other woo junk science or “treatments”.

    I suspect that Mexicali Rose is a better person than me by continuing her close friendship with “friend” who is totally into woo, has disappointed her often and, who I deem, as beyond help. Blame the cynic in me…or my age…or my determination to end relationships that are “one-way streets”.

  85. #85 Piedad
    October 14, 2011

    I am exploring Reiki. Recently, my massage therapist did Reiki for about 15 minutes on me after working on my very tense shoulders. I felt tremendous relief, not only physically, but emotionally too. My massage therapist is a Christian woman and open to this type of healing. I read a book about Reiki and I have read what the Catholic Bishops have said, what christian reiki practitioners have said, this blog, etc. At this point in my life, I am still a practicing Catholic and have personally experienced the benefits of Reiki. Additionally, I have a child who has a chronic condition who has also benefited from Reiki.

    I am still trying to decern what to do and where to go with Reiki. I have registered to receive a Reiki Certification b/c I am so impressed with the benefits.

    I don’t fear Reiki. I lived in Japan for many years and I am Indian. I have seen the dedication and love within people of a different faith other than Christianity. I have seen and experienced the harsh reality of being judged b/c I am different. I believe God is all, I believe God is too big to be placed into one size fits all. Sadly, it seems our belief in God has become more like a competitive sport.

    I believe in God’s love and mercy. I believe Jesus is a divine messenger just as Buddha was. I believe in our Blessed Mother Mary and hold her in very high esteem.

    I have no desire to abandon my Catholic faith, yet, I firmly believe that I should be in accordance with what the church teaches. At this point, all I reading is that Reiki practice is discouraged and has not been officially declared to be against the Catholic belief system.

    Piedad

  86. #86 Level2 Reiki
    February 5, 2012

    Hello,
    I stumbled upon this blog while researching the question: is neutrality one of the seven deadly sins? Don’t know why google directed me here, but while I’m here will put in my two cents.
    I studied Reiki. You are wrong about not touching the body. Some in the practice do, some do not. Many of the reiki moves involve touch.
    I enjoyed working with the clients, but could never say that I was healing them. This took a leap of faith that I was incapable of. I went back to college to study the scientific side and got a degree in massage therapy. Studying the body from a medical point of view was much more interesting than studying reiki. However, knowledge didn’t make me a better “healer”. It just made me a legitimate health care provider and gave me a greater awareness of my limitations. Education did nothing to enhance qualities of compassion and caring. I haven’t done a single massage since I graduated. Before going back to school, I was working in the hospital with patients once or twice a week. They said the sessions lifted their spirits.
    Is practicing Reiki a sin? No. It’s a way of showing concern for another human. Many patients in hospitals receive no loving touch, no gentle touch. They are cut, burned, sliced and diced. Kindness and caring are healing. At the very least gentle touch cuts down on stress and the relief of stress promotes healing.

  87. #87 mobilya
    April 28, 2012

    I studied Reiki. You are wrong about not touching the body. Some in the practice do, some do not. Many of the reiki moves involve touch.
    Caillou genç odasi takimlari
    Kindness and caring are healing. At the very least gentle touch cuts down on stress and the relief of stress promotes healing.

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