Living with a chronic health condition can take its toll – physically, mentally and emotionally. Physical discomfort, pain and fatigue are common symptoms, and over time they can often lead to feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. Medications prescribed to treat the symptoms often add to the mix. Potential side effects such as fatigue, headaches or digestive upsets can be an additional nuisance. Additionally, your body’s liver and kidneys are under greater strain to metabolize and excrete the medications, which can also add to malaise and potentially decreased functioning over time.
The degenerative effects of stress
Increased stress levels activate the adrenal glands, producing a constant state of „fight or flight.“ This is necessary when we are in a dangerous situation, as our body is gearing up our bodies to respond quickly to deal with whatever is confronting us. However, if this response is activated constantly in response to physical or emotional stress, it causes the levels of certain key hormones, such as cortisol, to rise in your body.
Cortisol is necessary for the regulation of blood pressure, supporting the immune function and raising the body’s inflammatory responses when needed. Normal secretions of cortisol are healthy, but chronically high secretions of cortisol can cause higher blood pressure, storage of fat around the waistline, increased amounts of insulin in the bloodstream, impaired immune function and elevated inflammatory responses to infection or injury. The effects of stress over time for healthy people can potentially lead to the development of a chronic health condition. However, if you’re already living with a chronic health condition, it is especially important to effectively manage stress and seek supportive, healing relief.
How Reiki can help
Reiki supports your body’s relaxation response to keep you feeling grounded and balanced. We all have „chi“ or life-force energy flowing through us. Stress, illness and emotional turmoil eventually take their toll on our physical and etheric – human energy field – bodies, leading to a perpetual state of unwellness.
Like other forms of Eastern-based medicine, such as acupuncture, Reiki works to clear blockages in our human energy field that cause imbalances in the way our body operates. If the flow of energy in your body is impeded, your body will eventually manifest that as a physical or emotional symptom. A Reiki session facilitates a state of relaxation; clinical studies have shown that when a recipient receives Reiki, their respiration deepens, blood pressure stabilizes and light alpha waves are produced by the brain. This is important, because when your body is able to rest, your adrenals slow down and cortisol production drops, giving your digestive, respiratory, circulatory and metabolic functions a much-needed break.
People who experience chronic or even acute pain can benefit from receiving Reiki. A study published in Holistic Nursing Practice in 2006, by Anne T. Vitale MSN, APRN, BC and Priscilla C. O’Connor PhD, APRN, BC entitled, „The Effect of Reiki on Pain and Anxiety in Women With Abdominal Hysterectomies: A Quasi-experimental Pilot Study“ describes the use of Reiki in a controlled setting to assist with post-operative pain control. It concluded that Reiki positively affected the patients‘ ability to manage post-operative pain with fewer medications. Reiki was also given to a control group prior to surgery, and those patients experienced less anxiety regarding their procedure and had shorter surgery times.
While channeling Reiki, I have seen how much it soothes my clients. They consistently report feeling calmer, more relaxed and gently energized at the end of their session. I have worked on people who were in acute pain and seen how it caused immediate and often long-lasting relief from their symptoms. Anyone who has experienced the therapeutic effects of massage therapy can benefit from receiving Reiki. I have worked on clients with fibromyalgia, cancer and who are HIV-positive, and they have told me how much better Reiki made them feel. It helped ease their discomfort, reduced their anxiety and improved their quality of life. Reiki is not a cure-all but like all complementary therapies, it helps to facilitate and support the healing process within the body.
Adding Reiki to your treatment plan
Reiki is increasingly being used in the clinical setting to provide relaxation and relief for a variety of acute and chronic conditions. A number of hospitals and treatment centers are using it as an adjunct therapy to help patients cope more effectively physically and emotionally from their illnesses, as well to help counteract some of the harsh side effects of medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy. However, it is not meant to be a substitute for examination and care from a qualified medical professional. If you are living with a chronic illness, I encourage you to partner with your physician or therapist to create a treatment plan that includes allopathic methods if needed, as well as other supportive, holistic approaches such as Reiki for mind, body and spirit wellness.