What do esoteric healing modalities have to do with psychology?
What is the relevance of practices which claim to minister to “subtle anatomy”
using the laying on of hands or the focusing of intention to the “talking
therapies” which, while their forms may vary, broadly involve exploring
emotions, thoughts and behaviour in the context of a supportive relationship?
The term “energy healing” is frequently used to describe such interventions as
Therapeutic Touch, Reiki and Spiritual Healing. The anatomy of the physical body
is, according to the theory underpinning these practices, mirrored in a subtle
anatomy. Each nerve plexux in the body is said to correspond with one of the
“energy centres”, called chakras (Sanskrit for “wheel”) to which detailed
reference was made in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in the sixth century. Copious
firsthand accounts of perceptual awareness of the chakras, both visual and
kinaesthetic, have been reported.
Popularly depicted as discs of colour positioned vertically along the spine and
spanning the spectrum from red at the base to indigo at the crown, the chakras
can be thought of as levels of mind nested in ascending orders of complexity.
Many fields of enquiry chart phases of human development. Ego psychology posits
stage-specific attributes of the maturing individual. Anthropology moots
stage-specific features of the evolving species. The chakras represent levels of
attainment as the psyche emerges from prenatal fusion with the mother to
progress through and beyond infantile dependency. Later developmental milestones
include the establishment of autonomy, the exercise and control of the will and
the acceptance of social constraint, the development of empathetic awareness,
the ability to form mature relationships based on mutuality and to participate
in community. Transpersonal theorists posit further levels of spiritual
Reiki is a form of subtle energy healing that has been reported to reduce
stress, relieve tension, promote the body’s own restorative abilities and foster
a deep sense of serenity and wellbeing. The imagery accompanying Reiki is that
of light, for which the practitioner acts as a conduit. The approach is
profoundly caring and dedicated to service.
A session lasts for an hour. There is no need to undress and, unlike massage,
chiropractic or cranio-fascial therapy, no physical manipulation. The room is
warm and softly lit. Essential oil scents the air. Gentle music plays in the
background. Water is offered, and is in plentiful supply. After a short
discussion with the practitioner, the client lies on a plinth, head resting
comfortably on a pillow. A blanket is available. During the session, the client
may choose to talk, to remain silent or to go to sleep.
Beginning at the head and working downwards, the practitioner places his or her
hands over the chakras, or energy centres. The front and the back of the body
are treated. The hands may rest lightly upon the body or be held some distance
away from the area being treated, and remain in each position for some minutes.
The client may experience sensations of warmth or see colours in the mind’s eye.
Some are not aware of any physical phenomena, but report feeling deeply relaxed
during and after the session.
The experience of Reiki is as unique as the individual client, with his or her
own particular spiritual, emotional and physical needs. Reiki is non-invasive
and compatible with other forms of therapy.
I completed Reiki training (level III) and commenced practice in 1998. I see
clients in County Roscommon and in Dublin, and can also make home, hospital or
hospice visits by arrangement.