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Reiki in Hospitals: How to Practice with Success

Article by Elizabeth Scala

Being trained first and foremost as a Registered Nurse, it’s only natural that as I started learning about, training in and practicing Reiki- I wanted to bring it to my work in the hospital setting.
However, many questions came to mind:

  • Am I ready to practice Reiki with patients?
  • Will Reiki even be accepted in the hospital setting?
  • How can I blend my scientific skills in nursing with the art of Reiki Practice?

Since Reiki Practitioners are often a lot like healthcare providers (compassionate, helpful and giving) I’m sure many of you have thought once or twice in your Reiki career about the notion of introducing Reiki into the healthcare setting. Like me, you may struggle with where to start. I’d like to share my own journey with getting Reiki into the hospital and then provide you with some tips to help you along the way…

My Reiki Journey

I found out about Reiki at a holistic fair that was being held where I worked. In the fall of 2010, during my lunch break, I went down to see what complementary modalities were represented (and if I could get a ‘free sample’). I was a stressed out nurse, who had recently left my job as a full-time psych nurse to go ‘find’ and take care of myself, so at the time- this health fair was right up my alley.

Well, when I got down to the large conference hall, I found a bunch of vendors, all of whom were offering their services. I wanted to try acupuncture, but the line was much too long so a nurse that knew me pushed me over to the ‘Reiki lady’. I knew nothing about it and as I read the flyer felt completely confused.

I guess you could say ‘the rest is history’ as I signed up for and completed my level one training that next spring. I continued to train with my Reiki Master and after a year or so, was a Master Teacher myself. In the beginning I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my practice with anyone, but over time felt called to invite Reiki more and more into my work.

Introducing Reiki into the Hospital

Having felt so many benefits from my self-practice (increased patience, less stress, and a calmer, less reactive approach); I realized that this wonderful gift had to be shared with more nurses like me. I mean, let’s face it- nurses are a stressed out, overworked group who need self-healing. I was now on a mission to share this practice with other nurses for their own self-care.

What happened over the course of the next few years was wonderful. I was able to start up a Reiki networking group, to share journal articles and discuss the practice. I taught nurses and nursing students Reiki level one and two. I hosted a monthly Reiki share for my graduated students; I was able to go to nursing units and share Reiki with nurses while they worked. For about two years, everything went wonderfully smooth. And then I was told to stop everything.

Now the ‘why’ I am not 100% sure of. It’s also not the ‘point’ of this article. What I do want to highlight (and will share with you in the form of some tips and techniques) is that we cannot ‘force’ Reiki Practice. Just as we need to ask permission to share Reiki with an individual, the same goes for a group, organization or institution.

Because I live the Reiki Principles daily, I have accepted being told to stop the Reiki activity at the hospital. And here’s what you can do if you’d like to introduce Reiki into healthcare and you just don’t know what to do or how to start.

How to Navigate the Healthcare System

  • First off, think about the Reiki Principles. Starting off with ‘Just for Today’ is a perfect mantra to keep in mind. Sure, maybe you’ve been told that this hospital or that healthcare setting doesn’t want Reiki, yet. In this moment, you may come up against a ‘no’. And then we always have tomorrow.
  • As we have learned in our own Reiki Practice, the Reiki goes where it needs to go. Reiki flows exactly to where the recipient needs it. The same theory can be applied as we attempt to invite Reiki into new, unchartered territories (like that of healthcare). Go with the flow. If you find a ‘champion’ who is accepting of Reiki, utilize this person to gently invite the Practice in. Follow your journey and stay open to your intuition.
  • Finally, we need to be mindful of our own self-practice. Receiving rejection, hearing responses we weren’t looking for, and putting ourselves out there can be exhausting. It can be very draining on our energy to try and bring Reiki into new settings. We have to stay calm, confident and clear and the best way to do this is to maintain our routine self-care practice.

Reiki and Medicine

If you are blessed to be able to share Reiki Practice within the healthcare setting, I’d like to close with a few tips to help you navigate the healthcare environment.

  • As I shared above, find an ally. If you know someone in healthcare who is open to and accepting of Reiki, utilize them. Go for the ‘low-hanging fruit’ as you begin your journey into healthcare settings.
  • Avoid jargon. Healthcare professionals are quite concrete. They rarely want to hear about the ‘woo-woo’ stuff we talk about in Reiki Practice. Many of them won’t understand energy, visualizations, or abstract language. If possible, speak to them using practical words and examples.
  • If possible, share a short session. The best way to get a healthcare professional to understand Reiki is to share it with them. Let them experience it and feel it for themselves- then you won’t have to worry so much about the words that you use.
  • Allow them to participate. If a family member or patient has invited you in to share Reiki with them, ask the person’s nurse to be present. Allow the team to be in the room to observe the experience. The more we can let healthcare professionals see what we are doing, the better they will understand it.

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Elizabeth Scala

Elizabeth Scala

As a speaker, workshop facilitator, and Reiki Master, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the author of her bestselling book, ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides healthcare professionals to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. You can find out more by stopping by Elizabeth’s website: http://elizabethscala.com/.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Jen June 3, 2015, 5:54 am

    Hi Elizabeth, I work in healthcare and have found an ally but also came up against some negativity (which is fine it’s what I expected)
    Can you tell me how you explain Reiki without the “woo woo” some tips would be much appreciated.
    Many thanks

    • Jen August 5, 2015, 5:33 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, I work in healthcare and have found an ally but also came up against some negativity (which is fine it’s what I expected)
      Can you tell me how you explain Reiki without the “woo woo” some tips would be much appreciated.
      Many thanks

      • Jen November 2, 2016, 7:42 pm

        Hi Jen! I have close family members in the medical community and I told them that I am working with the “biofield”, which is the medical term for the body’s electromagnetic field (probably what we call the aura). You can elaborate that sometimes emotional and physical imbalances can be improved upon by strengthening the biofield. Reiki can sooth the stress and anxiety associated with medical challenges and does not interfere with medical treatments. My first Reiki teacher did advise against using it on broken bones until the bones are set. Good luck!
        Also a Jen 🙂

  • Rena November 7, 2016, 5:32 am

    This is a beneficial article and so are the comments. Thank You.

  • Pamela June 28, 2017, 10:45 pm

    What are the”practical words” you used?

  • Joanne Harris October 10, 2017, 10:09 pm

    Very helpful thanks. Something i am planning to embark on. Thanks 😄

  • Jorge October 20, 2017, 9:01 pm

    Thanks, Elizabeth! Interesting article. I was attuned to Level 3 a few years ago to help my family, and, especially my daughter who was dying of a rare heart condition. Reiki definitely helped to ease her pain & other symptoms. She eventually had surgery & recovered. I am only empowered to use it with my family & spiritual son at this time. I have also been repeatedly admonished by family members in the health professions that Reiki is outlawed at Catholic hospitals and was against my religious faith, so I stick to my immediate family. It has been very beneficial to them & hope that someday I can help more people.

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