Article by Jody Wolfe
Three years ago I experienced a fall that shattered my arm at the wrist and crushed my ulnar nerve, leaving my right hand severely disabled. Three hand surgeons told me they doubted I would ever recover the normal use of my hand. As the muscles in my hand began to atrophy and the ulnar nerve showed no signs of healing, things looked bleak. However, I was treating myself with Reiki in conjunction with occupational therapy, and I remained hopeful. One morning I awoke to find my ulnar nerve completely healed. This medically impossible spontaneous healing astonished my hand therapist. As my muscles quickly strengthened and my hand returned to normal functioning, she began to wonder what we could accomplish by working together with other patients in her clinic. Now, more than a year later, our collaboration has yielded many amazing results.
Reiki practitioners who treat clients with illness and injury are treasure troves of healing stories like mine. And those who work in healthcare settings have witnessed countless positive results when Reiki is synergistically combined with conventional medical treatments. But to medical science, our amazing stories of healing carry no weight. They are just interesting anecdotes that prove little or nothing about Reiki’s potential.
Raven Keyes, Reiki Master and founder of Raven Keyes Medical Reiki International, and Dr. Sheldon Marc Feldman, Chief of Breast Surgery and Breast Surgical Oncology at New York’s Montefiore Hospital, are among those who recognize this problem. Their ongoing collaboration in Dr. Feldman’s operating room convinced them both that Reiki deserves a respected place in surgery and other medical settings. They decided to do something about it. Together, they founded Medical Reiki Works, a non-profit organization whose mission is to establish a credible research agenda for Medical Reiki. As a member of Medical Reiki Works’ Board of Directors, I am privileged to be part of their vision.
Why are our efforts at Medical Reiki Works so important? We often see reports that Reiki is available in hundreds of US hospitals, but these “programs” vary widely in their organization, duration and effectiveness, and they are often staffed by part-time volunteers. Too frequently, Reiki is one of a smorgasbord of services hospital patients can order with a phone call, like chaplain visits, massage, or music therapy. In these settings, Reiki may be viewed as “nice” or “relaxing,” but not as a legitimate part of the patient’s treatment plan.
Pioneering advocates of Reiki in medicine have worked for several decades to sway opinion about Reiki’s potential in healthcare, yet there are few places where Reiki practitioners work shoulder-to-shoulder with medical professionals in respected, compensated positions in Integrative Medicine settings. Fewer still are the opportunities for patients to have a Reiki Master with them in surgery. Those fortunate practitioners doing this work professionally are often vulnerable because their services can seldom be billed to insurance companies or other payers. They typically rely on temporary funding, usually from grants, or self-pay by patients to cover the cost of the Reiki treatments they provide.
We need to recognize that there is only one reliable path for Reiki to gain widespread acceptance in mainstream medicine, and that’s through carefully planned and implemented scientific research that meets accepted criteria in the medical community. As an administrator of the Medical Reiki Works Facebook page, I post numerous articles and research reports from around the world about Reiki in healthcare to help inform our followers. Nearly every article ends with the same conclusion: more and better research is needed. The lack of convincing research so far has left Reiki out in the cold with the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Without sufficient empirical evidence, Reiki receives little or no attention or funding from the NCCIH. Without funding, the necessary research is unlikely to be undertaken.
Medical Reiki Works is attacking this dilemma by planning a privately funded clinical trial of Reiki in breast surgery. It will serve as the inaugural study of a larger body of research on Medical Reiki that we hope to initiate ourselves and inspire in other places. Dr. Feldman serves as Principal Investigator for our first research study. Co-Principal Investigator is Alyson Moadel, Ph.D., Director of Psychosocial and Integrative Oncology at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Joining them on the research team are other physicians and researchers from Albert Einstein and Montefiore, as well as Certified Medical Reiki Masters Raven Keyes and Lisa Wolfson. These dedicated, world-class professionals have devoted countless hours to developing a research protocol that meets stringent requirements for studying Reiki’s effects as a therapeutic intervention in surgery. Participants in the study will be early breast cancer patients undergoing mastectomies who reside in the economically challenged and largely Hispanic population of the Bronx, New York. These participants represent the millions of patients worldwide who deserve Reiki as part of their care plan, but who would ordinarily not have access to Reiki’s benefits.
Is it possible to convince the public to become stakeholders in this research with their financial support? Yes! We funded the protocol development stage of the study with private donations, and we just completed a month-long Facebook fund drive that raised over $10,000 from practitioners and clients of Reiki from all over the world. A generous matching pledge from Dr. Feldman has put us almost to the halfway point of the total needed to fully fund our study. However, we can’t begin this important trial of Medical Reiki until we raise the remaining funds.
We believe all patients deserve the option of Reiki as part of their treatment plans and to have that Reiki reimbursed by insurance and other payers. We think well-trained Medical Reiki practitioners in healthcare settings need to be viewed as respected colleagues of medical professionals and be fairly compensated for their work. We know this future can’t be fully realized until we have enough scientific evidence for Reiki’s beneficial effects as a therapeutic option to convince the medical community that Reiki can easily, safely, and reliably help patients.
If you agree with us, then perhaps you’ll understand why the theme of our fundraising efforts is “The Power of One, Multiplied by Many.” It reflects our belief that even small gifts from average folks like you and me, when added to the support of many others who also care about Reiki’s future in medicine, can make a substantial difference. You can be part of this grassroots effort! Donations of any amount can be made via this secure link: http://bit.ly/2Bb1AZ3. All donations are tax deductible in the US and go to the direct costs of our clinical trial.
To learn more about us, visit our website at www.medicalreikiworks.org. For relevant info and to watch our progress, follow us on Facebook at Medical Reiki Works. If you are interested in training to become a Certified Medical Reiki Master to prepare for this still-emerging profession, visit www.ravenkeyesmedicalreiki.com. We hope you’ll join us in building a new future for Reiki in healthcare. Together, we rise!
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Dr. Jody Messinger Wolfe is a Certified Medical Reiki Master in Morgantown, WV, USA. A former university faculty member and business owner, she now devotes her professional efforts to the practice of Usui Reiki, Medical Reiki, and to the advancement of Reiki in healthcare settings. She owns Mid-Atlantic Complementary Healing and serves as a member and secretary of the Board of Directors of Medical Reiki Works.