Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2012

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ENERGY WORK anything through the mouth or skin, there are no instances when reiki practice is contraindicated. The focus in developing oneself as a bodyworker is on skills of execution; students learn how to do something, and to do it well enough to effect a change in the client. The most critical skill in all spiritual practice, however, is the skill of omission, learning to practice with economy of effort so that there is more being and less doing. Reiki practice occupies a unique position in the continuum of spiritual practice and health-care intervention. Although the foundation has always been self-practice, even students beginning their training are able to share reiki practice informally with family and friends (including the four-legged kind). The experience of practicing reiki on others is settling and centering for the practitioner as well as the receiver. Reiki practice never involves the kind of effort needed for other health-care interventions. And this is why reiki practice is invaluable in today's health care, because it offers sustainable care to clients and providers simultaneously. RETURNING TO THE ROOTS Traditionally, healing and spirituality have always been intertwined. Cross-culturally, the training of traditional healers included spiritual practice. This began to change with the advent of science. The separation between spiritual practice and health care has been finalized by the recent rise of technological, evidence-based medicine, and patients and professionals alike are paying the price. The burnout rate in conventional medicine is alarmingly high, peaking in specialties with a high degree of stress: critical care, emergency medicine, and oncology. But burnout is not limited to conventional health- care providers. The level of burnout among providers of holistic modalities, such as bodywork, is alarming. The good news is that what's good for our clients is also good for us, and this is the foundation of sustainable health care. Our clients need us to be well nourished and steady, and we need it, too. Nourishment and steadiness come from anchoring ourselves daily in the very core of our being. We lose our steadiness when we allow the outer details to pull us out of ourselves, and from there we easily slip into anxiety and hopelessness. Connecting with a source through daily spiritual practice changes everything. We feel vibrant, at ease, and more ourselves. Spiritual practice also gives us the courage and the presence to look at what we do with ever-fresh eyes, so that we continually bring forth our gifts from deep within us and offer them to those we serve, as well as to the world beyond ourselves. Our happiness demands that we stay connected to a sense of service, meaning, and agency—knowing that our actions matter even if we cannot control the outcome. Daily spiritual practice is how we stay present today and build our future well- being. With reiki practice, it's as simple as placing our hands mindfully on our bodies. In an effort to join the health-care establishment, let's be careful not to replicate the mistake of severing caregiving from spiritual practice. Perhaps our most profound contribution to health care is the reality of self-care, and since spiritual practice connects us to a sense of meaning, it is a core component of our self-care practice. It doesn't matter which spiritual practice we choose, but if we are to sustain the effort of caring for others, particularly those with serious diagnoses, we need a spiritual practice to support our well-being. Spiritual practice is the pathway through which we come to be the change we want to see in the world, as Mahatma Gandhi so wisely advised. A Reiki Master based in New York City, Pamela Miles has pioneered reiki practice in conventional medicine for 20 years, developing hospital reiki programs, participating in research, publishing in peer-reviewed medical journals, and teaching reiki professionals to collaborate in conventional health care. She is the author of Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide (Tarcher, 2008). For more information, visit Visit the newly designed Log in. Explore. Enjoy. 113

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