Embracing energy: notes from a reiki experience

Angela Marcinik


My first experience with Reiki was a gift: a voucher for a Reiki meditation class given to me by my father. He was concerned by the fact that his daughter — the very girl who used to cover herself in mud and run around the neighborhood — now cried regularly and slept away the daylight hours.

I normally would have raised my eyebrow at the thought of using Reiki myself, but weary of consistently sleeping through dinner, I drove to the small office building, found Room 106, and filled out a name tag.

            The nine people sitting in a circle in an otherwise empty room were there for a number of reasons: a battle with alcoholism, curiosity, and stress, to name a few. When everyone’s heads turned towards me, I drew a blank … I had come because of a gift.

Reiki hails from Japan. The word loosely translates as “Life Energy,” energy being the stuff within everything, and out of which everything is constructed.

The chair you might be sitting in, for example, has a physical form, but at its core, it is energy. Einstein’s theory, E=mc2, posits that matter is energy and that energy is matter. So, like the chair, we are solid matter; yet within, we are energy. This principal is the backbone of all energy therapies.

If you have you ever taken a yoga class, had a massage, received acupuncture, or practiced Reiki, then you have experienced some form of energy therapy. Energy therapies such as Acupuncture and Qigong have been in practice for thousands of years.

At its core, energy therapy is about channeling and using energy for the purpose of healing or relaxation. Although formerly considered alternative medicine, energy therapies have increased in popularity recently.

As I sat in the bare office space, left over from the .com crash, I saw around me concerned parents, a weeknight hospital volunteer, a grocery store clerk and a recent immigrant. Today people such as your dentist or neighbor are taking a weekly yoga or meditation class. It is no longer reserved for tree-huggers and yearly Burning Man attendees.

The basic belief behind energy therapy is that inside each of us, there is a life force that is supposed to flow uninterrupted throughout the body. The disease and pain is attributed to blockages of a person’s energy or life force. The purpose of energy therapy, therefore, is to correct these internal imbalances.

The belief is that a practitioner can channel, and then transfer, this energy to another being. Energy therapy practitioners can use their hands, crystals (yes, crystals) or acupuncture needles to work on the patient. A practitioner’s goal is to balance the aura and life force of the individual.

To become a Reiki or yoga practitioner one must go through certification processes and training. Some programs are more challenging than others, but all have standards and require varying amounts of hands-on experience.             I left my first Reiki class with a sore back from sitting up so straight. Reiki offered me the space to take control of a life I was convinced was out to get me. Reiki was a positive experience — something that led me to seek out the help I needed and to gain a better understanding of who I was.

Today, I am generally productive and can be counted on to laugh at bad puns. Although I haven’t covered myself in mud and jogged around the block recently, don’t be surprised if while out getting the mail, you catch a glimpse of a muddied body dashing around the corner.


Acupuncture Acupuncture is an alternative medicine that uses the strategic placement of thin needles in the body. The acupuncturist will put the needles on points throughout the body in an attempt to rebalance one’s life force or Qi.
Acupressure Acupressure is the same concept as acupuncture, except that instead of needles, the practitioner will use their fingers to apply light pressure to specific points on the body.
Reiki A modality that was rediscovered in Japan in the 19th century by Dr. Mikao Usui. What distinguishes Reiki is the using of one’s hands to channel energy into the body. Reiki uses the chakra symbols and can be done hands-on, hands hovering above the body or even from a distance.
Qigong Qigong is from traditional Chinese medicine and incorporates body positions, breathing patterns and focusing of the mind. Kung Fu and Tai Chi both center around the practices of Qigong.
Yoga Yoga is a physical practice of movement and postures combined with breathing techniques and mental focus to bring the body into balance.



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