First crystals then oatbran for health and now reiki! It really is a woo-woo month. Debbie has agreed to write about her positive experience with this treatment. Take it away Debbie.
YOU know that overwhelming feeling that many of us get, but don’t necessarily talk about? When someone says, ‘how are you?’ and you auto-reply with ‘yeah great’. Because no-one wants to hear how you’re really feeling, do they?
It’s maybe only when you’re chatting with a close friend, that you admit, ‘Actually, I feel like shit. Blocked. Like someone is holding my shoulders down, stacking up laundry, work, the kids. Mortality. That last one is weighing on me heavily. Lots of people close to me are dying and suddenly I’m realising that at 43, we’re not here forever. It’s all just coming at me. Constantly.’
From the minute the kids went back to school in September, which involved one starting secondary, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster of events, doing things for everyone around me, but completely neglecting myself and my own needs, including my beloved creative writing.
I have been to a shrink and it has its benefits, but it’s not really for me. Instead, I had been thinking about going for reiki and spiritual healing for a while. I had been recommended Nicola Novack, a lady practicing locally.
I looked at my diary and saw nothing in for ‘Thursday’, which was strange, because something always needing doing, sorting or organising. I messaged Nicola about availability and she had just had a cancellation… for Thursday.
It seemed as if the spirits were already in alignment. I took the session, already feeling the pressure lift a little from my shoulders. Nicola asked me about my reasons for coming. She gave little away about what the session would entail, except that I would hopefully come away feeling clearer, more relaxed. ‘It’s better than any massage,’ she promised.
Sign me up for ten sessions immediately.
Nicola is smiley and warm with a treatment room that is peaceful and calm. I would have happily just had a lie down in there for an hour and been satisfied.
We had a brief chat about what the session would involve and that I might feel warm and cold sensations from her hands. Also, my tummy might rumble, and ‘many clients fall asleep and snore’.
I was asked to take a few deep breaths whilst Nicola held my hands in hers and connected with me. Within minutes she told me that there was a very strong presence in the room and that it was my grandma.
Cynics (i.e. my husband, King of Cynics) might say that aged 43, few of us have a living grandparent, and that reiki and healing is a load of old hooey. However, with the additional information that Nicola gave me, things that she would have had absolutely no way of knowing, I fully believe in all that she told me.
I found myself letting out small, emotional sobs – not of sadness, but more like relief. My grandma was watching out for me through all of the burdens and ‘blocks’ and that’s what I needed to hear in order to feel secure in that moment.
Through my apologies for my ‘ugly crying’, Nicola was simply lovely and gave me a crystal to hold, asking me to lie down on the raised bed whilst she dimmed the lights and began the session. Starting with some breathing exercises, I felt slightly alarmed by the feral noise I made on one of the deep exhalations, but it felt so good, like I was ‘emptying’ myself of all the heaviness. You know that scene in ‘The Green Mile’? That.
Starting at my head, Nicola slowly made her way down, a process which balances energy throughout the body. Whilst I didn’t reach ‘snore-stage’, I felt utterly calm and relaxed, albeit slightly embarrassed about the constant rumbling from my stomach.
I was subconsciously aware of my breathing which I noticed varied in depth as she worked on different parts of my body. Overall, I felt warmth from her hands, but as she reached my feet, her hands felt distinctly cold, which she told me afterwards was a ‘spirit connection’, which explained the tummy rumblings too.
As the session drew to a close, Nicola worked on my head and spoke to me quietly about her findings, spiritual advice, how my chakras were now much better aligned, and things should start to flow much better. Various things were conveyed to me; things she couldn’t have possibly known about or me or my family situation.
One thing she mentioned, was a sensation as she passed over my eyes. Possibly the fact that I have lens implants. (Cataracts. Age 16. Steroid-cream-related. But that’s another story.) Either way, I had been delaying an optician visit for months, for fear of worsening sight.
As the session finished, I felt lighter than I had felt in a very long time. I’m not saying I wanted to get up and start belting out, ‘I believe I Can Fly’, but I finally felt a clarity that I had been so desperate for.
Nicola brought me water – this reiki lark makes you thirsty – and gave me a crystal to keep with me. Call it a crutch. Call it a placebo. My gal crystal is with me at all times and it helps me to centre myself.
That evening, I saw friends and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was living in the moment, without thinking ahead to what needed ‘doing’. I was fully present.
And in case you’re concerned, I booked the optician and there’s no change in my prescription.
Nicola Novack 07770 346 100
For more information or to book a session please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Taliyana Lusted says
Reiki can help with emotional and health problems but is not a cure for all life’s ills . It does open you up to being more in tune with yourself and opens up your awareness. This has been my experience since 1998 using Reiki as a practitioner.
wow V cool! loved this xxx
I firmly believe in skilled talking therapy but am generally a bit averse to the more woo-woo aspects of the self help world. However, my wonderful therapist combines talking (and calling me out on my BS) with some of the more outre practices. As I trust her judgement, I decided to suspend mine when she applies magnets/ crystals/ lays her hand on my chakras. I can’t say they definitely make a difference, but *she* makes a difference. The point is surely to make time to address our needs with a trusted, skilled person. The methods (short of leeches or quack “wonder cures” for cancer) are less important.
L. Thomson says
I don’t like posts about ‘this sort of thing’. No disrespect to Debbie, glad if it helped her, but crystals, reiki….Perhaps I have a closed mind but if there is much more of this I might have to stop reading the whole shebang as it is starting to make me think of Goop – and not in a good way.
There is definitely something in having that time to just focus on you. I had a similar experience with accupuncture. The accupuncture may have helped or it may have simply helped to have that time just for me to relax with someone who I could confide in. Either way it it helped me at a difficult time in my life and I can see how Reiki could well have the same effect. It may just be all placebo but it has its place for some of us.
I had reiki once a few years ago from a student who was looking for someone to practice on. I was completely cynical about it beforehand. I kept my eyes closed because I thought I would laugh out loud if I had to look at the practictioner. I couldn’t believe the heat that came off her hands and when I told her, she replied that the heat was coming from me. When I felt her hands they were cold.
Afterwards I went home and had a good sleep. In the following days I did feel lighter in spirit. That was my only experience of it, but I would say don’t knock it until you try it.
Oh FFS. Is this now a blog to advertise alternative therapists?
I think you may be being deliberately provocative Esther? I don’t think it’s being overly cynical to think communicating with a dead grandmother is a little bonkers and manipulative of the bored and gullible? Let common sense and intelligence prevail.
Some Spikers may enjoy the outre, bizarre and spiritual but please please give us more food, books, fashion, skincare etc!!
Is Reiki typically a spiritualist/communing with the dead type thing? I had no idea. I’m pleased that you were able to sort a few things out for yourself after this Debbie, there is a lot to be said for taking the time to focus on yourself and your feelings in the midst of a lot of demands. I’m also grateful to have read this as it has prevented me from ever accidentally booking myself in for a Reiki massage. I once went to a sports massage therapist – as advertised! – for a sore shoulder. The first session seemed completely normal, then the following week she asked me to stand still afterwards and I thought she was looking at my posture or something, but then she started tapping me and when I asked what she was doing she said checking my energy channels were aligned. Like Basil Fawlty “checking the walls” and presumably as effective – tap tap tap. I was a bit taken aback, but before I could work out how to respond to this unexpected development, she prodded me quite firmly in my lower back and I fainted like a Southern Belle having her corset adjusted (I’m prone to a bit of fainting, so it was a combination of having just been lying face down for an hour and then standing next to a hot radiator being poked by a stranger). She looked so horrified it was like she hadn’t believed she was really doing anything up to that point either, but then she gathered herself and said my passing out “could be significant”, mumbled something about chakras and made some notes. It did indeed turn out to be significant; I got my coat and never went back. I have been very wary of massages ever since, in case of hidden woo. I just want someone sporty-looking to pull me about for half an hour, and not speak to me at all – is that so weird?! Don’t answer that.
Cindy you’re my favourite sceptic. The temptation to force you to do Reiki and write about it is almost overwhelming
Basil Fawlty checking the walls just made me laugh out loud.
I find the range of responses to this really fascinating.
It’s possible for it to be simultaneously true that a. there’s no scientific basis whatsoever for things like reiki, and b. plenty of perfectly sensible and intelligent people find it genuinely helpful. This may be largely the placebo effect but the placebo effect is real- there are all sorts of studies showing that it can cause genuine bio-chemical changes in the body (people often say something is “just the placebo effect” as if that means it’s ineffective, which is not correct). There’s a good video here https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/video/NHSChoices/wsFTgirKXHk with the sceptic’s fave, Ben Goldacre, talking about this and how modern medicine is trying to use the power of the mind to cure the body via the placebo effect without acting unethically (i.e. lying to patients)- it’s really interesting. There’s some stuff at the end about the difference it makes to carry out medical treatments in a pleasant and caring environment which seems particularly relevant here. The ethical issues around alternative therapies are fascinating- I think I’d be acting unethically if I set myself up as a reiki practitioner as I don’t believe in it and so would be in bad faith. But if a practitioner genuinely does believe that they are doing something beneficial, and their clients genuinely do benefit, then I struggle to see anything unethical about it at all.
(I’m also obviously completely against quacks pushing alternative therapies as a substitute for conventional medicine in the case of serious illnesses (coffee enemas rather than chemo, etc).)
some study I read showed that placebos (procedures, pills) work best if BOTH practitioner and patient believe them to be effective
Thank you Esther. This is brilliant reading. Reiki is to my mind definitely witch craft (and I say this as someone with a good friend who is a Reiki practitioner and the most down to earth person and good for lots of practical health advice). So I say – love the witches! It’s no stranger than astrophysics which I don’t understand either.
yes please explain black holes and string theory without sounding like a loon…
Can I recommend “Surely You’re Joking Dr Feynman” – it is a life told in life-affirming anecdotes of a Nobel prize-winning physicist, you don’t have to understand astrophysics to read it, but you will probably come away with an appreciation for the spirit of curiosity and intellectual rigour that drives scientific discovery, and maybe even thinking it is not really as strange or incomprehensible as all that. It is also a very entertaining read.
Thelma Littner says
I think Debbie gave herself permission to have time out The benefits are enormous. In this case it was Reiki but any environment where you simply hand over your mind and body to someone else to look after for an hour might have the same healing benefits. How nice is that ? As usually it’s you who is doing, worrying and preoccupied with the issues life throws your way. Good job debs xxx
Apparently my tipping point is when someone is advertising their own service vs. recommending another because I am coming here ready to engage with this. When I was in grad school a research university/hospital near me was doing a big study on IBS aka one of those unspeakable diseases lots of women get as they age. They found that you could apply a placebo to people with IBS and TELL them that it was a placebo, and their stomachs still got better – so long as the practitioner who gave it to them was nice to them, and, this is key, took a case history.
That doesn’t mean that any of these people faked IBS. If you know someone with it you know that it’s not the kind of thing you’d fake. The answer is probably along the lines of “the human gut has a lot of neurochemical receptors in it and it’s hard to relax when you have a flipping _bowel disease_ so 45 minutes of human kindness really help”.
Anyway when my mother had a terrible spinal disease (now resolved through science – extremely expensive and hard-to-get US science) Reiki helped because she had 3 horrible teenagers at home and won’t do talk therapy, but she was willing to go lie in a dark room and have someone do laying-on-of-the-hands. It was probably the only time all week that no one was demanding things from her, in retrospect.
I get a real kick out of the thought of Esther secretly planning ‘alternative’ blog posts on purpose just to make the angries rant!! Next week, feng shui and that thing that leaves circles on your back 😉
Am delighted reiki helped you, in this crazy age we need to grab whatever works with two hands and not apologise for it or feel the need to justify our choice. Remember everyone, as the wise Amy Poehler once wrote ‘good for her, not for me’. Let us not get our capsule wardobe knickers in a twist, it’s only January!!
Agree. The thing with circles on your back is cupping, which is excellent, and which did amazing things for my back, which is screwed from a fall when I was 13 and a twin pregnancy. I speak as someone who has blown about a billion pounds on back physio to date. I also think acupuncture is amazing, although some people dismiss that as snake oil bollocks. I can only say it works for me, but it does depend on the acupuncturist. I find the worse it feels, the more it works. Cleared out the remnants of a miscarriage, when I was still bleeding a month later.
I tried reiki once at the behest of a beauty therapist friend who swore by it. I went into the session with an open mind as my friend had raved about it and she’s from Leicestershire and generally pretty sensible, but it did nothing for me. There was a bit of the ‘door opening’ business, and at one point the reiki practitioner started ‘throwing away’ the bad energy, or something, from me and I just thought “steady on, love”.
So, not for me, but if it works for someone else, why the hell not? I think sometimes we just need hands on us and the chance to lie down in a darkened room. Not in a gropey way, but more just a kind connection. People speak of ‘healing hands’ and I just think it’s that – a connection, in kindness, when you most need it. Stop, breathe. Whether it’s to fix a fucked back or take an emotional load off someone carrying too much (grief, parental responsibility, the sodding world’s pressures on one woman’s shoulders….). I don’t know why people have such a hard time accepting that. As long as practitioners aren’t claiming it cures cancer or should be used in lieu of medical treatment, then if someone feels lighter of step afterwards, then what is bad about that?
If I have a mid-life crisis, I’m going to buy myself a motorbike. It’ll be less embarrassing.
Gillian Page says
I think – if life teaches you anything – it’s that you can’t knock anything until you try it yourself. You may think you do but you never really know how you’ll react to anything until it happens to you or you experience it yourself. So I love this story and, quite frankly, if Nicola was local I’d be there like a shot. Once. Whether I go back would depend on the experience. But isn’t that the point…..
Your stomach rumbles when you visit an oesteopath too and has nothing to do with spirits. It’s the release of tension in the body.
I really enjoy these posts. I feel like they’re a little insight into somewhere different, I’ve always wondered what Reiki is, I thought it was just a posh head massage!
I think lying down in a quiet and darkened room while someone strokes you is a good therapy for most women, particularly those with a vast amount of caring (kids, useless spouses, ailing parents) to get on with. I wish more alternative therapies would acknowledge that is basically what they’re doing without getting all woo-y about it. And also that women would acknowledge that sometimes, lying in a darkened room while being platonically stroked by a stranger is a perfectly good method of self care.
Yes I agree. When I used to have to go the physiotherapist she ended it with you lying with your eyes closed whilst she talked about the beach for ten minutes. You don’t even need to touch me for me to have a good time! I’ve heard people come back from Reflexology talking as though they’ve had their organs rearranged rather than a foot massage and it’s all a bit unnecessary for me.
I had reiki once & couldn’t quite get into it after the practitioner started the session by going through an imaginary door
Maybe I’ve been too dismissive – that sounds brilliant.
Urine therapy next please!😉
Hi Esther, love this post but then I also loved the crystal post! And the alcohol post.
It’s hard to be everything to everyone without just posting muffin recipes, so I for one am loving it.
This is so funny! Thank you Lucy xxxx
My daughter and I are starting life coaching on Saturday! Im really unsure about it but its free (we are being guinea pigs for local students) and we are both quite excited as its something new and different to putting away washing. Im not sure if its woo woo or not? I believe in God which gives me a lot of comfort but my husband thinks thats woo woo. We are all different and its a free country THANK GOD!
I am learning Reiki and I am at level 1 working to level 2. It is going really well. 🙂🙏
Thanks for sharing your story.🌸
All these posts have made me laugh, cry a bit and feel like I’m a bit lighter so maybe you don’t need to get reiki, you can just read about it? (but please, can neither of my grandmothers make an appearance? They weren’t super helpful in life and while dead I think they would still be more interested in themselves than me)