Thursday, March 31, 2011

Reiki and a place of calm

In demonstrating Reiki at Long Term Care Medicine 2011, almost every participant described a sense of relaxation and calm. From a Reiki prespective, this is not unusual, Focus, Breathing, Reiki Energy, an awareness of precepts avoiding worry and anger and expressing gratefulness and compassion, lead to a sense of calm.

...Recent studies suggest however that these attributes are especially important for physicians, and as a result, for their patients. American Medical News, a publication of the AMA noted a study just published that concluded "The hypothesis of a positive relationship between physicians' empathy and patients' clinical outcomes was confirmed, suggesting that physicians' empathy is an important factor associated with clinical competence and patient outcomes." (Academic Medicine, 2011 Mar;86(3):359-64 Hojat M, Louis DZ, Markham FW, Wender R, Rabinowitx C, Gonnela JS)

...For doctors, nurses, and volunteers seeking to introduce Reiki programs into their institutions, Reiki being a method that has a focus on connection and calm is reinforced. Another powerful study was published in JAMA (2009 Sep 23;302(12):1284-93 Krasner MS,Epstein RM,Beckman H,SuchmanAL,Chapman B, Mooney CJ, Quill TE). This study, "Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians," concluded, "Participation in a mindful communication program was associated with short-term and sustained improvements in well-being and attitudes associated with patient-centered care. Because, before-and-after designs limit inferences about intervention effects, these findings warrant radnomized trials involving a variety of practicing physicians."

...Evidence is piling up in such a way that colleagues since our presentation at LTC Medicine 2011 last week have commented to me that, modalities such as Reiki, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, and Music Therapy "have so much support that they are now being considered evidence based."

.... I want to keep promises in this Blog to people I met last week in my journey. Flying from DC to Tampa, I shared the journey with a man traveling to see his 39 year old daughter, Lisa. She had a terminal illness and had recently entered hospice. Hearing that I was a hospice physician, he shared her story, and I promised to add my prayer on her behalf. I have done so every day since. Flying back home I sat next to a Wounded Warrior. Derek had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was in prolonged recovery from serious wounds. His bravery in service to our country, and the sacrifice he and his family have made and continue to make are compelling. I continue to keep him in mind in my prayers.

....My teacher Amy Rowland, reminds me how transformative shared experiences can be, both for ourselves as individuals, and collectively to the human race, at a time when we so need (both individually and collectively) connection and healing. Methods that bring us to a place of calm, and allow us to provide empathy and compassion to others, make us more effective health care providers and happier human beings.

...A new friend wrote me this week of her efforts to start a Reiki program in her hospital. She had done a lot of work, and collected a tremendous amount of supporting information, to do a presentation - when the time came, her hospital CEO said, "we don't need a presentation, just add Reiki to your department and just start doing it."

.... Things "grow from experiences shared" - just for today, don't worry and be grateful - and please add a prayer for Lisa and Derek who I met on my journey.

Note: - the photo at the top of this Blog is of a work by Apache Sculpture, Bob Haozous. It was erected by the city of Tampa, in memorialization of the Seminole Indians forcibly removed from their homes and relocated to Seminole, Oklahoma. It reflects on the interconnection of all human beings, and on the obligations of all human beings to the planet.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reiki at Long Term Care Medicine 2011

Yesterday at Long Term Care Medicine 2011, the annual symposium of physicians caring for patients in the Long Term Care Continuum, I presented a session on "Complementary Medicine for pain management in end of life care" with Dr Chuck Crecelius and Dr Sharlene Rajapakse. While this session was not "about" Reiki directly, we did use Reiki as a demonstrated modality - not endorsing any single modality as an organization (though Reiki is clearly mny modality), but asking people to keep an open mind to having low cost minimal to no side effect methods to continue to care when we cannot cure.

We presented an increasing growing body of scientific evidence that Complementary techniques work. With the permission of the Samueli institute we presented a few slides showing acupuncture being done on wounded warriors. Especially in cases of dementia with agitation, where some conventional prescription drugs are now labeled by the FDA as "not effective" and "black boxed" as "harmful" - complementary techniques can have value. Certainly evidence based studies have shown that when chemotherapy is not working, cancer patients live longer with palliatiuve techniques than "one more round of chemo."

And what were the goods and the bads? It will be weeks until I have particiopant evaluations. Of 1700 physician registrees, of which about 1000 were present yesterday, only 40 physicians chose to attend this session (the bad) - and - 40 physicians were drawn to attend our session. (the good)

We had two 50 minute breakouts where in each session about 15 docs were exposed to a limited demonstration of Reiki. What to do in 50 minutes? Well - here were my take homes - to start with I talked about Mikao Usui and about the 5 basic precepts of Reiki. I think these precepts resonate, and telling a little about the founder of Reiki is critical. Next - I wanted each attendee to have something to take home for themselves, not as a treatment for anyone else, but simply being able to experience the energy - and connect to it for a minute a day. So I chose to teach Hatsurei Ho. With everyone sitting I taught Focus, Breathing, connecting to the energy, Joshin Kyoku Ho (though not by name), Gassho, and releasing Focus. And then I taught Ken-yoku (not by name) simply as a technique for separating the mundane from the sacred - and we did the whole meditation again. Almost everyone was moved, and it is something they can take home and do daily themselves if they choose to.

I teach health care providers a specific technique - it stems from classical physical examination which is taught in nursing and medical school (but rarely performed) - observation, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. Everyone ignores everything but auscultation, and it resonates because everyone knows that is sloppy and wrong. And so i pair participants off and have them do pre-cordial palpation (corresponding to the heart chakra). We can feel heart rate and quality of heart beat, murmurs, normal breath sounds, rales and wheezes and rattles if present - and doctors and nurses come to realize that they can perceive vibrations through their hands. I give the example of hearing impaired people sensitive to vibration, and then ask them to be open to preceiving how "the patient" feels - and more often than not a light bulb comes on. For those who are ready.

After that we sat in a circle and talked. Some asked if they knew enough to do Reiki, and no, I explained, they need to go home and find a Reiki teacher offering a course of at least 8 hours. This was just a demonstration. It was to make them aware of the energy that they could perceive. I talked about what we do as not being something of "power" but simply a way to connect and open a sacred space "within which miracles could happen." I offered to do a few Reiju for volunteers.

I explained that no one should have a Reiju who did not really want it, that it could impact them, that it was not a "Reiki level" and that if they wanted to learn more they needed a class. I had time to do Reiju on the first 9 volunteers - there would have been more accepting Reiju if I had encouraged them to do so, but I only wanted eager volunteers who knew they wanted this experience. 8 of 9 felt deeply moved. They described some of their experience. I explained i did not want them to discuss highly personal feelings in this format (and that i would not do "readings.") A couple spoke with me privately about experiences, and challenges they are facing that came to surface. Several I believe will go home and take classes.

For a brief time, some physicians felt open hearts, and wanted to perceive a connection to the life force within, around and connecting us. The interest physicians have to care when we cannot cure is heartening.

More work is to be done.

My thanks to Dr Rajapakse, an RM, for presenting with me; to Dr Crecelius, a past president of AMDA, not an RM but a compassionate human being who believes that the best of physicians consider both evidence based medicine and spirituality in end of life care; and to Dr Matt Wayne, incoming president- elect of AMDA who is not an RM but introduced this session to demonstrate personally how important he felt this was. Without their help, and the help of all the patients I have had the honor of treating, and all those who have taught and shared Reiki to or with me, this experience would not have occurred. Thank you as well to my friends who sent energy in my direction yesterday :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Treat each other with Compassion

At our Seasons Hospice of Maryland Team meetings yesterday, we kept in mind the suffering of the the people of Japan, and offered prayer that many if the missing would yet be saved.

Hospice workers deal with situations "one at a time." It is our coping mechanism. We focus as we can on the moment, and on the person or family we are assisting. The enormity of what has happened in Japan, and the amount of suffering - and the shear number of spirits in transition is simply overwhelming. It was like there was a Tsunami in spirit throughout the world, after the Tsunami of water.

We have needed to focus on the moment, and do our own work, in each one's assigned place, but the tsunami of spirit let loose in the world has made it a little harder to focus on defintions and immediate tasks. Hospice workers have continued to focus and care for individuals even as their hearts prayed for people suffering all over the world. That's what Hospice workers do - care and offer compassion, even when they cannot cure or fix a problem.

Joining in shared sorrow and shared energy is comforting. We know that soon we will see the Cherry Blossoms open again, but right now the trees all seem bare.

This morning there was a World Peace Meditation, and a Meditation for those suffering in Japan. Any time today that one has the time to keep others in mind, I believe it will join the millions who have and are doing so.

Today the Emperor of Japan made a rare but brief statement. He expressed "deep worry and deep sorrow for people who suffer from this natural disaster."

He went on "I hope from the bottom of my heart that the people will, hand in hand, teeat each other with compassion and overcome these difficult times."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Becoming a Reiki Volunteer in Hospice

I have been asked many times, "how do i get to do Reiki in hospice?"

This week I was trying to answer this question on the Tera listserv, and some answers starting pouring out - so I am going to paraphrase some of them here.

"Be patient, be open, don't force it when it isn't meant to be. Know that your power is in stories."

Last weekend I was listening to a radio interview from 2009, with Legacy bearer Phyllis Furomoto interviewing Anneli Twan - and they were ......sharing stories. Stories of their childhood, and learning from Takata (that is how they refer to their beloved teacher).

Now there thought to be more than 1 million Reiki practitioners world wide. How did Takata present a wisdom that she had learned in Japan, and teach it in such a way that it resonated across the world? One gains a better understanding of the essence of Reiki through stories. Takata told stories. And after her transition, her students told her stories. And as I have visited Reiki shares in my own community, in Vancouver, in Kyoto - across different lineages and styles of Reiki what has stayed with me are the stories that have been shared. People speaking from their hearts, sharing from their hearts, telling how they came to practice Reiki and what it has meant to them.

Physicians and nurses who work in hospice often face situations where their authority means nothing, where they face unknown, where they face challenges they themselves are not fully prepared for.

It is not so widely known that Hospices are required to have a certain percentage of their care to be provided by volunteers. There is a national course in the United States that must be completed to allow one to participate as a hospice volunteer - and hospices must offer the course. If they do not have volunteers they cannot continue as a hospice and participate in Medicare. Why? Because the spirit of volunteers was central to the formation of the Hospice movement, and is embedded in its regulations.

Here are two books about Hospice - these authors were prominent speakers at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine symposium this year. Sandra Bertman wrote a book, "Facing Death." And Sherry Showalter wrote, "Healing heartaches." And both of these books are filled with stories - of people dying, of people caring for them, of sharing and of compassion. This is the essence of Hospice.

Someone whose heart is not drawn to these stories will not last in Hospice, they will burn out. So walk away from them. Offer to help, be low key, take the volunteer course, and if a program will not allow you to do Reiki within your volunteer hours - simply walk away to another program. You are needed. You will be wanted.

Here are some web sites

If you talk about your own story, how you were drawn to Reiki, how that drew you to want to be a Hospice volunteer, explain simply the five basic precepts of Reiki - you will find resonance - Reiki precepts resonate with Hospice, they are embedded in its soul.

If I had one simple message about Hospice it is that there are places where you are needed. Now. Know that. Trust the spirit guides to put you in the right place at the right time. Then get out of the way, and let it be about the energy and the connection. You will find sponsors and people who appreciate you. Think on what Usui started with. Think on what Takata started with.

Be patient, be open, don't force it when it isn't meant to be. Know that your power is in stories. Be prepared to be present and give compassion when others are willing to receive it.