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 :)

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