More and more health writers and bloggers, including the Low-Histamine Chef and Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of The Last Best Cure, have found stress reduction to play a big part in their health recovery, and since my stress tolerance is pretty much in the toilet and getting worse, I decided to go get me some.
I needed something reeeeallly passive. Meditation, yoga, and nature walks were too much for me. So were about half the service offerings at my local spa. Infrared sauna, various types of massage, and the flotation tank all require removing my contacts without a sink or mirror, or doffing and donning winter clothes in a tiny space, or showering in a tiny shower. I couldn’t deal with any of that.
I decided on reiki, which in theory moves and rebalances energy in the body. Sometimes the reiki practitioner’s hands are touching the (clothed) body, sometimes not. I had two sessions a week for two months, then switched to once a week. It’s a lot of money, and as far as I know no health insurance company covers it. But I do believe it got me through the winter without killing anyone. Here’s what I’ve noticed:
- First and foremost, it’s basic human touch free of expectations or strings or weirdness — y’all know what I’m talkin’ about — which is therapeutic right there.
- I always look forward to it, but more so if I have nothing else scheduled for the day.
- My sleep has not improved, but I do almost fall asleep on the table. I can’t nap, either, so that’s saying something. What happens is a lot like the sensation you get on a plane where you’re about to fall asleep and there’s a WHOOSH-CLICK and your body wakes you up again, presumably to spare you the humiliation of drooling in front of strangers. I find that I nod off only when Reiki Lady is holding her hands above a particular foot-long strip of my torso, which I discover when I open my eyes.
- I can completely relax my body much more quickly than before. If you’re into meditation you might be familiar with the concept of relaxing to the point where you go numb. Now I can do it in about 10 minutes, where before it would take 40.
- Reiki Lady occasionally incorporates craniosacral therapy to my head. I can now not only feel how the muscles in my shoulders, neck, and jaw are connected, pulling, and relaxing, I can also feel pressure and tension patterns throughout my skull. Imagine a May pole, where all the streamers are muscles or tension patterns that have gotten wound up and distorted and twisted, due in part to the stupid way I sit at my desk. During reiki sessions, I become more and more aware of the presence, movement, and release of each streamer. This took a lot of sessions, however.
- As for energy movement … Of course where you’re being touched (through your clothes) you feel tingly. But there is something else, too, that I didn’t start to feel until my fifth ? session, although I don’t think reiki practitioners believe you have to feel it in order for reiki to do whatever reiki does. It was subtle and fleeting, but occurred at each session after that. After about four more sessions, it changed a bit. I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe it. Somewhere in and across my upper body, a pulse or wave changed position, angle, and amplitude. How’s that? It could be that you could get this experience just from meditating regularly. I don’t know.
- As for my stress response … Last winter I overextended myself in terms of physical, emotional, and cognitive energy, and I was still angry and stressed well into summer. I swore I would not go through that again. I overbooked myself again this winter, mostly with home repair projects that couldn’t be put off, but am rallying much more quickly after each annoying task.
Image: Still from The Phantom of the Opera (1925) by Universal Pictures. Film is in the public domain.
4 thoughts on “Three months of reiki”
I hope you continue to occasionally post in the future, your blog has always been one of my favorites.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in a previous post but I used to have sleep problems for ages. I’d sit up at night for over a decade, trying to sleep while my head went full speed into hurricane of useless shit.
Now I know we’re all different but I figured I would at least post what has worked for me, going on 5 years strong.
1. St. John’s Wort (900mg/daily to start – though it took about 3 weeks to work. Without it I wouldn’t sleep – at all. Over the years finally down to only 300mg every few days)
2. Lowering (f*cking) Histamine – histamine is a horror show for sleep. Diamine Oxidase, Iodine, Vitamin C, Megnesium, Selenium, anything anti-histamine makes me happy. Otherwise, as you likely already know, Histamine will cause your other Neurotransmitters to breakdown and in turn keeps your Cortisol (one of your bodies biggest defenses to excessive histamine) pumping to your brains freak out center, which leads me to…
3. Lowering night-time Cortisol.
Seriphos, or PhosphatidylSerine, Vitamin E, Magnesium (again) kept on a combo of this for about 3 months before things cooled down enough for me to have a shocking night of pillow drool.
4. Finding out why my stomach was going histamine crazy. Shitty diet, and while I’m not in the “gluten/dairy is evil for everyone” camp, I’m definitely aware that gluten and dairy are my personal 2 horsemen of the apocalypse.
5. Colloidal Minerals – this is fairly anti-climatic yet if I take these in the morning, I sleep better at night. I added this in much later though. Now I sleep like a drunk baby 😉
Lastly I should say that for obvious and not so obvious reasons Vitamin D, Calcium, Vitamin B12 and Folate were the worst things on Earth for my insomnia (I took any of those and no sleep that night) until a few years later. Only now am I slowly able to add tiny amounts while learning about Methylation.
James: Thank you very much for all this. I have tried most of these over the years, except for colloidal minerals, and I don’t think I gave the St. John’s Wort as long a trial you did. For the moment I am focusing on mold as the cause of my insomnia — I moved out of a water-damaged building and 3 weeks later my sleep, which had been 2 hours a night for 7 years, improved significantly. However, high histamine and about 3 supplements still make the sleep worse.
(I haven’t written posts on the insomnia and the chronic fatigue because it’s 1) depressing to dwell on 2) a source of possible discrimination from potential employers.)
According to the mold toxicity experts, poor methylation and food intolerances tend to develop with extended mold exposure. Hopefully this will improve, because I’m having a hard time getting enough calories on a low-histamine diet. A cup of orange juice 2 days in a row will turn me into a zombie.
Several people I’ve talked to said that treatments/supplements that never worked for them while they were still being exposed to mold do so now, so I will be revisiting a lot of these. The first will be Diamine Oxidase.
Did Histame not work for you? Also, what other benefits do the colloidal minerals give you?
This is so interesting. I’ve never read a firsthand account of reiki before, but now it’s very intriguing to me, especially since there is not a lot of touching involved. (I’ve gotten weird looks when I tell people I’m not really interested in seeing a chiropractor, for example, because I don’t especially like being touched by strangers, even in that setting.)
So, thank you for this! Do you plan to continue reiki?
Glad to be of help. Yes, if I my budget ever recovers from that last round, I’d like to be able to do it regularly. I googled a few reiki sites and it looks like they vary in how much touch is involved. My practitioner seems to be 70% touch, but maybe it’s because I’m a basketcase. Perhaps you can specify what you’d like when you book the appointment. Although I’ve found when booking these sorts of things, you often have to repeat your request a few times.