"Sometimes when people have this done for the first time it makes them need the bathroom," purrs my Reiki practitioner, Heidi. "So tell me if you want to stop for a break at any point." It is a less glamorous introduction to a treatment loved by the likes of Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman than I'd expected. I'm game, though.
Meaning "universal life energy", Reiki is a system of hands-on healing from Japan. You lie down fully clothed while a practitioner places their hands in a series of positions over your body and channels the "ki", or vital energy. It is supposed to restore balance, health and well-being.
Heidi begins by placing her hands over my eyes and holds them there for about 10 minutes. Her hands grow very hot and out of nowhere, my stomach starts to growl and hiss. It makes a series of strange noises for the next hour, only ceasing when we finish. Some people cry, others have higher-level visions. I respond by sounding like a zoo. The treatment is relaxing and I go into a sort of trance. For the rest of the day I feel a strange warmth pulsing through me.
With no tangible results, it's hard to tell how effective the whole thing has been. It's also frustrating to be told that I have a lot of tension in my head and pain in my heart without any further guidance offered. Reiki is about offering the body the energy it needs to heal itself and realign. Even a run-in with some drunken football fans on my way home doesn't ruin my buzz.
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