Do we rely on pills or can alternative medicine really be a solution?
We pill-popping Westerners find it hard to deviate from the norm. For many, just the word ‘meditation’ conjures up an image of weed-smoking-hippie folk sitting crossed legged on the floor, humming loudly. Ummmm.
But why is it that, if you collect crystals and balance your chakras, you are seen as different or eccentric? What’s the difference between treating yourself to a deep tissue massage or a Reiki healing session? Some may argue that spending around £35 for someone to hover their hands in the air doesn’t deliver quite the same ‘value for money’.
But more and more people are awakening to the delights of alternative therapies like Reiki, acupuncture and reflexology. Such treatments are becoming more widely recognised by patients and doctors alike, and even practised in hospitals.
And, if Juliet Duquemin, from the Reiki Research Foundation in Gillingham, gets her way, they will soon be available on the NHS. She and husband, Kim, have developed their own little gem called Psychodynamic Reiki Counselling and are currently in talks with the Primary Care Trust.
The new therapy combines a double whammy of counselling – based on the Freudian technique – with Reiki. Now that is value for money.
The pair catapulted into action after reading Lord Layard’s The Depression Report, which states that crippling depression and chronic anxiety are the biggest causes of misery in Britain today.
It reveals that more people now claim incapacity benefit – due to depression and anxiety – than the number of unemployed receiving job seeker’s allowance. (Well, at least there’s finally something that can’t be blamed on the credit crunch).
The report also highlights the huge lack of therapists with waiting lists of over nine months in many areas, forcing patients to visit their GPs, who will inevitably prescribe medication.
But Juliet believes we are losing faith in conventional medicine.
“People aren’t happy to just take a pill any more. They want to take responsibility for their actions,” she says.
“They are starting to realise that medication can mask the underlying problem and after a while it may come back. What they actually want to do is talk.”
She explains that the Psychodynamic element of the new therapy focuses on the client’s unconscious processes and resistance towards past emotional issues. And by adding the Reiki, the client is able to relax quicker which allows childhood experiences to be easily accessed.
“You take people into a meditative state and use the blockages to guide you to the areas that need healing, like a map,” says Juliet.
“Relying on certain types of medication can be like wrapping someone in cotton wool so they can cope with life.
“People can even learn to read their own bodies, each part signifies a different meaning for example legs relate to childhood issues, shoulders can signify parental issues.”
Reiki is a method of healing, developed by Dr Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. The Japanese word Reiki means ‘Universal Energy’, which, in simple terms, means the invisible energy that flows through all living things.
In a typical Reiki treatment, a practitioner places their hands gently on or over the body in a sequence of different areas known as chakras. The recipient automatically draws in only as much Reiki as is needed. Some may say it has a mind of its own.
Every treatment is unique, from laughing or crying to tingling sensations, some may even feel nothing at all. So it’s a bit like having too much to drink then?
Reiki Master, Jason Ritchie, teaches courses in England and Spain. He explains that Reiki can be used as a tool for self development and not just for healing a certain illness.
“Many only see it as a healing method but it isn’t, it’s a path, a way of life,” he says.
“Those who engage on the courses are there to help others, as well as and most importantly, themselves.
“Reiki clears the chakras that have been clogged up with experience and trauma. They are cleansed and empowered with unconditional love.
“Everyone deserves to connect to the energy. It does not matter what you have said or done in your life, we are all needed on this earth to learn from each other. Reiki is unconditional love and it knows no boundaries.”
He adds that Reiki assists prescribed medication and that we should have a healthy balance between the two. No over-doing the Reiki then.
“I have seen some people who live for the alternative lifestyle and they still are ill or unhappy. I have seen both sides of the coin so I think it’s all about balance. Enjoy what you do, laugh and be happy. Happiness is the key to loving the self and others,” says Jason.
One of Jason’s students, Tracey Ann Edwards, describes her experience of studying Reiki.
“It was intense, emotional, enlightening but above all a beautiful experience that you cannot truly appreciate unless you go through it personally,” says Tracey.
She believes Reiki has helped restore her confidence and self-esteem after suffering from on-going panic attacks.
“On the Wednesday, three days after the course, I received an email from the Guinness Book of Records to do the hair and makeup for them at a celebrity photo shoot in Spain, the following weekend.
“Once I was at the shoot it all went fantastically well, so much so that the client wants me to work with her again.
“In a nut shell, Reiki 2 has been the platform for me, from where everything can grow. Like a house needs foundations, Reiki is my foundation.”
So maybe we can all learn something from the peace, loving hippies. Whether you feel inspired to bond with nature or stick on some relaxing music, maybe it’s time we started listening to our bodies.
So don’t be flushing those pills down the toilet just yet. And remember, next time you have a headache, before you reach for the paracetamol, have a think about what your body is trying to tell you!