By Stacy Mitchell
Cancer. It is the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the modern world. While human beings never came face to face with old T-Rex, he remains the iconic symbol of terror and helplessness for mankind. Cancer. Just hearing the word in connection with a diagnosis makes the heart race, the pulse quicken, and the autonomic nervous system kicks into overdrive in a ‘fight or flight’ response. The individuals, as well as their family and friends, are plunged into a dark and strange new world in which the fear of quite literally being eaten alive – and how to avoid such a fate – is foremost in one’s mind.
From the earliest age of mankind there has been a balance between that autonomic ‘fight or flight’ response and the relaxation response. Relaxation could be found in quiet out of the way places where no predator could reach; the body and mind was given a reprieve from fear and stress in the shelter of an out of the way cave or grotto. In modern times, much like our wi-fi connections, we tend to spend our lives in the ‘always on’ mode. This is taxing to our systems in the best of circumstances, and when cancer is present it is nearly impossible to shut off the automatic stress response ironically meant to ensure our survival.
Reiki, sometimes referred to as energy balancing, is one way to find your shelter in the cave as you attempt to relax your body, mind, and spirit free of the draining treatments which at times can seem worse than the disease. An Eastern Medicine technique originating in Japan with Dr. Mikao Usui in 1922, Reiki is known as a ‘complementary medicine’ meaning that it can be used in conjunction with any other treatment available. It is a non-invasive technique whereby a certified practitioner places their hands lightly on, or just above, the fully clothed body of the recipient who may be sitting, standing, or lying down. As part of the ever widening field of integrative medicine – where the goal is to treat the whole person not just the disease – Reiki is becoming more common place in the Western medical model. While much of what we know of Reiki is anecdotal, there are research studies which show that Reiki is both safe and effective in helping to reduce our experience of anxiety and pain while increasing the relaxation response and general feelings of peacefulness and well-being.
On the Central Coast we are fortunate to have many medical professionals and hospital administrators who have embraced energy balancing as a valid complementary care option when a cancer diagnosis is made. One example is Hearst Cancer Resource Center (HCRC) at French Hospital. With a volunteer Reiki practitioner team headed by Reiki Master Julie McKenna, HCRC has offered free energy balancing clinics to cancer patients and survivors, as well as affected family members and caregivers, twice a month for years. Several other local hospitals offer free community energy balancing clinics regularly. If you are not comfortable with receiving Reiki in a clinical setting, there are many Reiki practitioners in the area who offer private sessions as well as classes on giving self-treatment.
In integrative medicine, it is understood that healing does not necessarily mean ‘cure’. Reiki Master Eileen Bilynsky, former HCRC employee and Reiki volunteer team member, says that people come away from a Reiki session with a tremendous feeling of peacefulness and from her perspective “that is exactly the space your body, mind, and spirit need to be in to help in the healing process.”
Stacy Mitchell is a Reiki Master/Teacher offering sessions and classes and a Life-Cycle Celebrant® serving the Central Coast of California.