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    How Reiki Changed My Life

    It's All Very Hands On
    Sophie Bronstein
    How Reiki Changed My Life

    I never try to hide the fact that I have struggled with my mental health for most of my life. At 15, after a long bout of feeling low, I was prescribed antidepressants - and although this was a mere 13 years ago, the mental health space was very different back then. Counselling was a complimentary second option (and almost impossible to book on the NHS) and alternative and complimentary therapies were still taboo, and commonly shunned as ineffective.


    At the time, after my depression diagnosis, my GP explained to me that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain which was triggering my depression. He told me that the pills he was prescribing me would help to level out the imbalance and stabilise my mood. There were no more questions asked, and while I trusted the doctors’ knowledge, looking back I still can’t believe that I wasn’t offered anything else before resorting to medication as a young teen.


    The antidepressants helped. I was on and off them for years – I’d slowly wean myself off of them when life became a little brighter and go back on them when times were tough. I never had counselling, and never dared to try any other treatment in case it interfered with the equilibrium that the antidepressants were creating on my behalf. Why do the work yourself, when those little pills of wonder can do it for you?


    This went on for years until, at 24, I suddenly had a mental breakdown. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship at the time - which triggered my meltdown - and after two weeks stuck in bed not knowing what day it was, I visited a psychiatrist begging for help.


    Shortly after, I was diagnosed with a mood disorder likened to Bipolar Disorder. I tested the waters with many new medications to see what would work for me at that point, and the psychiatrist referred me to a psychologist for an intense course of psychotherapy. Needless to say, my mind was blown. I figured that there were many things in my life and aspects of my past that were contributing to my poor mental state. I discovered things about myself that I never would have, which opened my eyes to the fact that while pills help, they aren’t always the answer.


    My breakdown definitely transformed me into a more spiritual person. Sometimes, when you’re at breaking point, it helps to believe that there is more to life than what meets the eye and that we are all here for a greater purpose. I looked into herbal remedies, became a massive fan of aromatherapy, and went through all different types of therapy to do the work that I needed to do within myself. After all, some of these remedies had been used globally for thousands of years – so there was every chance they could work for me.


    Only recently, I discovered Reiki. I had seen people raving about it on social media, and thought I might just take the plunge and give it a try. Boy, am I pleased that I did! Initially, I thought it was a bit far-fetched, but I soon found out about the benefits it had for my mental wellbeing. Often referred to as ‘energy healing’, Reiki is an ancient technique that aims to ease anxiety and stress and promote relaxation through touch. Practitioners claim that energy can become stagnant and ‘trapped’ in the body, which interrupts the body’s natural energy flow causing physical and mental symptoms. They use their hands to transmit energy to your body, in order to clear the energy ‘blockage’, and help with relaxation, pain and other signs of physical or mental illness.  


    I met with my local Reiki practitioner in her treatment room, which was extremely peaceful. I lay on her treatment table, and she hovered her hands lightly over different points on my limbs, torso and head. I explained that I would like Reiki to aid my mental health, so the majority of my treatment was focussed on my head. She explained to me that she would be holding her hands in the same position until she felt that the energy blockage had been released, and if I had any other ailments, she could focus on those other specific areas, too.


    My sessions last 45 minutes, and so far, I have had three out of the recommended six. I don’t know whether it’s just the placebo effect coming into play – but I do feel calmer and more at peace after each session. It’s hard to explain, but I just feel ‘lighter’, and like my mind is more balanced and de-stressed.


    In fact, a study conducted in 2004 (Shore) included patients that were being treated for stress, anxiety and depression. After six weeks of administering Reiki to these patients, it was proven that there were significant long-term improvements in their symptoms for up to a year afterwards. Hartford Hospital in Connecticut also found that the anxiety, pain and stress levels of patients under departments such as Cardiology, Orthopedics, Oncology and Palliative Care were significantly reduced after receiving a course of Reiki. And as a new fan of the treatment, this doesn’t surprise me.


    Of course - the effectiveness of Reiki might depend on how open you are to receiving alternative and holistic therapies. However, from experience – when you are willing to try any form of treatment to ease your symptoms – it’s certainly worth a try!

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