by Nancy Duffy
photography by Phil Grout
Energizing. Calming. Healing.
These three words describe the power behind the ancient Japanese tradition of Reiki (ray-kee), a form of energy healing that blends Rei (Universal) and Ki (Energy) into a moving experience for participants looking for balance and healing of mind and body. For local resident Jackie Lawrence, a retired nurse and Reiki practitioner, this ancient art of energy release has transformed her life into one of “magic and miracles.”
East Meets West
Reiki draws on the energy all around and within individuals to support other forms of healing. Hanover Hospital Chaplain Eric Stenman helped lead the creation of a local group, Reiki Share, which welcomes anyone looking for a release from emotional or physical illness.
“Reiki takes on the flavor of the culture,” Lawrence says, and encourages people to “come as you are or come as you hope to be.” And people come.
Due to hospital renovations, Reiki Share is enjoying its new location at St. Mark Lutheran Church on 129 Charles St. in Hanover.
“We love being in a sacred space to do our work,” Lawrence says.
Even with the location change, a large number of people still gather on the first Tuesday of the month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. looking for relief, community and hope. Whatever is needed.
“That is the first question I ask,” Lawrence says: “What do you need?” Sometimes, patients do not even know what they need, and that’s OK, according to Lawrence: “We will just start there.”
Before the session begins, however, Kathy Beiling, a trained Reiki specialist, informs clients of the process, then Jackie emphasizes the importance of hydration, because “energy moves through the body and detoxifies” it.
At 15-minute intervals, participants choose to lay down or sit in a chair while a Reiki specialist gently lays her hands on various pressure points, often the head. Lawrence, in her role as energy handler, hovers her hands steadily and purposefully over the patient, intensely focused on channeling the energy the patient needs.
After receiving Reiki, many people “report a great sense of inner peace,” and some report “sleeping deeply for the next two nights or so.” Sleep deprivation remains a major source of stress for many people, and even a brief session of can relieve those symptoms.
“In a world where so much is out of balance,” says Lawrence, “Reiki is a way to heal the culture.”
People come together to channel energy in the spirit of healing. “We will not survive,” Lawrence warns, “without the fundamentals of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’” Reiki is a way to come together as a community and take care of each other.
An Oasis in the Desert
Reiki also provides answers for the “ones the doctors cannot figure out,” Lawrence says, but it is not medicine — nor is it religion. Rather, it is a practice that provides spiritual support.
Both Beiling and Lawrence came to Reiki out of need.
Beiling suffered migraines for years and needed prescription medications to get relief. Through a friend’s recommendation, she attended regular Reiki sessions once a week for three months, until “the severity of my pain reduced to where I no longer needed the drugs.”
Since then, Beiling continues to be fascinated by “energy and how it affects [one’s] health and happiness” and since has trained on all three levels of Western Style Usui Reiki — and earned Teacher in 2001 with a Master level certification that followed.
Lawrence, however, took a different road.
The Elephant in the Room
In 2011, after leaving a 40-year nursing career that she thought was “everything,” Lawrence found herself looking for a new path to wellness, because the list of prescription medicines she was taking was lengthy. She eventually discovered Reiki. Then, after the death of her husband in 2014, she continued to practice and study Reiki because “if you study it, you learn the nuances.”
It was during a Buddhist meditation that Lawrence was awakened to the peace that all things are possible.
“I was in a space,” she recalls, “and trusted in God, or the universe, or whatever you believe in.” Reiki is about energy flow and, as Lawrence says, “turbulence is a form of flow, and sometimes you just have to go with it.”
So she did — and is now more determined than ever to help bring emotional and physical relief to others.
“Reiki has surrounded me with people who understand my amazing life, which is full of wonder,” Lawrence says.
“And I am blessed.”
A white elephant sits on Lawrence’s brick hearth. This figure was given to her by a friend, to symbolize the good that Lawrence does, the “path she clears for others” — much like the elephant clears a path with its trunk.
And maybe she is clearing a path for herself.
“I have dreams of having a practice,” Lawrence says, “a holistic practice.” It would be a place for everyone regardless of race, sex, orientation, gender or faith. It would be for the marginalized.
For now, Lawrence and Beiling, as well as other Reiki practitioners from Hanover Hospital, gather on the first Tuesday of the month at St. Mark Lutheran Church, awaiting with healing hands those who need them.
For more information about Reiki Share, please contact Eric Stenman, 717-316-6905. All are welcome to attend Reiki Share sessions at St. Mark Lutheran Church on the first Tuesday of the month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
No appointment is necessary. Sessions are open at no cost.