Reiki: or, why not to feel bad if it isn’t for you.

I started my experience with Reiki several years ago now on the suggestion of my therapist at the time, who had begun to move toward more alternative modalities. I found it very useful to begin with, and with time took both the first and second level classes so that I would have access to it myself. The second went rather poorly for me, as it was a style of class I was not well suited for. Nonetheless, it is a tool I have in my overstuffed bipolar toolbag, and it has sometimes been useful for me.

There are a couple of difficulties with it though, the first being the cost. If you’ve managed to maintain your income while on your path through mental illness, this might not be a problem for you. I suspect the cost is highly localized as well. Here the cost has not yet standardized, and sessions the last time I checked were anywhere between 60 and 80 USD an hour. This is not even faintly within my budget on any kind of regular basis, which is why I took the classes. I still find a lot of value in receiving Reiki from another practitioner, and each time it is mentioned to me I feel shame at my inability to afford it.

Not everyone has the same reaction to it, either. Whether it dredges up old traumas or you’re just uncomfortable being touched by a stranger, it may not be a positive for you either in the moment or in the longer term. The idea of a calming, healing touch is not exclusive to Reiki. You may find something else more useful, or choose to avoid alternative methods altogether.

The biggest problem I’ve found, however, is that even if you find it useful it will likely be of little worth at the times you need it the most. When I’m manic, it’s who needs that shit? and when I’m depressed it’s why bother, it won’t help. Alternative methods of handling episodes have not been useful for me at all. In the increasingly narrow gaps between them, Reiki can give me a sense of calmness and connection that I haven’t found in any other remedy. It’s unfortunate that being ill in the first place leaves me in a position where I cannot take full advantage of it.

One last point before I leave the subject for the time being: in this area, Reiki has become something of a fad, and there are a lot of very inexperienced people hanging their shingles out. Based on what I’ve seen around me, I’d highly recommend that you do your homework and make efforts to avoid them. The energy itself never causes harm, but an inexpertly handled session surely can.

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