Healing Forces | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Healing Forces

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Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for Jews. We spend it fasting and praying in hopes that we can be cleansed and absolved of all sin. Luckily, on the day before Yom Kippur this past September, I found myself preparing for the holiday in a way generations of Jewish comedians only dreamed of—by having a beautiful woman lay her hands on me.

This young woman was Jaclyn Ramsier, 29, who had been practicing Reiki for a year. Reiki is an Eastern healing technique that uses energy as a healing force. Reiki assists the body in its natural healing process by allowing energy from a higher source—which some call God—to flow through the practioner's hands into the body of another.

Trained as an engineer, Ramsier had a corporate job in aerospace hydraulics in Jackson, which she left in 2008 to fulfill her life-long ambition to help others. She first became a yoga teacher and then decided Reiki was another skill she should offer her clients.

Reiki master Carol Parks, a Clinton resident, "attuned" Ramsier in Usui Shiki Ryoho, the traditional form of Reiki. One can only become a Reiki practioner by being attuned, which is the transfer of ability from a Reiki master to the student. Once a student is attuned, the student can tap into an unlimited source of higher energy. Ultimately, neither master nor student is the source of healing, however.

"The energy doesn't come from you; it moves through you," Ramsier says. She uses the example of the wire that brings electricity to a light bulb. "The wire does not produce the electricity, it just carries it to the light bulb," she explains.

Inside Butterfly Yoga Studio, where we met for the Reiki session, Ramsier instructed me to take off my shoes and to lie down on several purple body pillows she placed on the floor. She began a CD of Sanskrit chants and lit a piece of sage. The scent of the sage transformed the room into a calming respite. She cupped her small hands and delicately positioned them on my right arm. This, Ramsier explained, was how she would "place energy" onto my body.

Slowly, she continued to place her hands onto different parts of my body, moving from my arm, to my shoulders, to the crown of my head, over my eyes, my other arm, my feet and then legs.

Ramsier walked me through the entire session, explaining where she would position her hands next and asking if I felt comfortable. During this time I kept my eyes closed to focus on my body.

The first sensation I noticed was the heat from Ramsier's hands. When I mentioned this phenomenon, Ramsier told me that her hands are generally cold, but the transfer of energy causes the heat.

"When I perform Reiki on my friends they are especially freaked out (by the heat) because they know my hands are typically so cold," she says.

I began to feel heavy, as if my body was being pulled to the ground. I felt a cold sensation over my upper left leg. At certain moments I felt sharp pricks in my lower abdomen. At other times I felt jolts of movement, as if my arms and legs were trying to spontaneously dance. Ramsier explained this sensation was possibly due to my body experiencing a greater level of energy than it was used to feeling. Even with the occasional jumpiness and the few pangs, my body was comfortable.

There was no pain, only the soft warm flow one experiences when dipping slowly into a hot tub. An hour passed as if I had been sleeping, unaware that time was moving past us, and the session was over.

When I left the studio, I felt more awake than when I had entered. I felt calm, and I went home to concentrate on the sensations coursing through my body. The experience was unusual, and I knew that I would have to go back for another session to understand more about Reiki. Although the hard work of Yom Kippur was still to come the following morning—a day of fasting and repentance is not meant to be easy—I felt grateful to have spent an hour that morning concentrating on my body. I felt ready for the holy day.

If you are interested in experiencing a Reiki session with Jaclyn Ramsier, call 601-383-8817. A one-hour session is $60.

Attuned From God
The word "Reiki" is composed of two Japanese words: Rei, translated as "God's Wisdom" or "Higher Power," and Ki which means "life force energy." The origin of Reiki is credited to Dr. Mikao Usui of Japan, who began to practice in the 19th century. A Christian, Dr. Usui was inspired by miracle workers—including Jesus and the Buddha—who were able to channel the energy of God to heal people. Reiki tradition states that through deep meditation, Dr. Usui was attuned from God and became a healer himself.

There are three levels of skill for Reiki practitioners. A level one practitioner is able to do Reiki on herself and others. A level two practitioner can do distance and emotional healing. The highest level of Reiki skill is level three, in which one is a Reiki master and can attune others to become Reiki practitioners.

Previous Comments

ID
154641
Comment

I do not doubt that Jankovitz did in fact feel “more awake and ...calm” after her visit to a reiki practitioner. Of course there are many ways that can happen, most of them cheaper than sixty dollars an hour and without the dubious “healing energy” involved. One can go for a walk, relax and eat a bit of fruit, do some situps, have a good beer or a cup of tea – all of these things will provide quite the benefit – especially if you load them up with your own personal meanings and significance. What is healing energy? It cannot be measured, nor detected. Bear in mind that even neutrinos, whose defining characteristic is their near-total lack of mass and reactivity, can be detected. Even if such an energy could be detected, what does it do? There is no phenomenon for “charging” the human body, no discernible method for storing any sort of energy – other than the food that you eat and the fat that you keep. We are not machines. We do not have batteries. Reiki has time and time again been shown to be exactly as effective as a placebo and anyone with a real medical condition should not seek it out. Healing at a distance has never been shown to work – and repeatedly been shown not to work. If it did in fact work, the world we live in, full of sickness and death, would not reflect well on the motivations and actions of distant healers. This “body-soul” piece comes in the same issue where the editor urges people to take responsibility for their own city and well-being – and not accept fantastic claims from other people who seek to save us. If you are seeking a more relaxed, fulfilled life, you can do that without shamans and gurus – you could make honest changes to your life, instead. You'll save some money and you might learn something real about yourself along the way. Patrick Jerome Jackson Skeptical Society

Author
JacksonSkepticalSoc
Date
2010-01-03T14:01:26-06:00
ID
154670
Comment

Reiki has time and time again been shown to be exactly as effective as a placebo and anyone with a real medical condition should not seek it out. I got curious about the authority of this statement, so I Googled it quickly. (Full disclosure: I have no particular interest in Reiki. I'm barely willing to concede that exercise actually works. ;-) But I was struck by the tone of your assertion.) From a quick flip through the results, the impression I get is that the scientific jury is still out on Reiki. That's not to say there's an overwhelming consensus that it DOES work, but rather a consensus that it hasn't been all that well studied. - http://www.nursingcenter.com/prodev/ce_article.asp?tid=734976 - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19856109?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum&ordinalpos=6 From that second link, which is an abstract from the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, published in Oct 2009. Biofield Therapies: Helpful or Full of Hype? A Best Evidence Synthesis. Jain S, Mills PJ. UCLA Division of Cancer Prevention and Control Research, Los Angeles, USA, sjain@ucsd.edu. BACKGROUND: Biofield therapies (such as Reiki, therapeutic touch, and healing touch) are complementary medicine modalities that remain controversial and are utilized by a significant number of patients, with little information regarding their efficacy. PURPOSE: This systematic review examines 66 clinical studies with a variety of biofield therapies in different patient populations. METHOD: We conducted a quality assessment as well as a best evidence synthesis approach to examine evidence for biofield therapies in relevant outcomes for different clinical populations. RESULTS: Studies overall are of medium quality, and generally meet minimum standards for validity of inferences. Biofield therapies show strong evidence for reducing pain intensity in pain populations, and moderate evidence for reducing pain intensity hospitalized and cancer populations. There is moderate evidence for decreasing negative behavioral symptoms in dementia and moderate evidence for decreasing anxiety for hospitalized populations. There is equivocal evidence for biofield therapies' effects on fatigue and quality of life for cancer patients, as well as for comprehensive pain outcomes and affect in pain patients, and for decreasing anxiety in cardiovascular patients. CONCLUSION: There is a need for further high-quality studies in this area. Implications and future research directions are discussed. The conclusion (set off by the word CONCLUSION above ;-) seems to represent the consensus out there...this stuff needs to be studied better. The RESULTS are somewhat more promising than you've suggested; there seems to be some evidence that Reiki offers benefits when used as a complement to other treatments. If it did in fact work, the world we live in, full of sickness and death, would not reflect well on the motivations and actions of distant healers. As a logical fallacy, this one kind of straddles "appeal to emotion" and "appeal to consequence." It is not logical to say that (1.) if energy healing worked, energy healers would be inept bastards because there's sickness and death. Therefore (2) energy healing doesn't work. Who's to say that the world wouldn't be for the WORSE if there was no distance healing -- or if modern pharmacology wasn't constantly interfering with the possibilities of distance healing, perhaps we would live in a world replete with healing energies we cannot currently measure? (Equally fallacious arguments, no?)

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-01-04T13:32:36-06:00
ID
154697
Comment

""This “body-soul” piece comes in the same issue where the editor urges people to take responsibility for their own city and well-being – and not accept fantastic claims from other people who seek to save us."" Patrick: I’m not exactly clear on how you have come to interpret my BodySoul article to be a “fantastic claim” to “save” others. In fact, my only claim is that after the session I felt more awake and calm. I wrote this article from a skeptical yet open minded position. As a novice, I attempted to explain Reiki as it has been practiced for thousands of years. I also attempted to explain what the session felt like throughout my body. I make no claims further than that, and in fact mention that I will need to I would have to go back for another session to understand more about Reiki.

Author
janinejulia
Date
2010-01-04T16:02:48-06:00
ID
154705
Comment

I'll concede the second part of your argument, itodd, my statements were a bit fallacious there. But as for the studies you grabbed, the second one, the study you focus on, is a review of other studies, which include things other than reiki. Even then the evidence, from these 66 studies, which are "best evidence" studies, the evidence is only "equivocal." It may be fine and well for an expensive bit of relaxation, but even the "equivocal evidence" is for pain relief, fatigue, and anxiety, all the sort of things that alt-med handles best - symptoms that have a significant psychosomatic component. In the case of acupuncture, for instance, "fake" acupuncture - artful placement of needles at random - works just as well as real acupuncture from a trained acupuncturist - and that amount of help is about equal to the placebo. The article focused on "healing energies" and I want to stress that there is nothing of the sort.

Author
JacksonSkepticalSoc
Date
2010-01-04T17:59:14-06:00
ID
154707
Comment

I want to stress that there is nothing of the sort. ... in your opinion, Skeptic. I trust you know that being in the business of skepticism doesn't actually prove anything, except that you're, well, skeptical.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-01-04T18:14:25-06:00
ID
154713
Comment

"I trust you know that being in the business of skepticism doesn’t actually prove anything, except that you’re, well, skeptical." Correct. I am skeptical. It is my opinion that there are no such things as healing energies, yes. I do not and cannot prove there are no healing energies - but I can't prove that they exist, either. Nor can you, nor can reiki "masters" or anyone else. The burden of proof is on those who suggest something that remains unexplained, and they have not carried that burden. To bring it to a more familiar context - if you were to read hundreds of studies saying that a bridge tax would not help municipal funding, and even when looking at the best arguments, you only found equivocal, "maybe it's something else" cases - would you vote for a bridge tax?

Author
JacksonSkepticalSoc
Date
2010-01-04T19:34:52-06:00
ID
154714
Comment

The fact is, Skeptic, that medical researchers are proving that all sorts of "alternative" therapies poo-poo'd by skeptics such as yourself for years do, in fact, work. Many doctors and hospitals are integrating such therapies into their practices. I'm not arguing that they all work -- and I know very little about Reiki, in particular -- but I am always skeptical of someone such as yourself who proclaims that "there is nothing of the sort" without having any real idea of what is true or not. People build whole careers out of such skepticism, and that to me is just one more kind of agenda we need to watch out for. I don't want some witch doctor fooling me into something that doesn't work and is perhaps dangerous no more than I want people who seem to get off on skepticism to keep me away from non-traditional therapies that can do a whole helluva lot of good (and science has shown it). So, yes, encourage skepticsm in order to get people to do their homework, but skepticism just to be skeptical is just another kind of witchdoctory to me.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-01-04T19:46:07-06:00
ID
154715
Comment

BTW, this is from the National Institutes of Health. The medical inelligentsia is taking reiki seriously enough to study, as Todd pointed out. Sounds like the jury is still out.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-01-04T19:50:36-06:00
ID
154716
Comment

So if you're being skeptical of skepticism because you don't trust skepticism, why do you trust your skepticism in the first place? I kid, I kid. I am in no way being skeptical just to keep you away from non traditional therapies. I'd probably react the same way if you showed me a picture of a UFO or claimed you saw ghosts. The jury can still be out, but given the history of the NCCAM, they're going to be wrong. The linked information is from the NCCAM, which despite being given 1,850 million dollars has yet to come up with a single, decent study showing anything that can positively affect medical outcomes, and the homepage of which is a constant parade of negative studies disproving many alternative practices. (Well, they actually found that many of them are harmful, and that ginger is good for an upset stomach, so there's that). And even they have the following to say about reiki; "Be aware that Reiki has not been well studied scientifically, but research on whether and how Reiki may work is under way." - a glowing endorsement, and only half true. Reiki has been studied well scientifically, and here is a good summary of what happens - from a 2008 review of 209 alt-med studies done on reiki (only 9 met the criteria to be included as randomized clinical trials) "In total, the trial data for any one condition are scarce and independent replications are not available for each condition. Most trials suffered from methodological flaws such as small sample size, inadequate study design and poor reporting. Conclusion: In conclusion, the evidence is insufficient to suggest that reiki is an effective treatment for any condition. Therefore the value of reiki remains unproven." Keep in mind, this is from the BEST possible studies the authors could find, from sources amenable to alt-med in general. Sources from us crusty "career" skeptics would be much less flattering.

Author
JacksonSkepticalSoc
Date
2010-01-04T21:17:41-06:00
ID
154724
Comment

I have two earned doctoral degrees and consider myself a very rigorous thinker. Internal energy, whether called Qi, energia, potentia, etc. has been recognized to exist for several thousand years. Heraclitus spoke of it when he observed that all life was energy. Lao Tse understood life to be energy that could be manipulated by a concentrated effort of the will. Aristotle observed energy as binding the soul to the material world. We can go on and on. Even Nietzsche recognized this principle in the will-to-power. Now, if there is a type of energy, whether natural, supernatural, transnatural, etc. it stands to reason that it can be measured in some way. We simply do not have the instruments yet. imagine a person in the 17th century attempting to understand ultraviolet light. They get a sunburn but cannot really explain the mechanism. Yet it is indeed there. I do not know much about Reiki. I have trained in Qigong for many years and have observed many things during meditation that are obviously natural, physical phenomena but I cannot explain. I some some Reiki practitioners use crystals. It is thought that the orderly arrangement of the molecules aligns internal energy and speeds the process of healing. I do not know much about this and have little opinion, but am open. Skepticism was once a respected philosopical school, along with Cynicism as practiced by Diogones of Synope. However, skepticism now is usually a codeword for closed-mindedness.

Author
revdrstewart
Date
2010-01-05T11:04:32-06:00
ID
154725
Comment

OK, Skeptic, so you change the subject to acupuncture to make your case. Let's go there for a second: In the case of acupuncture, for instance, “fake” acupuncture - artful placement of needles at random - works just as well as real acupuncture from a trained acupuncturist - and that amount of help is about equal to the placebo. Quoting from this article in Annals of Internal Medicine: 33 studies met their criteria. The studies provided convincing evidence that patients who received acupuncture improved more than patients who received sham acupuncture or no treatment. Published studies did not determine whether acupuncture works better than other low back pain treatments or whether acupuncture benefits patients with acute low back pain. That seems to refute your assertion and I think the journal is respectable. Does that mean the jury isn't still out on acupuncture? It does not. But it does suggest that your assertion that fake acupuncture works as well as real acupuncture is overly broad. You said: So if you’re being skeptical of skepticism because you don’t trust skepticism, why do you trust your skepticism in the first place? I know you're responding to Donna somewhat facetiously, but I will say that I'm actually skeptical of skepticism -- specifically, what I'll call "Capital-S Skepticism." Too often Capital-S Skepticism slips a gear and becomes a simple contrarian movement, seeking an identity (I'm a Skeptic!) by debunking the beliefs or belief systems of others. In so doing, Skepticism introduces certain biases of the Skeptic into the argument -- we've seen that from you in the argument that suggests Reiki (a.) might be a placebo and (b.) wouldn't be worth $60 as a placebo. A can be true without B being true. I'm skeptical of the biases I tend to encounter in those who claim the title Skeptic. My experience with Capital-S Skepticism is that it's not skeptical enough of the assertions of certain institutions -- e.g. western medicine, western history, etc. -- and that over-reliance on that bias leaves room for little-s skepticism of the movement. The jury can still be out, but given the history of the NCCAM, they’re going to be wrong. Case in point. Again, this is fallacious logic, specifically an ad hominem or genetic fallacy. To me, it shows that in your willfulness to presuppose that NCCAM has nothing to offer, there's a bias will make it very difficult for non-traditional medicine to overcome your somewhat close-minded brand of Skepticism. The burden of proof is on those who suggest something that remains unexplained, and they have not carried that burden. The "burden of proof" varies according to venue; in criminal cases, it largely rests on the shoulders of the accuser; with the scientific method, it's on those who seek to refute a proposed explanation. (Often, but not always, that's the person generating the hypothesis.) Hypotheses that aren't refuted successful amass evidence, over time, that help them tend to become accepted as consensus explanations. That said, it's also perfectly possible for "the accused" to go on happily about its business without meeting your requirements. Just witness, for instance, Reiki and acupuncture. These Chinese medicines have done quite well for themselves without the blessing of western science, and may ultimately find confirmation of their claimed benefits from further scientific study. Of course, they may not...which is why I think it's good to be little-s skeptical... and consider all the evidence when making these decisions when it comes to your own health.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-01-05T11:56:51-06:00
ID
154727
Comment

Skepticism was once a respected philosopical school, along with Cynicism as practiced by Diogones of Synope. However, skepticism now is usually a codeword for closed-mindedness. posted by revdrstewart on 01/05/10 at 11:04 AM Red - I thought that was a great post, especially the last bit! People confuse skepticism with a closed-off coldness to the world of energy which many of us have felt or experienced concretely in one way or another.

Author
Izzy
Date
2010-01-05T13:29:26-06:00
ID
154743
Comment

posted by itodd on 01/05/10 at 11:56 AM The “burden of proof” varies according to venue; in criminal cases, it largely rests on the shoulders of the accuser; with the scientific method, it’s on those who seek to refute a proposed explanation. I'm not going to get into the whole thing about reiki. I'm just going to address this one little thing about the scientific method. What you've described isn't quite correct. With the scientific method, proof comes from experimental results that can be reviewed and reproduced. It doesn't come from assertions that must then be disproven. A "proposed explanation" is not enough; it must be accompanied by documentation of the trials by which the explanation was tested. Then others in the scientific community may attempt to reproduce those results. If those results are reproducible, it's quite likely that the findings will be accepted by the community. If those results are not reproducible, it's generally accepted that the original research was incomplete or incorrect. This is the heart of science. Create an experiment, then show the world. If others can verify the truth of it, they will believe you. If nobody can reproduce your results, your findings tend to be disregarded. Science is a community. If you want the scientific community to accept your findings about reiki or dinosaurs or qigong or vaccines or acupuncture or willow bark or snake oil or natural selection, you really have to develop reproducible, iron-clad, bulletproof, peer-reviewable studies. With large sample sizes and double blinds and plenty of well-respected people who really want your theories to be invalidated but no matter how they look at it they can't question your methodology or your results because independent research confirmed it. Then skeptics (or Skeptics, if you prefer) will have no reason to doubt.

Author
mhglover
Date
2010-01-05T15:39:27-06:00
ID
154780
Comment

With the scientific method, proof comes from experimental results that can be reviewed and reproduced. It doesn’t come from assertions that must then be disproven. Well, I'd argue both are true -- you're just expanding on my basic definition of the scientific method; note that "proposed explanation" is the *hypothesis* and then the attempt at refutation is the experimentation. (My point was that the scientific method is much more about eliminating doubts than it is about "proving" positives, despite the tendency to toss around the notion that experiments "prove" this or that.) But your point is well-made; we get closer to understanding something when results are easily reproduced and shared. And I like that you bring it back to the idea of scientific community and consensus based on reproducible results - the community is clearly still studying many of these techniques and trying to figure out if they offer solid results and under what circumstances.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-01-06T10:10:45-06:00
ID
154782
Comment

Part of my concern for open-mindedness relates to my own experiences of healing from a major disability in my late twenties. I had a version of tendonitis so severe I could not write or even brush my teeth. The accepted scientifc treatment for this malady was #1 ice packs and a new ergomonic chair and, if that didn't work #2 surgery. I knew people who had surgery - multiple surgeries - and didn't get well. I began to explore other options after the ice packs and new chair didn't fix my problem. In a year I had begun to heal and six years later I can play guitar for 3-4 hours if I am on my chops without any lasting problem from it. The sources of healing I found were nutrition, stress management, Alexander technique lessons on posture and body use, and some healing intention and creative visualization work. At that point I did not care if science had validated these techniques. No doctor ever suggested I look at stress management or nutrition as part of the problem. These specialists don't look at the holistic aspect of a major health problem and that is one reason people turn to alternatives.

Author
Izzy
Date
2010-01-06T10:19:34-06:00
ID
154787
Comment

Thanks for sharing your story Izzy. I find it interesting that Skeptic hasn't responded to my post. Again, I’m not exactly clear on how Skeptic has come to interpret my BodySoul article to be a “fantastic claim” to “save” others. In fact, my only claim is that after the session I felt more awake and calm.

Author
janinejulia
Date
2010-01-06T11:26:35-06:00
ID
154834
Comment

Are there any acupuncturists in the Jackson area? Do you need a medical referral?

Author
revdrstewart
Date
2010-01-06T15:53:11-06:00
ID
154884
Comment

If that was to me, thank you but at this time I have no symptoms and have been symptom free for more than 2 years. Happily. I encourage all people with medical issues to seek a variety of viewpoints on their illness or problem. There are some things that Western medicine does very well, including many medications and surgeries. I am not someone who looks down on Western medicine. In fact my father, who has early onset Alzheimer's, is being greatly helped by a new medication in trial stages. All I am trying to show is that there are times where it helps to be open to alternatives, that is all. And I think there is now a licensed acupuncturist in Jackson, others may have her details. I believe the state of MS just passed a law allowing this treatment to be licensed here.

Author
Izzy
Date
2010-01-07T11:59:24-06:00
ID
154885
Comment

We covered Jerusha DeGroote's efforts to get acupuncture licensed in Miss. She was the state's first licensee. http://acupuncturists.healthprofs.com/cam/state/MS.html

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-01-07T12:08:51-06:00

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