FAIRMONT - As a master Reiki practitioner, Stacie Gerhardt is used to explaining what Reiki is, but it's not easy to give a clear explanation of the relaxation technique to someone who's never experienced it.
"Reiki puts you in a better state of relaxation; it's a modality that helps with stress reduction and anxiety relief," she said.
But what is Reiki?
Rather than telling, Gerhardt offered a demonstration. Not being one to turn down a massage, I kicked off my shoes and hopped up on the table in my jeans and T-shirt.
Laying on my back, the lights dimmed and chimes ringing softly in the background, Gerhardt cupped the crown of my head with her palms, and she waited. And I waited.
"You'll feel my hands start to grow warm," she said, and sure enough, it soon felt like a heating pad was molded to my head. She then proceeded, doing the same procedure to my forehead, my face, and the base of my skull.
At first, the mental to-do list popped up, just like it always does whenever I have any down time. At first, I felt impatient, thinking of all the things I could be doing at the office and at home. Gradually, though, the list sort of melted away, and I was left with a realization: "I don't have to do it all right now. I don't have to have all the answers right now."
Unknowingly, I was mentally attuned to the five Reiki principles, developed by the creator of Reiki, Japanese scholar Usui Mikao:
o Do not be angry.
o Do not be worried.
o Be grateful.
o Be honest in your work.
o Be kind to others.
The practice of Reiki has been used since its inception as a complementary therapy in treating physical, emotional and mental afflictions.
"For lack of better terms, it's like an energy exchange," Gerhardt said, and her goal is to bring balance to her client's energy level.
As with traditional massage, Reiki practitioners rely on intuition, but also visual cues from their clients and their training in anatomy and physiology.
"Anyone can feel, if you run your hand down a person's leg, there will be warm spots and cold spots on the skin," Gerhardt said, which are subtle indicators of internal inbalance, possibly due to inflammation of the joints or stress.
Though Reiki is commonly described as a spiritual practice, and is often associated with Eastern religions, Gerhardt insists, "It is not religious. There's no dogma connected to it."
Through her business, Hands of Light Massage and Wellness, Gerhardt offers both traditional Reiki and Reiki combined with massage. Her studio is located at The Healing Place on Downtown Plaza.