Many people are getting back in touch with the natural rhythms of their bodies, for example through diet and exercise. As this transforms their health, people are becoming more aware of the natural energies within their own bodies and it is this level that biofield therapies are believed to be working with. This is a much more subtle element of our composition; usually we think of ourselves being made up of skin, nerves, tissues, muscles, bones etc. but according to many ancient belief systems, we are also made up of ‘life force energy’ that flows through and around us. If this energy is ‘blocked’ or ‘leaking’ in some way we are more likely to become ill; mentally and / or physically. Influences believed to cause these ‘blocks’ and ‘leaks’ can include fear, stress, anxiety, anger, trauma, substance dependency, other illnesses and so on.
You may have heard of Reiki (ray-key) before; it is one of those treatments that a lot of people have heard of but don’t know very much about, unless they have tried it (and even then it can feel a bit mysterious). The name is of Japanese origin and made up of two words: “Rei” translates to ‘wisdom of god, higher power’ and “Ki” meaning ‘life force energy’. Reiki falls into the category of what is known as ‘biofield therapy’.
Biofield therapies are non-invasive, therapeutic treatments whereby the practitioner works exclusively with the client’s energy field to promote self-healing. Reiki technique can be performed hands on or hands off and is thought to work by promoting a sense of deep relaxation in the client’s body and mind. It is believed that when we are in this state our natural healing processes kick into action at a very deep level. Biofield therapy is a complimentary therapy and it is not recommended to use it alone in the case of an illness, always consult a doctor if you think you are unwell.
These treatments have existed in both Eastern and Western cultures for thousands of years, still remaining popular today. However, scientifically speaking, little empirical evidence exists on how or why they seem to work very well for some people.
THE PLACEBO EFFECT?
We cannot not mention the placebo effect when talking about this kind of therapy because some people think that treatments such as Reiki are built on it. There seems to be two very distinct sides to the argument over whether Reiki and other biofield therapies have any merit or whether it’s just a placebo.
It is worth noting that there is something to be said for placebos too however; there is a growing body of evidence showing that if someone believes that something is working for them, then in most cases it will actually have a positive effect on the condition, be it pain or a disease.
There is growing research and evidence that Reiki and other biofield therapies often do have positive effects on clients and its more than the placebo effect. An article published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine (Nov 2015) summarised over 30 published clinical trials “reporting effects if biofield therapies for pain in ambulatory and hospitalized patient populations with chronic pain, arthritis, and movement restriction.” The report stated that there was “strong evidence” from randomised trials that biofield therapies do yield positive effects. They also summarise that “While biofield therapies may serve to “enhance the placebo effect, it does appear that biofield therapies enhance outcomes over and above sham-controlled groups, particularly for pain.”
This is great news but there is still room for much more research to be done; we can only hope that as the field of alternative therapies grows, that so too will the evidence base. There are still many people who do not trust themselves (how they are feeling) enough to gauge the effectiveness of a treatment, albeit complimentary. Research, science and evidence are all important, especially when to comes to our health, and in no way is it advisable to ignore Western medicine, however isn’t it just as ignorant to ignore complimentary therapy just because it is more difficult to test and explain than more aggressive Western treatments?
Reiki and other biofield therapies often work well when used in combination with other complimentary treatments also; for example when used with massage or acupuncture. These sessions can be deeply, deeply relaxing and in a time of such high stress and unprecedented, personal pressure, what could be better in helping you to preserve your wellbeing?