Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

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Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#1  Postby MermaidMyths » Jun 21, 2014 7:07 am

Can the Placebo Effect Produce Chronic, Random Physiological Responses? Or - Reiki and Just What the F**k Am I Experiencing?

Hi everyone. Reading through this forum made me think about a particularly oddly powerful psuedoscience/alternative medicine experience I had back in high school and actually prompted me to sign up on this board. :crazy: I know this just an anecdote and thus can't really be examined scientifically, *but* I can't seem to make sense of what happened to me and what I can still "do" on account of my introduction to Reiki, so I thought I'd give this forum a try.

Now, I'm one of the most skeptical people around. I've always been an atheist or at least an agnostic, I can't stand logical fallacies and I just love pointing them out (or having them pointed out to me). So what I experienced and can still experience at times is extremely baffling to me, but I don't often talk about it because people would deem it weird or likely say it was "all in my head," which if it is, scares me a bit and you may see why.

My boyfriend in high school was ALL about alternative medicine, hated Big Pharm and preached all kinds of bullshit at me about how the drugs I was taking for depression and anxiety were putting "toxins" into my body and he kept buying me all of these magical raspberry teas and other nonsense to help me with my various health complaints. I kind of believed him, kind of didn't, mostly remained skeptical. :naughty:

He's also the one that took me to be "initiated" into the practice of Reiki, which is a pseudoscience that, as I understand it, stems from Vitalism and proports that placing the heads on various parts of the body and letting the "energy" flow through can relieve pain and various ailments.

So my then-boyfriend showed me how it worked by demonstrating it on me one day. He did it before even telling me what it was really, he just pretty much went, "Watch this" and it did something and I was majorly WTF. :shifty:

He put his hands on my head and I felt heat/pressure, a distinct and often intense sensation that I've always associated with "Reiki," or whatever it really is. No, it wasn't just heat or dampnesss from his hand sitting on my head for a while (I tried that myself many times), it was very much a "the water in the shower is heating up and is also very wet" feeling accompanied by said "wetness" and feeling as though the muscles in the head were doing...something.

He explained what it was as I sat there confused and delirious from the WTF factor, so I went home and tried it on myself. Nothing. I closed my eyes, breathed deep, tried to "channel" my energy...nothing, couldn't do it. Couldn't produce that same intense, crazy heat/pressure that he had.

I tried it repeatedly to try and prove that what he could do was explainable by something other than a totally bizarre, unexplainable experience. I also tried it the night before he took me to get "initiated," which involved a healer/teacher, and couldn't do it. He was paying the hefty fee, so I agreed to it and thought why not, this might be funny. :naughty2:

The ritual involved Reiki work on me, a dimly lit room, lots of spiritual music and crystals and shit, and then the "healer" drawing "symbols" above my head in the air with her hands that would allegedly open my chakras and allow the Reiki to flow more freely. :shifty:

But I felt it. I swear to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I was sitting there, thinking, "This isn't real, this is irrational" (I remember telling myself that over and over) while I felt intense pressure/heat in my head and that same Reiki "feeling" I'd had with my boyfriend. It was super uncanny, but I realized soon after I was "initiated" that oh wow, I could somehow do it too! I could, at will, FINALLY, heat my palms up gradually but very intensely when they touched certain body parts, and it was and still is accompanied by tension/pressure/pins and needles in my hands with the heat feeling like it's "flowing" from the center of my palms.

I went home and tried it on my mom and sister, who were laughing at me the entire time while I was desperately trying to explain the experience despite how insane it sounded, but they too felt my hands get very, very hot and could feel those weird pressure feelings in their head. :eh:

And odder still, I can still "heat" my palms up at will without touching anything, though it helps if I'm touching a living thing. The palms are apparently, as Reiki teaches, the center at which the energy flows from, which "explains" why they heat up.

I've put it in the back of my mind for years, this bizarre experience and fringe layer of my life :coffee: , but I can still "do" it, and at times feel myself placing my hand on my stomach when it hurts and feeling my hands almost instantly heat up with that weird but totally distinct "Reiki" feeling. Every now and then I'll be petting my dog and touch their head for a moment, and that heat will just flare up in my hands rather quickly. When I touch different body parts, it usually isn't as effective, and sometimes I get the Reiki feeling at random when I'm touching someone.

So what the FUCK was I and am I experiencing? :? It's something I still experience now and then, and could definitely not before I was "initiated." I've tried looking up studies, tried researching a possible answer, but all in all it's perplexing as hell.

Is my sub-conscious really that gullible, or is there something else going on here that might rationally explain the odd but definitely very real sensation of "Reiki"? I hope I can find some scientific answers here besides the answer of "it's just a placebo effect" (or "your hands are hot from holding them on someone for a while") because that alone doesn't satisfy my rational mind as I'm feeling very distinct physical feelings. :shifty:

And well, if it is a placebo effect, I'm all the more fascinated and want to know exactly how this works! I mean, this must be some kind of magical placebo effect, because while the "Reiki" doesn't necessarily DO anything, I definitely FEEL it and it is accompanied by very-much-present physical sensations. :scratch:

Thanks for reading. Sorry, I know it sounds totally bonkers, but I can't figure it out. :doh:
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#2  Postby epepke » Jun 21, 2014 9:40 am

I'm not sure what you mean by heating up your palms. However, it's pretty easy to learn to control the temperature in your hands, even making them detectably different temperatures, by constricting or dilating the blood vessels. It's generally easier to learn using biofeedback (temperature sensors on the that you can watch or listen to), though.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#3  Postby JarinJove » Jul 18, 2016 8:47 pm

Maybe you have ASMR?
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#4  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Sep 08, 2016 6:59 pm

As a certified Reiki practitioner (my certificate is in a box in the basement somewhere), please let me confirm that it's bullshit.

ETA: There was a little girl who did a study which was later published in the New England Journal of Medicine (I think that's the one) who showed very clearly that the warmth you feel in your hand(s) has nothing to do with objective events in the world and everything to do with expectations in your head.

On the bright side, there have been a few colder days when being able to warm my hands up like that came in pretty, er, handy.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#5  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Sep 08, 2016 11:00 pm

I have my reiki master certification too!
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#6  Postby Weaver » Sep 09, 2016 12:22 am

Did either of you actually believe you were doing anything with the reiki nonsense when you got your certificates? I've had a number of nurse friends get into that crap - and I always wondered whether they could fool themselves that they were seeing auras or feeling energy flows, or whether they just went along with the motions because they didn't want to admit to a failure to their "instructor" when the "lie" couldn't be seen ...
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#7  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Sep 09, 2016 1:05 am

You just buy buy the certificate online. You don't actually do anything. There is no instruction.

Of course I didn't think I was doing anything. I did it for a lark.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#8  Postby Weaver » Sep 09, 2016 1:25 am

Rachel Bronwyn wrote:You just buy buy the certificate online. You don't actually do anything. There is no instruction.

Of course I didn't think I was doing anything. I did it for a lark.

Ah, OK.

I had nurse friends who actually went through "instruction" then actually charged patients for providing them a "service" or "intervention."

Disgusting.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#9  Postby Sendraks » Sep 09, 2016 10:35 am

ScholasticSpastic wrote:As a certified Reiki practitioner (my certificate is in a box in the basement somewhere), please let me confirm that it's bullshit..


:this:

My fiance is also a certified Reiki practitioner and she struggles with the fact that the idea of Reiki is bollocks, but people come to her for treatment and say they feel better afterwards.

I take the view that having a beautiful woman (such as my fiance is) lay her hands upon you in a soothing way, in a suitably restful atmosphere, is going to have therapeutic benefits of making feel less stressed and the general feel good factor of having someone take time to care about you and try to make you feel better. So she's legit in charging for that service, even if bugger all in the way of "energy transferance" and other woo actually took place.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#10  Postby Weaver » Sep 09, 2016 3:01 pm

Delivering the relaxation and the contact with a patient to yield positive benefit is not the problem.

Claiming a false treatment modality to help generate a placebo effect is, however, unethical as hell.

In a time when we're minimizing nursing staff for fiscal reasons - and therefore minimizing nursing contact with patients - charging patients extra for fictional treatment methods to replace what nurses used to do as a part of their routine jobs is similarly unethical.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#11  Postby Sendraks » Sep 09, 2016 6:13 pm

Fortunately my partner doesn't claim any sort of false treatment modality. She's clear on what Reiki is supposed to do but does not suggest that this is an alternative form of treatment to modern medicine. Given that her primary role is sports therapeutic massage, she'd much rather people go for that than reiki,

Nursing staff, at least not in the UK, have never provided a service to patients remotely comparable to reiki. Try to draw a parallel here between the two is beyond silly. Yes, nurses being able to spend more time with their patients and delivering the compassionate side of business is highly desirable but, its not reiki and no one seeking reiki is doing so because this was somehow something a nurse failed to deliver.

Patients are not being "charged" extra for treatments. People choose to purchase reiki privately of their own accord.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#12  Postby Weaver » Sep 09, 2016 9:15 pm

Nurses here used to have time to give patients back rubs before sleep - it was an expectation, now it simply doesn't happen.

Nurses also used to be able to spend time with patients simply talking, exploring their issues, helping them understand their treatments, etc. That doesn't happen much or at all either.

Reiki, by definition, isn't even as much as a massage. It's simply spending time with patients - and, whether they sign up privately of their own free will with an outside agency or whether the billing goes through the hospital, they are still charged for the "service". Certainly they can opt out - or refuse to opt in - and thus not be charged - but they still are paying extra money for a fake service which partially replaces something nurses used to offer to patients as part of their ordinary service package, before staffing shortages made it impossible for nurses to spend the time with patients.

Here, the really disgusting thing is that nursing evaluations are based in large part recently on "patient satisfaction surveys" - and, as nursing staff is cut and nurses spend more time simply accessing and handing out meds and less time actually interacting with patients, their approval ratings in satisfaction surveys drops - and charlatans like reiki masters get rated highly for spending the time that nurses used to be able to, but cannot any more due to overwork.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#13  Postby pelfdaddy » Sep 10, 2016 12:11 pm

When one is embarrassed, the capillaries in the face and neck become dilated, creating a flushed, red appearance and a hot feeling. This condition seems at first to be involuntary. However, one must simply reflect that the event is occasioned by an emotional state. From there, it is a mere step to realize that the feeling could be replicated by focused attention by anyone who cares to try it, even if it takes time and patience to achieve.

Tiny changes in our mental and physical states occur constantly (the nurse takes my blood pressure three times to get an accurate reading), but we only notice them when we are quiet, at rest and paying attention.

The similarities between the OP's experience and that of any Pentecostal churchgoer are pretty obvious. The subject has a need, be it health-related, emotional, etc. This creates a vacuum into which perceived benefits can insert themselves, so long as the subject is trusting, emotionally connected to the practitioner, or sufficiently suggestible. The Reiki ceremony is much like a church service--all of the props are in place to create the proper atmosphere and expectation.

This is really all it is. Context. Expectation.

The truly harmful part of this, whether religious or pseudo-scientific, is the arbitrary linkage that the "expert" (the Reiki master or the preacher or the [insert title of guru]) makes when they explain with confidence that these very commonplace psychological phenomena are the result of chakras, chi, life-energy, dead ancestors, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, St. Bartholomew, Los Eduviges, aliens, spinal alignment, or the Horsehead Nebula.

Your need makes you vulnerable.
The props make you suggestible.
The feeling makes you credulous.
The explanation makes you a disciple.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#14  Postby laklak » Sep 10, 2016 12:24 pm

MRs. Lak believes it, and is a Level 1 practitioner (whatever that means). She uses it on the dogs and swears it works, I've learned to nod and say "Umm hum".
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#15  Postby Lola » Oct 07, 2016 1:28 am

ScholasticSpastic wrote:As a certified Reiki practitioner (my certificate is in a box in the basement somewhere), please let me confirm that it's bullshit.

ETA: There was a little girl who did a study which was later published in the New England Journal of Medicine (I think that's the one) who showed very clearly that the warmth you feel in your hand(s) has nothing to do with objective events in the world and everything to do with expectations in your head.

On the bright side, there have been a few colder days when being able to warm my hands up like that came in pretty, er, handy.



Dude... don't take this personally.

I love you.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#16  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Oct 07, 2016 2:25 am

:oops: Well.... I am in Utah.... :naughty2:
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#17  Postby The_Piper » Oct 08, 2016 11:47 pm

ScholasticSpastic wrote::oops: Well.... I am in Utah.... :naughty2:

"It's wedged in between Wyoming and Nevada. You've seen pictures of it, right? " -Fletch
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#18  Postby ScholasticSpastic » Oct 09, 2016 12:02 am

The_Piper wrote:
ScholasticSpastic wrote::oops: Well.... I am in Utah.... :naughty2:

"It's wedged in between Wyoming and Nevada. You've seen pictures of it, right? " -Fletch


The relevant bit starts at about 1:30. It's my favorite song about Utah.
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#19  Postby The_Piper » Oct 09, 2016 1:02 am

:lol: Gateway to Nevada. Roight. "The beer here gives you"____? Gives you stomach bladders? :scratch:
I pronounce Nevada Nevahda. Colorada is pronounced Colorahdo.
Utah is pronounced eutaw. :lol:
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Re: Reiki - WTF Am I Experiencing?

#20  Postby Lola » Oct 09, 2016 4:52 pm

ScholasticSpastic wrote::oops: Well.... I am in Utah.... :naughty2:


Utah? Damn it, SS.


That's one of the states I've been banned from.
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