READING TIME: 4 MINUTES
Together with the rest of the world, I'm stressed. I’ve calmed down from the full-on pandemic panic I felt in March and April, but some anxieties remain.
In regular times, for stress relief I went for biweekly massages, but that’s not happening right now. So when I found out that visual artist Wiji Lacsamana performs distance Reiki sessions, I decided to give it a try.
Reiki is a healing technique that emerged in Japan in the early 1900s. The word comes from the Japanese word rei, meaning “universal life,” and ki, meaning “energy.” It uses what some call a "universal energy" channelled through the practitioner to the patient. This improves the flow of energy in the patient’s body, eventually relieving ailments.
I am open to the idea that the body and mind can heal through means other than surgery and pills, so this isn't an article investigating if Reiki offers real benefits. My aim is simply to tell you what happened during my distance Reiki session, in case you were curious or thinking to give it a try. If you feel inclined though, you can read about experts explaining the science of Reiki here and here.
A friend had performed Reiki on me years ago, and I remember it was a pleasantly relaxing experience, but we were both in the same room then. This time, with Wiji and I being about seven kilometers apart, I didn’t know what to expect.
At the beginning of the session, after asking if I had any specific health issues I needed addressed, she instructed me to lie down. "I find that I’m less fidgety when I am getting Reiki lying down than when I am seated," she said.
She then told me that she was going to lead me through breathing exercises. When she sensed that I was calm, she would go offline and do her work.
If your eyes roll at anything that can't be explained immediately by the scientific method, then you may want to stop reading right here.
Aside from Reiki with the friend I mentioned earlier, I had also gone through two other energy healing sessions before. One was with a folk healer in the south of France, and another with a woman practicing Theta. The session with Wiji, however, was the only one where I experienced intense sensations that I am still trying to wrap my head around as I write this, weeks after the session had ended.
Not long after the breathing exercises had ceased and Wiji had presumably gone offline (I kept my eyes closed, so I couldn’t check.), I started to feel tingling on my arms and legs. This sensation stayed with me throughout the session, intermittently getting stronger and weaker, becoming pulses and waves. It also occasionally moved to other body parts.
At one point it transformed into a definite sensation of heat near my cheek, strong enough to make me freak out so that I opened my eyes to make sure that there really was nobody else in the room with me. That sounds crazy, I know, but the heat felt real that night.
The second experience was a series of memories that began playing in my head soon after the tingling began. There I was, lying on a hammock in the hut I rented in Boracay in the 2000s, looking up at the surrounding coconut trees, enjoying the sound of the wind moving through them. Then the memory transformed to me falling 30 meters straight down into the blue ocean during one of my first deep dives, when I was still scuba-diving. The sound of wind again, this time rustling through the reeds surrounding my isolated country home in France. After that came fog, first hovering over Caliraya lake and then coming towards me as I was walking down a Baguio street, both memories from when I was a child. The fog became snow. I was walking somewhere very quiet on a mountain in Switzerland. I could hear the crunch of snow under my boots. It was at this point that a tear fell from the corner of my eye. I wasn't sad, but I did feel a marked sense of longing.
Then there was the impression of seeing light behind my closed eyelids. First it was a circle of yellow light that stayed for a while. This later transformed into a very bright white.
The session was to last for an hour, but my sense of time got all fuzzy. It felt much shorter than that. I had wondered how I would know that it was time's up at 9 p.m., as I had to keep my eyes closed. At a certain point, however, the tingling ceased. I opened my eyes, and looked at the clock. It was a few minutes before 9.
Following Wiji’s instructions, I observed how I felt in the days following my distance Reiki session. Some people sleep after Reiki, she told me, but I felt energized. When my daughter asked for a midnight snack afterwards, I made her a grilled cheese sandwich, when normally I would have just opened a pack of store-bought cookies. I also felt calmer all around in the days that followed, less easily riled up.
Wiji and I spoke later, and we tried to make sense of my experience. The memories of time spent with nature were easy for me to understand. Quarantine in Manila was made harder by the fact that I was deeply missing my frequent excursions to far-flung locales away from developed spaces.
The tingling sensation was common, I had read. Many people who undergo Reiki feel it. Wiji said the energy goes to where the body needs it most. My legs because I had recently taken up running, perhaps?
What about the yellow and white lights? Different practitioners apparently have different ways of channeling Reiki. An artist, Wiji naturally gravitates to the use of visualization. She sees energy as the colors attributed to them by students of chakras.
She had found my solar plexus chakra - traditionally represented by the color yellow - to be very dominant. “I was still working on your other chakras, and I could already see the yellow.” She advised me to work for a better balance between my energy centers. The white light? She had been using a technique common among Reiki practitioners, visualizing me hugged in a white healing light.
I found it amazing that the lights were us, somehow communicating across kilometers. “I actually prefer distance Reiki,” Wiji says. As you experience things without another person in the room with you, and are therefore left with no easy explanation for what you go through, “It makes it easier to believe in magic.”
Good Luck, Humans founder Apol Massebieau is a curious soul who believes that growth comes from exploring the unfamiliar. She also believes that the world is an ancient place where many things are possible. Before going into design, Apol was a writer for magazines and newspapers, and has published works of speculative fiction.