Hardworking Maine: “You’ve Got the Touch”—Exploring Reiki

With a population of over 33,000 people, Bangor, Maine has a job market that’s been growing in diversity for a number of years. Bangor Metro correspondent David Furtado sets out to discover Bangor’s varied occupations, meet the people working in them, and experience them for himself.

(Transcript) Hardworking Maine, S01E01: “You’ve Got the Touch”—Exploring Reiki

Located on Bangor’s Franklin Street is Carol Chapman’s office. Chapman is a licensed clinical professional counselor as well as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. She is also a teacher of psychology at Husson University.

Chapman has practiced reiki for over 15 years. Reiki is an alternative form of therapy that is described by Chapman as a life force energy that is passed from the practitioner to the patient through the hands, affecting the patient both psychologically and physiologically.

“It can help with inflammation, it can help with healing, it can help with addiction, it can help with depression. It can help in many ways” she said.

In the late 1800s a Japanese man by the name of Dr. Mikao Usui, who was a professor of theology, climbed Mt. Kurama in Kyoto. According to historical accounts, Dr. Usui fasted for 21 days and it was there that he discovered the universal life force energy, which he dubbed reiki.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that reiki moved west to America. A Japanese descendent by the name of Hawayo Takata, born in Hawaii, became ill and travelled to Japan for treatment. Takata was treated with reiki and became a student following her recovery. Once her training was complete, she brought the knowledge of reiki back to the western world.

Chapman, a licensed therapist for seven years, said she became a therapist because of reiki. “I was very interested in all kinds of healing, and so reiki just seemed like a natural step for me.

I got my license to promote reiki. I can also offer reiki as a tool for people to experience reiki or to learn reiki to use it on themselves,” said Chapman.

Those who are interested in learning reiki during their therapy sessions are taught a specialized version by Chapman that targets their specific condition. She told me that her practice is at full capacity, and that those who seek reiki as a form of therapy might run into some issues. Chapman said that insurance companies have yet to see reiki as effective.

“They see it as a modality but they don’t see it as a billable modality…I’m doing the reiki but I’m also doing humanistic counseling and I’m doing other counselings that are ‘measurable’ and reiki is not measurable at this point,” she said.

Bangor is Chapman’s hometown, so she has been here for a number of years. She said that reiki hasn’t reached the popularity here that it has in other places.

“Bangor is just a little slower to take on something that is more ‘new age-ish’ where there is no real proof that it does work, although people say it does work. I think it’s really ready and I’m excited to see that growth happening,” said Chapman.

Chapman gave me an opportunity to have my own reiki session to experience it for myself. At the beginning I was a bit nervous about the process. Chapman said this can happen to some of her patients that are new to it. Chapman gives her patients information all about reiki, from its history to its practices.

“It either eases their minds or it doesn’t. Some people will never get comfortable with it and that’s fine too,” she said.

At first, I had some skepticism. I wasn’t sure if I would feel anything during the session, or at all. Once on the table, there was an instant calming effect. A wash of relaxation came over me as Chapman dipped into reiki mode to prepare for the session. I didn’t realize how much Chapman’s office set the tone for her practice; with a relaxing music selection in the background, the room was filled with the sounds of a soothing flute. The dim lights and a simplistic furniture layout created an atmosphere that wasn’t crowded while managing to avoid any sense of isolation.

Once on the table Chapman reiterated that reiki is a hands-on practice. She inquired if I was comfortable with that before proceeding. She started out with a personal process that she does to prepare for the reiki session. Her hands moved to certain spots focused on a line that holds “chakras,” or spots that are sources that receive and send energy throughout the body.

Chapman started focusing on my head where the crown and third eye chakras are. I didn’t feel much of anything. I began wondering how long I might have to wait before I began to feel its effects. Chapman moved down to the third eye chakra, which is alleged to enable the recognition of being. As she placed her hands over my eyes, I instantly received visuals of a rocky coastline. The sounds of crashing waves flooded my ears. The session lasted about 7 minutes, but from the time my mind was teleported to the coast it seemed like time was slowing down.

A usual reiki session last upwards to an hour and Chapman was giving me a highly abbreviated one; I felt its effects quickly. Chapman had mentioned that her hands might get warm and that it’s completely normal. Okay, but how warm could they possibly be? It wasn’t until when she got down to the heart, where the aptly named chakra is located, that I understood what she meant. As soon as she placed her hand on my chest I felt a radiance of heat penetrating the layers of clothing I had on. Chapman said that the heat was the byproduct of the energy passing from her hands into my body.

At one point she unclasped my hands from one another and placed my arms at my side. It was here where I felt an odd sense of consented paralysis. I know that those words sound bizarre together, but that’s the best way to put it. There was no obligation that transcended the session that made me feel like I needed to move. I just lay there, and that was okay. The end of the session consisted of Chapman waving away the “negative energy,” as she called it. Each reiki practitioner has their own way of repulsing the negative energy and Chapman simply balls it up and throws it out the door as if it was a crumpled ball of paper. Sitting up I felt drained, a wave of relief and mental exhaustion existed simultaneously.

Chapman said that reiki is similar to meditation. She also mentioned that reiki has no connection to any form of religion. The whole experience was one-of-a-kind and I was ready to try my hand at performing reiki. Unfortunately, through my naive excitement, I failed to realize that one needs to take a class to perform a session of reiki, so I was unable to try it.

Nonetheless, the day was successful as I learned about a new form of therapy that seemed to have an effect. As the day came to a close, I couldn’t help but think that not many other counselors offer reiki to their patients as Chapman does. At least, not here in the Bangor area.

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