I breeze into Labor & Delivery where I now know the nurse on the front desk on a first-name basis. She buzzes me in, big smile, asks when I’m gonna do some Reiki on her. (I always offer, trust me, but she’s been too busy for a five-minute break. Yet.) I walk down the hall to check in with the nurse I did Reiki on a few weeks ago. H. is getting more and more excited about using Reiki on the floor, particularly with patients who are on strict bed rest until they give birth. (Can you imagine being otherwise confined to a hospital room for weeks on end? They’re understandably jumping out of their skin.) She’s begun her own informal research project on patients I work on, looking at indicators such as changes in blood pressure, and going into the room after I leave to get their impressions of what they experienced and how they feel. When she sees me, she sounds like a teenager. “Oh my God, Yael, did I tell you what happened with that patient you worked on last week?” This is followed by her bulging her eyes and taking in a sharp intake of breath.
All the nurses at the station, look my way and smile. One of them tells me that the other Reiki Fellow at the Center, S., did a Reiki session on her in the staff room the other day. No wonder she’s happy. This seems to be a sure way to gain trust in a hospital: if you get the nurses’ buy-in, they’ll want their patients to experience it.
H. pulls me aside, tells me that the woman I did Reiki on gave birth — possibly during our session or within a minute or so of my leaving. Apparently, the patient wasn’t even aware that she had given birth: the baby wasn’t alive, and she had been given an epidural so was numb. That said, nobody expected anything to happen for another few hours. The nurse had gone in there to check on her right after I left, found out that the patient enjoyed the feeling of warmth from Reiki, and felt very relaxed. It was the nurse who discovered that the birth had occurred, easily and safely.
Do you think Reiki could help induce labor? H. asks. She thinks that Reiki might be just what her department needs most.
I’m the worst person to ask.
Though I’ve been pregnant, I’ve never given birth, and the likelihood of my doing so is extremely small at this point. I often say that my parents should never have encouraged me to babysit for three brothers under the age 5 when I was 12 (unless they meant it as birth control)! Or maybe it was learning the word “episiotomy” at about around the same time. Besides, given my family history, it never occurred to me to propagate the ancestral line or spend a fortune trying. Plus, I’m really, really cool with the eccentric aunt role.
So I do what I do when I don’t have experience in something: I google Reiki and childbirth, and find some lovely anecdotes about Reiki master grandmas keeping their hot hands on their daughters throughout childbirth, and some marketing around Reikiing babies in utero — but not a lot of substance. It’s hard to measure Reiki scientifically, though NIH is beginning to look at other energetic modalities and my guess is that it won’t be long before there’s some clear techniques for monitoring effects.
Personal experience seems to suggest that Reiki is good for physical as well as emotional releases, as last week’s post indicates. But not every session brings about such dramatic results. This week, for example, two patients in a row respond to my questions monosyllabically. “Fine” just doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the work, though frankly this seems like a gift from the universe to me to keep it real and not get too caught up in what my hands can channel.
I’ve been thinking a lot about using Reiki to release what I’m carrying that I no longer need, including old ways of doing things and outmoded expectations. (You too may be wondering what you can release before we head into the next season. Will you use Reiki or other methods to support your doing so? )
In the meantime, my other work — coaching and consulting with nonprofit and philanthropic leaders — has begun pepping up again after a cycle of economic-induced hibernation. While I welcome the increased intellectual challenge — and income — I find myself reflecting on how I want to return to that work changed by my heightened awareness of energy and healing, and wondering how I might apply these lessons intentionally at the organizational level. At the same time, I’m not completely sure how much I want to do this work versus Reiki versus yoga teaching versus writing. I’ve been fairly disciplined with my own contemplative practices as of late, and that certainly helps me keep living these questions, rather than overly obsessing.
Until next week!