Stress – it’s a common word these days, perhaps a little overused at times, and tossed around without much thought as to what being stressed really means to us and our health, or what we intend to do about managing it.
While some people tend to thrive under the short-term buzz of a stressful deadline, or adrenaline junkies who bungee jump or sky dive to get that buzz, for the majority of us, we know it’s not a healthy state to maintain indefinitely, and can affect our long-term health.
In fact, it’s pretty clear that prolonged stress levels can contribute to the kind of diseases most people try to avoid: heart disease, cancer, depression, diabetes, arthritis, chronic obesity … these are just some, and although stress is meant to be a life-saver (to help us fight or run when true danger is around), long term stress can have the opposite effect.
It helps to consider the two sides to the autonomic nervous system. Firstly, the sympathetic side – this is where our bodies perceive danger and begin to flood our system with adrenaline, diverting blood from our digestive system and internal organs to the legs in order for us to run away, or stand and fight. The other side, the parasympathetic system is its mirror image. Hormones and normal function are restored, and our bodies return to an inner calm.
Sometimes, the body holds on to these perceived threats and life’s traumas and therefore the body doesn’t recognise we are no longer under attack, keeping our bodies in the sympathetic state, and our beliefs about the experience become deeply entrenched. For example, chronic obesity that does not respond to dieting, may be linked to childhood or teenage trauma. Constant low levels of anxiety are always with us due to the pressure of modern environments and media images, or sometimes it’s just those constant feelings of being unable to cope with the demands a family member or boss is making on us.
How can Reiki help relieve stress?
Over in Arizona, a team of researchers began looking at stress levels in laboratory animals. Ann Baldwin and her team wanted to provide better environments for laboratory animals, and their research found that giving Reiki to laboratory rats who were suffering with leaky guts due to stress, actually reversed their symptoms, and the guts stopped leaking. The Reiki treatment was given hands-off, a few inches away from the rats themselves.
More research followed, and at an interview with the Reiki council, Ann described how fascinating the research was. “When Reiki practitioners give Reiki to themselves, it puts them in a relaxation mode called coherence. Coherence is more than relaxing. It’s being relaxed and alert at the same time”, It also induces a deep sense of wellbeing.
For those who practice Reiki at second degree level, there is also the possibility of connecting to the source of unresolved stress that can be affecting the person in the present, and the possibility of clearing some of the deep-rooted emotions, feelings, thoughts and sensations which occur at different times in our lives.
We can stress ourselves out through worry and anxiety, especially when things change in our lives: moving house, changing school, giving birth, becoming a parent, loss of a loved one.
Other simple techniques such as slow breathing using the abdomen can also induce a state of relaxation, and enhance the effects of the Reiki. As can a positive mind-set where we practice daily focussing on positive emotions such as gratitude, kindness and discipline.
When we are in a state of Reiki induced relaxation, our bodies heal more quickly, our immune systems get stronger, and our brains and memories work more effectively. We feel more ‘in control’, and we are happier.
So, in the pursuit of good health and happiness, find yourself a good second-degree Reiki practitioner, and book yourself in for an appointment. Your body. mind and soul will thank you for it.