Meditation as Medication

What is energy healing and how could it help you?

by OLIVIA N. BOSAR ★ NOV. 25, 2018

Imagine yourself lying down on a massage table, covered in a warm blanket - the room filled with an earthy-citrusy smell and zenful music playing softly in the background. But instead of getting a massage, as you probably assumed would be happening in this situation, you are here to experience energy healing, as did Kate Molanare, Syracuse University class of 2015.

As the conversation about mental health and self-care continues to grow, so does the interest in alternative forms of therapy – such as reiki.

Reiki is a self-healing technique during which a practitioner such as Molanare places her hands lightly on or slightly above various parts of the body to help redistribute energy. It dates back to centuries ago in ancient Tibet and was rediscovered in the late 1800’s - early 1900’s in Japan by Dr. Mikao Usui, who developed the method of practice most commonly used today according to the International Association of Reiki Professionals.

Although it may seem strange to think that a stranger waving her hands over your body without actually touching you could have profound healing abilities on your body, physicians specializing in both eastern and western medicine affirmed the healing powers of such therapies according to a New York Daily News article.

Kate Molanare, who is by profession a social worker, has been practicing reiki since 2017 and opened her own practice in June of 2018. As a social worker who advocates for mental health initiatives, she uses reiki as a counter-balance to the politics of her work life. Along with having her own practice - Just For Today, Molanare also works with Crouse Hospital’s reiki program, visiting patients and practicing reiki in a traditional health environment.

Molanare began receiving reiki healing herself when she was in traditional therapy for what she describes as an “awful, awful breakup” stating that she had been completely overwhelmed with stress that caused long-term stomach pain, headaches and back pain. Her therapist, who was also a reiki practitioner, suggested that they try reiki after Molanare’s traditional therapy session.

“I finally felt like I could breathe after a year of stress,” Molanare recalls about her first session, “It was half an hour of relaxing - something I hadn’t been able to do prior.”

She says it helps her feel, “super open and energized,” and it helped her through a really stressful period in her life. “It’s another form of healing,” she said when asked how to best describe reiki to those unfamiliar with it.

When Molanare first began performing reiki, she went to a conference where practitioners practice on each other so that she could get used to what it felt like to be the one performing reiki therapy rather than receiving it.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect - it’s different for everyone,” Molanare said

Molanare was performing reiki, for the first time, on a woman. As is the standard practice, Molanare started with her hands above this woman’s head and slowly worked down the body. When she held her hands over the woman’s chest, Molanare suddenly felt a brush of cold air on her hands. She looked around the closed room. There were no fans, no obvious sources that could have caused the burst of wind on her hands. This sensation is how Molanare senses energy in the body. “That’s how I know when an area of the body needs more attention,” she explains, “Whenever there’s an area of extreme stress in the body, I feel this air on my hands. I get a feeling of warmth on my hands when I sense energy in regular patients.”

Although all forms of energy healing received praise from practitioners, patients and even some physicians, scientists remain skeptical about the true effects of it. They argue that there is no scientific basis for claims that energy healing has healed ailments and these forms of therapy are still considered pseudoscientific in the medical field.

“It’s very generational and works best when you combine it with traditional treatments,” Molanare said. “Even if you don’t believe in it, you’re still taking 20 minutes to focus on yourself.” Molanare encourages anyone and everyone to try reiki therapy and adds that she has not had a single patient that has had a bad experience - only ones that have felt indifferent.

Sometimes Molanare gets patients that although are open the idea and practice of reiki, are slightly uncomfortable with being touched. She says that not only does she not have to make actual contact with the body but can simply hover hands closely over it, she keeps open communication with her patients as she’s performing the ritual. She lets her patients know where she is going to touch before she does and says that she can avoid certain parts of the body altogether if a patient is uncomfortable with being touched there. “Once I had a woman who had had surgery on her stomach and didn’t want me touching it. It’s really no big deal,” Molanare said.

Some of Molanare’s patients have described experiencing forehead tingling and have even reported instances of feeling as if they are hovering during a reiki session. A quick Google search on reiki will reveal dozens of accounts of patients saying that during a reiki session, they recall past events and information from months or even years prior that they have not thought about since it occurred. Molanare said the most common physical side-effect of reiki is that her patients often fall asleep because they are so relaxed.

“I had one gentleman who woke up in the middle of a session because he felt like he was spiraling down. I told him to focus on the spinning and not let it scare you,” Molanare said when asked if she ever had a patient not have a good experience with the therapy, although she also mentioned that she seldom has patients that have an adverse reaction.

If you’re in the Syracuse area and want to try reiki for yourself, you have a few options as the therapy is actually more commonly practiced than one would think.

Kate Molanare and her practice Just For Today offer in-home reiki massages and can be contacted at JustForTodayReikiServices@gmail.com and can be found on Instagram @_just4today_ and Facebook @justfortodayyy. You can also find Molanare on WellnessConnects.com - a directory service that connects users with local wellness resources.

Life Center for Well-Being at 302 Parsons Drive in Syracuse offers reiki massages as well as classes and other forms of energy healing. They can be reached at (315) 468-5060 or online at lifecenterforwellbeing.com.

D’vine Serenity Healing also offers reiki services and can be located at 5858 E. Molloy Rd. Suite 113 in Syracuse and contacted at (315) 928-6265 or online at https://www.dvineserenitywellness.com.

Liverpool Therapeutic Massage located at 609 7th North St. in Liverpool offers reiki services and the chance for customers to try a 10 minute energy healing session at the end of any traditional massage therapy session for only $10 more. They can be contacted at (315) 457-1532 or (315) 395-3959, and found online at www.liverpooltherapeutic.massagetherapy.com.

Molanare encourages everyone to try reiki, because it is at least time they will spend focusing on themselves even if they do feel indifferent towards the practice. They might also be pleasantly surprised by the effects.

“It’s literally good vibes only,” Molanare said.