Why I was Wrong about Reiki and Western Medicine

When I first started practicing Reiki I was full of enthusiasm and confidence in its power to bring physical healing. This kind of passion is common when people start something new. It can be over-the-top, even unrealistic, but it also helps give us the momentum we need to build new habits.

Unfortunately I went too far in my swing towards complementary therapy, and I swung completely away from western medicine. I decided we didn’t need western medicine anymore, believing that Reiki was enough for any physical complaint, from the common cold to cancer.

There’s nothing wrong with faith that leads to positive action, but the rejection of the whole of western medicine was ridiculous, and here’s why. The efficacy of Reiki in physical healing is no reason to reject mainstream interventions, such as drugs. While there are serious issues related to the use of drugs, they can also help a lot. That’s obvious, but I had lost sight of this fact. Every day drugs save lives and every day drugs improve lives.

Three weeks ago my wife contracted shingles. In the initial stage of her illness she was in intense pain, and the rash seemed to be worsening each day. You can be sure that we were both very grateful for the anti-viral and pain-killing medication that she was given by a doctor. We were also grateful for the gift of Reiki, which we did twice each day.

I avoid taking drugs when, to the best of my knowledge, they are unnecessary. Like a few years ago, when I woke up during a tropical storm and went out onto the balcony to gather the clothes that were hanging out there. The floor was slick, my weight flew off my feet, and I landed heavily on my side. I realised I had cut my toe on some metal, so cleaned it off with water and then went back to sleep. The next day I went to the hospital to get a tetanus vaccination, but I ended up with a lot more than that: a surprising amount of bandaging for my little toe and an even more surprising amount of drugs: pain killers (despite no pain), muscle relaxants (this actually makes me laugh), and a full course of oral antibiotics. This is the medical system in Thailand. Despite its flaws, it’s a system I’m deeply grateful for. (In case you were wondering, no I didn’t take any of those drugs.)

When a loved one is ill, it’s important that we feel we’re doing everything we can to support their recovery. The decision about how we do that is not always easy, but as citizens of the twenty-first century, we benefit from centuries of research and practice in both mainstream and non-mainstream approaches to healing. So instead of being dismissive of different approaches, let us practise the third Reiki principle: just for today, be grateful for my many blessings. One such blessing is western medicine.

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