Once in a blue moon, even the most Zen among us become panic-stricken during this economic climate. Case in point: yours truly. There are those rare days when a prolonged headstand or meditation just won't ease those pesky tensions reverberating through my body and across my mind.
A trusted spiritual advisor suggested I could benefit from Reiki, so I sought out one of City's finest: internationally-renowned Reiki master pioneer and author, Pamela Miles. Research indicates Reiki treatments improve blood pressure and heart rate, strengthen immunity, reduce anxiety and pain, and enhance overall well being. Unlike some forms of bodywork -- deep-tissue, Thai yoga massage and, heaven forbid, Rolfing -- Reiki is utterly painless.
I entered Miles's sage-infused, Upper-West Side abode for some hands-on healing. The hour-long treatment was subtle, yet incredibly balancing for my psyche. For the rest of the day I felt calmer and more content -- and I slept like a baby that night. Miles explained that Reiki provides an inner-anchor of sorts. And when life gets a little stormy, this energetic realignment allows us to maintain our equilibrium while making meaningful connections with those around us.
Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie may have a heart of gold, but her heroic, drug-induced shifts at a fictional Manhattan hospital offer a clear window into our nation's thoroughly broken healthcare system. As Jackie quips to one shock-eyed newbie, "Honey, people come here on the worst day of their lives," and sure enough, today's hospital care is entirely about disease and pain management, not health management. Miles, on the other hand, believes patient care begins with the caregiver. And thus, she trains countless of these dedicated healthcare professionals, including the oncology and hematology staff of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore. As a complement to traditional, western medical approaches for even the most challenging cases -- children with cancer and sickle cell anemia -- Reiki helps alleviate pain and anxiety.
Miles makes herself available to the expansive Manhattan community in a variety of ways. Next month, you can find her at the T Salon in Chelsea Market for free midweek Reiki refreshers (July 8th, 15th and 22nd at 7pm). And every month at the Jewish Community Center, Miles and an assorted group of skilled Reiki practitioners provide 30-mintue sessions to the public for only $20.
From newborns to the dying, Miles insists Reiki is easy to learn and practice on oneself, and can even be shared with family, friends and, surprisingly, family pets during pain or stress. Miles insists all of us can be empowered by this form of self-care, and she offers a 10-hour beginner's course to jump-start the process. Hugs always help, but in this economic abyss I'll take a pair of Reiki-charged hands.