Talk to the Hand
There’s something not quite right with the back of my heart. That’s the prognosis of Jennifer Brinn, one of the city’s master Reiki practitioners. The energy flow in my stomach is also subpar, and when she placed her hand on my head during our session, the image of a bat came to her. It’s time, she said, for me to confront my fears, let go of certain habits that aren’t helping me out, and socialize more. Weekly yoga, more walks, and cooking meals on Sunday to eat for the rest of the week aren’t such bad ideas either.
I went to Jennifer for Reiki (pronounced ray-key), an alternative healing treatment that aims to reduce stress, get rid of pain, and help you find balance by sending energy flow through your body. The practitioner’s hands are placed either on or directly over your body, sending energy through your chakras (or your “energy control rooms” as Jennifer describes them). Think of it as a combination New Age holistic electroshock therapy and cleanse, except instead of potentially destroying parts of your brain, it makes you feel really relaxed to the point of feeling stoned.
Jennifer says she likes to take the “woo-woo” out of Reiki. Everything is made of energy, she points out, and so it only makes sense to use energy to heal. Over our lives, crap piles up. Reiki can help us get through all those layers that are weighing us down and get us back to a more balanced place.
Some people are clairvoyant and others intuit through sounds, but Jennifer and other Reiki healers intuit through touch. She says that her hands would tingle when people walked by her, but she didn’t know what to do about that until she discovered Reiki. After she was laid off from her job at Yahoo! during the dot-com bust, she started training and eventually became a master practitioner. Now when she places her hands on people during treatments, she feels emotions, vibrations, and heat, and she can sense what they’re feeling, and occasionally even sees images that give her more insight into how to help a person.
Like many alternative health practices, a lot of people aren’t convinced it works — but Jessica points out that you don’t have to believe in it to get the benefits. Sometimes there is a danger that people might put too much faith in it — they forgo any other medical treatment for things like cancer — but on the flip side, Reiki is used with other care at hospitals like San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, and Oprah’s Dr. Oz is a major proponent.
First we started with a conversation about what I was hoping to get out of the treatment — a sort of mini-shrink session combined with a questionnaire about my health history. I’ve been low energy: My pendulum is swinging too much toward staying home and working versus enjoying good times with friends or looking for a new guy. But I’ve also started a huge new work project, which means it’s the perfect time to rejuvenate, refocus, and get back on the right track. Then I was up on the massage table for a half hour with a back massage that took out some major knots in my neck, and most importantly helped me to relax.
Next, I flipped over on the table, and the real Reiki part began. Jennifer placed her hands on the top of my head for about five or so minutes. Relaxing, yes, but nothing life shattering. Next, she placed one hand underneath my shoulder and another on top of my heart. That’s when I felt a pulsing sensation that was definitely different from my heartbeat. It changed in depth and frequency before eventually calming down, and Jennifer moved onto other chakra points along my body. While some practitioners hover their hands just above a person’s body, Jennifer touched me directly through the massage blanket.
The next half hour was a blurry state between waking and dreaming — which I guess is the whole point. I entered such a deep meditative state of relaxation that I was only half awake with hallucination-like dreams. When Jennifer asked me afterwards what I experienced, it was hard to fully remember those just-out-of-reach dreams. As someone with an excessive relationship with my snooze button and an intense ability for dreaming (including lucid dreaming), it’s a state I know well.
There were some images that I purposely conjured as I began to relax — the whole “imagine a sailboat in the ocean” kind of routine. But there were others that clearly related to our initial discussion. One dream was conveyed as a message to “bask in other people’s light,” which made sense given how we had talked about my propensity to spend too much time on my own.
Afterwards she explained that my chi was elevated in my head and shoulders and through grounding work, she could help to direct it back to my core. My second chakra — the lower abdomen and home to our inner child —was also blocked to prevent energy from flowing.
And then there was the bat.
I asked Jennifer if she had any images during the treatment — as she sometimes does — and she told me that when she first put her hands on my head, the image of a bat came into her mind. She consulted Steven Farmer’s Animal Spirit Guides , a handbook that identifies power animals and animal spirit helpers. The bat was a sign for me to welcome changes that were long overdue, confront and conquer my fears, and mingle and socialize more.
“The ordeal that you’re facing is a necessary part of your transformation and an initiation into a much more spiritually directed life.” She suggested I join some classes or group activities that I might enjoy. As a writer who tends to spend too much time, well, writing, it was good advice.
As I left, she gave me a sheet with instructions for aftercare with a warning that read: “The body may begin a subtle purging… which can occur on a physical level by experiencing a breakout or using the bathroom a little more than often.” Uh-oh. She said I should take at least half an hour of alone time — no cell phone, email, or even radio. So, I left her office in a dreamy, relaxed self-reflective state.
As I wandered down through the Marina, amongst the joggers toward the Bay, I noticed the smell of saltwater before I reached the docks. I made mental notes about taking more walks, calling long neglected friends, and contemplated the meaning of that bat.
Want to get your own energy flowing? Set up a Reiki appointment with Jennifer Brinn at Reiki & Intuitive Wellness by calling 415.430.5813 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Jennifer is in the Marina at 1863 Union Street. The cost is $85 – $150.