In the not-too-distant past, prospective students of Oriental medicine and some other energetically based modalities had to decide if they were able to commit several years of time to study in order to help patients.
Now an option is becoming more available. This option reduces training from years to days (and even minutes). The individual essentially becomes a "heale"r through a process referred to as an "attunement."
Typical training in energetically based healing arts as acupuncture, Oriental herbal medicine and shiatsu requires several years of training. Students in the United States who meet a variety of prerequisites are admitted to state-recognized institutions to study modalities such as acupuncture, acupressure, herbs and shiatsu. Training includes several years of study, often with an internship. In conjunction with graduation, the student must pass a licensing exam to gain state recognition.
The lesser degrees of certification may require as little as a few weeks of training. The practitioner's scope of practice is usually limited to a range of ailments that was included in their training.
Practitioners enjoy the legitimacy, recognition and protection of the state. They also have the growing possibility of payment from private insurance.
But, there is another type of training and style of healing that is gradually gaining momentum, which is very different. It includes practices such as rei ki, joh rei ki and reconnective healing. Its training is not based on years of academic study but on an "attunement" that may take as little as a few minutes. This attunement causes a fundamental change in the student's energetic makeup that immediately turns them into a practitioner.
These practices may be rooted in Oriental medicine, and usage of terms such as qi, ki, and chakras are common.
The attunement is performed by a master or teacher who has attained a level of skill that allows them to attune others. For a fee (sometimes waived), the master introduces this energy to the individual. The attunement essentially cleanses the individual or initiate of their own energetic blockages and creates a route of transmission to others. After the attunement, the new practitioner is able to treat others and themselves (rei ki in particular). This energy is supposed to pass though the practitioner, not from them, and therefore does not have detrimental effects on them. Like anything else, the more practice, the better the practitioner becomes.
This is not a form of qi gong that requires cultivation, but as one treats others the practitioner may find health benefits in themselves as well. The phrase "doctor, heal thyself" is given a few new connotations.
In contrast to typical Oriental medical treatment modalities, the treatment from the attuned practitioner is primarily a passive process. The practitioner usually does not know specifically what the patient is going to experience prior to treatment. This is because the patient's body/energetic body/qi dynamic takes what healing energy it needs and distributes it where necessary; the patient treats himself/herself. This means that differential diagnosis, treatment plans and strategies associated with modalities such as acupuncture and herbs are not applicable.
Attuned practitioners often avoid making specific claims or promises. Sometimes the treatment yields the anticipated results; sometimes it does not. A patient may find that other conditions were affected in addition or instead of their main complaint; unnoticed disharmonies may become balanced as well. Apparently, the patient's body/qi dynamic/energetic body had uses for this healing energy that were different than the patient's mind. However, it is common for a patient to feel relaxed and peaceful during and after treatment. Sometimes, the benefits may take several days to manifest. Occasionally, patients may actually (consciously or subconsciously) refuse to "accept" this healing energy and consequently receive no benefit whatsoever. Therefore, results can range from virtual miracles to nothing.
Despite the apparent practical disadvantages, this type of practice is gaining popularity. This must be due to its success. If one is observant, one may find an attuned practitioner in a hospital, hospice, detox clinic or maybe even a religious organization. They either work for cash, donations, or as a volunteer for a humanitarian organization.
Present and future practitioners of Oriental medicine and subtle energies now have a temporal option: study several years through an academic institution to utilize tools and modalities to interact with the patient's qi and other subtle energies, or get attuned over a few days to become a healing tool to pass healing energy to patients.
In the end, the results are best stated in the thought-provoking and cryptic Yogi Berra quote often said at college commencements: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." This quote actually referred to driving directions to Mr. Berra's New Jersey home. Once you found the fork in the road, it didn't matter whether you took the left or right road, because they both went to his house. There are many ways to become able to affect a patient on the energetic level, it's just how we get there and how we do it that is different.
As for me, I choose both.
Lawrence Howard, LAc, MSAc is a New York State licensed acupuncturist and reiki practitioner working throughout the Five Boroughs of New York and Long Island.