I Tried Reiki and It Made Me Love My Body More

Although it's not offered at every spa, Reiki is a centuries-old treatment (not to mention one that's loved by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie) that you've probably seen on a spa menu at some point, but never thought to try it. 

Stemming from Japan, Reiki is a specific technique developed to help relieve stress and heal the body. Based on an idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through all of us, this treatment works to balance this energy, which is believed to cause sickness and high stress levels if it dips too low. It focuses on the mind, body and soul all at once and aims to enhance your well-being. This was all that I knew about Reiki when I showed up for my treatment. What I learned during it, well that was a whole other story.

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When I arrived at the sprawling PGA National Resort & Spa (it's the perfect place to sneak away to while your husband hits the golf course or for a weekend getaway with your girlfriends), I changed into my robe and cozied up in the lounge as I waited for my therapist, Mary (a Reiki Master), to come get me. As we walked to the treatment room, I asked her if she could talk me through as much of the treatment as possible without disturbing her "flow." Of course you wouldn't expect this from a typical experience, but I wanted the full lowdown so I could understand what was happening. 

I laid face down on the table under a blanket (the table had also been warmed up) and listened to the soothing music as Mary explained a little bit of the history of Reiki and what led her to it almost 25 years ago. She told me that my treatment would also include a bit of massage—often included with Reiki at many spas—which is how things started. As I was falling into deeper relaxation, one thing I heard Mary repeat a few times really stuck with me. "Thank your body for all the good things it does for you," she said, practically in a whisper. I laid there thinking about all the things I take for granted and all the hard work my body does for me on a daily basis. It's important to reconnect from time and time, slow down and rebalance. We take such good care of our loved ones and our jobs and our personal effects like our cars and that beautiful pair of designer shoes, but what about the thing that is the reason we can work and love and drive and walk, etc? 

When it came time for the traditional Reiki part, Mary said that some Reiki Masters don't actually touch you with their hands as they're "healing," but that she would. She also said she wouldn't talk during that part, as she'd be focusing on the energy, which made perfect sense. She slowly moved her hands around to different parts of my body from head to toe, resting at each place for a period of time. The really neat thing is that in certain areas, her hands felt much warmer than others, particularly my lower back and neck, where I often get muscle pain. When I asked her about it later, she said that it was because those places were in need of more balance than others and the blood flow had increased. So cool!  

When the treatment ended, Mary told me to drink a ton of water and not do anything jerky, like work out or lift something heavy, for 48 hours. If so, it could stop the flow of energy, which could keep me from reaping the benefits like a boost in energy, improved sleep, stress relief and many more, all of which I experienced. I slept like a baby (my eyes were so puffy in the morning, but I felt wonderful!) and I felt more loose and free than normal. Since my treatment, I've made more of an effort to stay hydrated, eat better and get a healthy amount of exercise. I keep hearing Mary's voice in my head—"Be good to your body"—and I hope it doesn't go away anytime soon.

And, although some people might chalk it up to fantasy, you won't know until you try it. Treat yourself!

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