When so many methods fail to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress, is Reiki the answer?

Who am I?

My name is Rachel J. Lazarus.  I have been a licensed massage therapist for over 4 years and a Reiki practitioner for over 6 years. Prior to my work in the healing arts I was a field biologist; conserving, preserving and protecting wildlife and natural lands with what some of us refer to as, “people management.”   It was during this time in which I had the opportunity to serve as an intern for the U.S. Forest Service through an organization called the Student Conservation Association (SCA).  That summer in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was one of the most liberating and biggest catalysts for growth in my life.  I had come to realize that working for the government was more than shuffling papers with your head down.  Those three months reinstated, for me, that I was not my disease.  After coming back to the east coast, I had an epiphany of what it meant to be mentally ill.  I didn’t want to run from my suffering any longer, I wanted to face it.  I signed up for my first Level 1 Reiki course and three months later I was enrolled in massage therapy school.

Why Veterans?

In my quest to become a Reiki Master, my teacher Ginny Mackles had asked me to start brainstorming ideas for a final project requirement.  I was working at a local wellness center at the time and in walked a broad-shouldered man with a smile.  He was a retired Marine.  I had never met a marine so the 90 minute massage turned into a casual chat about his experience in the military and his reflections on his time there.  A recent study has found that more service men and women are dying from suicide than from military combat.  Twenty-two people a day to be precise.  My cousin is a Sergeant in the Air Force; my grandfather was a naval officer during the Korean War.  Veterans are in my family.  Altruism, to me, should be a highly revered quality in a person.  I am dedicated to this project because of my own experiences with healthcare, because of the lessons my family have instilled in me, and because of the high demand to serve a community in need of assistance.

The Project:

As a body worker I have worked with many clients both active in and retired from the military.  Each has touched me in one way or another as I listened to their stories.  It is my goal to create a community in which servicemen and women may feel safe and maybe, just maybe free.  Free from the chains of their own minds just as I have 12 years after my diagnosis.  I am looking for 10 veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD and are able to dedicate time to receiving one 60 minute session of Reiki a week for four weeks in a row. Data will be anonymously collected in hopes to create a scientifically backed article proving the benefits of Reiki on the Veteran Community, specifically, those who suffer from PTSD. As a Reiki Master, it will be my goal to continue to work with the community in order to reach those who feel it has helped them in their healing journey.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese based energy system aiding in anything from basic relaxation to self-development and enlightenment.  It was discovered in 1922 by a Buddhist monk named Mikao Usui who after a 21 day fast and meditation received enlightenment.  His goal was to create a method to enlightenment without religious attachment.  It has elements of martial arts, Buddhism, and Shintoism.  The word Reiki can be broken down into two components, Rei-meaning sacred, holy, and universal and Ki- meaning life force energy, the non-physical force flowing through all living things.  It can be compared to chi in China or prana in India (Mackles).  It has also been taught to the Japanese Navy as a way to sustain them for long periods at sea.

You can find out more about Rachel Lazarus’s program here.