A soothing touch

Sara Macho

Alternative therapy offers rest, relaxation

Tamar Geri, 42, gives reporter Sara Macho a 30-minute session of Reiki therapy, a natural hands-on healing technique that originated in Japan in 1914. Through Reiki treatment, a practitioner transfers energy by placing his or her hands in a series of touc

Credit: John Proppe

The room is dimly lit with the soft, warm glow of candlelight. Calming instrumental music plays in the background. I feel her hands, which are warm and tingly on my body, move to different locations, including the top of my head down to my shins.

Tamar Geri, 42, a Shaker Heights resident, has just finished a 30-minute session of Reiki therapy, a natural hands-on healing technique that originated in Japan in 1914.

Geri, a soft-spoken woman of Israeli-descent, has been studying and performing this alternative therapy since 2002.

Throughout a Reiki treatment, which Geri prices at $40 per hour, a practitioner transfers energy by placing his or her hands in a series of touches at various positions on the individual’s body. These spots, called chakras, flow in a line down one’s body, starting at the base of the head down to the lower legs.

Breaking barriers

Though the touch-oriented therapy has been met with criticism in the past, it is slowly making its way into the medical world as a healthy alternative to pain medication, according to numerous medical reports.

Under the guidance of Joan Fox, Ph.D., the Cleveland Clinic Foundation is currently recruiting participants for its “Effects of Energy Healing on Prostate Cancer” study. The study is specifically recruiting those who are newly diagnosed with the cancer and are scheduled for radial prostatectomy, external beam radiation, brachytherapy or any combination of these, according to www.clinicaltrials.gov.

In addition, students from the Kent State University College of Nursing are also researching the use of Reiki as a complementary therapy for their course on nursing research.

Senior nursing major Stephanie Hunt was first introduced to the therapy after an on-the-spot treatment at work.

“Over the summertime, I was cooking and got a moderate burn on my hand that didn’t seem to be healing quickly,” she said. “A Reiki provider stopped into my work and saw the burn. She performed the Reiki for a few minutes and there were no immediate results.”

But, according to Hunt, after a couple days the burn had healed completely.

“Due to the state the burn was in, as a nursing student, I don’t think it could have naturally healed that quickly on its own,” she said.

With the experience Hunt had, she decided it would be interesting to learn more about Reiki and its possible use in the medical community. Her research group, which is made up of nursing students Chris Caine, Leah Byrd and Rhonda Henderson, will study the effects Reiki can have as a complementary medicine in the disease process, Hunt said.

“Our goal as a group is to research and come to a decision whether Reiki is a good therapy when it comes to fighting the disease process,” Hunt said. “This is a noninvasive method of therapy and could also be a means of relaxation for the patients it is performed on.”

‘A sensitive girl’

Geri, originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, only recently brought her Reiki skills to the United States. She moved to the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights last January with her husband and two daughters.

As a child growing up in Tel Aviv, Geri said she was an extremely sensitive girl easily influenced by the energies of the environment. This intuition continued to follow her after she graduated from Tel Aviv University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in French literature. Geri said she felt that her life then would change drastically.

Soon after, the keen, quick-witted woman discovered Reiki from a close friend. Geri knew she had always been good at working with people and figured a job in therapy might be her calling.

Geri began training with Reiki master Alon Peer. But before Geri could become a master at Reiki, her husband brought news of a job transfer to the United States.

“When I moved to Cleveland I didn’t know what to expect,” Geri said. “I asked someone who told me about the Ursuline Sophia Center in Pepper Pike.”

At the center, Geri met with Sister Ann Winters, who is in charge of the center’s Reiki program.

Winters and Geri soon began training together, and with Winters’ guidance, Geri became a Reiki master able to teach other people the treatment. And with this status, Geri’s longtime dream of therapeutically working with people soon became concrete.

Touching future generations

Though it may be difficult to wrap your mind around the idea of Reiki therapy, Geri and many others in the medical field truly believe in its power to soothe and heal even the most skeptical critics.

Geri said that through her experiences with Reiki, she has discovered just how powerful the mind and body are.

“With every Reiki treatment I realize how our body works in a miraculous way,” she said. “Although you can not see the Reiki energy, trust it.”

To experience Reiki or to learn more about this healing technique, contact Tamar Geri at [email protected].

Contact features reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].