By Lauren Maher:
Even though I have spent many years exploring both the physical and subtle energetic anatomy of yoga, there was something that always felt “woo-woo” to me about Reiki. However, over the years people kept coming into my life and surrounding me with healing energy in their own quiet ways: my yoga teacher, Veronica, who somehow always knew the right thing to do; my chiropractor, Timothy Campbell’s, work that extended beyond the reaches of the ordinary; certain friends who popped up with uncanny intuition.
As I questioned these bodhisattvas in my life, I noticed they all had something in common: they were Reiki masters.
My interest thoroughly piqued, I enrolled in a Reiki course and was initiated into Reiki practice. Though I had always felt healing energy move through me as I taught yoga, somehow it suddenly felt much more “channeled” as Reiki energy. For several weeks afterward, my hands were unusually warm, sometimes blazing hot. I’ve had freezing cold hands and feet my whole life. Something inside me was shifting.
My client Ruth came to me after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor. She was embarking on a path of Tibetan medicine as well as traditional Western medicine. As a yoga therapist, I specialize in working with people who have cancer. In my experience, I find that people working through brain trauma are often a little bit closer to the truth: defenses are down, intuition is heightened, dreams and reality sometimes overlap into one. A childlike innocence and openness reigns. It was in this state that I found Ruth.
When I placed my hands on Ruth’s head, I experienced an overwhelming sensation of love and support. It felt as though hundreds of people were in the room with us, standing with Ruth and shepherding her through this journey. As we proceeded through the healing session, Ruth shared with me visions that she saw, and we chatted about animals and what they represent spiritually; she shared thoughts about deer, owls, and falcons, to name a few.
As I worked on Ruth’s ankles, I suddenly had a striking vision of a colorful flag whipping in the wind. The flag was brightly colored and had what appeared to be the face of a Tibetan deity on it. The vision widened, as though a cameraman was pulling back on an epic scene. There I saw hundreds of flags waving in the wind, an army of strength marching for Ruth.
After our session was over, I asked her about a piece of art in her house that had the face from the flag that I had seen.
“That’s Mahakala,” she said. “The Protector.”
I remarked that she had an army of support behind her. “I have 300 Buddhist monks chanting for me 24/7,” she said. “The energy is flowing.”
I opened the door to take a breath of fresh air and standing right in front of me was a beautiful deer. He was not afraid and made no effort to move as Ruth and I observed him. His beauty and stillness struck me. All that we work toward in our healing paths—the ability to breathe freely, to be still, to heighten our awareness—was represented by this beautiful deer.
That day Ruth came to some powerful realizations about her life, her health, and the role that cancer might play in leading her toward some long-held dreams and desires. Again, I found myself amazed at the power of this simple, hands-on healing technique to change lives.
Lauren Maher (LMFT, C-IAYT) is a licensed psychotherapist and certified yoga therapist who is passionate about helping people heal, transform, and thrive. To find out more about her practice, please visit these websites: