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Reiki: The Healing Power of Touch for Fibromyalgia & More

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Like a Native American medicine woman bringing the news of new remedies to her tribe, reiki master JoAnne D’Acunto captivated her audience, sitting around her in a circle, at the South Brunswick, New Jersey Senior Center.

During a presentation about the practice of reiki on Nov. 12, she intrigued many seeking relief from chronic pain or other ailments. “I’ve never heard of it before, but it sounds very interesting and exciting,” said Lena McCoy of Princeton. “It’s something I want to learn.”

“I don’t want to take medicines,” said Edith Cachola of Kendall Park. “If I could heal my pain within me, I will do it.”

Ms. D’Acunto, a reiki master since 1991, said it is possible for people to heal both themselves and others using the ancient Japanese practice known as reiki. She said reiki is a Japanese word meaning life energy. It is a method of hands-on healing that taps into a universal energy and brings the mind, body and spirit into balance to treat both chronic and acute conditions.

During a session, Ms. D’Acunto said a reiki master traditionally works on seven main chakras, or energy fields, in the body. Practitioners routinely follow a series of hand positions and can place their hands above the head, shoulders, back, stomach and limbs or anywhere a person is experiencing injury or discomfort.

She says she uses herself as a channel for the energy to flow through her and into the patient.”I’m not the person who is doing the curing,” she said about the reiki process. “It’s the energy.”

Ms. D’Acunto said this transfer of energy can help alleviate things like stress, pain, muscle tension, anxiety, depression and poor immune function and circulation. She said it also promotes restful sleep, relaxation and a heightened sense of well being.

“I’ve tapped into many ways of helping people depending on who they are,” she said. “It’s very important that you look at the spiritual, cultural, biological, and emotional aspects of a person, and when a person comes to meet you, you assess them in that way.”

Besides practicing reiki, Ms. D’Acunto has been a psychiatric nurse for 30 years. She decided to learn more about the practice when she began to suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder. Because it worked so well for her in treating her own symptoms, she eventually became a reiki master herself and opened a practice out of her home, off Route 27 in Franklin, to help area people with their own pain and ailments. “I wouldn’t be doing it unless it worked for me,” she said.

Ms. D’Acunto learned to become a reiki master at the International Center for Reiki Training in Michigan. Anyone can receive a reiki session, but Mr. D’Acunto said a person must receive training from a certified reiki master in order to teach reiki. There are a total of three levels of training. At level one, a person is taught to do reiki on themselves and others. Level two involves learning how to use reiki to treat others at a distance without putting the hands directly on them, and level three is the master level, when practitioners become certified to teach others reiki.

Ms. D’Acunto said the process of becoming a master can be costly and time-consuming, depending on the particular master teaching the technique. They set their own rates, which can cost thousands.

An individual reiki session, however, is a lot more affordable. At Ms. D’Acunto’s practice, Pathway to Healing, she charges $65 per session or slightly more if she makes a house call. She said she will also honor a particular health insurance plan if it covers alternative treatments.

At his apartment in Dayton, 8-year reiki master David Peery charges $50 per reiki session, which can last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Like Ms. D’Acunto, Mr. Peery also began learning about reiki as a way to heal himself. Now, he mostly enjoys sharing the process with others. “I like seeing the results of people when it’s done,” he said. “Even if nothing is wrong with you, it will help you relax. I like to see the results when it is all over. That is my benefit.”

Mr. Peery said reiki is a very powerful treatment for everyone who experiences it. “It depends on what they are carrying around with them,” he said. “It (reiki) has a consciousness of its own. It knows what it needs to do and does it.”

Besides offering reiki sessions on weeknights and weekends, Mr. Peery also often volunteers his time giving reiki demonstrations at the South Brunswick Library and Senior Center. At Ms. D’Acunto’s recent senior center demonstration, she got the opportunity to give a few participants a sample reiki session. Even in the few seconds she spent working on Kaye Chiang of Franklin Park, Ms. Chiang said she felt the reiki energy. “I could feel the warmth,” she said. “I could feel the heat transmit. I’m going right to the library to get a reiki book and read about it.” Ms. D’Acunto said the seniors were a lot more open to reiki that she was at first.

“People now are opening their minds more to alternative work,” she said. “Being brought up as a very strict Catholic, at first I thought, what am I doing here? I had to work through it. I wondered if I should really be doing this because it is against my belief system.” Now, Mr. D’Acunto believes in reiki more than ever. “I think it is great when you can teach someone to do something for themselves,” she said. However, being a nurse herself, she said she wants people to realize reiki should not be a substitute for medicine. “I never tell someone not to go to the doctor, but as an adjunct to medicine, the healing arts really empower people,” she said.

Monmouth Junction chiropractor Dr. Dean Lupo, who often treats patients for chronic pain and other ailments, said he wouldn’t discourage a patient from getting reiki treatments, as long as this is not the sole form of treatment. He said he does believe in the ability to pass energy from person to person, but he is not sure of reiki’s ability to heal specific ailments. “I think the person does receive some sort of positive energy, but I don’t see the exact correlation between the transfer of that energy for a specific purpose,” he said.”

In chiropractics, Dr. Lupo said he relies on the concept that the body heals itself through the nervous system, but he does think reiki can have benefits. “Anything positive you can put in the body in terms of energy, it would say, yes, absolutely do it.” Ms. D’Acunto said overall, the power of reiki depends on the person. “It’s not for everyone, just like plastic surgery is not for everyone,” she said. “I call it heart work. Anything you do for yourself with an open mind is beneficial, and if one thing doesn’t work for you, something else will.”

For more information on Pathways to Healing or to schedule a reiki appointment if you live in New Jersey, call Ms. D’Acunto at (732) 821-1516.

To schedule an appointment with reiki master David Peery, call him at (732) 329-1998 or e-mail His next reiki demonstration at the South Brunswick Library in New Jersey will be on Jan. 10 from noon to 2 p.m.

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