Reiki at a Catholic Hospital
Reiki at a Catholic Hospital
by Sister Mary Mebane, O.S.F.
I am a Board Certified Chaplain-certified by The National Association of Catholic Bishops and I have worked here at Marian Medical Center for nearly 10 years. I learned Reiki from two of our nurses, Jeanette McDaniel, RN, who works in the ER, and Joyce B. Benedetti, RN, Manager of the Education Department at Marian. I have been a practitioner/teacher since 1997.
At the present time, I am primarily the Second Floor Chaplain, although I also see ER patients in the early morning and am frequently called to the ER. I begin my patient rounds a little before 7 AM in the OR Holding area (the room just before the Operating Rooms), then work my way back through the Same Day Surgery Care Unit, CCU (Critical Care Unit which includes Intensive Care and Cardiac Care Units), and then head for 2 North.
A large number of nurses, a few physicians and a number of employees from others sections of the Medical Center have received Reiki Training. This includes persons working in the ER, Physical Therapy, Environmental Services, CCU, Medical and Surgical Services Chaplaincy, Home Care, Hospice, and ministry to Persons With Aids. I am enclosing flyers from our Hospital sponsored Reiki programs. We have an on-going program at the Marian Cancer Center for cancer patients and their families and an annual "Cherishing Yourself Day" held during our yearly City-wide Peace Week Celebration. Both are very well attended by the public. Over 40 people come to receive Reiki on "Cherishing Yourself Day" this year.
In my work as a Chaplain, I see people of all denominations, people who have no religious preference, people who have no religion and those who would just like a "social visit." I am not "the Catholic Chaplain", but minister to all who welcome such visits.
There is still a certain amount of fear/restraint on the part of some people in administration that keeps them from endorsing Reiki as a part of the Integrative Medical Services: a misunderstanding of what Reiki is and there are some persons who threaten to withdraw their contributions/donations to the Medical Center because they feel Reiki violates their personal belief system in one way or another. Hopefully these misconceptions will change over time.
An increasing number of people know that I use Reiki and ask for me personally (or for one of the others who use Reiki), and some ask for the "nun who does laying on of hands." For the most part when I ask people if they would like me to pray will them, they stretch out one or both hands and they know I am praying for healing for them or their loved one. I get many comments from people telling me how much better they feel/felt.
I would like to share some stories with you. In the stories in which I use people's names, I use them with their permission.
The OR nurses frequently direct me to patients who are very anxious/fearful before surgery and tell me later that the patient has told them how much better they felt after my visit, or how the patient was suddenly so much calmer/more at peace. A few patients have told me they don't want to let go of my hand because "holding it makes me feel better."
One of the anesthesiologists later asked me for information on Reiki. I gave him the book: REIKI, ENERGY MEDICINE, which details the use of Reiki by physicians/nurses at Massachusetts General. On another occasion another anesthesiologist looked me up after a surgery and said, "I don't know what you did, but whatever it was it worked--the mass (tumor) wasn't there any more--that was a real surprise!"
On my regular rounds I went to see a new patient and the RN and Physical Therapist had just gotten her up. I started to leave with the intention of coming back when they had finished, when the patient, holding tightly to the walker said she "felt funny," but refused to sit back down when requested to do so by the RN. The RN took her blood pressure as she was standing there and said it was "sky high." While she consulted with the Physical Therapist, I quietly asked the woman if she would like me to pray for her and she said it "couldn't hurt." I placed my hands over hers (she was still clutching the walker with both hands) and prayed a brief prayer for healing and left. In about 5 minutes the Physical Therapist rushed out, found me and told me that the woman's blood pressure had dropped 40 points and that she was feeling great.
One of the patients told her Nurse that after I put my hands on her head the severe headache she had as a result of her IV medication "lifted up like a cloud" and did not come back. I had had only a minute or two with her before her family came in laughing and talking to visit her.
I had major abdominal surgery myself in March of 1999 and my friends did Reiki on me before and after the surgery and at intervals afterwards. When I saw my surgeon 3 weeks after the surgery, he did a double take and said, "This is amazing! I can't believe how fast you are healing!" He just shook his head and looked up the date of the surgery. At my discharge visit he again remarked on the rapidity of the healing and said he wished all his patients would heal that rapidly.
I have found Reiki to be a great comfort to patients on our Compassionate Care Program (patients with a prognosis of approximately a week or less to live). They tell me they feel "so relaxed" or feel "so much more at peace." On occasion, I have taught Reiki to their families at the bedside.
I have referred some patients/families to the Third Thursday Reiki Sessions at The Unity Church for a continuation of the healing process and people who attend these sessions from the community at large often ask for Reiki when they are admitted to the Medical Center.
Jeanette McDaniel, RN, who works in the Emergency Room, uses Reiki daily, sometimes at the ER Doctor's request-they don't always call it Reiki, they sometimes referred to it as "that thing you do," or "that massage you do." She uses it with patients, Doctors, Nurses and other employees at their request. She has seen blood flows lessen or stop, and healings of many kinds, including making the passage from this life to the next more peaceful for some.
Jacqueline Miller, CCRN, from the Critical Care Unit has had the same experience as above, using Reiki/massage with her patients, families, co-workers, and physicians with very good results.
Donna Matthews, RN, who works Med/Surg shared with me that she uses Reiki often and finds it often helps calm patients with dementia and Alzheimer's as well as emotionally stressed patients and their families as well as terminally ill patients and those on the Compassionate Care Program.
There are many wonderful healing stories from Doris Oakes and others who work at the Marian Cancer Center-stories of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing/improvement. Doris and a fairly large number of others volunteer at the monthly Reiki Sessions at the Cancer Center--hopefully to soon be bi-monthly if all goes well. Some of the Rns at the Cancer Center also have Reiki training.
I have contacted people at various hospitals in the area and while Reiki is sometimes offered at the Cancer Centers, and a class is sponsored by Sierra Vista Medical Center, Reiki is practiced primarily by individual nurses and others in their work situations and is not fully accepted by the medical community at large. It is my hope and prayer that this will change.
It is my opinion that the value of Reiki and its very simplicity of use especially in a medical setting are inestimable. I have seen the results of its use on the physical, mental emotional and spiritual levels and, again, it is my fervent hope that it will soon be accepted fully in the medical field.
Thank you so much for all that you have done to make this wonderful healing modality available to all.
Sister Mary Mebane, O.S.F.
Marian Medical Center
A Member of Catholic Healthcare West
P.O. Box 1238
Santa Maria, CA 93805