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Peterborough

Healing touch

MCH expanding Reiki  services, volunteer program

  • Essy Moverman provides a Reiki treatment for David Garland, a patient in the Bond Wellness Center's pulmonary fitness program<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Essy Moverman provides a Reiki treatment for David Garland, a patient in the Bond Wellness Center's pulmonary fitness program<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Essy Moverman provides a Reiki treatment for David Garland, a patient in the Bond Wellness Center's pulmonary fitness program<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Essy Moverman provides a Reiki treatment for David Garland, a patient in the Bond Wellness Center's pulmonary fitness program<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Essy Moverman provides a Reiki treatment for David Garland, a patient in the Bond Wellness Center's pulmonary fitness program<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

David Garland attends the pulmonary fitness program at the Monadnock Community Hospital’s Bond Wellness Center twice a week. And on one of those days, he ends his exercise session by sitting quietly in a chair, with lights lowered and soft music, as a practitioner lays her hands on his shoulders for a brief session of an ancient energy healing therapy known as Reiki.

“It brings a sense of total relaxation, particularly after exercise,” Garland said on Thursday. “There’s a kind of energy flowing. You can feel the difference in your physiological makeup.”

“It takes away stress and anxiety,” said Essy Moverman, the respiratory therapist and certified Reiki practitioner who works with Garland and others in the fitness program. “The patients are so receptive. They welcome the relaxation. They just kind of melt.”

Reiki, pronounced ray key, is based on ancient Japanese energy healing techniques, according to Libby Barnett of Wilton, a Reiki master and author who has been training staff and volunteers at the hospital.

“Reiki is a tool to reduce the impact of stress on our body,” Barnett said on Thursday. “The easiest way to think of it is as a form of hands-on healing that helps reduce stress and manage pain and bring soothing comfort and relaxation.”

Barnett said Reiki offers a refuge for those dealing with serious illness.

“I had a client who said ‘It provides me an oasis of comfort. I get to get away from that label of oncology patient.’ It gives people time to refuel, to take life in and to breath.”

Dana Marangi, the hospital’s coordinator of wellness programing, says Reiki blends well with conventional medicine, which is why the hospital is planning to expand its Reiki offerings.

“It’s a gentle, hands-on therapy that promotes relaxation and can soothe anxiety and fear,” Marangi said. “It can help manage pain and reduce stress. It’s a very nice accompaniment to the medical attention that our patients need.”

Moverman, who has been a Reiki level II practitioner since 1996, said she and another practitioner generally takes five minutes or so with each member of the pulmonary fitness program.

“We do it with them sitting down,” Moverman said. “In our setting, it’s just a light touch on the shoulders. It kind of goes to where it’s needed. Some people describe it as a warm feeling. Even a few minutes makes a difference.”

Barnett said Reiki requires a bit of training, but no specialized skills.

“Anybody, anywhere, any age, can do Reiki,” she said. “It’s not difficult at all to do it. You don’t have to be a health care professional. It’s all about placing the hands in a comfortable neutral spot. The cells of the receiver pull in the energy. The body takes in the energy it needs and heads toward balance and equilibrium.”

She said Reiki is offered to people as an option to help them deal with pain or stress.

“It’s always an invitation: ‘Hey, do you want some energy?’” she said, describing the process as akin to putting gasoline in a car when the tank’s running low. “It gives the body a kind of kick-start.”

Marangi said the hospital has been running a Reiki clinic for the public and for hospital employees for about three years. It’s held on the fourth Tuesday of each month, staffed by volunteers. The sessions are free and have been quite popular, sometime drawing 10 to 15 people.

All the volunteers who are doing Reiki have been certified through a course offered by Barnett.

“The only requirement for volunteers is being interested in sharing,” Barnett said. “As a volunteer, you feel good because it makes such a huge difference for people.”

Marangi leads the hospital’s Patient Experience Committee, which has been researching the benefits of Reiki. The group found that Reiki is used at many hospitals throughout the Northeast, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Concord hospitals in New Hampshire. Hartford Hospital in Connecticut has been running a successful Reiki program for its patients for 15 years.

Based on the committee’s findings, Monadnock Community Hospital is now planning to offer Reiki as a free service for in-patients. Barnett said the hospital’s program is being modeled after the one at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where 80 volunteers have done more than 20,000 treatments.

“We’re not breaking any new ground here,” Marangi said. “Being in the hospital can be stressful. This can help them to relax. It provides comfort while they are healing.”

The in-patient use of Reiki has been limited so far at MCH.

“We’ve provided service to three or four patients and to staff, and it’s been very well-received,” Marangi said. “Through the free Reiki clinic, we’ve been developing an army of volunteers who’d really like to offer it in a clinical setting. That can be a rigorous process. In addition to the training, we do a thorough background check. It’s almost as if they are becoming an employee.”

This month, the hospital will be making Reiki available for in-patients and oncology patients every Wednesday. As the pool of volunteers expands, Reiki might eventually be offered in the birthing center and the emergency room, where stress is a common issue.

“Our goal is eventually to bring Reiki to wherever it’s needed,” Marangi said.

In July, Barnett will be offering a course for hospital employees and others who are interested in becoming Reiki certified. The cost for the class will be $75; participants who become volunteers at the hospital may be eligible for reimbursement.

For information on that class, call Marangi at 924-4699, ext. 1174.

To make an appointment to experience Reiki through the free monthly clinic, call the hospital’s Reiki hotline at 924-7191, ext. 1285.

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