In order to understand how Reiki can facilitate healing, it helps to understand some basics of how the human body works. For this month’s post, I’d like to walk you through a simplistic understanding of the autonomic nervous system.
The Autonomic Nervous System is composed of two sub-systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. You know more about these systems than you realize. You probably don’t recognize them because I’m using their more technical names.
The Sympathetic Nervous System is referred to as your stress response or your fight/flight/freeze response, and your Parasympathetic Nervous System is your relaxation response or your rest/digest response.
The overall system was called autonomic because it was believed that these functions happen automatically, however research is beginning to show that we have more influence on them than scientists initially thought.
First let’s take a look at what happens to the body in the stress response. When the Sympathetic Nervous System is activated (aka when you’re stressed out) the heart rate and blood pressure increase. Digestion is slowed to a halt and the immune system is suppressed. The circulation and energy of the body is directed to the muscles so that one can fight or flee for their life. The body is focused only on immediate survival.
When the Parasympathetic Nervous System is activated, the heart rate and blood pressure decrease. The energy and circulation are redirected to the internal organs, and digestion is stimulated. The immune system comes back online, and the body is focused on long term health rather than the short-term survival like when the Sympathetic Nervous System is activated.
From a western medical perspective, Reiki is a stress-reduction and relaxation technique. Since the immune system is heightened when we are relaxed, this is how we can see Reiki as a healing modality. Reiki is not a miracle drug. It is simply helping to get our body into a healing mode so that it can do what it naturally wants to do… heal itself. This is the physical healing aspect of Reiki.
Another thing that happens when we are in stress mode is that the amygdala hijacks control of the brain signals, and prevents them from being processed by the frontal lobe where our higher level thinking skills reside. We tend to get tunnel vision and can only see situations from one perspective when we are upset and/or stressed out.
When we are relaxed, the amygdala releases control of directing our brain signals, and we can begin thinking clearly again. As one relaxes more and more in a Reiki session, the brain starts functioning better which can lead to finding new solutions to old problems or seeing things from different perspectives. This is referred to as the mental healing aspect of Reiki.
Our human bodies are amazing in the way they work. The more you know about them the better equipped you are at tapping in and influencing how it works. Also, if you know how the body works, then you know how Reiki can influence and help it work at its best. Being able to explain it to others will help them understand the benefits they could receive, and may open more people up to trying it out.
Learn more and spread the word.