It started with a tingle. In the base of the neck above the shoulders.
I can feel it.
Icy sensations scatter and skip north to south across my body, inducing temporary paralysis and pinning me on back like a frozen corpse in a meat locker.
Something’s happening – something strange
Sudden flashes of heat crawl out of my quivering cheekbones, my eyes lock shut in a surreal state of semi consciousness.
Feeling still . . . calm . . . groovy.
Am I dreaming? Am I dead?
No. I’m in one of Judith Carruthers’ Reiki classes – and it’s electrifying.
These reactions are commonplace in this class, as many Reiki “first-timers” have difficulty putting into words what the receiving end of a Reiki treatment actually feels like.
“It feels like you’re being touched when you’re not, like someone’s touching your toes,” said Reiki first-timer Megan LaFramboise, CA of the Audet House.
Wait. Hang on. What the heck is Reiki anyway?
Put simply, and pronounced RAY-KEE, it is a Japanese “technique for relaxation and stress reduction that also promotes healing,” according to the International Center for Reiki Training website at www.reiki.org. Subjects receiving treatment are asked to lie down, take off their shoes if they desire, relax, and let the Reiki practitioner “wash away” any negative vibes.
“It works with the energy of the universe and the seven shocks of the body,” said Claire Benjamin, president of the Reiki club and Reiki Master.
Reiki is similar to a traditional massage in many aspects, but with one exception: subjects in this class are never actually touched by human hands.
“This is a no-touch class, we don’t want to cross any personal boundaries,” says Benjamin. “We want to keep people in their comfort zones.”
And comfort is important. Those walking into a Reiki session for the first time are greeted with soft lighting, feathery pillows, and Zen-like music humming quietly from the small CD player in the center of the room.
“They’re shocked,” says Judith Carruthers, Reiki master and teacher of the class. “They can’t believe how relaxed they get.”
The practice of Reiki has also been used by nurses to compliment traditional methods of healing, and is thought to be especially good for children, burn victims, the elderly and even pets.
“It’s a great alternative way to feel good,” says CSC student Mallory Strange. “You can go in and not have a problem, and come out leaving wicked energized. It’s powerful.”
That may be true, but what should a typical college skeptic expect?
“I have kids come in that have never slept on campus, the ones up until four or five in the morning,” Carruthers said. “They come in [for treatment] and PIZHAO! Oops, they sleep through their first class.”
And speaking of classes, Carruthers’ is as legit as it gets.
The course not only teaches students the art Reiki, it also provides them with skills required to practice it on others. Castleton is also the only college in the U.S. that allows students to take Reiki classes for college credit.
“I teach them to become Reiki practitioners, so they could actually start their own side treatment business if they wanted to,” said Carruthers whispering, so as not to disturb the aura of those receiving treatment around her.
And business is booming. A typical half-hour Reiki session can cost as much as $150 in New York City.
Judith and her class do it for free.
The one-credit class is offered twice a semester and lasts seven weeks, meeting every Wednesday evening in the Castleton Wellness Center. Students, faculty, and alums come out in droves to receive treatment from Carruthers’ apprentices, which will total 54 by the end of this semester alone.
Carruthers stresses that a Reiki treatment is not meant as a substitute for traditional methods of medicine and will not replace your doctor or prescription medications.
She isn’t making any promises, but one.
“I can pretty much promise you that you’ll sleep better,” she said with a kind smile.
“If I can get kids on this campus sleeping, that’d be huge!