What I love about being a music therapist is not only the work with clients, but also how I can craft my approach to the work with clients. While practicing as a music therapist for the past three years, I have explored different resources and spiritual practices for myself that can also be of benefit for use in my music therapy work. Most recently, I became a Reiki practitioner and have been using Reiki not only for my own self-care but also in music therapy sessions. It is a resource I use often in sessions now.
You may be wondering - what is Reiki? It is an energetic healing modality that originated in Japan in the early 1900s. Reiki simply means spiritual energy. It is a higher “life force” energy that a practitioner channels into their hands. Reiki is used to bring balance and relaxation to the body so that the body can be in the most optimal state for healing. Receivers of Reiki must give consent for treatment and most commonly lie on a massage table while the practitioner moves their hands through postures, hovering over parts of the body or using gentle touch. Everyone experiences Reiki differently. Some report feeling increased relaxation, decreased pain, decreased stress, lightness, visualizations, emotional release, or higher spiritual connection. Effects may be subtle at first and gain intensity with experience.
To become a practitioner, one trains with a Reiki master from whom they learn the history, principles, precepts, and how-to of Reiki, as well as, how it can be applied to different areas of life and used with other practices i.e. meditation. There are two different levels, after which individuals can train to be a master once they have practiced for a period of time. There are different Reiki lineages - I was trained following the Usui lineage with Clare Kenty, in Toronto, Ontario.
As it is an energetic modality, Reiki can be channeled across distances, for individuals, plants, animals, and used to charge objects, situations, food, travel, and more! It is an adaptable and gentle technique. Practitioners can also use Reiki on themselves for self-treatments, protection, meditation, and self-care.
Reiki has become a valuable and transformative resource for me in my self-care practice. I have also been enjoying exploring its use in my music therapy work. Music at its basis, to me, is energy and vibration. If Reiki is energy, then the two can be combined together for increased connection and support for clients.
Similar to Reiki treatments, a music therapist can ask Reiki to flow in various ways during sessions: - For protection - the practitioner/therapist can ask Reiki to protect them from taking on energy or feelings that aren’t theirs - For the highest good - practitioners always ask the energy to flow for the highest good of all - For an intention - During music meditation or improvisation - Exploring, clearing, and/or releasing feelings
Reiki does require consent if flowing directly to an individual and it is not always fitting to explain it to clients if they have different levels of alertness and cognition. Thus, asking the Reiki to flow into objects i.e. instruments or around situations can be safer, yet still beneficial. I am still learning and exploring, as this is an ongoing journey for me. I actually received supervision on using Reiki in music therapy from Los Angeles based music therapist, Jenna Bollard, who is doing amazing work at a children’s hospital. It was wonderful to find another like-minded music therapist.
Reiki is not a regulated practice nor is it easily or heavily researched, however, those who don’t believe in it can still experience its benefits. Music therapy is an evidence-based intervention that can include elements of spirituality and energy work, as we work toward goals with clients. Therefore, I believe Reiki can only bring increased benefits to music therapy sessions. We all have different resources to look to in music therapy practice and we each have our own approach. Reiki can be an effective resource for music therapists not only in sessions but also for self-care in helping to relieve stress and prevent burnout. The energy does the work - you just have to simply be. This may not resonate with everyone and that is totally fine. Everyone has their own beliefs and values, and it’s important to find what works for you. If this does appeal to you, consider reaching out to a Reiki practitioner in your area to experience a session. You may love it as much as I do and choose to become a practitioner too!
Daiva Paskauskas MTA Harmonia Music Therapy
Links: Harmonia Music Therapy https://www.harmoniamusictherapy.com/ Clare Kenty https://clarekenty.ca/ Jenna Bollard https://www.medicinalmelodiesllc.com/ Reiki https://www.reiki.org/