Chronic Illness and Reiki

Chronic Illness and Reiki Healing A Personal Saga

I am a Reiki Master Teacher.

I came to Reiki as I come to much in my life, honestly, through trial, and unprepared for the magic that awaited. As with all that sticks to the ribs of this thing I call my life, I am agape at the journey and the vistas. That is why I practice and why I teach. How would I keep this great find to myself. I would implode.

Each one will take to Reiki in their own way. Each one inhales and exhales in their own way. Reiki however will work the same regardless. It is like air. Reiki training teaches you to make the most of this air, this energy.

Reiki is the tip of our spirit power, the connection beyond words and beyond thoughts to our oneness with the universe. It is four on the floor for a standard shift ride to the cosmos with out and with in. It is the key to the power of manifesting intention and being in tune with our purpose on this earth. It demands little and gives so much.

The Trial

When I was a child I had issues with mobility. Through my school days I often went to physical therapy and was subjected to many medical tests. Nothing was discovered. Yet I continued to be uncoordinated and the last one asked to join a team during gym class.

When I was 12 I recall a kind friend, Irene Barnes–I believe, teaching me how to hold my arms and pump while I ran in order to “run right.” When I was graduating high school, I tripped up to the stage and fell in a heap in front of Mr. Kryzanowski as he held my diploma. A remarkable moment in a long line of falling. As I travelled the world it became my reflex to say to friends and fellow voyagers that they go on ahead. I was slow. When I became involved with my first girlfriend in an adult household I often trailed behind her on the streets of the Lower East Side of New York City.

At the age of 35 I found myself in a perfect situation of home and work. I was teaching English as a Second Language for Adults and flourishing. I would walk the six blocks to the school and teach and walk back. I would stop along the way and chat with folks on Avenue A or B and the merchants in various delis and shops that I had begun to know. Life was generous.

However: There were days I was exhausted and could not walk as well, or work as well as usual. Unthinking others labeled me lazy and claimed I was not working up to potential. This a familiar refrain from childhood’s injustices hurt me deeply.

Then I began to sleep in on my days off. I would sleep for more than half the day. My prep work suffered. My relationship suffered. I began to hear the labels of my childhood echo from the mouth of my lover and others.

They said: I was lazy. I shirked my responsibilities. I was not living up to my potential. I became depressed. I lost respect for myself. I began to wonder if in fact I was intrinsically flawed.

I lost rest and gained weight.

Then one day as I headed out to teach my class, my right foot refused to carry me. I had to drag it. It became quite painful. By the end of the class I had popped four aspirins and took a cab home. My lower legs were cramping and my feet looked grey. I slept.

The pain and struggle to walk continued and I sought medical attention. After two years, that included a surgery, physical therapy and six months of relief, the foot relapsed into a mass of unresponsive pain.

During this time a person I knew took me to a workshop on Reiki.

I began to practice basic hands on position. I found that my fatigue was often fully resolved and I felt refreshed after a 20 minute session of giving myself Reiki. I was impressed and decided to pursue it.

In the mean time I went to the emergency room using a cane to take the pressure off my right foot. The doctor on call was a woman who asked me to walk on my toes. I looked at her with a habitual face of “no can do”. I had never been able to walk on my toes for very long. I told her that I doubted it and showed her what little time I managed standing on my toes.

Then she asked me to walk on my heals. I remember laughing loudly at the absurdity of that notion. I thought of that as equivalent to some of the more advanced yoga positions. If people were doing that on a regular basis I had managed to never notice.

She asked me to walk on my heels, again. I was aghast. This was as if she had asked me to walk on my nose. Alien. Totally alien to my world. She then demonstrated. Her assistant did as well. Apparently this walking on your heels was something ordinary. Far out though it seemed to me. There they were across the 11 foot office.

This sweet woman sent me to a neurologist. I was told, after a series of painful tests, that I most likely had Charcot-Marie-Tooth. To be 100 percent sure, however, there was a relatively pain free blood test.


CMT was a genetic, progressive, degenerative, neurological disorder caused by an extra link on my 14th chromosome. Progressive here meant it went from bad to worse in a one way streak and my particular course, or any particular case. Any clear prognosis was impossible. In the immediate, I would need AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthotics or leg braces), now and forever.

“Will I end up in a wheel chair?” I asked. Impossible to say.

And so I was introduced to CMT and now chronic illness is my longest relationship. It has taught me well. I have learned me and life from my Charcot-Marie-Tooth. Living intimately with this I nick-named my condition Shark Tooth. Shark Tooth was with me even before I knew to call it out. It will be with me as long as I am on the planet, and then I don’t know. It was there like my smile or my love of sweets.

There is no reason for that extra chromosome. There is no point in assigning value to it, other than it is and at its best it is my teacher. Better to know each other intimately.

Reiki taught me to take judgement out of the equation. Just for today be kind to each and every thing, even your Shark Tooth. It is just being what it is. Do what you can to let it not get in your way. With ongoing Reiki practice I have grown physically, mentally, and spiritually. Shark Tooth lives in a very different environment from when it was named. She swims in different flows of energy.

We co-exist.

While I don’t wish a chronic illness of any kind on anyone, or any other unfortunate condition or circumstance, they seem to be par for the course for most of us. We live longer and thus have more occasion to witness the wearing away of the physical us. There are accidents, and viruses enough for everyone. Like rain they fall on the good and the bad equally.

By doing away with the anger and frustration of my short-comings (though I still may have some of that at moments) and offering myself healing calm I was able to place CMT or Shark Tooth into a non-adversarial role in my life. This allows me to understand my own limits and limitlessness.

With the diagnosis came a treatment plan. The treatment consisted of (at various moments) physical therapy, drugs, and support devices such as canes and AFOs–Ankle Foot Orthotics or braces.

I wore the braces for three years. My sense was it might be doing as much harm as it was help. I decided I wanted to be AFO-free.

I did the drugs as I could. Some made me wired. Some made me foggy. The last, Topomax, made me fly off the handle on the drop of a dime, very moody and pugnacious. I decided I wanted to be drug-free.

I had discovered an amazing person on named Nancy who was a deep well of information on supplements and exercise. I followed them for a few years and then desisted. I follow my guts. I changed the way I ate along that time. I seem to have kept the benefits of those supplements.

I went to my doctors for regular check ups. When I would say that I felt stronger or better they were compelled to tell me that this feeling was not in line with the disease. “Once nerve cells die, they don’t come back.” I learned not to bother them with my thoughts. They were not prepared to hear me talk about the near death and deep sleep of my cells versus death. They were not ready to hear about the effects of energy work. They were not prepared for the possibility of healing that I had learned through the simple use of Reiki.

I decided I wanted to be doctor-free!

All along I did Reiki. I gave Reiki to others and received Reiki. I built a practice in Oswego NY called Reiki Centrale. By that time I was completely off medication and out of my braces.

I started calling CMT my Shark Tooth soon after the braces became an occasional aid for long walks. I began to visualize S.T. swimming in my nerve paths and giving it more room by accessing my energetic body to those nerve paths.

I learned about the nerve paths. So different than what I had imagined at the onset. More like the skeletal system than the cardio vascular.

I stopped judging Shark. I stopped demanding Shark leave. I made my truce with our co-existence. I found a way to flourish with this creature in my midst.

All the while Reiki flowed. Reiki Centrale closed when I moved back to NYC from Oswego. Like those nerve cells that were pronounced dead though I keep the possibility of resurrection with me always.

I would be lucky if Shark Tooth was my only life lesson. It’s not, but it is the one that allows me to see clearly who I am and how I want to live and where my spirit can take me. Reiki has had an amazing effect on my relationship with Shark Tooth. Maybe we are not friends as such, we are definitely mutually admiring contemporaries in this life.

Shark Tooth taught me the valuable lesson that all is not as it seems. What is solid may not only be so. No truth is set in stone. Consciousness is primordial.

Reiki, more than any other element in my personal medicine bag, has fueled my recovery, or rather my journey.

Reiki Blessings to all who read this. May you find the wisdom, and the source. This is the first of several articles on Reiki and CHRONIC conditions.

9 thoughts on “Chronic Illness and Reiki

  1. Poonam, Thank you so much for sharing portions of your journey with us. I look forward to reading future articles on Reiki & Chronic conditions in this series. Wishing you all the best on your path. Peace, JP

  2. Thank you so much for this beautiful gift of an essay. It reminds me of some of the more transcendent moments of Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde. Many of us have chronic conditions, some are named, some are not, and finding our own way to co-exist with them can be a frustrating but fruitful path.

  3. Sweet Poonam,
    A lot of layers to the lesson. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Particularly as women we are taught that our intuition is valueless. You learned to listen to yourself and you are stronger for it. Your story has universal applications and I thank you for it.

    • All love and light to you my friend.
      I am glad that you received something for you from my words.
      I am in the process of making some videos! The process is not SHARK proof! So, I’ve learned to be flexible and not give too many hard and fast dates! Do you have a chronic illness? Do you use Reiki? Practice Reiki? I’d love to know.

  4. Thank you for this article. My husband has CMT and we’re trying to find something that will help him to cope better. I worked a Health Fair today and met a woman who practices Reiki. My husband is eager to meet and work with her. This gives us a little bit of hope. Again, thank you for sharing your story. Much appreciated.

    • Helene, I have a new blog … Really, Reiki helps so much. I’m glad I was able to give you all hope. Feel free to reach out to me again. Here’s something else that helps a lot: It’s a facebook video I made on Magnesium Oil. If you don’t have facebook, you can find a tutorial on YouTube. The very best thing is love and living stress free. REIKI helps so much with that as well. LOVE & LIGHT, Poonam

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