Health: The power of healing hands in treatment

Reiki practitioner Sue Malcolm with Merle Cooper
Reiki practitioner Sue Malcolm with Merle Cooper
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Reiki aims to restore the body’s natural balance. Katie Baldwin heard how it helped one Leeds woman.

In the field of complementary therapies, reiki may be the one most difficult to understand.

The idea that placing the hands on, or even above, someone’s body to help physical or emotional problems sounds a little unlikely.

Yet for some, the benefits are undeniable.

Merle Cooper had suffered from back pain for a year, causing her so much discomfort that she took 12 painkillers a day.

The 67-year-old then started suffering from anxiety and began having panic attacks.

“I didn’t know what reiki was, but I thought I’d try anything,” she said.

“I’d been in agony.”

She went to see Sue Malcolm, a reiki practitioner, thinking that it might help one or even both the conditions.

“It’s helped both my back and the anxiety,” she said.

“I’ve not had an anxiety attack since before Christmas and I feel tons better.”

Merle, from Lofthouse, near Wakefield, said that during a treatment, she feels a warmth when Sue puts her hands on or over areas of her body and the whole thing is incredibly relaxing.

Best of all, after popping numerous painkilling pills each day, Merle know doesn’t have to take them at all.

“I can’t speak highly enough about reiki, or about Sue.

“I can honestly say that it was the best money I have ever spent.”

For the reiki practitioner, from East Ardsley, a series of unusual experiences led her to realise she wanted to take up this particular form of therapy.

Sue has worked as a nutritionist for 29 years, but first she had a “eureka moment” where she felt a voice was telling her what her purpose in life was – and it involved helping sick, abandoned and cruelly treated animals.

“As a child if anyone in the family were ill I used to be there for them and was often nicknamed ‘nurse Susan’,” she said.

“Caring is something I’ve always naturally enjoyed doing and I loved animals, dogs especially, but I knew little about them.”

Soon afterwards, she was driving when she had a “vision”, seeing herself stroking dogs and them being healed.

A friend she mentioned it to asked if she had heard of reiki, and through her Sue heard a few success stories of it being used to heal animals.

After hearing this, Sue decided she wanted to learn the therapy and found two masters in Leeds to teach her.

“I learnt that reiki is a natural complementary therapy that benefits the body, mind and spirit,” she said.

“By placing your hands on or above subjects – be they people or animals – it is possible to feel changes in energy that indicate points of pain or weakness in the body.

“Reiki is given through clothing in the case of people. When the practitioner’s hands are placed on or above the subject, reiki or life force energy flows.

“The animal or person receiving reiki may feel warmth or coolness, tingling, relaxation or nothing.

“The benefit may be emotional, mental, physical or a combination of these.”

Reiki isn’t any kind of a cure and the benefits can differ in different people.

Sue said that sometimes reiki can only give relaxation and comfort, but it will never do any harm when applied in accordance with UK Reiki Federation criteria.

But the glowing testimonials Sue has received since becoming an accredited practitioner 18 months ago show how helpful it can be.

She is also working with animals, as she hoped to.

“I’ve enjoyed my experiences so much that I now hope that my life will focus on helping and healing both people and animals,” she said.

“I feel that at 51 my life is just about to take off in a new direction.

“Being able to help people and animals in such a simple and holistic way is a pure joy.

“When the day after a treatment I receive an email or call to say that, as a result of the reiki session, my client has had their best night’s sleep in months, their pain is much reduced or their arthritic animal is able to move more freely, it just makes my day.”

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Get the lowdown

reiki developed in Japan and is a system of natural healing.

Under its theory, energy flows throughout living things.

Reiki is said to restore the energy flow and thus promote balance and harmony in the body.

In a treatment, the client lies on a couch or sits on a chair and relaxes, while the practitioner places their hands in non-intrusive positions on their body, or near it. Log on to

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