By Kev Kurdoghlian
Signal Staff Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has made personal and public health a daily topic of conversation and consideration.
And maybe holistic health popped up on the Google search results page. But what does that phrase mean exactly?
“Holistic care is about more than integrating Eastern and Western medicine,” according to Dignity Health, which operates hospitals in California, Nevada and Arizona. “It’s a more comprehensive and personalized way of thinking about wellness.”
The American Holistic Health Association defined holistic health as “an approach to life.”
“Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment,” wrote Suzan Walter, a founder of the association, in 1999.
Reiki is one form of holistic health. The energy-healing practice “promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety through gentle touch,” according to Clevland Clinic, a “nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education.”
In Santa Clarita, Toi Bartone is a reiki master teacher. She’s been teaching reiki since 2008 and practices reiki at her Valencia business, Nature’s Way Holistic Health Centre.
In addition to her training in reiki, Bartone said she is naturally sensitive to energy.
“We have energy flowing through our bodies at all times,” she said. “Say if some of our energy channels are blocked, say they’re sluggish, that can cause stress that can cause illness. So, what reiki does is it goes in there and it sets the energy.”
Her role, Bartone said, is to open up the energy blockages.
“It’s not my energy. I’m just a channel, and what it does is it helps the client’s body help itself by opening up these energy centers,” she said.
Clevland Clinic explains that reiki practitioners act as a conduit between their client and the source of the universal life force energy.
Bartone’s treatments take approximately an hour. She said she enters a meditative state then uses different hand positions to help her clients enter into a deep state of relaxation.
“The client is fully clothed and they lie on a massage table,” she said, noting reiki involves a light touch on or just above the body. “I would say like 95% of my clients fall asleep, which is great because your body needs that deep state of relaxation to heal.”
During a reiki treatment, Bartone said she’s had clients release and burst into tears as they’ve felt several emotions all at one time.
“Once your energy is flowing correctly, then healing can begin,” she said.
Bartone, who said she holds a master’s degree in holistic health, said reiki “works on the mental, physical and emotional levels” to reduce anxiety and depression and address other health challenges.
“It does help with side effects of drugs. It helps after surgeries. It helps speed recovery. It helps with pain management,” she said. “It definitely helps with mental and emotional after surgery, but as a complimentary form.”
She said she would never recommend reiki in the place of medicine.
“Reiki is always a complimentary form to medicine, to allopathic treatment,” she said, noting that several hospitals have incorporated reiki as part of their treatment for patients.
Reiki may help people with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, infertility, digestive problems, psychological distress or stress-related illnesses, according to Clevland Clinic.
Bartone volunteers at Hope’s Haven Cancer Wellness Center in Newhall. The center is facilitated by Circle of Hope, which “provides financial assistance, educational resources, and supportive services to those in cancer treatment and recovery in the Santa Clarita Valley,” according to its Facebook page.
“I treat cancer patients and cancer survivors and a lot of them have never had it,” she said, noting she then uses tuning forks for “sound and vibrational healing.” “It just sets the energy centers and makes sure they’re all running smoothly.”
Cecilia Wong said reiki means spiritual energy. The reiki master and teacher said the practice can bring out a person’s true nature, their essence or their inner light.
“A lot of people they come in and they say, ‘Something is off,’” she said. “Like they don’t know what’s going on.”
She said the emotions connected to life events cover up a person’s true self over time. The state of complete relaxation brought on by reiki forces people to look within, according to Wong.
“So, a lot of those emotions would come up,” she said. “They’re kind of forced to kind of look into it and go like, ‘why are all of these things coming up, you know, it’s like 30 years ago.’”
That’s when a person has to decide to let go of the thing that’s bothering them or address it in some way.
Wong, who has a master’s degree in psychology, agreed that the reiki and modern medicine should work together.
“Our medical science is definitely improving in the last so many years, and but then they’re also something that has been practiced for many, many years as well, such as reiki or you know Tai Chi, which is more like a personal energy practice,” she said, noting it’s common in Asia to take medication prescribed by a medical doctor and visiting an acupuncturist.
To skeptics, Wong said she would first try to explain energy in the simplest terms.
“We all have some kind of energy we can’t see, that we can’t really scientifically measured but we have it,” she said. “Energy is not anything foreign, it’s kind of like wind, you can’t see it but you feel it.”
As for reiki, she has another anecdote.
“Let’s say you’re sitting across from somebody who is very angry, just very mad (and) without exchanging words you can feel it,” Wong said. “Somebody who is very joyful (and) positive, without saying anything you can feel it, too.”
So, what does that mean?
“There’s already an exchange of energy without us knowing. It happens all the time,” she said. “Every second, we’re exchanging energy. So, the reiki healing, it’s a more intensified process.”