Community Reiki Clinics

by Barbara McDaniel

In the far northeast corner of the United States, New England is known for its rugged coastline and harsh winters. It’s a sparsely populated, rural region. Settled by the English Puritans in the 1600s, the character of the people is rugged as well—independent, taciturn, self-reliant, conservative. In this unlikely climate, an active and growing Reiki community offers treatments at more than a dozen free clinics in Maine and New Hampshire.

“I started the first free clinic in Wolfeboro, because people thought I was nuts,” explained Sara Seifert-Piper. “But what it’s turned into is unbelievable. These clinics give something to people – both to the clients who come for treatment and the practitioners who come to help. Each person has their own story about what it has done for them, how it’s helped them, how it’s changed their life.”

In 1992, Sara’s husband, Carroll Piper, was scheduled for surgery. An automobile accident in 1967 had damaged his spine. The disks had degenerated over the years making it difficult to walk. Though he was on strong narcotic medication, Carroll was in constant and tremendous pain. Sara heard about Reiki and thought it could help her husband. After taking First Degree, she persuaded Carroll to take a class as well. He was ready to try anything to ease his pain, but he was not prepared for the results he got from Reiki. After the first initiation in his First Degree class, the pain simply stopped. The surgery was canceled, and he is pain free today. (Read Carroll’s Reiki story in Experiences, page 43.) This experience profoundly changed the Piper’s lives.

Sara said, “We felt that we needed to get Reiki introduced to others. I started talking it up to people, but they looked at me like I was crazy. That’s when we started the first clinic to introduce the people around here to Reiki in a non-threatening way.”

The Granite State

“We’re in very conservative northern New England,” Sara continued. “Nothing is supposed to change. They don’t call this the Granite State for nothing. You don’t move granite around very easily, and getting people to open up to new things can be challenging. We found that if people came and had an experience of Reiki – if we could actually do hands-on – then they could understand it. You can’t explain it with words.

Sara and Carroll live in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, population 4,000. The town’s community center is available for community service events. They booked a time on the community center calendar, then announced their free Reiki clinic in the local paper and posted a few flyers.

“The people just came,” Sara recalled. “First they’d stand there and watch. Then some decided that this looked OK, and they’d try it. It started to get around that this was something different, and that it could be helpful. More people drifted into the clinic every month.”

Clinic Structure

The Wolfeboro Free Reiki Clinic is the model for the twelve New England clinics that followed. The public clinic is offered on the first Friday of each month, and sessions are arranged by appointment. Sessions are offered at 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00 PM. Six to eight tables are set up using two or three volunteer Reiki practitioners each.

Treatments are given simultaneously and the form is exactly the same. In the first five minutes of the session, the volunteers introduce themselves to their client and respond to questions. Then the clients lie down and receive 20 minutes of Reiki. One volunteer covers the four positions treated from the head while another treats the four torso positions. If enough volunteers are available, a third practitioner treats the legs and feet. The final five minutes are devoted to completion and responding to further questions.

“When we started this clinic in Wolfeboro, I felt that it had to be well-organized and professional,” Sara explained. “If it was chaotic, it would discredit Reiki itself, and us. So we have a group focusing before we begin and we all start and stop at the same time. Everybody’s doing the same hand positions. As clients come and wait for their session, they can see that we all know what we’re doing. All the clinics run on time, on schedule.”

Reiki volunteers are advised to respect the client and each other at all times, and are reminded never to attempt diagnosis or prescription for a client. Difficult questions or circumstances are referred to Sara who is always available at the clinic to support volunteers and clients.

“There’s never any pressure,” Sara said. “It’s all volunteer. It’s free. There’s never any push to go see a practitioner. We’re simply there to offer Reiki and answer their questions.” There’s no limit to the number of times a person may avail herself of the free treatments. Most often, however, clients receive a few treatments through the clinic, then seek out a Reiki practitioner or class themselves.

A Growing Community

When they started out, Sara and Carroll planned to focus on the one clinic in their town. However, the clinic concept took on a life of its own, spreading north and south through the region and attracting more volunteers in Wolfeboro.

“A lot of older people live in this area,” said Sara. “People on fixed incomes who have a lot of ailments. We thought the clinics would give them a chance to get some Reiki and maybe it would help them in some way. But as some of these people got trained, they wanted to participate in the clinic as volunteers. Everybody says to me: ‘This is so great because I get a chance to practice on others and get some real experience, plus being with others who do Reiki.’ It makes a nice community. That’s how it started to grow.”

The original Wolfeboro clinic moved from the community building into the local hospital. An additional private monthly clinic has been added for the practitioners to treat each other. In the meantime, Sara and Carroll werw trained and initiated as Reiki Masters and began to offer classes themselves. People from other towns came to take Reiki, then wanted to share it in their own communities. The Wolfeboro clinic became the model and Sara offered her assitance to get the new clinics going.

Virginia Dumas in New Hampshire

Virginia Dumas founded two clinics in the southern end of New Hampshire. She experienced a profound healing, then wanted to share Reiki with others.

Virginia was born with a hereditary bone defect called osteo genesis imperfecta. It is difficult for her to absorb calcium. She describes her bones as “thinner than a broken egg shell,” and nothing can be done to firm them. Any blow to the body can fracture a bone. By the time she came to Reiki in her late forties, she had experienced 26 fractures that were tended medically, in addition to the bone cracks and bone bruises that she could care for herself. She had two bad episodes in childhood with collapsed vertebrae. All those injuries triggered arthritis.

“I was in constant pain and hunched over,” Virginia recalled. “I walked with a chronic limp, almost dragging my leg behind me. I had an incipient widow’s hump on my back. I had very limited range of motion. My hands were frozen; I couldn’t open them. They looked more like claws. It was miserable.” Through a mutual interest in Siberian husky dogs, Virginia met Sara and learned about Reiki. As a last resort, she took Sara’s First Degree class.

“I don’t remember this,” she said, “but they tell me that after that first initiation I started flexing my hands, flexing them and looking at them. I got on the table in the afternoon and received Reiki for the first time. I had been trained by my childhood orthopedist to constantly monitor myself: how was I feeling, was I in balance, and so on. When I got off that table, I realized I was experiencing something I had never experienced before. It took me five minutes to figure it out: I was totally without pain! I caught a view of myself in a reflective window standing up straight, not crouched over. I was walking normally. I wasn’t dragging that foot. Nothing. And I felt wonderful, emotionally, spiritually. It was a moment of grace.”

Virginia’s healing progressed, but a few months later she developed osteoporosis. The doctors told her there was nothing to be done about it, and sent her home with a year’s supply of codeine. She immediately called Sara to arrange weekly appointments, and attended every Reiki clinic.

“That’s the beautiful thing about the clinic,” Virginia explained. “It’s such a community. Whenever anybody’s in trouble, people can’t wait to get their hands on you. So I was giving myself hands-on Reiki, I was giving myself absent Reiki, people were sending me Reiki, I was receiving hands-on Reiki. At the end of a month, the symptoms disappeared and haven’t returned. And I haven’t broken a bone in four years. I got on my feet and started to get involved in the clinics. I just knew Reiki was for me.”

Twice a month she drives about an hour south to Dover or to Exeter to manage the Reiki clinics there. They are run exactly like the original clinic in Wolfeboro.

“I’ll put up five tables at Dover on Sunday,” Virginia said. “That means fifteen people will get treatments, and I have a waiting list. Often, when we see people this is their last chance. Like it was for me. I didn’t go in wishing to be cured. I just didn’t want to get any worse. That was the most I was hoping for. That I’ve been able to cut back on my medication, that I feel well, that my blood pressure has been stable for almost four years, I never expected that. These people don’t expect a miracle. They just don’t want to feel any worse. They’re not ready to see a practitioner or to take a class. They just want to try it.”

For Virginia, the clinics aren’t just the practice of Reiki. “They ARE Reiki,” she said. “For the practitioners, the clients who cross the threshold, the people who organize the clinics – it’s Reiki in life. Reiki clinics are centers of energy. People come; they refer other people. One life touches another. To me it’s amazing. It’s very affirming of what Reiki is: universal life energy.”

Walt Loring in Maine

Shortly after taking First Degree, Walt Loring started two Reiki clinics on the far northeast coast of Maine, right next to Canada. One is at the hospital in Calais, population 3000; the other at the Eastport Health Center, population 1500.

“When I came home after the class,” he said, “I still believed that everybody there could do this but I had doubts that I could. I told this to Sara during the class. She said, ‘You shouldn’t think that because it always works.’ I kind of believed that.”

“The next day,” Walt continued, “I saw a friend who was up here visiting. She had her arm in a bandage from a poison ivy infection. She’d had it about ten days which is a long time. I said, ‘I can try Reiki on you. You can be my first client.’ She agreed. A couple of hours after the session, as she was leaving to go back to New Hampshire, she said, ‘My arm’s itching.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ She said, ‘Don’t be sorry. If it’s itching it’s healing. It hasn’t done that.’ She went home and I didn’t hear from her for three days. Then she called and said, ‘You won’t believe this, but my arm’s almost healed.’ She wanted Sara’s phone number so she could take a class herself.”

Walt offered Reiki to more friends. Within two months, eleven people wanted to take a class. Sara and Carroll headed north into Maine and Walt had enough eager volunteers to start a clinic.

With a friend, Walt made a proposal to the Calais hospital. The hospital board took so long to consider it that he made another proposal to the Eastport Health Center. Their director called him immediately and offered clinic space. Then, Calais approved a Reiki clinic as well. “We had a dilemma about whether to try two clinics at once,” he said, “but we figured since the space was available at two health care institutions, we should do it.”

“We thought the area might get saturated with people interested in Reiki, but that doesn’t seem to be happening,” Walt reported. “Of the 50 or so people initiated up here, probably 20 or more volunteer at the clinic. Those people are more involved with Reiki than some of the others because the clinic keeps them practicing. They say they get as much or more out of it as the clients.”

Reiki In Action

“We’ve done a lot here in New England,” said Sara Seifert-Piper, “and developed such a close community. Everybody is so caring and so giving and so involved with Reiki. They want to share it. They come to the clinic to help out because they want people to know that there’s something to this, and to not be afraid to experience it.”

The Reiki clinics sponsored by Sara, Carroll, and the Reiki students associated with their Wentworth Center for Reiki have grown through persistence and the desire to share Reiki’s healing gifts with others.

“If it weren’t for Carroll, I wouldn’t have been so determined to stick with it,” Sara concluded. “When I first started the clinic my friends told me, ‘You’re crazy. People are never going to come; they’ll never accept this.’ I was getting a little shaky about it myself. Carroll was the push behind me. He said, ‘No, you have to do this; people have to experience it.’ He had a phenomenal healing experience and he wanted the world to know about it.”

To borrow a phrase from Virginia Dumas, the Reiki clinics in New England demonstrate Reiki in action in life.

This story first appeared in Reiki Magazine International, April/May 2000, ©Barbara McDaniel 2000. This story may be printed and shared with others, but may not be reproduced in any magazine, newspaper, or web site without specific permission of the author. Contact Barbara at www.reikihealingarts.com. Contact Reiki Magazine at www.reikimagazine.com.