Reiki: the ultimate spiritual detox or a laughable hoax? Murray Garrard checks in with one of Bahrain’s foremost practitioners to find out
Time Out Bahrain staff
Before I interview Anubhaa Sharma, one of Bahrain’s most experienced Reiki Masters, she wants me to watch a video about Reiki which she made in association with the Films Division of the Indian government. Saturated in bright light and infused with spa music, a floating Anubhaa narrates a series of testimonials from a whole range of Indian ladies, all of whom have had their lives transformed by Reiki. There’s a lady who’s managed to overcome depression. A second has used it to get rid of her backache. One gushes about how she’s now permanently ecstatic.
For the first half of the film, Reiki is sold as a purely human affair; towards the end the focus shifts, and all of a sudden practitioners begin to target a whole range of objects, both animate and inanimate. In one scene a dog comes under the scrutiny of a practitioner. Shortly afterwards, energy is being channelled into a pot plant. As a grand finale, a woman gives Reiki to a large lump of dough.
It’s soon pretty obvious my assumption that Reiki was a sort of non-contact massage for people who believe they have chakras is well off course. Anubhaa sets me straight. ‘It is not only humans that benefit from Reiki,’ she insists, ‘but also plants and animals, your surroundings, car batteries, your home...’ Making serious Reiki practice something of a full time job.
Reiki was first formulated by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui, though Anubhaa informs me he only rediscovered it, since it is was widely practised by the Central American Mayan civilisation roughly a thousand years ago. ‘After the Mayans, it went out of fashion. As man became more developed he became more materialistic – it was a horizontal growth, not a vertical one. The human potential that people used to have, when they could fly at their wish, and transport their bodies at will, [was lost] as man began to develop horizontally. Man started utilising the earth for materialistic developments, such as planes, but this is just a physical manifestation of we could once do.’
Anubhaa Sharma’s Reiki is bound to the intricate web of intangible energies, ancient rituals and healing jargon that has long been vogue amongst alternative therapists. It’s a world of aura readings and astral travel, of secret histories in which science and myth is blended, during which angels and guardians make frequent appearances. It’s a worldview that empiricists would be quick to dismiss. Harder to dismiss are the millions of people from across the world who swear by the treatments enshrouded within it.
Reiki rests upon the premise that the universe is filled with positive energy, and this energy can be relatively easily channelled through a Reiki practitioner to help heal, energise and reinvigorate the subject. Anubhaa explains: ‘A Reiki Master is someone who has been initiated by another Reiki Master and has been empowered to transfer the universal energy through their body into the body of the recipient who has low energy frequencies, and that is how the healing happens.’
A Reiki treatment tends to be done with the subject lying down – in order to grow vertically, I had first to be lying horizontal. Anubhaa’s spacious villa is a temple to spiritual healing with Buddha facades, astrological tapestries and ethnic ornaments beautifully placed throughout. Her Reiki and meditation room is a haven of cushions and deep-pile rugs. If there is one place in Bahrain most suited to healing, this is it.
When I was first introduced to Reiki in Bali, it came at me like a surge of light, and I felt myself transformed for weeks. More sceptic than adherent, Reiki seemed like an unfathomable cure-all, and I had been desperate to try it again. On this occasion, I fear my expectations were too high, and the experience was more like a nice rest than an spiritual epiphany, though this might have been because my chakras were pretty well aligned this time (whereas in Bali they were no doubt up the spout).
I ask Anubhaa how she responds to people who claim they don’t feel anything. ‘Many people do find that they don’t feel the heat or the energy, but it is mostly a matter of your faith and belief. The more you have faith in the intangible energies the more these energies work. It is like respect to them – If I don’t smile at you, you won’t smile back at me.’ It’s a sentiment that falls rather close to the definition of a placebo for comfort. But then the power of suggestion sits at the heart of most holistic therapies. Take away that, and you kill off complimentary medcine.
I ask Anubhaa about reports of people clearing cancer with Reiki and rising from their death beds after a couple of sessions. Anubhaa is not convinced: ‘I have seen people with cancer and with heart problems and Reiki has been very affective with these things. But it cannot get rid of the disease completely because the suffering to a human body or to a human mind is karmic. It is happening because of karma, and Reiki will never interfere with your karma. But what it will do is give you the strength to cope with the karma, and to evolve through that karma.’
Meaning if you are wicked in life, you are still destined to come back next time as a dog, a pot plant or a lump of dough. Of course, if you come back as such in Anubhaa’s household, then you’ll still be in with a good chance of getting some Reiki. Anubhaa Sharma is the author of Reiki Intentions, available now on www.amazon.com. For a Reiki consultation and to find out more about becoming a Reiki Master, contact Anubhaa on 39 260 488.