After placing comfortable cushions on the ground for her patient to lie on, Martha Wright closes her eyes. She begins forming symbols with her hands and takes a few deep breaths to prepare to receive energy from above for her reiki practice.
Reiki is a form of alternative healing with Japanese roots that aims to balance the body and mind and remove emotional and spiritual blocks. It is also the latest wellness initiative available to students on the University of Richmond campus.
Wright, a museum curator at UR and practicing reiki master, began her practice at age 24.
“I fell into it because I was at a time in my life where I had no real understanding of my feelings,” Wright said. “Reiki allowed me to find peace inside and be given inspiration and insight.”
Now, 12 years later, Wright wants to bring the benefits of reiki to the UR community. The spiritual healing practice involves practitioners hovering their hands over a patient and transmitting energy from a greater source into the body. The aim is to align the seven chakras, or centers of spiritual powers, in the body and omit all negative energy, Wright said.
“The seven principal chakras are like gears,” Wright said. “We want all the chakras to be working together and spinning in the same direction. Reiki makes sure they are all humming harmoniously.”
Wright has been educating students about reiki for two years through the Spiritual Wisdom and Wellbeing wellness course taught by Jamie Lynn Haskins, chaplain for spiritual life.
“In the class, we explore various spiritual practices that connect the body, the mind and the spirit,” Haskins said. “Reiki is a practice we bring into the classroom to do just that.”
Some students are definitely skeptical of the practice, Haskins said.
Wright agreed, saying reiki had not been for everyone but was beneficial for active and willing participants.
Wright’s classroom sessions about reiki are solely educational. But if students request, she will stay after and perform a quick reiki burst with those who are interested.
This past fall, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services discovered Wright’s teachings. Kristen Day, a licensed professional counselor at CAPS, and Heather Sadowski, director of health promotion, contacted Wright.
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“I felt that reiki could be a really nice complement to counseling in terms of a holistic approach,” Day said.
Wright, Day and Sadowski created a pilot reiki program that has been in effect since November. They are currently working to expand the program into a second phase.
Per this pilot program, students can email Wright to schedule a time to meet for a private reiki session in the massage room of the Wilton Center, where Wright is working on placing energy crystals and signs about the chakras.
“My hope is that students on campus realize and utilize this wellness option that doesn’t require talking or any sort of cognizance,” Wright said. “You just sit back, relax and let the reiki help you feel balanced and grounded.”
Senior Tracy Naschek, who regularly visits Martha for reiki sessions, agreed that reiki was grounding.
“It’s about what Martha senses from your energy,” Naschek said. “And how you can work on those things. Beyond that, just lying there for 30 minutes brings an awareness to your body and to those things you’re not thinking about every day. After reiki, I’m just in a better mood.”
Although Wright typically charges a dollar per minute for her reiki sessions, which last around 30 minutes, she does not deprive any student who wants the service but can’t pay.
“It’s always transactional,” Wright said. “But my calling to reiki is about love, not about money. If a student wants reiki but can’t afford it, they can pay me in fruit from the dining hall or chocolates. We’ll always work something out.”
CAPS and the Wilton Center also provide free first-time vouchers for students.
Since Wright began holding private sessions on campus, about 15 students have come to her for reiki healing. Many first met Wright through the wellness course, Haskins said.
“I’m a huge proponent that everyone should try reiki at least once,” Wright said. “If it’s not for you, that’s OK. And if it is, come back and see me again. Either way, I don’t take anything personally. It’s just been such a blessing in my life, and I want to pay it forward.”
Contact features writer Alex Maloney at email@example.com.