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I got initiated into Reiki after a two-day course. I remember the fee was Rs.

200 0/=, and was about 8 years back. I think we were given the second level, and ano ther one day course would have taken me to a superior third level. To an atheist it will all be humbug. (I am not an atheist). To a logically thinking person to o, it is a waste of time. I went in out of curiosity. Other than a handful of do ctors, and the trainer who was a qualified paediatrician, all were aspiring ther apists, and might have considered making a living out of Reiki. While we sat on chairs laid out in a circle with closed eyes, the instructor came to each one of us to mumble a few words and blow into our scalp, initiating each of us into Re iki. In the practice of Reiki, while treating, the therapist has to imagine a meridian/channel passing through the body of the subject, with a f ew "chakras" at the various levels. He goes into the various hand-movements of c leansing these, without actually touching the person - no body contact. The ther apist also has to draw certain figures, (can be Cross, Om, thrishool and the lik e) in the process (Forgot the full ritual) and then imagine (believe!) that the illness has gone, and tell the patient so. The latter too has to believe it, for treatment to be effective. One thinks an easier way is to pray and believe, as Christ ians are taught. No need of getting initiated or drawing these - maybe forbidden for some! - icons in the air. I remember the trainer had kept for sale, homeopathic medi cines, precious stones, pendants all 'charged' by his Reiki hands. The palm feeling the energy of the various body regions ( to diagnose) has been proven humbug. In one experiment, I read in a journal (wha t I remember) a blindfolded Reiki practitioner was asked to 'feel' presence of t he hand of the subject at a counter, kept for the same. (Like a cashier's counte r, the practitioner inserted the palm through the counter, keeping it a bit abov e the table. The subject's palm may or may not be presented on the table there) It was easily proven most of the 'guesses' were wrong. I bought a few books too, most were attractive paperbacks by western publishers and western authors. They fail to convince anyone with a scientific background and logical thinking. And it is disillusionment if you kno w the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the human body. Pranic Healing: I have no idea about this, but going by t he description, I think it is Reiki, may have been adapted for use by Christians ? I understand some nuns practise this? In the seventies, I had got initiated into Transcendenta l Meditation, while I was a student at Alappuzha medical college. It was at a jo int run by a group connected to Maharishi College of....? located near Mullakkal . It was not a fat fee, and I was given a mantra, not to be revealed to others. For TM, one has to sit down comfortably in a silent place (where in Kerala?) an d then say this mantra over and over again, first verbally, then in mind. But on e is carried away by stray thoughts (for me they were those about missing the la st bus or the dinner I was going to have). In that event, you are supposed to gu ide your mind slowly back to the mantra (and not jerk back). One has to do this 20 min morning and evening. In my hostel room the disturbance were the heat and sweat, the mosquitoes, and friends slamming on the door. I stopped after a coupl e of months. Now I practice it once in a while.

I read about TM in the various magazines, and then a boo k, "Beyond The Relaxation Response" by a medical doctor in the west. He gives a scientific unbiased idea about the meditations. In fact, the mantra in TM is onl y a sound, without any meaning. He suggests saying 'one,.... one, ....one,...' a s mantra, but that word (one) carries a meaning. But no harm. The idea is to tra ck the mind to one sound without a meaning. The author goes on to suggest (quoti ng observations and references) that a mantra with meaning may have still better results. And if it has a connection to the scriptures one believes, like Aum for the Hindus, Allahu Akbar for Moslems and a positive quote from Bible for Christians will h ave added depth to the concerned person. (Like repeating- "Fear not; I am with y ou") And someone recently mentioned about sed to treat) logos therapy (word therapy, where such lines

In TM, one is encouraged to meditate uttering the mantra any time, anywhere, while traveling or even while at work. Once I listened to a psychiatrist saying TM brings co-ordination between the right and left hemisphe res of the brain. Meditation is supposed to bring relaxation to mind. I un derstand that even controlled breathing (pranayama) also brings in relaxation. I f you are unable to get sleep, try slowly breathing through the nose, with atten tion to the feel of air moving in and out at the nostril. Most often the next th ing you will remember is waking up in the morning. Best rgds, Dr.Thomas Antony