Reiki: What It Is and How It Helps People With Cancer
Beth Baughman DuPree, M.D., FACS, ABIHM
March 8, 2019

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Beth Baughman DuPree is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in diseases of the breast, with additional board certification in integrative medicine. She is also a master level Reiki practitioner. Dr. DuPree is part of the Sedona Breast Care Clinic of the Northern Arizona Healthcare System.

Dr. DuPree earned her medical degree from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and her undergraduate degrees in behavioral neuroscience and the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh.

Her first book, The Healing Consciousness: A Doctor’s Journey to Healing, was released in 2006 to excellent reviews by Christiane Northrup, M.D., and Bernie Siegel, M.D, among other well-known experts in the women’s health field. Her numerous honors include the Clara Barton Humanitarian Award from the American Red Cross for her ongoing contributions to the treatment of breast cancer. She was selected by her peers for Philadelphia Magazine’s TOP DOCS in Surgery in 2016 and 2017. She serves on the advisory board for Breastcancer.org and often hosts live chats and podcasts on current breast cancer issues.

Listen to the podcast to hear Dr. DuPree explain:

  • what Reiki is and she uses it in her practice
  • what happens during a typical Reiki session
  • the benefits of Reiki for people diagnosed with cancer
  • three things you should know before trying Reiki

Running time: 37:28

Below are links to the two studies on Reiki that Dr. DuPree discusses during the podcast:

Show Full Transcript

Jamie DePolo: Hello, everyone. I’m Jamie DePolo, senior editor of Breastcancer.org. Our podcast guest today is Beth Baughman DuPree, a board-certified general surgeon specializing in diseases of the breast with additional board certification in integrative medicine. She is also a master-level Reiki practitioner. 

Dr. DuPree is part of the Sedona Breast Care Clinic of the Northern Arizona Health Care System. Dr. DuPree earned her medical degree from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and her undergraduate degree in behavioral neuroscience and the history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Her first book, The Healing Consciousness: A Doctor’s Journey to Healing, was released in 2006 to excellent reviews by Christiane Northrup, M.D. and Bernie Seigel, M.D. among other well-known experts in the women’s health field. 

Her numerous honors include the Clara Barton Humanitarian Award from the American Red Cross for her ongoing contributions to the treatment of breast cancer. She was selected by her peers for Philadelphia Magazine’s Top Docs in surgery in 2016 and 2017. She serves on the advisory board for Breastcancer.org and often hosts live chats and podcasts on current breast cancer issues. 

Dr. DuPree joins us today to talk about Reiki, how she uses it in her practice, and how it can help people diagnosed with breast cancer. Dr. DuPree, welcome to the podcast. 

Beth Baughman DuPree: Thanks, Jamie. Thank you for having me. 

Jamie DePolo: To start, just in case anyone is not familiar, can you explain to us what Reiki is? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: Perfect. Perfect question because I get asked that all the time. Because I didn’t know what Reiki was years ago, and I often joke that the only thing I had to reiki were my leaves in my backyard, and I had a very large backyard so there was a lot of leaves. Reiki actually stands… it comes from two words, rei and ki, which is higher power or a life-force energy. And so when you put them together it’s really about spiritually guided life-force energy. It’s not about a religion or a religious practice. It is about setting that intention of the life-force energy coming through a practitioner to the recipient. 

It’s been a lineage that’s around for thousands of years, and for a lot of people, they will mistake Reiki for healing touch or Reiki for massage, because there are a lot of practitioners that practice multiple aspects of Reiki or perform Reiki in addition to another healing modality. But Reiki itself is a non-touch form of therapy where the life-force energy is actually coming through the Reiki practitioner. And they’re the conduit, they are not the ones that do it. So it’s not the person that’s doing the session that the life-force is coming from. It’s just coming through us.  

The form of Reiki that I studied and practice comes from Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese gentleman who lived in the 1800s and died in 1926. And he rediscovered the roots to Reiki, which was around way before then and it was passed on to another healer, a physician in Hawaii, and then it came to the mainland United States in about 1940s. 

So, it’s a very long lineage, and so it’s passed on from one master to the next, to the next. So, I trained with Nancy Sacks, who was my Reiki master on the east coast, and she trained me in the lineage from Dr. Usui. 

Jamie DePolo: That’s helpful. So what happens during a typical Reiki session? What should someone expect?  

Beth Baughman DuPree: So, this is an interesting question because I have had individuals say, “Well, I had a Reiki session and I felt nothing.” And for someone who’s walking into a healing session expecting a massage or to be touched or to have some expectation, they may not get out of the session what they could get if they can let go of all of the other stuff. 

Reiki is really about becoming present and letting go of everything else around you. If someone were to sign up for a Reiki session, you’d lay down on a massage table and the practitioner will typically start with their hands above the individual’s head — which, you don’t touch their head. Some people do touch with Reiki, but the way I was trained, we don’t physically touch the person. And that life-force energy begins to flow from the practitioner through to the individual, and many times a recipient will say, “I felt as though you were touching me. I could feel that energetic field between the practitioner’s hands and my body." 

As the session progresses the practitioner will move to or intend the energy into an individual’s body or in their energy centers where it needs to be. So it’s not like a massage where someone would start with massaging your back, massaging your legs, massaging your arms, going to your temples, you know — and I love massages because they’re very, very relaxing. It’s so wonderful with energy healing. But with Reiki, most people will describe it as feeling as though they have a sense of peace, a sense of connectedness, of well-being. Sometimes they feel lighter because they’ve let go of things energetically that have been stuck in their energy body. 

Jamie DePolo: Before we get into how you use Reiki, what led you to become a practitioner? What was it about that particular healing process — if that’s the correct word for it, correct adjectives for it — what led you to want to actually be trained in it? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: So, I am a surgeon, and I was trained that nothing heals like cold steel, which means the scalpel, and to cut is to cure, which means you cut out the cancer, you cure the patient. My surgical training was in Philadelphia at Albert Einstein, and I was trained by incredibly wonderful surgeons who helped me to hone my surgical skills, which was a wonderful gift. Because I can remove cancer, return tissue to looking as normal as possible and do really phenomenal breast cancer surgeries. 

The problem that happens with surgery is, that is the physical manifestation of what we do to a patient to remove the cancer. And I’ve often said if somebody could create a surgical device that could cut out the fear as I cut out the cancer, then I would really be able to say to a patient, “This operation is going to get you to a place where you’re healthy, whole, and complete, where you release the fear, where you can let go.” And so I think in my years as a surgeon and my recognition that, you know, I wasn’t this omnipotent being doing this wonderful healing work, I was a technician. Like, doing surgery was a technical part of the process. 

What I learned from my friends who were diagnosed with cancer — and I had several friends diagnosed: with colorectal cancer that was metastatic at diagnosis, who was a doctor; another one diagnosed with metastatic melanoma as a doctor. Another colleague diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease as a doctor. Another physician diagnosed with a brain tumor while she was pregnant. 

And Lauren was really… I would call her one of my most major catalysts because her diagnosis of her brain cancer came up around 1997, 1998. I think it was 1997. And I already was open to understanding that patients needed more than what we were just doing. They needed more than just an operation. And when Lauren was given a pretty grim prognosis with her brain cancer, she started searching because she’s a physician. She wanted another answer. Like, why am I getting this? Why are all these people around us, who are doctors… We’re the profession, and if our profession isn’t able to cure our own or be able to help each individual on their path, we’re missing something. 

So, Lauren was phenomenal because she started looking elsewhere. She did all of her traditional Western medicine — and this is where Reiki is a complementary modality, not an alternative modality. So, what she did was surgery, chemo, and radiation for her brain tumor, but in the meantime someone from her church introduced her to Reiki. And so she told me about it and being the typical surgeon that I am, instead of going and experiencing a session, I said, “Well let’s sign up and figure out how to do this.” 

My girlfriend, Amy Harvey, and I, and Beth Matlock, my PA, signed up for a Reiki level one course. So I literally walked into this level one course not knowing anything about what it was. All I knew was that my girlfriend had a brain cancer and for me to be able to walk on her journey with her and actually be present with her, I needed to slow down enough to figure out what was helping her on the journey. 

So, that first level one Reiki course was really transformative to me because I was on call, but my phone didn’t ring, which was a God incident. I spent that weekend with the holistic center at Saint Mary Medical Center in Bucks County, really spending concentrated time really being present in the moment. And as I was learning the techniques, I would go home at night and my children — at the time, my youngest was too little to figure it out, but my older son, Tom, when I was learning to do Reiki he had no idea what it was whatsoever. So, I had him lay out on the floor and started the techniques that I was learning. And, you know the child’s brain, he has no… it’s not like he’s Googling anything and he’s going online to find out what it’s supposed to feel like. And he described a sense of peace, and this warmth, and this amazing energy that he could feel. And so I thought, “Wow. There really is something to this.”  

As I progressed through level one, level two, and then master-level Reiki, I recognized that what it was doing for me personally was bringing me in the moment. Making me present with my patients. Making me recognize the fact that, that energetic connection that I was able to create with my patients was so powerful. And whether you call it Reiki or not Reiki, or…  

You don’t really turn it on and turn it off. I mean I don’t… some people have asked that. “Well, like, how do you turn it on and turn it off?” I said, “Well, I don’t really turn it on and turn it off.” It’s being open and allowing that level of energetic connectedness between two human beings flow freely. And so from that very first weekend, I recognized that there was something very powerful in this. A lot of people say, “Well couldn’t you say it’s the power of prayer,” or… I say, you know, it’s a divine force and whatever that divine life force is, it’s real. 

Jamie DePolo: And when you say you don’t turn it on and off, what I interpret that as you’re almost always doing some sort of Reiki with people that you’re in contact with. Is that kind of what you mean?  

Beth Baughman DuPree: Yeah, because I’m not a Reiki practitioner who is having a stranger come in and lay on a table and receive a session, which a lot of people do that. There are a lot of practitioners that practice Reiki as a living and that’s the way that they have set up their practice. For me — because every day I have more and more patients that I am coming in contact who have a breast mass or have cancer or have some other medical concern. From my perspective I don’t stop and start. It’s not like I have to have this conscious moment in my brain, like, “Okay, let me do my symbols.” 

I’m kind of always in that mode. And it’s difficult because it’s become so much a part of who I am and how I do what I do, because that vital life force that connects two human beings is that energetic bond that… There was just a recent study that was in the New York Times that showed that patients did better when they have that compassionate connection with the physician. And I read that article. I was like, “Well, that’s no surprise,” because to me it’s that connectedness that comes from that intention of healing. 

And I know it may not sound as specific as you’d like it to be, but it’s almost an indescribable relationship now that gets created. And patients will say to me… there’s a woman from Bryn Mawr who’s adorable. She’s a long-time patient, a friend. She was part of my world back when I was just starting to use Reiki. And I didn’t say to her, “Hey, listen, I’m going to use Reiki on you when you go to sleep in the OR.” But when my patients are in the operating room before they undergo anesthesia, I walk in the room with them, I’m with them from the they get their Versed or whatever they’re getting preoperatively, and when we get positioned in the operating room, I have my hand over their heart and I hold their right hand with my left hand. And at that point, that’s where that Reiki energy is really flowing. 

I also use guided imagery at that moment because I ask patients, “Where do you want to go? What’s your favorite place on the planet?” Because you can’t be in fear at the same time as you’re in love. And when you get that person to recognize or say where their favorite place on the planet is, they’re happy. They’re thinking about the beach, the mountains, their backyard. Some people say “back at work” because that means this cancer journey is over. 

So, it takes them out of the fear mode, brings them into the moment, and that’s where what I call the universal life force is really flowing. I had one patient wake up after surgery, and she said, “I had never felt that life force from anyone else,” besides when she was with her husband during the time that they conceived their child. But she felt this unbelievable energetic connection with me, and she did have Versed. She did have medication that supposedly makes you forget. But she recounted the entire experience to me exactly as it happened.  

It’s funny because we’ve talked about it since then and she’s been on a beautiful healing journey, working to help patients and coach them through this process because it’s not just about curing the physical body. It’s about healing in your spirit and your soul so you can get back to a safe place in your life. 

So, from my perspective the, the whole process is… it’s just been a fluid, forward momentum that once it started it really didn’t stop. 

Jamie DePolo: It sounds like… You’ve sort of talked how you use Reiki in your practice. If there’s anything else if you want to tell us that, but then also, what do you see as the benefits for somebody who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer or really any kind of cancer, to have this healing process, to go through that process with you? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: I use it in my practice personally, as a clinician, before, during, and after breast biopsies because patients are wide awake for that. Every time a patient goes to sleep in the operating room. And in my professional practice both at Holy Redeemer and here at Northern Arizona, my foundation, the Healing Consciousness Foundation, provides healing services free of charge to our patients. 

So, patients will receive Reiki, they can set up an appointment to actually have a session. Because there are oftentimes a lot of things that come out of a session, which is more than just that feeling of the energy. There’s a lot of times a lot of releasing of emotions and letting go of things. 

I knew when I came to Sedona, even before… It was interesting, because I wasn’t planning to move out here last year. It kind of just happened, I was really being called to this area. When I came into the cancer center in Sedona, and I went back and got to meet Dr. Byer, the radiation oncologist, when they gave me the little quick tour, there was a room setup for Reiki, which — each of the patients coming for radiation receives Reiki free of charge from the NAH Foundation, which is a wonderful gift. And I thought, “Oh my gosh. This is like finding my own spaceship,” where the other individuals in this organization were already recognizing the power of Reiki. 

And I’ve asked Dr. Byer about it because he’s the past president of ASTRO [American Society for Radiation Oncology], brilliant guy, phenomenal radiation oncologist, knows tons about energy, and he actually said to me 2 weeks ago, “We really need to do a clinical trial on this because I believe that the patients do better who come into radiation therapy having had Reiki up front.” And that is a very powerful statement from a traditionally trained, Western medical radiation oncology guru who totally gets it. 

So using it in our cancer center here in Sedona, patients get it for radiation. It's not just breast cancer patients. It’s all cancer patients have access to it. And we have many practitioners through my foundation who, both on the east coast and out here in Sedona, are open and willing to see patients. 

And when a patient asks me, “Well, why should I do this? What is the benefit for me?” And when I say, “You know, it’s pretty simple. I can cut out cancer. I can give you chemotherapy to target those cells. I can give you radiation therapy to help prevent cancer from coming back. I can recommend lifestyle modifications to help with decreasing your risk. But the only thing that I personally can’t do is release the fear that cancer brings. And one of the greatest gifts that I believe that Reiki gives patients is allowing that fear to dissipate. And if that fear dissipates, then you’ve reached a really wonderful place of healing.” 

Or I say it’s that peace in your heart that passes all understanding. It’s that peace in your heart that you’ve done everything you can to treat a cancer and then you have to let it go. It’s a “let go and let God” moment, because if somebody sits in their kitchen waiting for cancer to come back, and they’re cured physically of their cancer, they’re paralyzed in their life. And I’ve had patients with stage IV cancer who have felt unbelievable levels of healing through not just Reiki but other healing modalities where they recognize that every single day that they’re alive on this planet’s a gift and it’s their choice how they choose to live it. 

So, it has been a wonderful adjunct to my Western medical training because it’s opened my eyes to see how powerful integrative medicine and complementary modalities can be to our traditional Western medical treatments, which I prescribe for my patients. I am not an alternative doctor. So that is a bottom line. No alternative medicine. It’s integrative medicine, and it’s a complementary medicine, and these are modalities that really go hand in hand. Eastern and Western medicine. Two very powerful hands coming together. 

Jamie DePolo: Now, you talked about your colleague saying you need to do a clinical trial. Has research been done on Reiki and its benefits, or is most of it anecdotal from people like you and others who integrate it into their practice?  

Beth Baughman DuPree: So, there were actually two studies. One published in 2017 out of Italy and the other one was published in — I had to pull it up — and this one came from Brazil. So, in the United States, we have not done a ton of clinical trials looking at Reiki. And one of the hardest parts for me, right now, is because I know the tremendous benefit that my patients have, it’d be really hard for me to randomize my patients to not receive it. But to me, a trial that would have the best efficacy and give us the most data would be a trial done in a center where Reiki has not been used. Where the doctors have absolutely no buy-in, where half the patients get it and half of them don’t. And that would be a wonderful trial to setup and it’s something that’s on my bucket list of things to do in my free time. 

In the two trials looking at Reiki and its efficacy, the one trial looked at massage and massage with Reiki. And in that trial, the patients that received Reiki and massage showed better benefits than massage alone. And so that’s how that trial was randomized, which actually was kind of a great trial because patients got something. They got the healing touch. They got the healing component, so it definitely showed a difference between the two. 

In the trial that was done in Italy, they were basically looking at how Reiki was received, or how the response was, for patients who were actually open to it. And so then they divided them into groups that were open to it and those who weren’t. So, the group that was open to it had less anxiety, less stress, and better overall well-being, which… it kind of goes along with the fact that if… like when I told you how some people have said to me, they didn’t feel anything with the Reiki? Like if you go in and your blinders are up and you’re hermetically sealed from the rest of the world and you don’t want to let anybody in? You’re not going to get a benefit, because you’re not open. And just as Reiki is universal energy that flows through the practitioner, the recipient has to be willing and open to receive. So that Italian study kind of nailed it for me that if you’re going to be really closed down and you’re not going to be open to healing, I don’t know that it matters what modality it is because you’re kind of shut off to the rest of the world. There are some people who absolutely will not get a massage because they don’t want to be touched for whatever reason. 

So, Reiki’s a great modality for someone like that where, whether there’s a history of abuse or whatever that they just don’t want that physical touch, Reiki’s amazing because it can also be done remotely. My friend was just recently in the hospital out in the Main Line with a heart issue, and I called one of my other friends, Jodi, who’s an amazing Reiki practitioner. And I jokingly say, “You’ve got to zap him,” which — you don’t zap, but that’s kind of an energetic term. And I’ll say, “This friend of mine needs this energetic connection and this healing and this love.” And so we team up together, and we send that loving energy and we send that Reiki energy. 

I’m in a group with… I don’t even know how many women are in the group now. It was, like, 33 for the past 2 years — where we’re doing a course where once a week, it’s like a meditation process where we’re all really getting focused on not just caring for others but caring for ourselves and really looking at the divine feminine energy. And it’s not a female versus male. It’s the divine feminine energy. And with that group, when someone is sick they put it out to the group so that everybody raises that consciousness and that energy around the individual who needs it. And because Reiki is a form of healing that you don’t have to touch someone, it can be done remotely. 

Jamie DePolo: Are there any side effects at all? I mean, it sounds so incredibly positive, I’m just curious. 

Beth Baughman DuPree: I have yet to find any side effects that anyone complains about or shares except for the fact that they feel great afterwards or that they want more of it. I love when patients recognize… they’re like, “There’s something different about how you do what you do.” And I’ve noticed it with my staff in the OR out here in Arizona. I mean, they didn’t know me from Adam when I showed up and for the staff to… 

You know, I have the lights dimmed in the room when the patient comes in. I typically have very soft… it’s Om, it’s the sacred sound of Om playing very low in the background. You can barely hear it. But what it does is it sets the intention for everybody in that room, that creates that sacred space in that operating room, where everyone recognizes that that person who has trusted us and given their permission for us to care for them? It’s a sacred journey, and it’s a sacred process. 

And so the patients… in the past, you know, some anesthesiologists have said, “I give them Versed, they can’t remember a thing anyway.” And my answer to that is, “Our subconscious knows.” We just may not be able to recess it often and we may not be able to get there, but how we do what we do and that process of bringing that patient to a safe place has an unbelievable effect, not just on the patient but also the other individuals in the room, because they are all now focused on that person. And nobody’s bringing their baggage from their personal life into that room, because that is a sacred space. And if that sacred space gets disrupted, it’s not a fun place to work. 

Jamie DePolo: That sort of brings me to a question. I’m wondering, if there is somebody on the team there — now, it doesn’t sound like you have this — that maybe isn’t receptive to Reiki or doesn’t think it does anything or even if there’s a patient that doesn’t think it does anything. I’m kind of going back to the study you talked about where people who are not open to it didn’t really get much out of it. Do you try and convince them, or do you just say no, well, okay? What do you say to somebody who thinks, “Well this is just a bunch of malarkey?” 

Beth Baughman DuPree: Well, there are patients with religious beliefs — I’ve had a few — who have said, “I know that you do Reiki, and I don’t want to receive it.” And I said, “That is absolutely your decision, your choice, your option,” but I’m still going to be present with that person. I am still going to hold their hand when they go to sleep. But I make a conscious effort at that point to honor that person’s belief system and their values. 

I often pray with patients before surgery. Many of my patients will bring their minister, and they want to pray before surgery. I would never force anyone in my room or my staff to pray with a patient, but if a patient wants to pray before surgery, I don’t care what their religious belief is. I’m in it for them. I’m in it to win it. This is their journey, and I am just part of the process coming along, so I will honor that. But if someone’s never had Reiki and they’re open to it, my suggestion is give it a try and see how you feel. 

I had a woman who came to the office last week. I think she had her first cancer maybe 20 years ago. And she’s in her 80s, and she’s adorable. And she had done a session with Mary Lou, one of our practitioners on the east coast, who, I say she’s a gift from God. Master energy healer. And so the patient said to me, “I had no idea that my session over a phone could transform my life.” But after that one-hour session, she said, “I got more out of this one-hour session than I ever learned from my entire last cancer experience.” 

She said, “I felt like I lost a thousand pounds, and I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders,” because she felt like she let go of so many things that she had held onto. Healing is that process of letting go of those things that don’t serve you, because… it’s like someone taking poison and expecting somebody else to die. If you’re continuing to hold onto things that don’t honor you or that are negative, you’re only hurting yourself. You’ve got to be able to let go and let God. 

Jamie DePolo: If somebody wanted to try Reiki, how would they go about finding an experienced practitioner and — I have some other questions — how much does it cost? How do you start the process? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: So believe it or not, there are Reiki practitioners everywhere, and I always tell people word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a practitioner. Ask someone. Ask a circle of friends, “Hey, have any of you heard of Reiki, and if you have, do you know a practitioner that’s good?” 

Obviously, Dr. Google is very good. You can go on the internet and Google practitioners. I know that our practitioners in Philly that we have through the Healing Consciousness Foundation, these are practitioners who we’ve personally vetted. We know that they carry insurance. We know that they have had a negative background check. All of that stuff’s been done, so all of our practitioners that are on any website that I’m involved with, they’ve all been vetted and they’re fabulous. 

I also know that as I continue to meet more and more women and men on this cancer journey, I get introduced to other practitioners through them. and that’s how we build our repertoire of really wonderful healers that we work with. But I still think word of mouth is a great way to do it. Checking references, and checking online, a lot of times you can do a quick check on the internet just to see how somebody is, but you can always call someone up and talk to them. And it depends what that energetic connection is with that practitioner, how that would feel. And you know, Reiki… I’ve had practitioners that charge $60 an hour, some that charge $160 an hour. It all depends on who they are, where they are, how long they’ve been doing it. The money is really the energetic exchange that pays for that person’s gift, that they’re being that conduit for the universal energy. 

Jamie DePolo: Is there some sort of… I know you’re a master-level practitioner. Is there some sort of certification or anything that a person who wants to try it should look for in a practitioner? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: So, there are three levels. Level one, level two, and level three, and level three is considered master. And then there’s also a master teacher level, which is beyond the level… and I didn’t have the bandwidth to be teaching. I did it as a physician who was on her own journey of healing, learning about what I needed to do to heal myself to help others heal. 

And so from a practical perspective, even someone that’s a level one practitioner still can perform Reiki, and the recipient can receive wonderful results from it. I typically use practitioners who are master level because it means they’ve committed that amount of time and energy to the mastery of the process, but it doesn’t mean if someone’s a level one practitioner that they’re not good. They’re just on their journey.  

One of my dearest friends, Wendy, she was one of our foundation board members. She’s not a doctor. She’s not a nurse. She’s a layperson who got trained in Reiki, and when we bring her to our weekend healing retreats for patients, there’s not a person that has a session with her that doesn’t say, “Oh my gosh. That’s the best hour that I’ve ever spent in my life.” And she didn’t go to school for a million years. She did level one, level two, level three, and I think the reason why she’s so effective as being a Reiki practitioner is because it comes from her heart. 

Just like when Mary Lou does sessions and Jodi, and Christie, and so many of our practitioners. This is something that… They didn’t go to college and get a degree to become a Reiki practitioner. They became a Reiki practitioner because somehow they were positively [affected] by it and wanted to be able to share that gift back to the world. 

A lot of massage therapists are also Reiki practitioners. So that’s another good way to look, is because once you get involved in the world of healing modalities, you can add on other levels of techniques. Because not every person needs exactly the same path. We’ve got to show up where our patients are at that time. 

Jamie DePolo: Now, does insurance cover Reiki at all? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: Not yet. I wish it did. It would be a wonderful thing if it did. Insurance will cover massage, and sometimes there are massage therapists that also have Reiki, so that is something if someone’s insurance covers a massage, you could also look into that because, like that one study showed, massage and Reiki was better than massage alone.  

Jamie DePolo: To sort of wrap up, if somebody were interested in trying Reiki, what two, three, four things would you want them to know before going into the session? 

Beth Baughman DuPree: So, for someone who may have an aversion to a touch therapy, you can have a Reiki session with absolutely no physical touch. If you’re going to have that session with someone, I would absolutely communicate to them because it’s not wrong to lay your hands on someone during Reiki, but the way that I was traditionally trained, your hands are away from the individual. You will still feel the energy. You’ll feel the heat, the warmth coming from their hands, but that’s something to communicate right away. 

The next most important thing is to set the intention for the session. What is the intention? Is it just for overall relaxation? Is it for emotional, spiritual… Is it for the physical healing of some medical condition?  

And really, you have to be open to receive, because universal energy, if it’s coming through a practitioner, but you’ve got your walls up and the cinderblock wall is there and you’re not open to receive, it’s going to be hard to get through those walls.  

And I think the final thing is, believe that our bodies have this innate ability to heal. And the way that I describe this to patients is, as a surgeon, when I make an incision and I remove a cancer, I have to put the edges of the incision back together in multiple layers. The fat, the subcutaneous tissue, the skin. I put those layers back together, but I don’t have to download a program into the patient’s brain that says, “Collagen, blood vessels, nerves, fibroblasts. You need to come in and go into that incision. You need to go in there on this day and this day and this day.” Our body knows how to heal. And when you think about the surgical process, we as surgeons don’t tell the body how to heal. What we do is we put the edges back together, and your body knows how to heal it and knows how to lay down collagen. It knows how to bring those edges back together. 

So when you think about healing, regardless of whatever the issue is that someone is going to receive Reiki for, our body already knows how to heal, but sometimes we just have to be open to let it start working again. And when we allow that process to work in concert with surgery and chemo and radiation therapy, it is a very, very powerful process because you’re basically using all aspects of what we have for the healing process. And releasing that fear and coming out of the cortisol storm does a whole lot for our body’s immune system to be able to move forward on that path to healing. 

Jamie DePolo: Dr. DuPree, thank you so much. I really appreciate your insights.  

Beth Baughman DuPree: Well, thank you, and thank you for the opportunity. I love it.

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