When I think back on my life before I was introduced to energy healing, I picture a hamster on its wheel, feverishly chasing some illusive thing and getting frustrated, exhausted, and depressed when that thing remains out of reach.

I used to think if I just ran harder, faster, and longer, I could have, be, and do anything I wanted. Living and working in an overstimulated city like New York only made matters worse, and I felt as though I was in a constant state of fight or flight.

My nervous system was overwhelmed by the hectic pace I had established for myself. My adrenals were shot, my cortisol levels were off the charts, I felt hot and sweaty even in the winter, and fatigue followed me around like a lost puppy.

I wasn’t happy or at peace in my body. I was surviving rather than thriving.

So when a trusted friend suggested Reiki as a way to slow down, breathe, and surrender to my inner wisdom, I stepped off my hamster wheel and onto a massage table to give it a try.

Reiki is an ancient Japanese healing method based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us. If this energy starts to run low, we are more likely to get sick or feel stressed, and if it’s abundant, we are more capable of health and happiness. Reiki supports deep relaxation and healing by removing internal blocks and balancing the body’s energy centers, also known as chakras. It’s a natural technique that serves as a powerful, effective way to infuse your chakras and body with Universal light energy, or pure loving energy.

Reiki practitioners act as conduits for the Universal energy to flow through. They break up stagnant energy by using their hands to lightly and gently touch different areas of the body, releasing blocks and promoting relaxation in the process.

After receiving Reiki treatments on a regular basis, I started to feel a physical, mental, and energetic shift. Simply put: I felt reconnected to myself. I was lighter, my thoughts came more freely, and I held a deeper calm and overall wisdom. I felt ready to trade in my negative self-talk for compassion and appreciation for myself and others.

The best way I can describe Reiki is that it helps reconnect us with our hearts, realigning us with our Higher Self.

Inspired by the power of the method and eager to help others feel the peace and calm I was experiencing, I soon decided to become a certified Reiki master myself. During my training, my Reiki teacher, Sean, told me a healthy human body is like a free-flowing river. When a river is flowing, it’s full of fish and wildlife. But when it starts to stagnate and become blocked, fish die because there’s not enough oxygen and things are out of balance.

Today, when I’m working with a client, I think back to the place I was in before I found my way to the practice. I look for signs of blocked energy in the body, whether it is physical pain or emotional trauma. I try to go underneath people’s defense mechanisms and unconscious coping techniques to offer relief from any stress trapped and stored away in the body.

I create a sacred, safe, compassionate, nonjudgmental environment where clients don’t have to hide from their emotions—they can embrace whatever comes up and release it. I tell them to imagine energy that no longer serves them shooting out of their feet or head in a bright golden light—into Mother Earth or the Cosmos to be transformed.

In turn, the client can experience more freedom in mind, body, and spirit. I find it beautiful to watch people transform after a session or series of sessions and no longer ignore what’s going on in their bodies or be desensitized to their pain.

For some, the benefits of energy healing work may seem too “magical” to be real, but from my own personal experience, just making the decision to schedule a Reiki session is the start of an incredible healing journey.

Originally published at www.mindbodygreen.com