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Experiencing Optimum Health Reiki firsthand

By Courtney Llewellyn Reminder Assistant Editor SPRINGFIELD First, there was a battle. My co-worker Katelyn Gendron and I rock-paper-scissored over who would get to visit the new Reiki practitioner. My brilliant tactical skills (and pure luck) allowed me to reign supreme. Then, there was a little apprehension. I knew vaguely what Reiki was and what it involved, but it's human nature to be nervous regarding things you don't know. Luckily, my curiosity always outweighs my uncertainty. I met David Gregoire of Optimum Health Reiki at the Integrative Health Group in Bicentennial Plaza at 1502 Allen St. last Tuesday before a rather lengthy night assignment. Before we started an hour-long session, he had me fill out the usual paperwork: name, address, areas I'd like to focus on, and if I would prefer no touch or some touch during the session. I figured I'd go all out and try the some touch option. Gregoire has been with the group since early September and is a certified Usui Reiki Master. He told me he fell into Reiki a hands-on Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing by accident. "I was in a pre-nursing program at Holyoke Community College and the class I was intending to take was full, so I didn't want to not have anything going on," he explained. So, he signed up for Reiki I and II and became very interested in how to move energy around the body. Gregoire said he had always been interested in helping people in a healing way, so he eventually earned a degree in massage therapy from Branford Hall Career Institute and a certification as a Reiki Master. He explained to me up front how our session was going to work in subdued lighting, with relaxing music playing in the background, I was to lay on a massage table, face up and fully clothed while he helped me align my chakras. Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the etheric double of man, according to author Charles Webster Leadbeater. The chakras are said to be force centers of energy permeating from a point on the physical body. There are seven chakras: the crown, the brow, the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, the sacral and the base. Gregoire explained that a Reiki Master will pass his hand over the various areas of a body to feel where the chakras are out of line, usually starting at the crown (the head) and then working his way down to the feet. As a writer and a dominantly right-handed person, my neck and my right shoulder were my points of pressure. Gregoire spent a lot of time on my crown, my throat and my base chakras the throat especially, since that's the chakra of self-expression and communication. Each person will have a different experience. Although I was a little doubtful of the success of the session at first, I became a believer when I felt the stress popping out of my neck and shoulder like bubble wrap. I could literally feel the energy shifting away from those tense areas. When my session ended an hour later, I felt like a new person. Really. When I asked what the benefits of Reiki were, Gregoire answered that it's non-invasive and that it's there to assist the body in healing, to help it heal on its own. It's strictly complementary therapy; it will heal nothing on its own. "The more you get it, the more profound the effects are," he said. "Studies have proven it produces hemoglobin increases in the blood [which transports oxygen], it results in better sleep and it helps people receiving chemotherapy get over each treatment faster." Gregoire volunteers his services to the Cancer Connection and the new Veterans Connexion in Florence and will be hosting classes for those interested in learning more about Reiki at Integrative Health in January. He offers sessions from the "15 Minute Reiki Boost" to the "90 Minute Ultimate Session," and sessions start at $15 each. For more information, contact Gregoire at 218-5223 or at scarab721@yahoo.com.

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