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Research Professor Takes Energy Healing Outside The Laboratory - Reiki

Tucson, Arizona - A research professor of physiology at The University of Arizona College of Medicine who has been studying Reiki, or "universal energy healing," has expanded her research beyond the walls of the laboratory to work with horses and dogs.

Ann Baldwin, PhD, has written about her observations in an article published in the current issue of International Therapist. Dr. Baldwin is a physiologist who studies emotional and environmental stress, how it increases vulnerability to disease and how its damaging effects might be neutralized.

Several years ago, her interest in these areas led her to a study of Reiki. She explains that a Reiki practitioner, using his or her hands, is able to sense energy fields that surround living creatures and detect areas of imbalance. Giving Reiki is purported to help adjust imbalances that may be present in mind, body and/or spirit and to alleviate stress.

When first introduced to Reiki, Dr. Baldwin was skeptical, but her observations that the practice did, in fact, produce beneficial physiological changes compelled her to look more closely and to become a Reiki practitioner herself. Since then, she has published research about the therapeutic effects of Reiki on stress in laboratory animals (Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, January 2006, April 2008) and, more recently, she has documented the effects of Reiki on Reiki practitioners, measuring changes in blood flow, skin conductance and heart-rate variability.

In her recent article, "Reiki: What Animals Can Tell Us," Dr. Baldwin describes her work with dogs and horses and suggests that the animals' responses to Reiki might bring us closer to understanding how it works. She notes that animals are more sensitive to energy fields - their own and others' - than people are; this is how they gain information about people and other animals. Citing a 2003 study from the University of Florida about dogs that are able to detect impending seizures in their owners, Dr. Baldwin notes one explanation for the phenomenon: the animals may be detecting changes in the electromagnetic fields of their owners' brains.

She has found that horses respond immediately to Reiki, even if it is given from a distance, by coming to the practitioner and sniffing the backs of his or her hands. The smell they notice seems to appear only when Reiki is given. She suggests that horses will allow Reiki to work on them to bring them back to balance, promoting natural healing, and that they will give the practitioner a sign, such as a nudge with the nose, when they have had enough, thus controlling how much they will take and under what circumstances. For both horses and dogs, Reiki produces profound relaxation. Horses respond with classic signs - licking and chewing, lowering the head, allowing the eyes to close. Dogs often sit or lie down, lower their heads and close their eyes.

Convinced that Reiki produces beneficial physiological effects, Dr. Baldwin hopes to discover how it works. She looks to the animals for their authentic responses, noting that animals are not biased either by skepticism or positive expectations.

Observing the animals' responses, she says, can bring us closer to understanding how Reiki produces its beneficial effects by helping us learn what questions to ask. "Then," she concludes, "we can use this knowledge to enhance our communication skills and bring balance to ourselves and to others."

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