Missing the Message…or Massage…

A while back, I attended an open house for a new wellness center in my area. I was invited by my sister-in-law, Casey, and I was really excited to go see the new place. Plus, it would get me out of the house without my “extra appendages” (someone I knew at the event actually referred to my kids as such). Plus, plus, there were mimosas.

The center was offering free demos on exercise classes and body treatments. Casey and I both signed up for a facial and a Reiki massage. I’ve had facials aplenty, and in my younger and freer years, I would have the occasional massage. I LOVE massages, but I had never experienced Reiki before, so it was a new learning adventure.

Well the nice lady sat me down in the massage chair and explained what she would be doing. She told me I might feel a “light touch” on my back. ‘Just one light touch?’ I thought. I’m no expert but I thought massage was all about touch. Oh, and dictionary.com agrees with me:


[muhsahzh, –sahj or, esp. British, mas-ahzh]


1.the act or art of treating the body by rubbing, kneading, patting, or the like, to stimulate circulation, increase suppleness, relieve tension, etc.

So I put my face in the face hole and relaxed as best I could. I sat there for a good two minutes and felt no light touches, or touches of any manner. I almost sat up to ask if I was missing something, but then there it was. She laid her hand on my back. And left it there. For like five minutes. Nothing else. Then she moved it to another spot and did the same thing. And then one more spot. And then no more. Nothing else. She whispered that it was over and I sat up, slightly confused. She asked if I felt energized and I politely smiled, thanked her, and moved on.

Casey and I headed to the car and talked over our experiences:

Casey: So, how did you like the massage?

Me: I don’t think I get it.

Casey: There wasn’t much to it, was there?

Me: Ella gives better massages than that.

Casey: I think that would be the best job ever. To charge like a billion dollars and just put your hand on someone’s back? I can totally do that.

Me: I’m pretty sure it’s all in your head, that kind of massage. But I like head massages too. I didn’t get a head massage today.

Casey: I guess I wasn’t thinking hard enough if it was supposed to be in our heads, because I didn’t feel massaged after.

We then talked about how we were either really missing something, or the massage itself was missing something. This provoked me to look up a little information about Reiki. DO NOT TELL MY FORMER STUDENTS, but I used Wikipedia and found out some interesting factlets about Reiki. Here are some quotes:

“It uses a technique commonly called palm healing or hands-on-healing. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring “universal energy” through the palms of the practitioner, which they believe encourages healing.”

Well there you have it. Must be that our practitioner wasn’t very energized that day.

And here is another:

“Reiki is a form of pseudoscience.[1] It is based on qi, which practitioners say is a universal life force, though there is no empirical evidence that such a life force exists.[3] There is no good evidence that Reiki is effective as a medical treatment.


OK, so to me, anything that begins with “pseudo” is NOT REAL. I’m not really sure how empirical evidence differs from other kinds of evidence, but I am feeling better that there’s nothing to PROVE that Casey and I were just not “in tune” enough to catch the life force being sent through our bodies. Or…was it the mimosas??

So tell me about your Reiki experiences. Did you feel the energy? Or the mimosa?

Author: livefromtimeout

When I'm not refereeing my two children, I like to workout and drink wine. But not at the same time. Teaching happens to be my vocation and my passion.

3 thoughts on “Missing the Message…or Massage…”

  1. Hi Katie,

    Well I have no experience with this, but it is part of my job to understand the difference between empirical evidence and all other kinds. As you know I research child development for a living and a key part of my job is to consult on research projects engined to assert causation. That is the key to your comment. Empirical evidence means evidence that has come from a source in which causation can be asserted. To prove that a kind of treatment, like this massage treatment, really works, you must test it. You must show that it made a measurable difference in a person, and that this same difference would not exist had the massage not taken place. This is known as the counter-factual condition. This is science, and the key is that, in the end, we can say that we have ruled out all other possibly explanations for the findings, and that the change we have measured is caused by the treatment.

    We consider something pseudoscience typically when the claimed effects cannot be falsified, meaning cannot be proven wrong. If it is not possible to measure the outcome, then it cannot be studied. Since QI cannot be measured and no objective evidence of its existence has ever shown up, we cannot assert that it is a real within the realm of science. No study design could ever prove that this approach does or does not work and as such it is not a science or medically supportable practice.

    To be totally fair, there are things in this world that are in fact real but cannot be measured yet. Typically this is because science has not caught up to that reality. Having said that, in most cases these real phenomena can be observed either directly or indirectly, can be proven through mathematical formulas and used to make accurate predictions, such as in physics. In those cases though, while the phenomena of interest cannot be measured, it’s effect can be. This is not true of this massage technique you mentioned. For example, maybe we think that QI cannot be measured but its impact on our health can be. Then we would expect differences in those who receive it in their mortality and morbidity rates, in something more specific like heart rate, cholesterol levels, virus loads, etc.


  2. Hi, Katie, I have several friends who do Reiki and volunteer at hospices, where their patients find much pain relief and peace. Maybe your expectations from other types of massages influenced your experience or maybe it is a pseudo-science. I felt streams of energy from mine and pain relief later. I wasn’t expecting much at first because it’s so different. I came away not sure of what I’d experienced.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s