Define your generation here. Generation What
Using ‘energy’ to heal

The practice of Reiki and “energy healing” are relatively prevalent in Cairo. Whether it’s Western or Eastern healing, hands on or hands off, some Cairenes are looking to this alternative health practice to improve their psychological and physical wellbeing.

Energy healing comes in many different forms. The most well known, perhaps, is Reiki, a Japanese method developed in the 1920s. The idea behind it is pretty accepted throughout the world of energy healing: the energy is not the healers’. Energy comes from the “universal” — for many, God — and is channeled through people well versed in the techniques of channeling energy.

A healer needs to have a clear intention to offer positive energy to a client or patient. For the most effective healing, the practitioner should not judge the patient for his or her lifestyle or personal choices. “We are all created perfect in the eyes of God,” says Gigi Abdelrahim, a healer based on Katameya Road near Carrefour. For Abdelrahim, it is only when you believe that the person in front of you is perfect that you can truly and positively channel energy to them.

Abldelrahim, like other healers around Cairo in Zamalek, Mohandiseen and Maadi, offers a number of different alternate healing services, including Reiki, acupuncture, massage, application of heated cups and energy stones, and aromatherapy. For LE125, paid in advance, you can have a 60-minute session of any of these. Abdelrahim also offers yoga classes.

Not everyone is so flexible, however. For Marie Kirk, based in Zamalek, a healer should be well versed in the technique he or she believes in most. Kirk has pulled together different forms of healing to make one technique that involves work with chakras (energy points on the body) and hands-on energy healing. Working out of a yoga and meditation studio, Kirk charges LE250 to diagnose and “heal” clients over a two-hour appointment.

Alternative medicine centers are cropping up around town. Two have opened in Maadi. Osteopath Anne Marie Veltman uses the Dorn method and “spinal detox” to treat back problems, as well as psychological and physiological “imbalances.” The center where she works also houses a homeopath. A small fountain in the waiting room proves someone is well versed in feng shui. Hourly sessions for homeopathy and psychological treatments can cost between LE450 and LE600.

Many alternative healers work privately out of their homes. Rana Habib, 41, lives in Heliopolis and accepts new clients if they have been referred by existing customers. “I can’t invite people off the street into my home because I live alone and people misunderstand my work,” says Habib. She offers different types of energy healing: Qigong and Reiki are her main techniques but she also uses the Taoist practice of Chi Nei Tsang. Chi Nei Tsang involves techniques like Thai massage. The technique is used to massage organs to, as she says, “detoxify” them.

Energy healing has not been proven in the medical arena to be an effective treatment for illnesses. Nor is it likely that any form of healing that does not involve conventional medicinal practices ever will be. Energy healing has the power to relax the mind and rest the body — two elements that are necessary for improved wellbeing. People reach out to energy healers for peace of mind or to help with psychological healing.

“Most of the people I treat complain of anxiety, insomnia and stress,” says Habib. She says she also deals with people who need to release anger or complain of digestive problems.

“Anger and digestive issues are the most common ailments in Egyptian society and are the seeds from which grow high blood pressure and diabetes, two of Egypt’s biggest problems,” agrees Dr. Mervat Said, a general practitioner based in Nasr City.

But Said does not believe that “energy healing” is the way to go: “These problems are very serious and if patients rely only on energy healing, they will not heal.” Although Said agrees that rest and relaxation are the core of healing, she does not recommend complete reliance on energy healing. “Have a doctor follow up with your conditions and try energy healing before medicine or along with it. You need someone with a medical degree checking your symptoms.”

If you are thinking about going for a session of Reiki or “healing,” each practitioner is different but there are some similarities that can get you prepared for your first session. At a full session, you are likely to be lying down with your shoes off.

It is recommended that you remove all metal before the session. If you wear jewelry, you might want to take it off before you come to your appointment. The practitioner will probably touch your feet, and massage your stomach and your head. So expect to be touched, though it is not like a massage and you won’t have to take off your clothes. A healing session can be free from a friend, but can cost as much as LE600 for more specialized treatments.

Nevine El-Shabrawy