Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy


					NOVEMBER 2013


Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy

By Edwin A. Noyes M.D. MPH,,, 2011


Reiki is a popular “body-mind-spirit” therapy performed by the application of hands. The palms of the hands will gently touch the body, or might not touch, in various anatomical areas for three to five minutes and in a set of up to 20 locations for a full treatment. There is no massage; the treatment will last from 60-90 minutes. Treatment schedule may be weekly with 2-4 visits. With use of Reiki, no diagnosis is needed or made. Any type of physical or mental disorder is considered as a disturbance of a universal energy, believed by Eastern neo-pagans and Western occultists to permeate and flow through our bodies. (Note: there are more than one million American Reiki therapists.)

The name “Reiki” is defined by the following synonyms: “Spiritual power,” “mysterious atmosphere,” “intelligence,” “divine,” “miraculous force,” etc. Rei refers to ghost, spirit, soul, supernatural, miraculous, divine, etc.; while Ki refers to spiritual energy, vital energy, life force, etc. It is the same meaning as qi, ch’i, prana, mana, vitalism and the other hundred names used to refer to this imagined force. Reiki has been defined further as a non-physical healing energy made up of “Life force energy” that is guided by a Higher Intelligence, or spiritually guided life force energy. This is not referring to Jesus Christ, the Divine Son of God that the Christian follows.

The Oxford English Dictionary adds to our understanding of the alternative healing method of Reiki:

Hence: therapy, apparently based on an ancient Tibetan Buddhist technique, developed in Japan in the late 19th or early 20th cent. By Dr. Mikao Usui (1865–1926), in which the therapist channels this energy from him- or herself into the patient by the gently laying on of hands, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.1

Mikao Usui, is credited with re-discovering this healing method in 1922. It was believed to have existed in Tibet in the 1800’s. Usui made it popular in Japan beginning in 1924 and continued teaching this method to others until his death in 1926. From then on one of his students, Chujiro Hayashi, carried on the training of practitioners. Hawayo Takata, trained by Hayashi, came to the United States and has been the prime mover of the therapy in this country. She died in 1980. Reiki branched into several divisions in Japan as well as here in the U.S.A.

The difference between Reiki and many other New Age healing techniques is that treatment is not supposed to unclog, or balance universal energy. Reiki simply facilitates moving the energy from the cosmos through the therapist, and on into the client where it is then said to heal physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The teaching is that the energy has intelligence which can seek out and heal anywhere there is disorder making diagnosis unnecessary.2

It is reported that the recipient often feels warmth or tingling in the area being treated, even when a non-touching approach is being used. A state of deep relaxation, combined with a general feeling of well-being, is usually the most noticeable immediate effect of the treatment, although emotional releases can also occur.

What sets Reiki apart from other hands-on healing modalities is that to become a channel to receive the energy you must be attuned by a Reiki master. The Attunement (initiation into the occult) opens you to receive and channel Reiki energy to others.3

Training to be a practitioner is divided into three levels.

First Degree level: This involves four “attunements,” by a Reiki Master, in four sessions activating the “chakras,” creating an open channel for the energy. The attunement methods are not made known and it is a secret to be held by those receiving the attunement. At the end of the four attunements the new therapist is ready to apply treatment. It is reported to be a very pleasant experience to receive Reiki, as a feeling of warmth and security pervades. It is said that once you become a Reiki therapist you never lose the ability.

Joyce Morris, in “The Reiki Touch” carried in The Movement Newspaper, October 1985, tells of a woman who received Reiki therapy. After the first session she remarked:



I don’t know what this is you’ve got but I just have to have it. Another business lady remarked the following:

Reiki should be available through every medical, chiropractic and mental health facility in this country. Your fees are a small price to pay for such impressive results. I don’t know how Reiki works, but it works; that’s all that counts in my book.4

The Reiki Magic Guide to Self-Attunement text by Brett Bevell speaks to the first attunement:

I have sent a Reiki attunement across all time and space to all individuals who say the Reiki First degree Attunement Chant revealed later in this chapter….If you say this chant with the intent of being attuned to the First degree of Reiki, you will be attuned in the act of saying the phrase. This works because the attunement has been sent out across time and space to intersect with anyone who says the Reiki First Degree Attunement Chant while intending to be attuned.5

Second Degree Level: This level of training intensifies the Reiki energy, allowing the practitioner to channel energy at a distance and to effect deeper healing. It also introduces three symbols used to increase the power of the practitioner’s healing ability. When completing this level of training the practitioner can heal over long distances.

Third Degree Level: (Reiki Masters) In Third Degree Reiki, you are attuned and trained with the capacity to attune others to Reiki. Another symbol is learned which is said to add power to the person having attained to this level.6

Why so many words and space discussing Reiki? It is a power that can be used to transform another person into New Age consciousness (thinking). It accomplishes what the meditative path does for others; it changes the way people think and what they believe is reality. They may embark thereafter upon learning yoga, meditation, and other spiritual transformation practices. Old values change, and truth is no longer truth.

In many physical therapy clinics different New Age practices are common, especially with massage therapy. The therapist may be combining Reiki and other energy balancing methods without the patient even being aware. Reiki seems to be the most exciting therapy practiced and appears to be spreading the fastest. A leading Reiki master made the following comment:

When I looked psychically at the energy, I could often see it as thousands of small particles of light, like “corpuscles’ filled with radiant Reiki energy flowing through me and out of my hands. It was as though these Reiki ‘corpuscles’ of light had a purpose and intelligence.7

A Reiki master explains attunement:

Reiki attunement is an initiation into a sacred metaphysical order that has been present on earth for thousands of years …By becoming part of this group, you will also be receiving help from the Reiki guides and other spiritual beings who are also working toward these goals.8

Again a Reiki master shares her experience in practicing this modality:

For me, the Reiki guides make themselves the most felt while attunements are being passed. They stand behind me and direct the whole process, and I assume they also do this for every Reiki Master. When I pass attunements, I feel their presence strongly and constantly. Sometimes I can see them.9

Is Reiki compatible with Christianity? Isn’t it natural healing? Check out this quote:

During the Reiki attunement process, the avenue that is opened within the body to allow Reiki to flow through also opens up the psychic communication centers. This is why many Reiki practitioners report having verbalized channeled communication with the spirit world.10

The foundation of spiritualism (contact with the dead) is to believe the lie told in the Garden of Eden, you will not die, your eyes will be open, and you will be wise like God knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4, 5) Reiki is a fast track to make that connection with the spirit world. Ponder this next quote from another Reiki Master:

Nurses and massage therapists who have been attuned to Reiki may never disclose when Reiki starts flowing from their palms as they handle their patients. Reiki will naturally “kick in” when it is needed and will continue to flow for as long as the recipient is subconsciously open to receiving it.11

Reiki has become popular in several Catholic convents and some have conducted training in attunements. It has spread through out protestant circles as well.

A systematic review of randomized clinical trials in 2008 assessed the evidence for effectiveness of Reiki. The conclusion: efficacy had not been demonstrated for any condition.12

In March 25, 2009 the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued (Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy) halting the practice of Reiki by Catholics including Reiki therapies used in some Catholic retreat centers and hospitals. The bishops concluded (rightly) that the procedure was not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centers, or persons representing the church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy.13










Craniosacral therapy is another body—mind—spirit therapy quite like Reiki in its application, using a very soft touch to the head and neck area. Reiki is said to initiate a flow of cosmic energy through the therapist to the patient; however, therapists of craniosacral therapy tell us that they are correcting the clogged, sluggish, unbalanced flow of cerebrospinal fluid about the brain and spinal nerves. The disturbance of cerebrospinal fluid flow is proclaimed by those practicing craniosacral therapy to be the source of most disease and disorders of the human body. Such a concept is not recognized by medical science; indeed there is no evidence to support such a hypothesis.

At the time of the origin of this craniosacral hypothesis and resulting therapy, phrenology was popular. Phrenology was established upon the hypothesis that pressure to areas of the skull would alter the function of the brain and personality. Diagnosis was done by feeling the skull’s shape and in turn therapy for the mind, personality, and character was performed by applying pressure to specific areas of the skull. Large hoods were used to cover the head and contained adjustable protrusions (which could be screwed in or out to different lengths) and when worn, applied pressure to selected points on the head for “mind-cure” treatment.

Craniosacral therapy had its origin in the United States through William Sutherland (1873-1954), an osteopathic physician. Sutherland would have been well acquainted with phrenology which may explain what motivated him to do some strange testing. Around 1901, he experimented on himself by placing belts around his head and then tightening those belts in certain positions about the head. He experienced headaches, disorientation and gastro intestinal distress from these tests. At times when he tightened belts in other positions on the head, he might feel relief and well being. From this experimentation Sutherland developed the hypothesis that the cranial bones have motion one upon another and by pressure they can be moved, this, in turn, alters the flow of cerebrospinal fluid flow surrounding the brain, spinal cord, and spinal nerves, thus restoring health. He did not limit his description of disorders caused by improperly flowing cerebrospinal fluid to physical, but also included mental and emotional health.

Dr. Sutherland eventually sensed a power, which he called the “The Breath of Life,” that arose from within the patient without his touch as the therapist. He believed that this Breath of Life carried a basic Intelligence (he capitalized the word “Intelligence”) which the therapist could employ for delivering health. Sutherland and his associates considered the Breath of Life to carry a subtle yet powerful “potency” or force, which produces subtle rhythms which are transmitted around the body. He believed that this power—Breath of Life—came from the body’s inherent life-force itself (chi’, prana, universal energy). He theorized that the cerebrospinal fluid distributed the Breath of Life throughout the body. Dr. Sutherland took his hypothesis to osteopathic schools in the 1940’s. This new teaching was labeled “Osteopathy in the Cranial Field.”15

The concept of cerebrospinal fluid flow being related to all diseases has never been verified by science, nor has a soft touch to the head been shown to alter the flow of spinal fluid. It is one man’s hypothesis which a few others accepted without verification. This treatment modality does not fit the scientific explanation of the physiology of the nervous system, so how does it fit into spiritualism? How do we explain “The Breath of Life” that has Intelligence and arises from within the patient? Let us explore further.

In the mid 1970’s another osteopathic physician, John Upledger, who had accepted Dr. Sutherland’s hypothesis, began to teach the technique to non-osteopaths. Upledger is actually the one who coined the term “craniosacral therapy,” as he was not allowed to use the term “cranial osteopath” for those who were not osteopaths. Dr. Upledger became the mover behind craniosacral therapy as we know it today.

Dr. Upledger added some techniques to Dr. Sutherland’s original method. One contribution is referred to as Therapeutic Imagery and Dialogue. By use of this contribution Dr. Upledger may see a response he calls Somato Emotional Release, whereby the patient and therapist can engage together directly with the patients “inner wisdom” (Breath of Life) to receive knowledge about the patient that is unknown to either patient or therapist.16

Part of the hypothesis of craniosacral therapy is that the body develops what Upledger calls “energy cysts,” which are said to be located at various locations of the body, especially in the connective tissue, such as ligaments, joints, and muscle. These so-called energy cysts are said to be the result of some unresolved physical or psychological trauma of the past, which then allow a variety of clinical symptoms to form. By use of therapeutic imagery and dialogue these cysts can be resolved, along with whatever clinical symptoms are present. Present day science has not found any of the above hypotheses to be true.17

Stan Gerome, an instructor at the Upledger Institute wrote an article entitled; Dialogue, Imagery, CranioSacral therapy, and Synchronicity, explaining imagery and dialogue. Gerome gives an illustration and the following is similar: A patient, John, being attended by a craniosacral therapist complains of pain at a point in his back which has limited his activity for several weeks. The therapist will ask if an image wants to come from that spot. John replies “Yes, I see a stone.” The therapist continues: what color is the stone? Answer, “It is brown.” What is its size? “It is the size of a marble.” What is its name? Answer, “Anger.”




Now the therapist asks John permission to speak directly to the stone. The question is, how long have you been there, who put you there, and does this person know you are there? Answer: “I have been here for years, Ben put me here, and he does not know I am here.” Therapist: John now knows you are there, and tell us why you are there. Answer from Anger “I am here so I could protect him from events in life he did not want to admit to.” Anger do you want to be free? “Yes.” What will free you, Anger? “For John to see me as his anger.”

When John accepts this dialogue as truth the energy cyst is said to relax and dissolve and John’s problem of back pain heals. This is spoken of as “synchronistic,” where both the cyst and the physical problem resolve. What is the origin of such philosophy? Gerome credits Carl Jung (a famous spiritualistic psychiatrist) with the concept of “synchronicity.” Jung founded analytic psychology, and while working with people’s conscious mind, proceeded to develop the unconscious concepts of psychology. A report of a belief of Jung’s is of interest:

It appears that many of Jung’s beliefs were derived from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It had been his constant companion ever since its first publication in England in 1927, and Jung considered its content the quintessence of Buddhist psychological criticism, an initiation process the purpose of which was to restore to the soul the divinity lost at birth….This is a very strong confession of faith in a book, the Bardo Thodol, that gives instructions to the dead and the dying and serves as a guide to the dead during the heavenly and hellish journey of forty-nine days between death and rebirth.18

Stan Gerome, a promoter of craniosacral therapy, in his article Cranio Sacral Therapy stated that he believes Jung’s concept of “synchronicity” is at work in craniosacral therapy.19 “Synchronicity,” is a word Jung formed to explain connections between events or happenings that seem related. For instance if a person uses “telepathy” to communicate a message to someone else in a far distant location and the message somehow gets through, etc., this is synchronicity by Jung’s definition. Similarly, the illustration continues. If a disturbance of flow of universal energy through the body at some location caused a psychological disturbance in the personality, correcting the flow by whatever method would clear the personality defect. That connection between energy flow and a personality flaw is Jung’s synchronicity.

Synchronicity is best explained by understanding there are agents of Satan, fallen angels, that can influence, carry messages, and be the power in Jung’s synchronicity. Jung was a known spiritualist and also a theosophist. E.G. White warned us to have no connection to theosophy (a blend of oriental religions and mysticism), as it was, in essence spiritualism.20

In 1999, the British Columbia (Canadian) Office of Health Technology Assessment (BCOHTA) published an article entitled, A Systematic Review and Appraisal of the Scientific Evidence on Craniosacral Therapy. Their conclusion was that the theory is invalid and that practitioners cannot reliably measure what they claim to be modifying.

A physicist, Eugenie V. Mielczarek, Emeritus Professor of Physics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia presented a paper, with the help of Derek C. Araujo, Adam Magazine, and Lori Sommerfelt representing the Center of for Inquiry, concerning the physics proclaimed by distant healers to be involved in Reiki, Craniosacral Therapy, Therapeutic Touch, QiGong, or any so-called distant healing. The summary of her paper follows:

Summary: Alleged distance healers justify their claimed abilities in terms of an unsubstantiated bio-magnetic field of about two milligauss emanating from the hands of certified distance healers. However, a two milligauss field strength is 18 orders of magnitude below the energy needed to affect any biochemistry. The postulate of an unknown energy field width eludes all science-based investigations and measurement, but nevertheless causes a transmission of energies large enough to affect the chemistry of cell cultures flies in the face of all micro and cellular biology experimentation and well tested theories of physics. This postulate of a medically healing energy field, which can only be generated by certain individuals, fails all test of medical science.21

We can count our blessings in the wisdom God has shared with us through the author E.G. White.

Satan a student of the Mind.—For thousands of years Satan has been experimenting upon the properties of the human mind, and he has learned to know it well. By his subtle workings in these last days he is lining the human mind with his own, imbuing it with his thoughts; and he is doing this work in so deceptive a manner that those who accept his guidance know not that they are being led by him at his will. The great deceiver hopes so to confuse the minds of men and women that none but his voice will be heard.22

Misuse of Sciences Pertaining to the Mind.—In these days when skepticism and infidelity so often appear in a scientific garb, we need to be guarded on every hand. Through this means our great adversary is deceiving thousands and leading them captive according to his will. The advantage he takes of the sciences, sciences which pertain to the human mind, is tremendous. Here serpent like, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God.

This entering in of Satan through the sciences is well devised. Through the channel of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism he comes more directly to the people of this generation and works with that power which is to characterize his effort near the close of probation. The minds of thousands have thus been poisoned and led into infidelity. 23





1 Simpson, J., Weiner, M., Proffitt, et al., Oxford English Dictionary, (1989), 2nd ed.

2 Roberts, Llyn and Levy, Robert, Shamanic Reiki, O Books, (2008), pp. 2-5.

3 Ibid., p. 2.

4 Barbara Ray, Ph.D., The Reiki Factor, Smithtown, NY: Exposition Press, (1983), p.63.

5 Bevell, Brett, The Reiki Magic Guide to Self-Attunement, Crossing Press, Berkeley, CA, (2007), p. 9.

6 Ibid., p. 76.

7 Rand, William Lee, The Nature of Reiki Energy, The Reiki News, Autumn, (2000), p. 5.

8 Rand, William Lee, Reiki: The Healing Touch, Southfield, MI: Vision Publishing, (1991) p. 48. Reported in Yungen, Ray, A Time of Departing, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, (2006) p. 95.

9 Stein, Diane, Essential Reiki, (Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 1995), p. 107 Reported in Yungen, Ray, A Time of Departing, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, (2006), p. 95.

10 Desy, Phylameana lila, The Everything Reiki Book, Avon, MA: Adams Media, (2004), p. 144. Reported in Yungen, Ray, A Time of Departing, Lighthouse Trails Pub., (2006), p. 97.

11 Ibid., p. 270.

12 Lee, MS, Pittler, MH, Ernst, E., Effects of Reiki in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials, International Journal of Clinical Practice 62 (6): 947.doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01729.x. PMID 18410352. http:// (2008) Retrieved 2008-05-02.

13 Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy, March 25, (2009).





18 Fodor, Nandor, Freud, Jung, and Occultism, University Books, Inc., New Hyde Park, New York, (1971), p. 157.


20 White, E.G., 13 Manuscripts Release 1.3.

21 Mielczarek, Eugenie V., A Fracture in our Health Care: Paying for Non-Evidenced Based Medicine, Center for Inquiry, Office of Public Policy Washington D.C., June (2010).

22 White, E.G., 1. Mind, Character, Personality, Southern Publishing Assoc., Nashville, Tenn., (1977) p. 18.1.

23 Ibid., p. 19.


The author is a Seventh Day Adventist. The above is chapter 12 reproduced from his book Exposing Spiritualistic Practices in Healing with his permission.




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