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What’s Wrong With New Age Healing Techniques Like Reiki?

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Anna Krestyn - published on 05/08/13 - updated on 06/07/17

Beware of New Age syncretism

Many people today – avowed Christians included – find themselves turning to the healing practices of the New Age movement. These practices, which often include techniques through which a new “energy” is transmitted to the person through touch, can be powerfully attractive to long-suffering people who believe they have not received relief from their faith or who are convinced that New Ageism is harmless.

One of the most widespread of these techniques is Reiki, which mimics the Christian laying-on of hands and is often claimed to be compatible with Christianity. Even some Catholic hospitals have allowed its practice. But the Church and some who have involved themselves in these practices warn that they are incompatible with Christianity, and could even be harmful. Moira Noonan, a former Reiki Master who wrote the memoir Ransomed from Darkness says that “Reiki is a method of healing through the transmission and activation of a person’s spiritual energy … The symbolism of Reiki is deeply influenced by Buddhist traditions and invisible spirit guides. These spirit guides are specifically invoked by name to confer their healing powers.”

Confusion over Reiki and similar “healing touch” practices is enough of a problem that the United States bishops released a 2009 statement denouncing it, stating that "to use Reiki, one would have to accept at least in an implicit way central elements of the worldview that undergirds Reiki theory, elements that belong neither to Christian faith nor to natural science. Without justification either from Christian faith or natural science, however, a Catholic who puts his or her trust in Reiki would be operating in the realm of superstition, the no-man’s-land that is neither faith nor science.”

Authentic healing can never be gained by the promise of a technique which channels mysterious energy, and in fact, such promises can lead to serious spiritual trouble. For Christians, the access to healing is always through prayer to Christ, who is the only path to human wholeness.

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