Human touch is good for your mind, body, spirit

Although there seems to be no shortage of evidence, we don’t need scientific studies to tell us about the profoundly positive effects of human touch. Simple contact stimulates our brains to release endorphins, our bodies’ natural opiates. This is why we find comfort in the arms of a loved one in times of sorrow and joy and can have our spirits lifted by something that seems as insignificant as a pat on the back for a job well done. The positive energy emitted from these simple acts are what feed the human soul.

Lori Bleich knows—and wants you to know, too—that feeling good on the inside is an integral part of living a happy and healthy life.

“When you’re in a good emotional state, you feel great,” says Ms. Bleich. “When you’re holding in your emotions such as anger, and not speaking your truths, it manifests in physical ways. A bad back, sore shoulders: it’s those areas where the energies are blocked.”

Reiki, a holistic, bioenergy therapy gaining new respect within the medical community, gently balances life energies and brings health and well being to the recipient. Practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of reducing stress in order to promote wholeness of mind, body and spirit.

“Reiki is about balancing your inner energy to get it to move, raising what’s too low, lowering what’s too high,” explains Ms. Bleich. “Your body is better able to heal when the energy within it is able to move freely.”

In 2013, Ms. Bleich experienced the power of Reiki first-hand and it changed her life. After 25 years of working as a medical transcriber, she found herself burned out, stressed out and in need of a change.

“A friend suggested I try Reiki, and I went into my first session very skeptical,” she admits. “What sold me on it was that I woke up for the first time in weeks almost happy, not with the usual sense of panic that I’d had before. I went back for a couple more sessions and got to the point where I wanted to learn this and offer it to friends and family.”

Two years later, she has completed all four levels of Reiki training (Usui Shiki Ryoho) and is now a Reiki master, offering her services through Aromatique Skin and Body Care in the Claremont Village.

She’s also a certified canine massage therapist.

“I incorporate Reiki into my work with dogs and have found that they are incredibly receptive,” she says. “Animals are highly sensitive to the energies of their surroundings.”

Recognized by hospitals as a therapeutic massage technique, Reiki is used as a collaborative, supportive addition to conventional medical treatment of illness and injury, alleviating pain and stress, aiding soft tissue healing and revitalizing the body.

“It can be used with either Eastern or Western medicine, much like acupuncture—both work with energies,” says Ms. Bleich. “People have a hard time wrapping their brains around something they can’t see.”

Like acupuncture, Reiki is customized to fit the needs of the recipient. Generally, each session begins with the client lying on his or her back, fully clothed, on a comfortable table with as much support as needed. The practitioner will place their hands on or slightly above the body from head to feet in a respectful manner and will remain in each position for approximately two to five minutes.

“Energy manifests itself as heat. You can feel the pattern of energy in a person,” explains Ms. Bleich. “The bad energy takes weeks and months to build and it can take that long to get rid of it. Different people bring different energies and I’m learning to work with each of those. Every day I learn something new.”

During a Reiki session, many people experience sensations such as warmth, tingling and pulsation, says Ms. Bleich. Pain may diminish even if the affected area has not yet been touched. Others may experience emotional releases.

“Sometimes magic happens in my room…a client will start crying for no reason,” she says, adding, “That’s a release. It helps.”

Many people simply experience a deep relaxation, almost a meditative state, or even fall asleep on the table.

“I consider it a compliment when a client starts snoring,” says Ms. Bleich.

According to Ms. Bleich, most people will see a benefit in one session, particularly a good night’s sleep. After two to four sessions, they are able to hold the benefits of Reiki longer.

“I’ve had clients who have been able to decrease their pain medications after three or four sessions,” she says proudly.

Reiki has been used to treat headaches, reduce side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, and to speed surgical recovery. Many people have sought Reiki treatment from Ms. Bleich to better cope with a wide range of conditions including osteoarthritis, cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder, cellulitis and chronic pain. While Reiki does not treat the symptom or condition directly, it does help to re-establish balance.

Celeste Palmer has been a client of Ms. Bleich for nearly 10 months and can attest to the benefits of Reiki. In May 2000, a car accident left her with a traumatic brain injury and severe muscle pain that continues almost 15 years later.

“Sometimes the muscles in my body contract and they don’t remember how to relax,” explains the 64-year-old mother of three. “I’d tried everything to get some relief from the pain and, at the recommendations of friends, I tried Reiki. It has been life-changing. It’s not only been a physical release, but it’s been an emotional one, too. I’m not carrying any extra stress.”


Because Reiki promotes relaxation, mental calm and the quieting of a racing mind, the complementary practice is becoming more widely accepted nationwide. According to the Center for Reiki Research, over 800 hospitals around the country, including the Cancer Resource Center at Citrus Valley Medical Center in Covina, now offer Reiki sessions as part of their hospital-sponsored programs.

The Herbert Irving Child and Adolescent Oncology Center at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian began using Reiki in 2009 as part of their Integrative Therapy for children with cancer. Recognized by the National Cancer Institute for itsf excellence, the center was the first of its kind to integrate complementary medicine with conventional surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

“Reiki has this very New Age, negative perception,” explains Ms. Bleich. “In fact, it has nothing to do with anything New Age. The traditional practice of Reiki originated in Japan early 1900s. When it came to Hawaii in the 1950s, and as it spread in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it became diluted by New Age practices like the use of crystals all over you and a person telling you about your past lives. That’s not Reiki.”

For Ms. Palmer, an open mind and a willingness to try alternatives to traditional medicine have aided her on a path to wellness. She hopes that others will see the value of integrative therapies and do their research with the hope of achieving the same goal.

“Doctors know pills. With procedures like acupressure, meditation and Reiki, you have to understand what it is you’re getting into,” she says. “Talk to more than one person and talk to the practitioner you’re going to be working with. With Reiki, especially with Lori, there was a confidence I felt with her to let her do her job. When you find those things that help you reach a place of calm and balance, it needs to be in your life. Reiki needs to be in mine.”

For more information on Reiki or to book an appointment with Lori Bleich, visit or call (909) 626-7422.

Aromatique Skin and Body Care is located at 319-A W. First St., Claremont.


—Angela Bailey


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