Why Cairo Needs Reiki to Combat Stress and Anxiety

Why Cairo Needs Reiki to Combat Stress and Anxiety

Image courtesy of My American Nurse

Everyday life in Cairo is full of surprises that make you come alive, but the city’s energy can also feel draining and inescapable.

The Japanese healing practice Reiki (“rei” meaning universal, and “ki” meaning life energy) is based on the belief that universal energy surrounds us all. Reiki healing tells us that if we channel this universal energy mindfully, it can help alleviate physical pains and psychological ails such as fear or anxiety. Reiki sessions allegedly assist the body’s natural healing processes and are meant to help develop well-being holistically.

A Reiki session is held by an energy healer, or Reiki Master, who is said to channel universal energy through their palms and directs it towards the patient. The practice’s origins are associated with the Japanese Reiki Master Mikao Usui who reputedly treated over 2,000 people at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1970s, Reiki made it to the US and has since been travelling all over the world. It is becoming a dominant wave in the ocean of wellbeing practices and several centres and healers in Cairo are now offering sessions.

Osama Sultan, an Egyptian Reiki healer who heals and co-teaches alongside Rania Nassar at the Giza based The Field of Awakening, originally started out as an engineer. He discovered Reiki while doing his MSc in Robotics and Automation in Germany in 2012. His mother had become a Reiki practitioner and as he was struggling with mental health, she kept suggesting energy healing sessions to him.

“I was very skeptical,” Osama says. “As engineers we have a monopoly over these terms. I know what energy is: the capacity to do work.”

From a scientific standpoint, the type of energy his mother was talking about had no basis. However, as his mental health deteriorated, he agreed to do a session.

“I was so stressed that I was no longer aware of how stressed I was”, he remembers. “During the session, I released what was stuck inside me.” Afterwards, he was able to finish his dissertation and returned to Egypt to work as an engineer.

Osama’s definition of energy has not changed since. Rather, he now sees energy healing and science as two sides of the same coin:

“In physics, work is only defined in mechanical and material terms, but in the wider sense, work can be emotions, thought, and connecting with people. You might have the energy to exercise physically and at the same time lack the energy to talk to someone emotionally,” he explains.

Most of Osama’s patients use Reiki for physical healing. He stresses that it should never be regarded as an alternative for medicine or psychotherapy. Instead, it is complementary to other treatment clients receive and can trigger different results in different people.

We can make sense of Reiki becoming an emerging trend in Egypt through considering local and global social dynamics.

“Most Egyptians are skeptical about alternative healing, but they are opening up to it, because living conditions have progressively become more difficult in the past five years”, Osama explains.

Challenging conditions for families, in career paths, or in relationships are pushing more people to look deeper into themselves and their consciousness, “instead of just pushing through.”

Reiki can be practiced one-on-one or in groups. Since it understands itself to channel a universal energy, it can be done in the same physical space as well as online. According to Osama, “energy healing works through human connections beyond our apparent disconnection on the physical and psychological level.”

The pricing of Reiki services (ranging from 100 – 1000 LE per session) limits their accessibility, but Osama is in the process of organising free online sessions and youtube videos. The Field of Awakening, which is offering a Reiki Open Day on 22 September, also runs an open hour for people with severe conditions through which it provides free group healing.

Whether you are looking to cure your recurring headaches, loosen up your sore joints, or embark on a journey of personal self-reflection, Reiki practitioners maintain that connecting with universal energy will lead you on a path of healing.

Globally, lockdowns and pandemic fears have increased collective depressions and increased the popularity of well-being and self-awareness movements. Osama attributes this to rising pressures as well as to young generations who, growing up with the internet, are open to experiencing new things.

Describing Cairo as “a concentrated manifestation of the problems of the world”, he is grateful to be contributing to this movement “in a place that really needs it. There is so much stress and anxiety that Egyptians suffer from collectively. Reiki gives you support to find solutions and resources behind the challenges you face.”

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Amuna is a Cairo-based writer and educator. She studied International Relations and Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, with a special interest in the politics of gender and culture. Amuna is a Teaching Fellow at the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences where she co-created the Women’s Studies Programme and teaches Ethnographic Research. In her work, Amuna explores the many ways through which we heal ourselves and others at the intersection of art and activism.

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