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Preparing for Surgery with Mind/Body Techniques and
Reiki for Better Recovery

by Ulrike Dettling, M.A., LMFT, Reiki Master

My first experience of working along side with the surgical team in the Operating Room, combining conventional medicine with Reiki, has been life transforming for me. It has started my path as a healer working in hospital settings with my clients. Never before had I left the sanctuary of my private office to do my healing work, never before had it occurred to me that it would be possible to transform a sterile hospital setting into a sacred place of healing. It has been the warm welcome and receptivity of the hospital staff (surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, receptionist et. al.) that has encouraged me to continue this work, and fostered my belief in integrative medicine.
"...complementary methods ... cost-effective and they work" In many ways, humanity is being brought back into medicine1. "In the intensifying search to find a solution to the high cost of medical care, complementary methods are slowly becoming recognized as important because they are cost-effective and they work."2

In my travels to various New England area hospitals, I have never had a negative experience with hospital staff. In fact, I am no longer surprised by surgeons coming up to me and thanking me for my help. Hospital staff welcome a relaxed patient and support whatever will help the patient relax, which makes their work easier in turn.

For most people, it is hard to imagine that surgery and its aftermath can be a positive, even ecstatic experience. I wouldn't believe it, if I hadn't had the privilege to witness my clients' amazing recoveries week after week. When I enter the hospital to facilitate my clients' healing, I am in an altered state of consciousness that cannot be described as anything other than pure ecstasy and joy.
Let me tell you the journey that led me to this particular healing path: My first paying Reiki client was a young woman that had just been diagnosed that week with metastasized ovarian cancer and was going into surgery two days later. I asked her what she hoped to receive from the Reiki session. She replied that she had been anxious all week since the diagnosis and wished to feel at peace.


Energy Healing and Prayer for Persons Going into Surgery
"... better survival rates, shorter hospital stays, ... more speedy recovery..." I had read about how to prepare for surgery in magazines (Natural Health 25th anniversary issue, Vegetarian times and New Age Journal). I had also read about the research that had been done on the impact of energy healing and prayer for patients undergoing surgery. One of the studies had people in various parts of the country pray for a person going into surgery who was a total stranger to them. The patients who were prayed for by strangers were matched with a control group that was not prayed for. The patients did not know whether they were in the control group or not. All patients underwent cardiac surgery. The group of patients that received the prayers had better survival rates after surgery, shorter hospital stays and a more speedy recovery. (Larry Dossey, Healing Words. 1993)
I had also read an article from the NY Times magazine about Dr. Mehmet Oz's work at Columbia Hospital in New York. He has energy healer Julie Motz work on his patients while undergoing cardiac surgery. The patients receiving the energy healing again had faster recoveries than those who did not receive energy healing during surgery.
I had also read about Peggy Huddleston's book "Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques" (Cambridge, MA: Angel River Press, 1996). She emphasizes that the person's auditory system is still functioning under general anesthesia and the importance of requesting that the hospital personnel not make any negative comments during the surgery. While other parts of the brain are anesthetized, the cerebral cortex still receives auditory messages (even if the patient may not consciously remember those after the anesthesia!). She compares the state during anesthesia and the time thereafter to a hypnotic state and post-hypnotic state in which the person is particularly receptive to the auditory messages s/he receives. Thus, she not only encourages the person to request that no negative comments be made during the surgery, but to also request that healing statements be given to her/him before, during and after the surgery.
Research has shown that clients receiving the healing statements, require 23-50% less post-operative pain medication.
I spoke to my client about preparing for surgery, and we decided that on the day of her surgery, I would send her a long-distance Reiki healing as she went into the surgery. After our hands-on Reiki session, the young woman reported that she had had an 'out-of-body' experience, where she was floating above her body realizing that she was 'whole', even if her reproductive organs were going to be removed. She had been concerned about not being able to have children after the surgery, since she was planning to get married that fall and wanted to have children. She left the session feeling whole and at peace. I gave her a small rose quartz stone, which I had charged with Reiki energy, to take with her into the hospital.
I never saw that young woman again. I found out that she had died 9 months later, and that although her body was failing, she felt at peace. I was also told that the rose quartz crystal I had given her was placed in her casket, since it had been such an important companion to her on her journey.
Even though I had read about hands-on energy healing during surgery at that time, it did not occur to me then to offer that to her. And it still did not occur to me many months later, when I offered a hands-on Reiki treatment to a friend right before her breast biopsy. I did the hands-on treatment on my friend and sent her long-distance Reiki on the day of her biopsy, but that's all I could think of at the time.
Hands-on Reiki in the Operating Room (OR)
When the same friend needed to have a mastectomy, she asked me whether I would come into the OR with her to give her Reiki. I readily agreed. We organized a healing circle of her friends before the surgery in which we charged a healing stone with words of encouragement and wisdom that had helped us to get through hard times. My friend later had that healing stone taped into the palm of her hand during the surgery receiving the love her friends had sent her off with.

Before the surgery, I was asked to change into scrub clothes and accompanied my friend into the OR. The surgical team was very welcoming towards me and treated me like one of their own. I empowered the room, all the machines, surgical instruments and people in the OR with Reiki. I worked on my friend doing hands-on Reiki which she experienced as comforting and grounding. My friend was using Peggy Huddleston's Prepare for Surgery techniques and had requested that her surgeon say a healing statement to her. As she was going under anesthesia, the surgeon said the healing statements to her with feeling and compassion, and my friend drifted off, feeling surrounded by love and support. I left the OR after 20 minutes of doing Reiki, being called back again into the OR towards the end of surgery. As my friend was being reawakened from the anesthesia, the surgeon again said the requested post-surgery healing statements with feeling. I gave my friend hands-on Reiki at that time, welcomed her back with love and escorted her to the recovery room. Several nurses on my way to the OR inquired about Reiki and expressed an interest in learning it to support patients in that way.

Since my first experience in the OR with my friend, I have trained and become certified by Peggy Huddleston in the Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster ‰ method and have currently a thriving Prepare for Surgery/Reiki Energy Healing Practice. I have developed an array of services for people undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation which helps them relax and lessen any unwanted side effects of these procedures.

I offer a range of services that clients may pick and choose from, including an explanation of the five steps of P. Huddleston's method, healing sessions involving dialogue with the body part that needs healing and getting in touch with inner wisdom, Reiki before, during and after the surgery, affirmations, visualization, information on nutritional support to prepare for surgery as given by Dr. Alan Gaby, and healing crystals.

While at the hospital in the pre-op are with the client, I assist them in communicating the healing statements they wish to be said to them to their anesthesiologist. I let the anesthesiologist know that the client is using relaxation techniques and therefore may require less anesthesia and pain medication.I am available throughout the whole process to my client on the phone.

Real Life Success Story
Here is one example that illustrates the powerful effect of this combination of Prepare for Surgery/Reiki Energy Healing. One woman in her early fifties came to me 2 weeks prior to surgery. She was scheduled for a 7 hr surgery, a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. One of her concerns was trouble with her heart valve which was not pumping blood through properly, causing back-ups. This condition caused concern regarding the general anesthesia. We worked together during an individual session using the above mentioned methods. The client entered a deep state of relaxation during the session and experienced herself in a state of 'oneness'.3 She visualized as her final healing result that she would be walking with her dog in the woods. She used the tape twice a day diligently during the time before surgery. She scheduled another session 2 days before surgery to receive Reiki. Again, she experienced a deep sense of peace and 'oneness' during the session. She had found out about a nurse who would do Reiki on her right after the surgery at the hospital. I invited her to the Reiki clinic a week after her surgery.

When she came to our Reiki clinic the week after surgery, she looked radiant and full of energy, as if she had come from a spa, not from a hospital! She had been walking her dog soon after surgery, as she had visualized and was feeling good. She did not need any pain medication, not even Tylenol after her short stay at the hospital. The other Reiki practitioners at the clinic were awestruck by her quick recovery and her upbeat, radiant presence. I have found it to be a great privilege and honor to assist people in this way in their healing process.

If you wish to receive more information about this work or have any questions, you may contact me via e-mail at or call me at (781) 648-9334.


" ... radiant and full of energy..."   one week after surgery
1 "One of the essential qualities of the clinician is the interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is caring for the patient" Dr. Francis Peabody, in: Journal of the American Medical Association, as quoted by Libby Barnett et al. in Reiki Energy Medicine, 1996, p. XV

2 ibid. p. 9

3 It is my belief that healing takes place in the body when we enter this deeply relaxed state of 'oneness', which can be achieved through meditation, Reiki, relaxation tapes and other pathways.

1998 Ulrike Dettling Kalthofer
This article provided courtesy of Ulrike Dettling Kalthofer, Arlington Reiki Associates. This is copyright material. For reprint permission, please contact Ulrike Dettling Kalthofer by e-mail or visit her Web site,  Arlington Reiki Associates, for other contact information.

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