Calm music played as Sharon Wesch relaxed to receive a reiki session from Lu Whitaker.

“There’s a warm energy coming through,” Wesch said.

Whitaker, a Harker Heights resident, has practiced reiki for 25 years.

Whitaker discovered the benefits with her late husband after a therapist in Austin suggested it to her.

Whitaker was diagnosed with dormant rheumatoid arthritis.

“I didn’t think anything would ever come of me doing reiki,” Whitaker said.

Yet she said she now moves with no pain.

Reiki focuses on facilitating a person’s own healing response and has been studied for conditions such as pain, anxiety, fatigue and depression, according to the National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health.

The effects of how reiki is felt differs from person to person, which is why Whitaker tries to work four in a row.

A typical reiki session lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and is non-invasive as a practioner uses basic hand positions around the meridian system of the body, Whitaker said.

“Reiki addresses the mental, emotional and spiritual levels and the physical,” she said.

It’s meaning is unconditional love and focuses on principles that include not being angry or worried, being grateful and kind to others, Whitaker said.

It is complementary to treatments already received while enhancing healing benefits, she said.

During her 25 years of practice, Whitaker has worked with all sorts of individuals — including those with addictions, dying, giving birth or soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Working with the soldiers has been a true gift,” she said.

Whitaker became involved with the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Fort Hood five years ago after meeting Wesch’s husband, who is the psychologist and director of the program.

The program provides Complementary Alternative Medicine, which includes massage, yoga, acupuncture, reflexology, meditation and reiki in addition to the soldiers seeing psychologists and social workers, she said.

“The main thing reiki does for PTSD soldiers is it helps them sleep better, and it de-stresses them,” said Wesch, who is also a reiki master. “It helps them relax and it helps a lot with their chronic pain.”

Wesch estimated Whitaker has seen more than 6,000 soldiers while working at Fort Hood.

“She’s probably done reiki with the soldiers more than anybody in the world,” Wesch said.

Though many of the soldiers she has seen had never been exposed to reiki before, Whitaker said one compared it to the nurturing feeling a child experiences when they fall down and a mother comes and picks them up.

Although Whitaker is now transitioning back into private practice, she will continue to work for the nonprofit organization Comfort for America’s Uniformed Service, which works through the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood.

Whitaker is now practicing reiki by appointment only at Integrated Therapies, 2100 E. Stan Schulueter Loop in Killeen.

To schedule a session or inquire about classes, call 512-971-2123.

Contact Rachael Riley at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553

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