Reiki for Military a relief for many

Cassandra Ridenour has a lot going on in her life. The Jewett City resident currently works as an EMT, and she’s training to become a police officer on top of her already busy schedule.

She often has headaches and trouble sleeping because of nightmares. But after her visits with Farrah Kaeser, she sleeps “like a baby” for the next month.

“I’m always so relaxed after this,” she said, a soft smile across her face as she lounges comfortably in a lobby chair after her Sunday morning visit.

Kaeser practices Reiki and founded Reiki for Military to provide holistic therapies to active duty service members, first responders and their families. She said she found significant relief from chronic pain through Reiki, acupuncture and other treatments, and as a former Navy spouse, she recognized that members of the military could also benefit from them.

“It’s basically trying to take care of them now instead of trying to fix them later,” she said. “There’s a huge focus on … veterans, and as there should be: They’re our heroes. But there is almost nothing out there for active duty and their families. I think the theory is that if they’re still active, they’re obviously fine.”

While massage therapy is the physical manipulation of muscles and other soft tissues to help the body heal, Reiki is an energy therapy through gentle touch. Kaeser said it helps to balance the body’s energy to calm the client.

“There have been international studies… on the modality, a large percentage of which come back saying, ‘We don’t know why it works, but by golly it does,’” she said.

As Kaeser started her practice, friends who practiced other techniques, including massage therapy and wellness coaching, signed on to offer their services and provide a suite of holistic healthcare options.

She said active duty members of the military and civilians get the same physical and emotional benefits from Reiki and other services in the practice. However, the needs that require the services can be different, such as long deployments and shifts, physical stresses and PTSD. Families also benefit from the practices, which help ease uncertainty during deployments or substance abuse as a result of stress while on duty.

Reilynn Grant, a Ledyard High School student from Montville whose mother Keri Lynn practices Reiki and massage therapy at RFM, said the monthly deployment self-care classes offered have helped her deal with the stress of her father’s Army deployment. She said she can use the techniques discussed in the classes at home, such as art therapy, meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique, in which clients tap on acupuncture points with verbal cues to relieve stress.

“It is difficult enough to be a teenage girl, but to deal with all the worry and stress that comes with a dad overseas makes it a lot tougher,” she said in an email. “I felt welcomed immediately into the group, and they made it so easy to be understood.”

Currently, RFM is the first program of its kind. While Reiki and massage therapy can be offered only in person at the Groton office, other services such as nutritional counseling can be done over the phone or Skype.

Kaeser said that Roberta Lewis, RFM’s EFT practitioner, had already been working with clients over the phone, and long-distance offerings were expanded after Kaeser’s sister had promoted RFM to fellow soldiers in North Carolina.

Elizabeth West, who currently lives in Kittery, Maine, meets with Kaeser for Reiki sessions when she comes to visit her parents in the state. She said they met through the Navy several years ago and she has used Reiki, aroma touch therapy, and EFT sessions with Lewis via Skype to help with her anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

“There are so many ways they have been able to help me get through the difficult times when I struggle with my anxiety and OCD,” she said in an email.

She said the Skype sessions were particularly helpful before traveling last summer because of her fear of flying.

Kaeser is hoping to offer a Facebook support group for spouses to supplement the existing programs as well as yoga, and a friend of the other practitioners is also planning on establishing a sister facility in Hawaii.

“We’re filling that gap, and I’m really hoping that soon we aren’t the only ones,” she said. “I’m hoping that we inspire all sorts of cool stuff.”

a.hutchinson@theday.com

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