Stress-free energy


Energy monks are bringing their approach to unlocking stress to Dublin - and it doesn't cost a penny

'ENERGY MONKS' are growing in popularity in Ireland. These complementary healthcare practitioners work for the London-based charity Ki Health International.

The ki masters (as they are officially called) give short hands-on body treatments to anyone who turns up at their hotel-based clinics in Dublin.

"We first came to Dublin in 2006 on the invitation of someone who had seen positive results in people we treated in Northern Ireland and people have kept coming to us through word of mouth since then," explains Master Park, one of the ki masters who regularly treats people in Dublin.

Ki energy treatments involve a form of acupressure massage combined with breathing techniques used by the ki masters. It is carried out over the clothes while the person lies on a massage plinth.

"We use hand pressure on the acupuncture points of the body to increase the circulation of energy, together with breathing techniques which vibrate with energy deep in the body and help dissolve tensions and energy knots in the body," explains Master Jin, another ki master who treats people in Dublin. Master Jin compares the transfer of energy from practitioner to patient to how an opera singer can shatter glass with her voice.

During a typical ki energy treatment, the practitioner makes quite a lot of hissing, blowing and burping sounds. The treatment itself lasts for between 10 and 15 minutes, during which time the practitioner will have aimed to open up all the body's energy channels.

"The length of the treatment is useful because in London, we treat doctors and nurses, fire fighters and other people who work for the London emergency services. Many people tell us that they feel an immediate benefit from the treatment," says Master Jin. There is no charge for the treatment, although donations are accepted.

The concept of ki or vital energy is recognised by many forms of Eastern medicine. The ki therapy practised by Ki Health International draws on the ancient Eastern philosophy of Taoism and practitioners undergo between one and three years' full-time training, some of which is carried out in South Korea.

The training itself focuses on increasing the trainee's mind/body/spirit harmony through regular meditation, chanting and martial art movements similar to t'ai chi. The practitioners live a monk-like existence in that they are given free board and lodgings at the London centre where they work. They continue to meditate for at least two hours a day when working with Ki Health International.

"We also offer meditation and chanting classes at our centre in London which people can link into on the internet," explains Master Park. The charity's website contains podcast testimonials from people who have received the treatment.

The practitioners claim that the treatment helps conditions including asthma, arthritis, infertility, digestive disorders, skin conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, hormonal problems and high blood pressure. Often, more than one treatment is necessary to treat specific conditions.

Adele Buckley (35) from Dublin was first referred to the "energy monks" for treatment by her complementary therapist in Dublin. "I suffered a lot from intestinal discomfort and I had chronic cystitis," she explains. "I found the treatment itself uncomfortable but I was blissed out afterwards."

Since her first treatment last September, Buckley has been back for more and joins the London-based chanting, meditation and movement classes online from her home.

"My mother died three years ago and I had been through a rough time. But, I feel the ki treatments and classes have helped me to feel calmer and more grounded in myself. People also tell me that I'm perkier and more upbeat and vibrant."

And, if all of this sounds a bit like a cult in the making, the ki masters are keen to dispel any suspicions that they are converting people to a new religion. "People of all religions and cultures do the training. Basically, the principles of Taoism follow the laws of nature and our aim is simply to create a mind/body harmony and balance which will bring health," explains Master Jin.

"Nowadays, there is an energy shortage from nature in that we are living in a more polluted state. Your ki energy is like the battery of the human body and when it functions well, food can be digested. If the battery is flat (ie your energy levels are low), you will suffer from more disease. The ki energy treatments help to jump start the battery," adds Master Park.

"Scientific studies have found that ki energy treatments improve the body's immunity, reduce stress hormones and increase endorphin levels," says Master Jin.

"One study of the Metropolitan police in London found that those receiving ki treatments had 80 to 90 per cent reduction in stress and pain relief following just one treatment," she says.

Dublin-based osteopath and t'ai chi practitioner and teacher Alexander Gibbs says that while Western allopathic medicine doesn't recognise the concept of ki energy, it is a valuable concept.

"The work of the ki energy practitioners seems also to be partly based on the intention of the practitioner and, like therapies such as acupuncture, aims to unblock the channels so that this vital energy can flow to prevent ill health," he says.

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