The Fascinating World of Fascia
Over the years of reading and research, students of Reiki have come to understand that the practice of Reiki will shift and evolve over time. Historically, this includes Sensei Usui’s request to Dr. Hayashi to add medical strategies to Reiki and Sensei Takata’s acculturation of Reiki to a Western sensibility. In our modern era such shifts include whole-practice evolutions such as the development and introduction of Karuna Reiki® and Holy Fire Reiki through William Rand and the International Center for Reiki Training (ICRT). It seems natural that shifts and evolutions will also occur within an individual’s practice. It is always a wonder to me when I experience the variety of individual practice styles as happens when we come together at the ICRT Annual Reiki Retreat, for example.
One such shift occurred for me a few years ago. It was difficult to say, but it seemed that I was feeling the Reiki energy differently. I found my hands holding for longer periods of time, and as I held places, it was as if I could feel, not just the energetic connection, but how the energetic connection needed to ‘stretch’ just a bit to make it clearer and more coherent. Within the context of Reiki as a ‘light-touch, no-touch’ practice, I am always careful not to cross any physical boundary into manipulation, but this sense of how the energy was moving and connecting was somehow leading me to a slightly shifted sense of what was happening during the Reiki session.
Shortly after I became aware of this subtle shift in my Reiki practice, I was led to a two-day introductory workshop in CranioSacral Therapy (CST). The history of CranioSacral Therapy is intertwined with that of osteopathy. In the 1960’s, Dr. J.E. Upledger expanded cranial osteopathy to a whole-body system that focuses on the fascia. CST and its focus on fascia is taught as a soft tissue modality for healing. One feature of CST that resonated with my practice of Reiki is that CST “uses the lightest touch possible to create change” (A. Gabriel, CST notes, May 28-29, 2016). This light touch of CST is calculated to be equal to the weight of a nickel, i.e. 5 grams. (ibid). As a Reiki practitioner, I accept this as ‘light touch’, and my introduction to fascia and its role in our healing capabilities began.
I gained several insights into a resonance between CST and Reiki during this workshop. During a CST session, as in a Reiki session, signs of release include tissue softening, tissue lengthening, increased energy flow, and heat, (Upledger, 1999, p.26) among other release experiences familiar to Reiki practitioners. Returning to my Reiki practice, my awareness of the subtle ‘stretching’ I was experiencing in the sessions matched the information concerning the role of connective tissue (fascia) in the body. Indeed, it occurred to me that it was entirely possible that fascia might be the actual physical vehicle for the movement of Reiki energy throughout the body.
In the sense that Reiki knows where to go and Reiki does what it can do within a body (see side bar note), the new knowledge that fascia is a conductive medium makes good sense. In her work, Your Body’s Brilliant Design: A Revolutionary Approach to Relieving Chronic Pain, Karen M. Gabler (2017) defines fascia as “the body’s seamless web of connective tissue that unifies all the parts as it weaves in and throughout muscles, bones, organs, and cells” (p.2). Additionally, she describes a new view of our physical bodies as “a seamless web of connection that holds the fluid dynamics of inner communication” (ibid, p. 29).
Apparently, the exploration of fascia and its role in our physical beings is new territory. Until recently, fascia/connective tissue was pretty much ignored except for the more visible portions such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage (and bones!), and it was generally “discarded in medical school dissections” (Gabler, 2017, p. 30). Now, fascial scientists are exploring this exciting world within us. The research is offering insights into a “bodywide communication system” (Gabler, 2017, p. 45).
Fascia and connective tissue is composed of 1) elastin, with its ability to stretch and release, 2) collagen, which is thicker, slower, and keeps its shape, and 3) a ground substance, embedded in fibers, that is a gel-like substance until it is exposed to heat or vibration (A. Gabriel, CST notes, May 28-29, 2016). Additionally, fascia has piezoelectric qualities (ibid; Gabler,2017, p. 45). The fibers within the ground substance have “crystalline arrangements” (Gabler, 2017, p.45). The piezoelectric nature of fascia allows for an electrodynamic field that enables communication “much faster” than the nervous system (ibid). “Wave like patterns” move throughout the body; “liquid crystals make rapid changes” (Gabler, 2017, p.45-46). And this information, dear reader, just scratches the surface of this new field of scientific inquiry.
As a Reiki practitioner, I set my intention at the beginning of a session, and I open myself to the Highest Vibrations of Light and Love. As a channel for Reiki healing to move through me to the client on the table, I become aware of the flow and the connections of healing as well as the blocks and restrictions that inhibit healing. Entering upon this study of fascia, I see an amazing connection between what we experience as Reiki practitioners and this fascinating information concerning this seamless web of connective tissue that is, as yet, quite unexplored. I also perceive fascinating possibilities concerning healing connections with crystals and vibration therapy that many Reiki practitioners, like myself, already incorporate into our practices.
There is another extremely exciting aspect of this new field of inquiry into our physical bodies. Gabler (2017) notes, “These amazing qualities of fascia enable it to be our sixth sense…Fascia enables us to sense things outside of us and inside of us. Some believe fascia holds our belief system and maybe even our consciousness” (p. 51). I am truly hooked! I simply want to know more about this aspect of our basic human being-ness.
This article is not designed to provide any answers, but to raise awarenes concerning an exciting aspect of our physical being-ness. Perhaps some of these ideas will resonate with your journey. Perhaps you will be inspired to explore additional modalities. Perhaps you will raise questions of your own to further the journey for all of us. So, dear reader, please continue, and then, let me know! I am very curious about how this fascination with fascia might be affecting others, and I feel as if I am already moving quickly into a journey to explore more about this fascinating fascia!
Fascia is the good stuff inside of us. It is all of the connective tissue of our bodies. It reaches into every cell of our bodies. It gives our bodies structure and shape. And it servies as a communication system both within the body and beyond the body.
"When you feel the healing energy of Reiki moving deeply into your client, envision it traveling within the seamless web of connective tissue that interpenetrates the body to the cellular level...
Extend your energetic field outward to connect with guides, angels, Brothers and Sisters of the Light...
Your fascial system facilitates these forms of communication."
Reiki Master, Teacher, and Student of Human Awareness.