FANWOOD, NJ – At first glance, Catherine Glastal does not look like a typical master of Reiki, an ancient Japanese healing technique.  However, the red-haired mother of two and College of the Holy Cross graduate lived in Japan for two years and attended high school at The American School in Tokyo, where her dad was stationed as an IBM executive.

The word Reiki is combination of two Japanese words -- Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy." Thus, Reiki literally translates into "spiritually guided life force energy." Its goal is stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.  It is administered by "laying on hands" so that an unseen "life force energy" flows.

A Fanwood resident for more than a decade, Glastal practices Reiki out of her Westfield office. She spoke with The Alternative Press about the benefits of Reiki.

Sign Up for Scotch Plains/Fanwood Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Q: How would you describe Reiki to someone who is not familiar with it?

A: This technique was founded in Japan. It is a gentle, hands-on energy technique where the practitioner's hands are placed on specific areas of the client's body to relax and help emotional and physical pain relief.

Q: What is the thought behind this technique?

A: There is a belief of the life force energy within us which we need to take just as much care of as of our bodies. When negative energy sits in our bodies without release, it can cause emotional or physical trauma such as insomnia, back pain, stress and disease. Reiki is a complimentary healing to traditional medical treatment to soothe and relax the body. It is sometimes used in hospitals for cancer treatment. 

Some of my clients looked for an alternative because traditional Western medical treatment didn't work for them. I feel like we disconnected from the human side of medical healing. Because Reiki is working with energy it does not require belief in any religious system or higher power for it to work. Even though it is a spiritual practice, it can be seen similar to acupuncture because both unlock energy.

Q: What does a procedure feel like?

A: Well, that is a very individual experience. It's mainly relaxation. Because we don't manipulate muscles through pushing or rubbing like a massage, we don't put any pressure on the body but let the energy work.

We live in a society where everything is just ‘Go, go, go,’ and people don’t let go of their stress. For some of my clients, this is the only time to focus on their physical and emotional well-being and that is amazing for them. I am not a healer, it's the person who is doing it. Reiki allows the body to self-heal by transferring energy. Some people are nervous or suspicious when they come into my practice for the first time, but they calm down within the first five minutes and even fall asleep most of the time.

Q: How did you get into Reiki?

It was recommended to me, and after a few treatments my Reiki master said I should attend her classes in Cranford.  After each level, we are supposed to focus on positive energy, healthy eating, etc. for 21 days each time.  I probably had about 7-8 classes over two years. It was life-changing for me.

After two years of self-practice and taking further courses, I became a master as well and opened my own practice. Maybe I was more open towards this technique because I lived in Japan for a while. I think everything happens for a reason. I believe in Reiki and healing energy and believe it can help a lot people who feel stress and discomfort.

Catherine Glastal's Reiki studio is located at 66 Elm Street #12, Westfield, NJ 07090. Phone: (908) 821-5493. Email: URL: