A complimentary healing practice

Walking into Pearl’s apartment I was greeted with the question of “would I like some tea?”

Pearl Mendonça, an independent Reiki master and practitioner in Hamilton, had an ornate tea set up prepared on her coffee table, including candles and incense, a tea pot, a glass pouring vessel to transfer the tea from pot to cup, and small, clear glass cups for drinking. I asked if this was part of the Reiki treatment, a sort of ceremonial calming tea before getting started?

She laughed and replied no. She had just gotten the tea set after taking a tea course earlier in the year, and was getting into the habit of using it each night, a sort of personal ceremony for herself to be present and reflective of the day. Of course, she continued, I had the right thought, as she typically likes to ask about her client’s lives before getting started. Asking about their physical or mental circumstances and states, things for both to be aware of during the session.

This ensuing tea and conversation worked quite effectively for putting me in a more reflective frame of mind, and yet firmly placing me in the present moment.


It is never lost on me, though the act of it can be, the importance of presence. Of being present and mindful in a moment, taking stock of yourself, your state, physical and mental, your environment and your actions within it.

Whether you are a believer or not, I found this to be central to the experience of a Reiki treatment.

Reiki as a defined healing practice is relatively new, though the roots of its practices are ancient. Originating in Japan, and officially founded in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui, Reiki is considered alternative medicine due to its challenge of scientific validation. Reiki is a form of palm healing, or hands—on healing, in which a practitioner gently uses their palms for the purpose of exchanging “universal energy,” or chi (qi) to rebalance the body’s energy centres (or chakras). Because of this, it is also referred to as an Energy Therapy.

It is important to note, however, that even its founder defined it as a complimentary healing practice.

Upon moving into the treatment room, Pearl had me draw a card from her Gaia Oracle Deck, again, not necessarily a common format for Reiki treatments, but an extremely effective and affective gesture. These cards were not telling me my future, or making any sort of conclusive prediction or assessment on my life, rather they contained heartfelt messages and affirmations that further put you in a reflective, yet present state of mindfulness.

The treatment itself is extremely non-invasive. “Your clothes stay on,” Pearl likes to joke, “this is about your comfort level and it’s not a massage.” The treatment largely consists of palms being placed on or above key energy transference points of the body. Occasionally, Pearl will ask you a question, otherwise she encourages you to act on impulse. If you want to talk about any feelings or sensations you are experiencing, feel free to, if you want to stay silent, reflective, that is perfectly ok too. For no specific reason, I opted for the latter.

As the session ends, Pearl asks if I would like to hear her observations based on what she picked up from my energy exchanges throughout the treatment, I say yes, and am told things that I feel are remarkably accurate to both my physical and mental state.

We talk about me for a bit. And then, for the sake of this piece, we talk about her and the practice of Reiki at large.

Outside of Reiki, Pearl is a yoga teacher, with a background in social work a BA/BSW from McMaster and a Masters (MSW) from Ryerson. She is an extremely smart and intuitive person, sensitive to people’s emotions and impulses, a great listener and someone who challenges you to seek answers, rather than simply offering advice. Like presence, and the idea of it being a complimentary medicine, this further becomes key to the entire experience.

She instantly picks up on the underlying subtext in my line of questioning concerning Reiki, laughing, she says “you’re asking if it’s snake oil?”

Having been found out, I laughingly concede, yes.

As we continue on this line of questioning, it becomes clear that it doesn’t matter.

Like any medicine, therapy, or treatment, what matters is your own sense of commitment, willingness and action going forward. As someone who has pursued or does pursue both physical and mental therapies, I know their value doesn’t necessarily lie in the treatment itself, it lies in the commitment of the person to following through on the treatment. From being open to it, to accepting it, and to committing themselves to a path of self-improvement.

As a generally irreligious person, but one who is open to the fact that there are profound mysteries in the universe that humanity simply will not understand through any rational means for some time, I personally am very open to the concept of a “universal energy” or qi. In fact, more than most metaphysical beliefs or interpretations, I see it as a very potentially valid thing that we just haven’t had the means to fully understand yet.

Yet, more importantly, as a person who sees the importance that self-reflection, mindfulness, and responsibility has on taking proper care of your mental and physical health, Reiki strikes me as an immensely valid form of treatment. One that compliments your broader, personal health and wellness habits. I was forced to both be present, and to reflect, to take stock of my current emotional, mental and physical states, and how they inform each other. To consider my choices, past, present, and future, how I take care of myself, and to pose the challenge to myself of how I may improve this.

It was like prompted meditation, and like any other form of therapeutic treatment, I know the responsibility of its potential benefits are not with Pearl or the hour or so that I spent with her, they’re with me.

That said, I recommend a Reiki treatment, and highly recommend you go see Pearl.

To get in touch with Pearl, please email
pearl.yoga.reiki@gmail.com, or visit pearlmendonca.com