Pictured above Reiki providers Elizabeth (Care Ministries Coordinator), Lorraine, Ruth, Robin and Ali.
Fifteen years ago, September 11, 2001, Clara* was driving on the New Jersey turnpike when traffic came to a standstill and she watched a tower crumble to the ground. An EMT on the national register and a volunteer first responder with the American Red Cross, Clara had been called that morning to the command center near Ground Zero to aid efforts.
Clara shares: “I was aware of what was happening around me, could see everything but couldn’t hear anything, I have no idea how I got from that point to the command center. The only thing I remember about the command center was a big book, giving assignments and then going out myself.”
Once spending time at the disaster, Clara experienced a burning sensation in her nose, everything within her respiratory system felt as though it was burning. She asked her supervisor to leave but at that time, there was no way out. October 2001, Clara began seeing her doctors and discovered massive respiratory issues. Since then she’s been diagnosed with numerous autoimmune disorders, PTSD, anxiety and depression and in 2005 was officially classified as disabled. This past August she had her sixth surgery. Prior to 9.11 Clara traveled extensively and worked in corporate technology and now she’s too sick to work, volunteer or attend school.
With her mom in New Jersey, few friends in the area and a very limited budget Clara often feels isolated and lonely. But recently, a friend introduced her to Tai Chi taught by Julie Carda at First Presbyterian Bend.
For Clara: “it’s physically therapeutic, the grounding of the Tai Chi, kind of like a little massage for your mind, you check out from anything on your mind . . . you take the peace of Tai Chi into your day.”
Clara’s doctors and therapist confirmed that Tai Chi was “perfect” for her, both mentally and physically.
Clara’s Tai Chi instructor Julie talked with her about trying Reiki also. Clara wasn’t so sure about it thinking “what could it possibly do” and it took a few months for her to give it a try. Once she had made the call to set up her first session, arrived for the appointment and the practitioner said: “how are you?” Clara began crying, the stress of everything began pouring out. Her shoulders hurt and her jaw was clenched but “the ladies were so sweet, loving, caring, respectful, I immediately started to wind down. I left the Reiki session, not at all weepy, I didn’t feel unstable, I think I actually left here with a smile . . . I come weekly and look forward to the sessions knowing for me it’s a reset day; after the session I feel just really great. Both the Tai Chi and Reiki have been a tremendous resource.”
“First Presbyterian has these really great resources that are a help to the community, especially those who are struggling . . . both practices [Tai Chi and Reiki] help with physical and emotional well-being.”
*name changed to protect privacy