LA PAZLA PAZ (Reuters) - On Bolivia's frontline against the coronavirus, Marcia Calderon is helping medical workers unwind with energy healing technique Reiki, but without the usual laying on of hands to guard against infection.
Calderon, who began studying the practice two decades ago to work with patients, now does in-person and distance sessions for health workers at a hospital clinic in La Paz.
Reiki, which originated in Japan, is aimed at stimulating a person's natural healing abilities by channeling "life force energy" through the body. Practitioners place their hands directly on or just above a person to relieve stress and support recovery from illness.
"The context obviously changed about a month ago. We saw the need for doctors to be balanced in order to attend to patients who might come to the hospital," Calderon said in an interview.
"If their emotions are out of place, everything that creates tension and disharmony with them can also be passed on to the patient."
Combining Reiki with western medicine is an idea that Calderon considered with her father, a doctor, 15 years ago.
"We discussed the importance of addressing all parts of being - of the body, mind and soul, and he said that Reiki is complementary to allopathic health," said Calderon, who is also teaching hospital workers to meditate.
In the clinic where she works, two COVID-19 patients died, leaving doctors and nurses depressed and fearful of contracting the infection themselves, she said.
Patricia Callispieris, a director at the clinic, said Reiki has helped to relieve the tensions.
"I feel better. Stronger, with greater understanding," she said. "It's as if some weight has been lifted a little and I can walk a little lighter and understand that this is something that we have to get used to."
(Reporting by Monica Machicao and Kristin Neubauer; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Richard Chang)