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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Reiki master cares for the caregivers

By Susan Poizner
Special to The Toronto Sun

After just a few minutes on the phone, Cheryl Chabuk can scan your body energetically and name your ailments, linking each one to an emotion. She says if you unhook the emotion you will be healed.
Reiki master Cheryl Chabuk, an alternative therapist at the Oasis Employee Wellness Centre at Scarborough Hospital, channels energy to restore balance and heal patients.

In a world where conventional medicine reigns supreme, this may sound a bit outlandish. Experiencing it, however, is believing it. After a few minutes on the phone, I felt like this reiki master and medical intuitive understands my emotions and my health better than I understand them myself.

This is the medical intuitive -- some people might call it psychic -- side to her skills, which she combines with her work as a reiki master. Reiki is an age-old therapy that allows a practitioner to raise the vibrational frequency of a client as a way of healing.

And today, Chabuk is working to heal some of the people who need it most in our society. She is one of the alternative therapists practicing at the Oasis Employee Wellness Centre at Scarborough Hospital. Her clients are doctors, nurses and other health workers.

At Oasis they also offer reflexology, therapeutic touch and registered massage therapy. Staff members pay for all treatments, but the centre is conveniently located on site so health workers can get treatment after their shifts or during lunch breaks.

Scarborough Hospital's wellness co-ordinator, Ellen Thuringer, says that health workers spend so many hours caring for others, it's easy for them to forget to look after themselves -- which can lead to burnout, fatigue and other illnesses.

"Here at the hospital, there are people who are more comfortable giving care than receiving it. That contributes to stress. If you're caring for everyone and no one cares for you, you end up being empty. So caregivers need to be filled up a little bit," she says.

According to Chabuk, reiki is an excellent way to do that.

"Everything on this planet is vibration," Cheryl explains. "Are you on a lower standard vibration where your health is down? Or are you on a higher vibration allowing in good health, well-being and your wishes? I check your body. I feel hot or cold. I can see if the balance is off."

Chabuk senses imperfections in the energetic layer around the patient's body and says that by channelling energy through her head, she can feel and correct the colours that are out of place, bringing balance and healing.
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To become a reiki therapist, you need to find and train with a master. The first "course" lasts a day. After taking it you can use reiki principles to heal yourself and others. After months of practice, another day-long course shows students how to treat subtler energies and even to heal people at a distance.

Chabuk took her first course to learn how to heal her husband, who had been in a severe car accident. After a year's practice, she returned and took another session to become a master herself, and now she is qualified to teach others how to practice reiki, too.

In the past, traditional health-care workers have been quite sceptical about alternative therapies like reiki. Even today, the Scarborough Hospital is one of the few that makes this type of therapy readily available to staff.

"I think we're pioneering at our hospital," Thuringer says. "The hospital itself was interested in really creating a positive experience for the employees, and stress is a big factor in nursing and in health care in general. This is one of the many ways that we are trying to address this issue of stress."

Second Chance, a half-hour long documentary about Cheryl Chabuk and her work as a reiki master, will be broadcast this month on Global Television, Vision, CFTO and WTN. She can be reached at 416-995-8357.

(Susan Poizner ( is a Toronto-based freelance writer.)

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