Sushila Shah

A Second Career of Healing

By Carol Radin | Photography by Alexis Emm 

Reiki healing came to Sushila Shah as a gift — literally. While visiting her sister in her native home of India, her sister arranged for Sushila to take Reiki training sessions. In other less literal ways, though, Reiki turned out to be a gift of profound satisfaction for Sushila, a feeling she receives from helping others find relief from pain and stress.

“[Reiki is] easy to give, easy to learn [and] easy to receive,” the softspoken Reiki master remarked of the holistic healing therapy she’s practiced for the past 10 years.

Reiki hadn’t always been a calling for Sushila. After studying at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Iowa University and Syracuse University, Sushila spent the majority of her professional life as a civil engineer. She designed bridges, dams and canals for irrigation in India, and pipe supports for nuclear power plants in Oswego and Limerick, Pa., drawing on a scientific background, a field with no connection to Reiki healing.

Then, after entering retirement from the engineering field, Sushila made the fateful visit to her sister in India. Even though Sushila was skeptical about Reiki training at first, her sister coaxed her into it, and something profound happened.

“You don’t believe it until you feel it,” she said of the practice that’s made such an impact on her.

She started practicing Reiki to help a small group of friends and relatives. Soon, she began to think more seriously about Reiki as a second career, and opened her own professional practice in 2007. Since then, she’s built up a client base, some of whom have gone on to become Reiki masters themselves, thanks to Sushila’s training.

Sushila describes story after story of clients who were elated after a few treatment sessions for conditions such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, emotional pain, back and joint pain and other ailments. She shared stories of several clients undergoing professional medical treatment for diseases like cancer, who found that Sushila could offer them supplemental relief from stress and side effects from medication. Positive changes in lifestyle and a new perspective on daily life are other important outcomes Sushila sees in people she treats.

For Sushila, being receptive to treatment is a key element of the process.

“Reiki is more effective when the recipient has a desire to receive Reiki,” she said. “The client must put their faith in the healer.”

Her technique seems straightforward; she gently applies her hands to energy points on a person’s body, she said. According to the theory behind Reiki, this relays a life force energy, called “qi,” from the practitioner to the client.

Though it may seem simple in practice, it’s a complex interaction, Sushila said, involving the healer’s sensitivity and skill, the client’s openness to treatment and the “energy body” which she describes as the foundation of wellness.

The process, she explained, is based on a principle that pain, stress, anger and even faulty diets cause blockages in the sufferer’s body. With her hands, Sushila attempts to open up those blockages and restore the energy flow essential to making the body well, she said.

After an initial consultation, in which Sushila discusses goals and particular health issues with the client, the first treatment session can last 90 minutes.

“This is primarily required to work on all energy centers of the body — [it’s] also called detoxifying,” Sushila explained.

Subsequent treatment sessions last an hour, with the frequency of treatments based on the client’s needs. Depending on a person’s health issues, she might focus on different parts of the body, such as head or face, the abdominal area or the limbs or joints.

“Some people just cry because it’s working!” she said. SWM

Sushila Shah practices at the Long Branch Wellness Center, 4225 Long Branch Road, Liverpool. To connect, call 315-638-8807 or visit