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9-11 healing, in the parks of Manhattan

September 10, 2011

Below is an article I wrote in 2003, after returning from my first volunteer service in New York, doing Reiki in the parks of Manhattan with a dedicated bunch of loving compassionate healers.

Only editing was to update the links to what they are today.

— article follows —

A 9-11 Gift:  Reiki for New Yorkers

Two years ago, I feared for my sister’s life.  She lives in the East Village of Manhattan, and works near there.  On September 11, 2001, through the miracle of the Internet, our family confirmed within a few hours of the World Trade Center collapse that she was safe and sound.  But she had been a witness, seeing both planes hit the towers, and their falling to the ground.  In understatement typical of our family, she called the experience “excessive”.

Around Christmas of that year, I learned that my best friend and roommate from prep school, with whom I’d lost touch since college years, had lost his life in that attack.  He had been at Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the north tower, preparing to speak at a technology conference, when the first plane hit.  I had just found his email address that spring, but had not yet contacted him.

Multitudes around the world lost loved ones that day.  In response to the catastrophe, I redoubled my efforts to find peace within my heart, through release of fear and pain.  My study and practice of Reiki were an enormous help.  So, when I read about an opportunity to give Reiki in the parks of New York City during the anniversary week of 9-11, I jumped at the chance.

I found SPARK in the Park on the Internet.  From their website, [now]:

“SPirited Action, Release and Kindness (SPARK) is a New York-based organization consisting of holistic practitioners and volunteers from as far away as Arizona, coming together to provide free energy-based therapeutic services and licensed one-on-one counseling to the New York public.  Founded in June 2002, our goal is to help release the stress and fear arising from the events of 9/11/01.

“On September 11, 2001, New York and the world awoke with no idea of the events that would transpire.  For many, this day of massive change and transition created an emptiness and feeling of tremendous separation.  At the same time, it also provided one of the greatest opportunities for people to reach out to one another and connect in an effort to restore balance and a sense of wholeness. To this day, people are still moving toward that sense of completion, and we are here to help.  No one needs to suffer.  We are here for those searching for a way to release the traumatic effects of two years ago.  We intend to help others connect with the beauty and fullness of life.
“We are all here for each other.”

Last year, 17 practitioners of Reiki and other therapies such as Integrated Energy Therapy, Joh Rei, Transformational Breath, one-on-one counseling and more, from as far away as Arizona, had treated approximately 650 people in two Manhattan parks during the week of 9-11-2002.

As soon as I read their website, I knew this was something I must do.  I emailed the coordinator, Kaiyo Gorczynski, filled out the application, and started to work on travel arrangements.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning, September 9.  SPARK had recruited around 45 volunteers this year, the majority working in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, close to Ground Zero.  Since it was near my sister’s apartment, I joined the group that gathered in Tompkins Square Park, a lovely neighborhood park in the East Village.  Roxy Baldwin, the Reiki Master from Queens who had alerted me to SPARK on the Internet, and Sue Ananian, Reiki Master from New Jersey, were early arrivals.  Not long after we three met each other, Kruti Parekh, Reiki Master, and Richard Kanter, who does Kabbalistic Healing, CranioSacral Balancing, and Reiki, drove up in a van loaded with the essentials.  We unloaded and set up massage tables, chairs and a welcome table under a pair of elm trees.  In an opening meditation, we linked up in a grid of light with the SPARK volunteers in Battery Park, at the southern tip of the island.  We felt the energy all around us; it filled us with loving kindness.  More practititioners joined us that day and the next.

The trees gave us a sunlit green-leafed canopy for our work.  Roxy and I did a Reiki share to get warmed up and clear ourselves.  Lying on my back on Roxy’s table, I gazed up at the leaves and sunlight while feeling the Reiki flow from her hands.  (We found out on the second day, when a young women knelt and kissed the ground at its roots, that one of the elms is dedicated to Srila Prabhuphad, guru of Hare Krishna.  You can see the plaque on the nearby fence.)

It wasn’t long before people were stopping by our welcome table to ask what we were doing.  Typically they thought it was massage, so we explained about Reiki and energy work.  Not only Reiki, but Johrei, network spinal analysis, one-on-one counseling and other modalities were available at both sites.  When they got to the question, “how much does it cost”, the answer was, “it’s free, a public service in the spirit of cooperation and assistance that came out after 9-11”.  With that, the client – “visitor” in the parlance of SPARK’s literature – most often signed up right away for a session.

Business picked up steadily – at any given time most of the practitioners had visitors on their tables or chairs.  We took turns going to lunch and having breaks.  In the midafternoon, there were several times when people crowded two deep around the welcome table, asking questions and signing up for sessions.  There was such a variety of visitors, reflecting the joyful diversity of New York.  My visitors included people from children to middle aged, New Yorkers, tourists, upscale, working class, many ethnic groups.  Of the thirteen people I treated that day, and the eleven the day after, I was so honored that they would trust me to put my hands on them, out in public view.  The Reiki was flowing effortlessly, just part of the great flood of light and love.  It filled me to overflowing as I practiced.  So many visitors got up from our tables completely relaxed, smiles on their faces, with comments like “that was amazing!”.  They left their stress behind that day, in a busy city that was stressful even before 9-11.

I worked the “day shift” as did most of my fellow practitioners.  Richard and Kruti continued treating visitors until late evening.  I salute their stamina!  In truth, the energy sustained us all.   Even I, a suburban office worker not used to staying on my feet all day, did not really get fatigued any time that week.  The light and energy was just raining gently down on us the whole time.  Actual rain from clouds did not arrive until Saturday, so the 45 or so volunteers were able to treat approximately 575 people from Tuesday through Friday (Kaiyo explained that the total treated was slightly less this year because more time was given for each visitor).

I was able to spend two days serving the people of New York, an incredible opportunity for which I am eternally grateful.  I left on Thursday, 9-11, for a scheduled interview with an Israeli Reiki Master working for peace in her part of the world (another story!).  My taxi drove past the U.N. building on the way to Grand Central Station – I  took it as a symbol of hope.  I whispered a blessing to the people of New York and felt tears.

Now the pitch:  if you provide energy-based therapeutic services or licensed one-on-one counseling, or if you want to financially support SPARK, contact [].  This is a project that deserves to grow!

Jeffrey Hotchkiss is a Reiki Master Teacher practicing in Yarmouth.  He can be reached at


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