Illustration by Pablo Lobato
Illustration: Pablo Lobato

It’s hard not to feel like crap while quarantined in your apartment during a pandemic. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. I’ve donated money. Thrown out every single bra with underwire. Hosted a virtual wine tasting featuring only wines that could be procured at Walgreens. (May I suggest a delicate pairing of the Ménage à Trois red blend with a round of Babybel cheese?) Dyed my hair pink. GOTTEN A DOG. Bought 100 vintage Sweet Valley High novels on eBay. Launched a podcast. Read over 300 pages of The Stand before I was told I still hadn’t even met the main character. And when none of that worked, I had my energy cleansed over Zoom.

I know what you’re thinking: How the hell are you going to have your energy cleansed over Zoom? I KNOW. Reiki — the practice of channeling energy to activate healing — seems fishy in the best of times. But I’m pretty sure my boss reads my stinky energy over Zoom every single day, so I’m willing to give it a try.

With a click, I’m connected to Remix Acupuncture and Integrative Health founder Giselle Wasfie for the $95 session. We chat about what energy I want healed. I talk about how the quarantine has felt like a forced reset, how I’ve been thinking about what my life is really about, how I spend my time, my money, my energy, and I wonder if my isolation self-care strategies are just a distraction to resist change. Giselle explains that distance Reiki is similar to prayer, where intentionality can lead to restoration, and suggests a total energy reset for me. (See, I knew that stinky quarantine energy could be seen over Zoom!)

I lie on the floor so Giselle can work on opening my third eye and heart chakras. She turns on some chanting music and instructs me to close my eyes and imagine I’m lying in the grass, looking up at blue sky and fluffy clouds. I’m supposed to connect to my breath when I get distracted, which happens immediately. I’m thinking about what’s for dinner, how in the hell my kid is going to train this dog, and what a bad homeschool teacher I am. I don’t understand fractions at all. I peek at the computer. Giselle is sort of waving her hands, but I don’t feel connected to it in any special way. I close my eyes and try to focus on the clouds. My mind continues to wander until suddenly I relax a little and feel something distinctly magnetic in the middle of my forehead, just above the bridge of my nose.

And then it’s over. Giselle calls to me, and I sit up, thinking, What was that? I mention the magnetic feeling, and she says we were sharing energy: “The Buddha in you sees the Buddha in me.” I’m skeptical but must admit it’s definitely the most relaxing thing to happen to me over Zoom. Giselle says she didn’t see anything “gnarly” in me, just some congestion that leads to that stuck feeling. She suggests taking time to move my body and getting a rose quartz to keep my third eye open. We log out, and while I’d love to keep my Zen going, immediately real life seeps in. The kid is demanding fish sticks, my mom’s calling and telling me to turn on CNN, and there are emails that need responding to. I’m sad. But then I remember I’ve still got some of that Walgreens wine to take the edge off.