Grants from the Teagle and John Templeton foundations will bring both financial and spiritual relief to Yale students.

As part of its “Spirituality and Healing Program,” the Yale School of Nursing will offer a class in the famed Japanese art of Reiki to popularize the ancient meditative exercise in the New Haven community. The grants, announced Monday, are designed to cut tuition for the course from $150 to $75 for Yale students.

Two Reiki experts from New Hampshire, Libby Barnett and Maggie Chambers, will teach the Reiki class at a day and a half training session that will be held at the Yale School of Nursing March 30-April 1.

Ann Ameling, a professor at the Yale School of Nursing, and Pamela Potter NUR ’03 brought Reiki to Yale three years ago and classes on this non-invasive form of healing have been taught each year since.

Forty individuals from the New Haven and the Yale communities enroll in the program annually. Reiki uses touch to stimulate natural energy fields, which bring stress relief and relaxation. In the past couple of years, Nursing School nurses, New Haven businessmen and students from the Yale Divinity School have all participated in the classes.

Ameling is a fervent believer in the Japanese art’s stress-relieving abilities.

“Reiki connects you with a universal life force,” Ameling said.

She said nurses use Reiki fairly extensively in work with dying people, as a way to bring calm and mental focus.

“You get probably the same effect as if you did deep meditation,” she said. “This is something you can do for five minutes and get an effect.”

Reiki is an integral component of the Nursing School’s Spirituality and Healing Program, which aims to provide comfort for the sick. The program includes a class on “Living and Dying,” taught by Ameling and the Rev. Margaret Lewis of the Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Although there is little scientific evidence of Reiki’s effectiveness, projects are underway to determine its value. In the past few years, the National Institute of Health has made several grants to individuals attempting clinical trials, mostly involving terminally ill patients.

“It’s a healing practice that has been redesigned in modern times,” Ameling said. “There’s pretty much agreement there’s absolutely no harm in it.”

Potter is writing her dissertation on how Reiki treatments affect the mental state of women undergoing biopsies to determine if they have breast cancer. Nearly a week elapses between the time women have biopsies and a diagnosis can be made. Potter’s controlled study, which involves providing Reiki treatments to one group and contrasting their progress with that of a control group, could shed light on the practice’s short and long-term benefits.

The details of the Japanese art certainly have Scott Simpson ’04 intrigued.

“Western medicine has become far two industrialized,” Simpson said. “The union of Reiki and more western approaches to health care show tremendous potential — for patients, doctors and society’s attitudes.”