PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2003, 12:00am

WHAT YOU think matters. Really. If you think positive thoughts you will attract good things. Think negative thoughts and you will attract bad things. It's that simple.

Scientists have even conducted studies to show that praying - thinking positive thoughts for someone's speedy recovery - helps patients recover. Their research showed that the people who were prayed for recovered considerably faster than those who weren't.

Sounds incredible? It's all about energy - or qi. In Hong Kong most of us are familiar with qi gong, the traditional way of healing by balancing energies. Another widely used form of energy healing is reiki.

Reiki is believed to be thousands of years old and is thought to have been first used by Tibetan Buddhist monks. It was rediscovered in the 1800s by Mikao Usui, a disillusioned Japanese businessman turned Buddhist monk.

Chantal Phillips has been practicing and teaching reiki in Hong Kong for nine years. She says reiki isn't a religious thing. You needn't even believe for it to work. All you need is the desire to be healed. 'What is so wonderful about reiki is that it is so simple, everyone who does reiki has the chance to be a master,' she says.

To start practicing reiki, you have to be 'attuned'. Phillips explains that this is simply a matter of the reiki master connecting you to the reiki energy. Once you have been attuned, you are connected to the reiki energy for life. To use the reiki energy, she says, all you have to do is place both hands on the recipient and the reiki automatically flows. If you remove the hands the reiki stops flowing.

'Reiki requires no special effort or work, which is why it is a method of healing that even children can practice. Of course, the more that reiki is used, the more powerful the energy flow will become,' says Phillips, who offers an initial one-day reiki course at a reduced price for teenagers.

'I enjoy teaching teenagers and find they get a lot out of it - which is why I ask them to pay what they can afford for the class. I want to make reiki an option for them - I wish I had known about reiki in my teens, it would have made me much more balanced emotionally,' she says.

Phillips didn't buy into the reiki energy straight away. She says she was sceptical at first and did lots of experiments to prove to herself that reiki really did work. Reiki treatments can be done on plants and animals as easily as people - you can even reiki your own food. To test this out, Phillips says she set up controlled experiments with plants - giving some plants reiki and the others none. In every case the plants that received the reiki grew much taller, stronger and healthier. She even tried giving reiki to oranges and found that those that had received the healing energy remained fresher for much longer than those that had not.

Reiki can also be done on yourself, simply by putting your hands on your body. Phillips says her teenage students find this especially useful when it comes to exam time. 'If you get nervous before exams and have butterflies in your stomach, you can just put your hands on your stomach to calm yourself. It also works to help you get to sleep.'

To learn more about reiki or about classes check out Chantal Phillips' web site: