Cristina Chirsky did not have to look far to find the idea for her senior year Capstone project.

Chirsky — who wanted this project to be an opportunity to learn a new skill — has watched as her mother worked to obtain her second-degree Reiki certification, which, in turn, inspired her to explore self-healing and get her first certification, as Reiki and self-healing are now a major part of her home life.
“My Capstone was largely an internal learning journey where I learned to tap into my inner energy and connect to the world better,” said Chirsky, who graduated Friday, June 14, and will be attending St. John’s University, studying history, this fall.
Chirsky studied under Karen Pirhala, who has been guiding her mother through her separate certification journey and performs Reiki sessions on several members of the Chirsky family. Pirhala is a RMT, Reiki master and owner of Relaxation & Rejuvenation, LLC, in Stratford.
“Karen Pirhala took on the role of a traditional mentor in guiding me to be more aware of myself and my place in my environment,” said Chirsky, adding that her long-term fieldwork assignment was to perform Chakra balancing and self-healing on herself on a daily basis.
In addition to one-on-one classes with her mentor, Chirsky said she was assigned multiple books to provide other perspectives on self-healing and several exercises to track the effects outside stimuli have on herself and others. Chirsky also received Reiki treatments from a variety of practitioners, since, she said, every experience is different.
“These unconventional methods of healing posed a significant challenge for me with my extensive high school studies of science in AP biology, AP chemistry and UConn physics and my religious background,” said Chirsky, “but I began the project without any expectations beyond learning a new skill and hopefully gaining a new perspective.
“I have to admit, I started my Capstone with a skeptical mind,” added Chirsky. “However, through my teachings, readings and assignments, I have come to believe in the power and benefits of both self-healing and Reiki.”
The Capstone experience has Chirsky hoping to extend her studies and practice of Reiki and self-healing, and she said she plans to pursue her Reiki II degree.
“Throughout this experience I learned the benefit of taking the time to regularly self-heal myself and balance my Chakras,” said Chirsky.
“It has opened my eyes to the various influences in my environment and the effects they have on my mind and body, along with the effects they have on others as well.”