The Sociologist

Desiré Anastasia reconciles social science and spirituality.

By Brett McPherson

Publish Date: January 30, 2014


Desiré Anastasia is an assistant professor
of Sociology at MSU Denver, a Reiki healer
and yogini, all rolled into one.

Can social science and spirituality ever be truly reconciled?

The answer is what Assistant Professor of Sociology Desiré Anastasia is on a path to discover.

Anastasia is a social scientist and an advocate of Reiki, a form of spiritual healing that is claimed to work simply through the touch of an “attuned” practitioner.

She first encountered Reiki at the Soul of Yoga Spiritual Center in San Diego. “I was experiencing things that I’d never experienced and that was, to me, concrete evidence of the existence of energy and energy healing,” she says.

“I felt refreshed afterwards, and my pain went away,” she says, citing relief from back pain resulting from a 2000 car accident.

Anastasia travels regularly to San Diego to participate in gatherings where Reiki is combined with Restorative Yoga. She has been initiated as a Reiki healer and plans to become a yoga instructor with hopes of offering the combination to classes in Denver.

Anastasia received her doctorate in sociology from Wayne State, where she wrote her dissertation about tattooed women. Her areas of specialization include sociology of the body, body modification, gender inequality, domestic violence and sexual assault, social control, feminist theory and feminist research methods.

“I didn’t know how to tackle any of the ‘isms’… like sexism,” she says, “except to get into academia and start teaching.”

She says her discovery of Reiki and yoga has helped her deal with the anger she feels about hierarchies in society and provides health benefits and stress relief.  But her discovery is not free of tension. “It’s the fact that I am so scientific… and that spirituality is the antithesis of that,” she says.

Scientific research on spiritual topics is generally inconclusive, Anastasia says. However, there is some evidence of the positive impact of spirituality. “We’ve seen a lot less in-prison violence where yoga is being used,” she cites as an example.

Ultimately, the relationship between science and spirituality remains enigmatic. No matter. It mostly comes down to faith, Anastasia says, and knowing one’s inner truth.

And, in her view, a spiritual practice doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply put, “it’s a time for centering… a time for peace,” she says.