Reiki 101: The What, Why & How

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Advice from a Reiki Practitioner

There are thousands of chronic health and mental health conditions that are deemed incurable by Western medicine. Cancer, Dementia, Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar depression, alcoholism, addiction, and more are among these incurable or difficult-to-cure illnesses. In desperation, many people are looking towards complementary and alternative medicine to find relief from and cures for their ailments.  

A growing area of alternative medicine is energy medicine, and amongst the many different types of energy medicine, Reiki, a Japanese healing method, is growing in popularity.  Energy medicine therapies, including Reiki healing, show promise for illnesses that are seen as incurable by the current medical standard. In this article, I will explain what Reiki is and how it works, the benefits of Reiki, and what to expect from Reiki therapy.  I hope this will help you determine whether Reiki is right for your healing process. I am a certified Reiki master, and I have personal experience to draw from for this topic!  I am excited to share my understanding with you.  

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese energy healing therapy that channels life energy to a patient through healing touch.  In Reiki, health conditions are seen as being caused by low or blocked levels of life energy in the patient, so the Reiki practitioner becomes a conduit for life energy and uses their hands to bring life force energy into the patient.  This can be done in-person or from a distance. 

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Reiki practitioners see the body as having a natural intelligence and self-healing abilities.  So once the body begins to receive a greater flow of life energy, the body naturally directs it towards the places that need healing and restoration.  

Does Reiki work? What are the benefits of Reiki?

men reaching for sun reiki effects

Depending on the source, you’ll find some people citing studies that show that Reiki works, and you’ll find other people pointing to the same studies and saying their research methods are fundamentally flawed.  

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My personal viewpoint is that regardless of what studies say or don’t say, if it works, it works.  I came to Reiki very skeptical.  In my first few sessions, I was actually afraid nothing would happen.  To my great surprise, I’ve been blown away by the results I have seen: emotional releases, shifts in perspective, changes in energy, improvements in self-confidence, increases in motivation, pain relief, stress relief, relaxation, and processing of trauma are all things I have seen change in my patients.  Anecdotally, I have heard of Reiki completely healing or substantially improving cancer, lupus, high blood pressure, end of life, and more.

Is Reiki a Placebo?

women healing in beach reiki healing process

I have had a patient ask me this question. My personal view is that a placebo is another word for your body’s natural self-healing processes. It’s your mind-body at work. Seen this way, you could call Reiki a placebo, or you can ask whether the placebo is actually an untapped area of human potential.

What conditions can Reiki be helpful for?  

women relaxed in chair

Reiki is very safe and non-invasive, and can be used to improve almost any physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual ailment.  In almost every case, it will only enhance and improve your healing process.  It can be used on pregnant women, children, the elderly, and the sick. It can improve your healing if used before and after surgery. It can be used to improve your relaxation and sense of well-being. It can be used for palliative care and ease the transition for end-of-life. 

Are there situations when Reiki should not be used?

men covering face with hands

Yes. First, Reiki should not be done on or around a pacemaker. This is because the energy field of a Reiki practitioner’s hands are measurably greater when they are channeling Reiki than when they are not. The likelihood of the pacemaker being disrupted is low and there are no documented accounts of Reiki interrupting a pacemaker’s signal, however, it is generally good practice not to do Reiki near a pacemaker.  

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Second, for individuals on medication, Reiki may change the individual’s needs for that medication. Because of this, it is important that you pay attention to your body’s changes, and see your doctor if substantial shifts occur.

Can Reiki be used with other therapies?

Yes! Reiki can be used to enhance the work of almost any other therapy or treatment.  

What happens during a Reiki session?

reiki session
Image from Sharon McCutcheon

The Reiki practitioner will place their hands on different parts of your body with non-invasive touch.  This may include the top and sides of your head, shoulders, elbows, collar bones, hands, stomach, ankles, the bottoms of your feet, etc. If you prefer not to be touched, you may also ask the practitioner to hold their hands above your body instead.

What might I experience during a Reiki session?

During a Reiki session, you may experience feelings of heat or cold, feelings of pressure or release, tingling, involuntary movements, seeing light or colors, crying, laughing, recalling forgotten memories, relaxation, falling asleep, stomach rumbling, or nothing at all. All of the above and more are perfectly normal!

What happens after a Reiki session?  

After a Reiki session, you may feel tired or energized. You may want to take a walk or be alone. Do whatever feels natural!

What are “healing reactions”?

men sleeping in couch

Some patients experience “healing reactions” in the days or weeks after a Reiki treatment. A healing reaction is a set of symptoms that indicate that the body is releasing toxins— be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. These symptoms are usually subtle, but can be more substantial or uncomfortable. This may include sweating, changes in sleep, sore throat, fever, chills, tingling, soreness, diarrhea, the arising of old and suppressed emotion or memories, etc. 

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This all sounds kind of scary, but remember that the body creates a fever to kill off invaders, and sweats to release toxins. These uncomfortable symptoms actually demonstrate that the body is doing its work to get back into balance.  If this happens to you, remember to take care of your body to support your healing process:  hydrate and nourish yourself, sleep as much as you need, and move your body how it wants to move.  If you feel something is significantly wrong, consult a medical professional and let your Reiki practitioner know what is happening. 

Closing Thoughts

Should I get Reiki? My overall suggestion is that if you feel drawn to Reiki, it’s probably right for you, and if you don’t, it’s probably not. Your body, mind, and intuition have the inner guidance to point you towards what is right for you and your life’s journey, including your healing process. 🙂 

Whatever you choose, I wish you the greatest happiness, vitality, and vibrancy.  I pray that your pain may transform into something beautiful and profound, and I wish you much luck on your journey to embody your highest self.  May you heal, may the planet heal, and may we all move towards greater harmony with each other and the Earth.


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