This article is not meant to diagnose or provide medical advice—that responsibility lies with physicians. The author is not a licensed medical professional.
Reiki is a word many people recognize—for the trend that many types of healing have become—but don’t understand. We want to change that—not just so that you don’t have to awkwardly smile and nod while your friend gushes about how their meridians have been cleared and they are feeling like a Dai Ko Myo something or other, but so that you, too, could have the option of enjoying its benefits. Here are the answers to FAQs about reiki.
Reiki is a form of energy healing with origins in Japan. “Rei” roughly translates to universal life, and “ki” (like the more recognized Chinese chi or qi) is energy. Put them together and you get life force energy, and reiki healing uses that energy to heal both your body and your mind. A reiki practitioner uses touch to manipulate energy within the body and relieve blockages, similar to acupuncture.
“A practitioner uses their palm chakras to channel strong and high vibrational energy …,” says Kelsey Patel, Beverly Hills-based certified reiki master, yoga instructor and meditation teacher. “By connecting to the energy and frequency of life-force energy (AKA everything the world is made of—hello, life!), people who receive reiki often feel more peaceful, pains are lessened or healed and there’s a shift in their mind and body’s energy.”
Reiki healing can also be sent over distance, allowing a practitioner on one coast to send healing energy to someone clear across the country. You can also use reiki healing on yourself. Yep, anyone can learn to utilize reiki healing and manipulate his or her life force energy for healing and wellness.
So what exactly happens during a reiki session? You lie down on a table or sit in a comfy chair, fully clothed in most cases, and your reiki practitioner will place their hands on you. That’s pretty much it. Hand placements generally center on the head, shoulders and torso, but can move to limbs in the event of specific injury. Patel also reminds us that you don’t have to find a reiki master to experience reiki healing. “It can be done on oneself, on a client or can be sent to someone in another city by utilizing the practice of distance reiki. It is strong and impactful.”
It may seem simple and straightforward: someone touching your face or shoulders is no big deal, right? But people who’ve had reiki healing say there’s way more to it than just getting touched. People report sensations ranging from intense warmth to soothing coolness emanating from the hands of the healer. Some people even feel pulsing energy. Other folks fall into a meditative state and some just fall asleep. It’s different for everyone.
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OK. So. Your life force energy, qi, chi, ki, mojo, whatever you want to call it, travels through your body in channels called meridians, according to Eastern traditional medicine. If one of these meridians is blocked, you become ill, either physically or emotionally. The practice of reiki unblocks these meridians, allowing your energy to flow freely, restoring the body and mind to a state of balance and health. It’s a cumulative effect though, so don’t expect miraculous healing after just one session (although you may very well experience just that).
Nope. Unlike Yoga and certain forms of meditation, reiki isn’t associated with any particular religion, although it is spiritual in nature. People from all religions (or no religion) can experience and benefit from reiki and some people claim it aids them in their religious practice, enabling them to be more open and receptive to their chosen deities.
In the west, we like our medicine to have some science behind it. When we hear “medicine” we think pills and needles and some other really unpleasant things. What a lot of western society struggles with is the concept of health. We get sickness. We understand that medicine treats illness, but we haven’t quite wrapped our collective brains around the concept of promoting wellness instead of treating sickness. While reiki isn’t science, the energy, in the form of the electromagnetic fields we emanate, can be measured. Reiki healing involves very subtle shifts, workings and tweaks of that energy, and while there’s no way to measure it with science, people who’ve experienced it can absolutely tell you it is, in fact, real.
Kristi is a freelance writer and mother who spends most of her time caring for people other than herself. She is frequently exhausted and compensates with an intense caffeine addiction.