I often have people ask what Reiki is and how it works. Many have heard of it but don’t really know what happens in a session, nor the basic premise of the actual technique. I wanted to give you a short history of where it comes from, how it works, what it feels like and what happens during and after a session.
A Brief History
Reiki is a Japanese integrative therapy that provides deep relaxation which in turn helps the body to heal itself. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which means "life force energy". Reiki, therefore, essentially means "spiritually guided life force energy." (The International Center for Reiki Training, n.d.)
Reiki is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. This idea of life force energy underpins ancient Japanese Medicine (Kampo - based on ancient Chinese Medicine from the period 206BC to 220AD and was introduced to Japan in early 6th Century A.D). Chinese Medicine originated more than 2000 years ago and is based on the religion & philosophy known as Taoism.
Tao, translated as ‘The Way’, is the practice of living in flow & connection to Life Force Energy (Qi/Chi/Ki/Rei) that runs through and sustains all living things. Taoism promotes harmony with the Self & nature, the unity of opposites (yin & yang), purity of mind & body, self-development and the pursuit of spiritual immortality. Taoist practices include Feng Shui, Meditation, Qui Gong, Chanting and Martial Arts. We also see life force energy references in other cultures & religions, notably Buddhism and Hinduism, however many other religions speak of ‘spiritual presence’ which is essentially translated as God’s Presence or God’s Energy, so this concept is not necessarily owned by one particular religion or culture.
Traditional Chinese Medicine incorporates methods such as acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine & nutrition. It works to balance the life energy flow within the body when it becomes disrupted or blocked due to lifestyle, stress & negative thought patterns and environment.
What is Reiki
Like Chinese medicine, Reiki also works to balance life flow energy in the body. Energy is channelled by from the eternal universal source, in through the crown chakra of the practitioner & out through their hands and into the client. The practitioner may do this by laying their hands directly onto the client’s physical body or working with their subtle or auric body (picture your subtle/auric body like heat energy surrounding you that would show up using a thermal imaging camera – although please don’t confuse auras with heat radiation as they are not the same thing).
Science says that Energy Healing (Reiki is just one of the many types) is actually healing using human intention & human touch to create a state of deep relaxation. Relaxation plays a huge part in the body’s ability to heal itself. It’s proven to assist the prevention and even reverse early stages of stress related diseases (Esch T1, 2003) In simple terms the healing process looks like this: your body needs to focus on fighting and repairing any damage caused by an illness/virus/cut, etc. The more of our energy we can give to this process, the quicker and more likely it is we’ll get better. That means we must allow our body to focus less on other functions and more on this healing process. You do that by SLOWING DOWN and RELAXING. That can take the form of anything that gives your brain a break – sleeping, walking, meditation or even simple things like catching up with a friend or spending time playing with your kids. Anything that induces a relaxation response is good for your overall emotional health - happy feelings are proven to boost overall health & wellbeing.
Reiki methodology teaches that we’re all originally from the same energy source (as is everything in the universe). We have unknowingly cut ourselves off from this infinite supply of energy as we evolved over millennia. When attuned to the Reiki energy, you’re able to access this energy again for yourself and dependant on the level you’re attuned to, for others as well.
What it feels like - during & afterwards
During a session, you lay fully clothed on a massage table and are covered with blankets to keep you warm. Many therapists will have relaxing music softly playing and also use essential oils for a spa like feeling & to assist in the relaxation process. The therapist will ask Reiki to start flowing and then will either place their hands directly onto your body or may work indirectly through your subtle body. They will ask for your higher-self’s permission to channel reiki to you (either verbally or silently). Reiki is never performed for those that don’t want to receive it. The practitioner will ask Reiki to go where it is needed and for your highest good. Sessions may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and your therapist may also utilise crystals for additional benefit. Reiki is completely safe and may be enjoyed by anyone of any age.
You may experience any of the following during a Reiki session:
- Deep relaxation
- A lightness to the body
- Strong emotions
- Nothing at all (rare)
Afterwards you may feel any of the following (even up to a week later):
- Strong emotions that insist on being felt
- Crying (which is a release of held emotion)
- Increased vitality
- Clarity of thought
- A new love and zest for life
- Closeness to loved ones & yourself
Reiki is such a peaceful and relaxing therapy that’s only now being formerly researched and studied for its effectiveness. It’s currently offered in many hospitals worldwide and is often part of a treatment plan that includes many types of medicines and therapies, both Traditional and Complementary. It’s a gentle, non-invasive integrative therapy that when incorporated into a wellness plan, has benefits & outcomes that are so very important in our body’s longevity, health & wellbeing and standard of life experience.