7 Things You Secretly Want to Know (But Don’t Wanna Ask) About Reiki

woman lying on massage table undergoing reiki session

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June 23, 2024 at 10:17PM UTC
Reiki is a therapeutic healing method used to support mental clarity and spiritual health by healing physical and mental trauma. The technique was discovered by Japanese Buddhist, Mikao Usui, in the mid-1900s, and is derived from the Japanese words "rei" meaning  "universal" (referring to the higher intelligence in all living and nonliving entities that guide the inherent functions of the universe) and "ki" meaning "life energy" (referring to the nonphysical energy that flows through plants, animals and human beings).

What is Reiki?

In sum, Reiki is a form of alternative therapy that increases the body's natural ability to heal itself in order to maintain a free flowing state of health and spiritual well-being.
Also known as energy healing, this hands-on medicine works with the energy centers around the body. These energy fields are also referred to as chakras, meridians and the bio-field, with the name varying across different wellness, spiritual and scientific practices. 
Reiki practitioners agree that energy can stay stagnate in parts of the body that have experienced physical or emotional pain. To aid the recovery process, practitioners use Reiki to stimulate the centers of the body and ease tension, release emotional blockages, enable relaxation, promote healing and alleviate other symptoms of illness.

How does it work?

We are all born with a life force that supports our vital bodily functions by nourishing our cells and organs without us having to lift a single finger. This life force is responsive to thoughts and feelings, and is also largely responsible for how we see ourselves and the world. That's why positive affirmations and negative thinking patterns have the power to either lift or discourage us.  
When we experience psychological trauma such as grief, injury or distress, our life force becomes disrupted and weakens the organs and tissues of the body, as a result. Reiki works to recharge the imbalanced parts of our energy fields with positive energy by raising the vibration of those fields. As Reiki heals and clears the energy pathways, negative energy will begin to break apart and fall away. 

What happens during a Reiki healing session?

During a Reiki session, patients recline on a massage table or semi-recline in a massage chair in a peaceful setting, usually the practitioner's dedicated space. The patient remains fully clothed and can opt to listen to soft music throughout the session.
The transfer of energy takes place once the practitioner lightly places their hands either on or above different areas of the patient's body; they may orient their hands in various shapes and positions for anywhere between two to five minutes. 
Throughout the session, the practitioner may sense a warm, tingly sensation in their hands, and will hold each position until the energy has seemed to stop flowing. Then, they'll move on to a different area of the body until all bases (as requested or paid for by the patient) are covered. 
The process can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours and can treat the full front of the body or the front and back for a higher price. Sessions also vary between $30 to $100, a price that's generally discussed before the session takes place.

How does Reiki make you feel?

In congruence with the practitioner, those who undergo Reiki healing sessions may also experience a slight tingling sensation, warm energy or nothing at all. When the session is complete, a patient may feel immediate relief, reduced pain and/or less stress and strain on certain areas of the body. 

How long does Reiki take to work?

The amount of time (and number of sessions) necessary to start seeing the benefits of Reiki will vary from person to person depending on the patient's ultimate goal.
Sample sessions may last between 15 and 30 minutes as an introduction to Reiki healing; full back and body services may take up to two hours in recurring sessions. 
If you're new to Reiki, you should arrive at your first session at least 15-20 minutes before your appointment time. That'll give you enough time to complete paperwork and discuss what you wish to accomplish with your practitioner in order to gauge how many sessions, and what kind, will help you reach your goal(s).

Reiki tools and techniques

Many tools may be involved in creating a comfortable setting during a Reiki healing session, including the following:
  • Crystals
  • Pendulums
  • White sage
  • Dimmed lights
  • Healing wands
  • Water fountains
  • Meditative music
The following techniques may also be involved in a Reiki healing session: 
  • clearing
  • infusing
  • beaming
  • centering
  • raking the aura
  • smoothing the aura
  • extracting harmful energies

What are the benefits of Reiki?

The effectiveness of Reiki is difficult, if not impossible, to measure using modern scientific means. But those who tune into it say they've experienced intense relaxation, emotional relief and overall physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Reiki has also been said to help treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders among many other diseases and disorders. 
Disclaimer: Reiki should be used to support — not replace — professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician or another qualified healthcare provider regarding a medical condition. 

Can Reiki be harmful?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), "Reiki hasn’t been shown to have any harmful effects." The center also found that "Reiki hasn’t been clearly shown to be effective for any health-related purpose."

Becoming a Reiki practitioner

Practitioners can enroll in Reiki training programs that last anywhere from a few days to a few years, depending on the level of certification they wish to achieve. Most Reiki training programs have a beginning, intermediate and master level, but unlike other specialized practices (such as language courses), there's no governing body that dictates each one.
Beginning classes can take approximately two days to complete and cost a couple hundred dollars, while master programs can cost up to thousands of dollars and take a year or more to complete.
Students practicing Reiki study energy-related subjects such as anatomy, psychology and kinesiology, and learn about the energy fields around the body, how to work with healing energy and the ethic of working with patients.

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Stephanie Nieves is the SEO & Editorial Associate on the Fairygodboss team. Her words can also be found on MediumPayScale and The Muse.

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