What is Reiki?

Preface:  I am a reiki master, which means that I have been attuned to (in a sense, trained in) several levels of reiki.  I utilize reiki during in-person sessions as well as distance reiki, but I do not offer trainings in reiki.   What I write below is based on my educational training in reiki and my experience with reiki.  Know that my experience and knowledge will differ from other practitioners.


What is reiki?


Reiki energy, or Ki, is essentially a universal, spiritual, healing energy, like yogic prana or kundalini or Chinese chi.  Reiki is a Japanese term, and some say that reiki was standardized into a more formal practice in Japan in the 1800s.  However, reiki has  ancient roots in tantric Buddhism (where it shares symbols).


In practice, reiki is the laying of hands for healing touch to allow the flow of this universal energy from the greater Source, through the attuned practitioner into the client.  The practitioner, through attunement, has been opened to receive and move this energy; indeed, attunement places reiki symbols in the practitioner’s aura.  These symbols are sacred and utilized by the practitioner during reiki sessions to modify the flow of reiki.


During a session, which can last approximately 30 min to an hour or more, the practitioner will utilize either standard hand placements or modify the placements based on the client’s needs.  All contact is through clothing, unless the skin is already bare (such as over the face and head). Reiki cannot harm a client, as it is positive, healing energy and is said to travel within the client to wherever it is needed.  Reiki can be used to treat physical ailments (ex. knee pain) or even emotional or spiritual complaints, such as depression or anxiety.  It is a complimentary and preventative medicine, meaning it should not replace standard medical practice, but augment and enhance outcomes when incorporated into a client’s care.  Sessions can also be performed at a distance; that is, the client does not need to be present.  In fact, it is said that reiki can be conducted across time for healing, going into the past or future.


In general, when in-person, clients will sit or rest on their backs or stomachs during a session, depending on the location of the complaint.  Clients can have a range of experiences during a reiki session.  They might not feel anything immediately, only to report changes within the days following a session. They might feel heat or cold from a practitioner’s hands during the session or feel the sensation of the practitioner’s hands after a session.  They might report feeling a shift under their skin.  They might fall asleep during a session.  They might experience emotional release and cry.  The client can experience changes in dreams or thought patterns following a session.  Sometimes, several sessions are needed to address the original complaint.


As a practitioner, I feel heat in my hands when doing reiki.  Sometimes my fingers, hand, or entire body will shake when offering reiki; it is said that these experiences result from the energy moving through the practitioner.  I can also have intuitive experiences during a session regarding the person’s ailments, though not always.  Reiki is said to provide wellbeing to the practitioner as well as client during a session, as some energy siphons off to the practitioner.  I have never felt depleted after a session, rather rested and restored.  It is important to note that as a practitioner, the reiki is not “mine”.  I am not the one doing the healing.  Rather, I have been gifted with the ability to open to and move reiki.  Maintaining awareness and humility in practice is incredibly important, as ego has no place in something that is a universally available.


Scientific evidence supports the use of reiki for anxiety, pain and stress for various populations. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24582620, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26167739 , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18410352 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27184735  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26858170 ) However, like many techniques, there is a need for improved quality of studies, as bias and low sample size limit current findings.


How does reiki heal?  Is it the placebo effect (which is not insignificant)?  The simplicity of laying hands and holding space for someone? Is it that reiki reduces stress and THAT alone provides the healing? Or it is the actual spiritual energetic flow of reiki?  I can’t answer that, though I am extremely comfortable with paradox and mystery; I think I would prefer not to know.  There is magic in mystery, which keeps me curious, passionate for life, and open to new experience.


Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT)

RYT 500, reiki master

Interested in learning more about reiki or receiving a session?  Please email me at ignitewellbeing.naperville@gmail.com

Please do not copy this material.  All writing is copyright protected.


Recommended reading:

Essential Reiki by Diane Stein

Shamanic Reiki by Llyn Roberts and Levy