I meet a lot of people who have heard of reiki or are vaguely familiar with the idea, but still aren’t entirely sure what it is, how it works, or whether reiki sessions would be beneficial to them. If this is you, read on! I share some basic information about this practice and answer common questions about energy work.
What exactly is reiki?
Reiki (pronounced RAY-key) is a touch therapy that channels life force energy - known as qi (chi) in Chinese or ki in Japanese - to the receiver. Just as your physical body has a circulatory system that carries blood throughout the body, you have an energy system that takes in and circulates this vital life force energy.
Blocks in your energy system can occur because of fear, trauma, or injury. Mental, emotional, and physical injuries and scars cause a corresponding disruption to the flow of qi. If those blocks aren’t removed and the flow of qi isn’t restored, then physical pain, illness, and mental and emotional distress may continue, even after the circumstances that caused them have passed. Restoring the flow of qi promotes relaxation and balance that can help the other aspects of your being recover and heal more effectively.
If you’re familiar with acupuncture, reiki works on a similar principle. Think of the pathways of energy flowing in your body as rivers. Acupuncture is a way to dismantle stuck places that are like dams blocking the flow. Reiki, on the other hand, is more like sending a rush of water through and allowing it to flow wherever it is needed. In the process, in addition to bringing more good energy to you, we also can clear old, negative energies - stress, fear, grief, anger, etc. - that most of us have built up in our energy fields.
Who can benefit from reiki?
Short answer: Nearly everyone!
Longer answer: The most common reasons people seek reiki, in my experience, are stress and anxiety. Energy work can help bring about relaxation even when other self care methods like massage, exercise, or talking it out have brought incomplete relief.
Typical reasons to seek reiki include:
Relief from stress, anxiety, or depression
Reduce physical pain during injury recovery or following surgery
Support your health and wellbeing through any sort of health transformation, such as a desire to improve your fitness level. While reiki obviously won’t replace exercise and diet changes, it can help you to have more energy and motivation to make changes to your daily routine.
Greater ease in recovering from a breakup or loss of a loved one
A less common (and I believe under-utilized!) reason to get reiki is to help support you in creating a vision for your life during times when you want to make a change. For example, I’ve worked with clients who were:
Seeking clarity on next steps regarding a major business decision
Looking to build confidence following a job loss
Creating a new vision for life moving forward following a difficult divorce
Reiki doesn’t just help to heal pain and difficult emotions. It can help connect you to your higher self and receive intuitive information about your next best steps forward.
Are there side effects to reiki?
Most often, people leave reiki feeling relaxed and better than before. Many of my clients use the word “lighter” to describe how they feel after a session, because I often focus a portion of it on removing negative energy that’s weighing them down.
Occasionally, people will feel tired or have other temporary, uncomfortable side effects as their bodies detox and rebalance following the influx of energy. In addition, sometimes negative emotions come up, especially if you’ve been carrying around feelings like anger or sadness that you’ve been afraid or unable to express. While it’s not the most enjoyable thing to go through when that happens, ultimately, most people are grateful for it! In my experience, prolonged depression and anxiety frequently happen because people are blocking their own feelings and afraid or unable to listen to the messages those feelings are trying to convey. One of the ways reiki helps you heal mentally or emotionally is by bringing those things to the surface so they can be better dealt with.
I talk more about this in this blog post. As I say in that post, any negative side effects are temporary, and will usually pass quickly with a little extra water and rest.
What if I’m not spiritual? Or if I’m skeptical? Do I need to believe in this for it to work?
I get it. The idea of “life force energy” and healing through “laying on of hands” is a stretch for some people. A healthy bit of skepticism is a good policy. I was skeptical that reiki could really be effective until I tried it.
If you’re a hard-core doubter when it comes to things like complementary therapies, I’m not here to try and change your mind. I respect that something like reiki is not for everyone. What I will say is that I’ve worked with people who were doubtful about whether it would work, and they were surprised at the positive outcomes, and that the experience was different than they imagined. If you’re interested, check out the testimonial by my client Toby, a self-described skeptic, on his experience receiving reiki. You can find it on this page.
To the question Do I have to believe in order for reiki to be effective? -- I say: “Nope.” Reiki isn’t associated with any particular spiritual practice or belief system, other than the idea that everything is made up of energy. If you can get on board with that idea enough to give it a try, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how much it can help you.
Do I need to be able to relax or clear my mind for reiki to help me?
No, you do not. Stress, anxiety, and difficulty calming one’s mind are top reasons people come to reiki. You don’t have to do any particular thing when you come in for the session other than try to lie (or sit) still for as much of it as you can. Chances are good that, even if you come in feeling stressed and preoccupied, you’ll feel more relaxed and clear after receiving reiki. Most people notice improvements after just one session, although I recommend people give it 3-6 over the course of a few weeks in order to get the best results.
I hope you’ve found some answers you’re looking for today! If you’re interested in finding out for yourself how reiki energy healing can benefit you, I’d love to work together.
What has your experience with reiki been? Share below!