What Is Reiki?

Reiki is a gentle practice that promotes balance, stress reduction, and relaxation. The words Rei and Ki are often translated to “Universal Life Energy” or “Spiritually Guided Life Energy.”  Most traditional healing systems have a word to identify the energy that animates life: qi or chi (Chinese Medicine), prana (Ayurveda in India), mala (Hawaii), and ki (Japan) are a few examples. 

Albert Einstein said it best, “Everything is energy and that is all there is to it.”

Classified as an energy or biofield practice, Reiki is based on this principle that everything in the universe including human beings is composed of energy. Energy practices such as acupuncture, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Healing Touch, and others recognize that when energy flows freely in the body there is more balance, vitality, and wellness; when energy is blocked or sluggish it can result in dis-ease and disharmony. 

There is not yet a definitive explanation for how Reiki works but energy therapies are generally thought to balance these subtle energy fields in the body to promote wellbeing. 

Most Reiki training programs attribute the origins of the Reiki method to Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 1920’s. 

How It May Help

Some of the reported benefits of Reiki include:

decreased stress and anxiety,

increased energy,

improved sleep,

decreased pain,

less fatigue,

and improved sense of wellbeing.

Reiki is a whole person healing approach with benefits for body, mind, and spirit.  A Reiki practitioner establishes the intent to offer Reiki healing for each client’s highest and greatest good but does not direct the energy or seek a specific outcome and therefore no specific outcomes or results are ever promised. 

What Reiki Is Not

Reiki is not invasive and does not manipulate the body in any way.  

Reiki is often viewed as a spiritual practice, but it is not a religion, is not magic, and does not require any particular belief system.  

Reiki is never used to diagnose or treat any condition. Though it can be used as a complementary therapy compatible with medical treatment, Reiki is never to be used in place of medical or mental health care for any condition.

What is a Typical Reiki Session Like

Reiki is performed with the client fully clothed and lying on a massage table or sitting in a chair.

It is offered with light hands-on touch or no touch depending on client preferences.  

A typical Reiki session lasts about 45-60 minutes but can range from 10 to 90 minutes depending on the setting and needs of the client.  The Reiki practitioner moves around the client using a variety of hand positions and typically moves from head to toe but the routine may vary.

Clients report a variety of experiences during and after a Reiki session including deep relaxation, warmth, heat, vibration or tingling sensations, peacefulness, sleep, or nothing at all. There are no expected right or wrong experiences, Reiki is always working for your highest good regardless of what you feel or do not feel. Everyone experiences Reiki in the way that is right for them and this may vary session to session.

Safety & Considerations

There are no known contraindications or serious adverse effects from Reiki.  

The Reiki touch is light (or no touch), a client does not ingest or apply any substances, and there is no concern about getting too much Reiki. 

Some may experience an emotional release as energy blocks are shifted and cleared.  Occasionally a client may experience temporary aggravation of symptoms which is traditionally seen as a healing response.

Currently, Reiki is a regular and popular offering at many hospitals and healthcare facilities as it supports clients in their care and healing.

Bottom Line

Reiki is a wonderful way to restore balance and put the body in a state of relaxation.  You can receive Reiki from a trained practitioner and Reiki is also easy to learn so that you can perform Reiki on yourself anytime.  Consider trying Reiki to support your wellbeing!

Resources to Expand Your Understanding