Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Reiki?
Reiki (pronounced "ray-key") is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Reiki consists of two Japanese words "Rei" & "Ki". The general meaning of Rei is "Universal/Spiritual Wisdom, " or "Higher Power/God" and Ki is similar in meaning to Qi (Chinese) or Prana (Sanskrit), but has been given many other names in different cultures and healing/spiritual traditions. A basic definition of Ki is something akin to "life energy" or "vital force".
Reiki is really a special kind of Ki. This type of Ki is guided by spiritual consciousness and most closely describes what most people experience with Reiki: it guides itself with its own wisdom, rather than requiring direction from the practitioner. A Reiki practitioner transmits Reiki energy to the client through their hands. The client lays fully clothed on a massage table (or other comfortable location such as a chair, bed or lounge, etc.) and the pracitioner's hands are placed at various positions on or just above the body for between 3-10 minutes. The hand placements roughly correspond to the chakras, but the positions may be adjusted according to a clients specific healing needs and goals.
Reiki is a very simple and powerful technique that can be learned by anyone. The ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class. This ability is passed on during an "attunement" given by a Reiki master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of "life force energy" to improve one's health and enhance the quality of life.
Is Reiki a Religion?
While Reiki is spiritual in nature as it provides love and compassion to the client, it is not a religion. It has no dogma and does not conflict with religious belief. Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not. Because Reiki originates from God/Source Energy, many people find that using Reiki allows them to experience their religious beliefs directly and in a very tangible manner, rather than simply as an intellectual and esoteric concept.
NOTE: For answers to specific questions Christians may have about the practice of Reiki, a great resource is ChristianReiki.org.
How Does Reiki Heal?
Reiki subscribes to the concept that life energy or "Ki" is flowing through us and is the source of our being alive. Ki flows through pathways within the physical body (you may have heard these energy pathways also referred to as chakras, meridians, or nadis) and it can also be present and pass directly through the organs and tissues of the body. When people speak of a person's aura, this is Ki that flows in an invisible field surrounding our bodies. The Aura is created by all of our thoughts and feelings (both conscious & unconscious) as well as all the energies flowing through the physical body.
The free and balanced flow of Ki throughout the body and the aura is seen as the source of vibrant health and well-being. Ki animates the physical organ, tissues, and cells as it flows through them, nourishing and supporting their vital function. When the natural, balanced flow of Ki is blocked/disrupted it results in some level of diminished function within one or more organs/tissues of the body (the exact manifestation is dependent upon numerous factors including location of block/disruption, severity, duration and the unique attributes of the affected individual). This Ki flow disruption is the primary cause of illness and imbalance. Healing occurs when healthy, free flow of Ki is restored.
Ki is highly responsive to thoughts and feelings. At the most basic level, grateful, optimistic thoughts and feelings increase our flow of Ki, causing us to feel better (we've all heard of the power of positive thinking and gratitude!). When we have destructive, pessimistic thoughts however, our flow of Ki is diminished and our over all sense of vitality and well-being is correspondingly lower. Over time, if negative thoughts accumulate and become permanently lodged in the subconscious mind (AKA: Our Shadow), they create a disruption in the flow of healthy Ki (though in most cases, we are completely unaware of the impact of our thoughts!). The subconcious/shadow simply refers to those operating beliefs and programming that are not within our conscious awareness, but which directly affect and control certain aspects of our behavior and the choices we make.
When a person receives a Reiki session, the Rei", or spiritually conscious part of the energy, assesses where the person has blocked or unhealthy Ki and then directs the healing energy to the location where it is most needed. By flowing through the affected parts of the human energy field and charging it with positive/higher energy, Reiki raises the vibratory level in and around the physical body where negative thoughts/feelings, etc. are attached. This causes any negative energy (lower vibrations) to break apart/shift, clearing and healing the energy pathways and allowing healthy Ki to return to its natural, free flowing state.
NOTE: If you would like to learn more about how the energy of different vibratory frequencies interact with our biology/physical body in a more general, scientific sense (not only as it applies to Reiki), I highly recommend checking out Dr. Bruce Lipton. He is a cellular biologist and medical researcher. Dr. Lipton's research led him to uncover how our thoughts and perceptions shape our biology in a very real way, including our genetic expression! He masterfully takes leading-edge science and explains how it dovetails with mind-body medicine and spiritual principles. Science and spirituality have been thought of as opposing viewpoints, but Dr. Lipton offers a path (with great supporting evidence) where science and spirituality are irreversibly intertwined. He has several great books and there are some great video clips of some of his talks/presentations on YouTube. He's very easy to understand and a great gateway to understanding how we can use energy and thoughts/intention to heal ourselves!
In What Conditions and Situations is Reiki Used?
Reiki is both powerful and gentle. In its long history of use, it has assisted in healing virtually every known illness and injury, including life-threatening and chronic illnesses. It is always beneficial and works in harmony with and improves the effectiveness of all other types of therapy and treatments, including modern medical and psychological care. While almost everyone experiences relaxation and improvements of various kinds (varying from miraculous to subtle shifts), specific healing results cannot be guaranteed. Anyone interested in using Reiki to support a specific health or psychological condition is advised to do so under the care of a licensed health care professional. Reiki is NOT a substitute for medical care.
Many aren't aware, but Reiki is, in fact, currently offered as part of regular patient care in over 800 hospitals across the United States today, including within operating rooms and intensive care units. Medical professionals who practice Reiki in hospitals have indicated that Reiki decreases recovery time from surgeries, improves mental outlook, and reduces unwanted side effects of medications (including chemotherapy, radiation and other procedures). In psychotherapy, it has been used to improve healing of emotional trauma and other issues, with benefits ranging from improved memory to greater self-confidence.
How Does A Reiki Session Feel?
Feelings during and/or after a sessions are often described as a warm, glowing radiance that flows through the body. It is typically a very relaxing experience and some clients report the physical body feeling heavy as it relaxes, while at the same time, the spirit or emotions feel light and free. Some people experience sensations of hot/cold, tingling, pulsations or vibrations in different areas of the body. Sometimes muscular twitches occur or buried emotions arise as the flow of Ki shifts and changes. Spiritual experiences also sometimes take place. A Reiki session will often release negative/disempowering feelings and bring forth client feelings of optimism, light-heartedness, improved well-being and deeper, more effortless connection to others, spirit and the world around them. You may experience any or all of these, or something entirely new. The experience/outcome of a Reiki session is personal and unique to each individual.
Is In-Person Reiki Better than Distance Reiki?
Both are equally effective! Though I personally love in-person sessions, as human touch and connection is also a powerful healing agent all on its own! That said, Reiki energy is not restricted by time or distance- it can be sent hundreds and thousands of miles away without any delay. The practitioner typically uses a picture, a piece of paper with the person's name, or simply visualizes the person in their mind's eye (if they are already acquainted). Because time and distance are not applicable to Reiki, it is also able to be sent into the past or future. I know what you are thinking- this all sounds a little hocus-pocus and looney-toons (I mean, really Cole, let's get serious- Reiki time travel? Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles in an instant? How can this be possible?). Don't worry, we'll touch on this more in the next point below!
This Energy Healing Stuff Sounds Pretty Unscientific and Quacky...Is There Any Science That Supports This?
While modern science has typically relegated Reiki and other energy healing modalities to "the land of the woo", thanks to new theories and research in quantum physics and quantum mechanics, more and more scientists and medical/healing professionals are beginning to rethink this stance and embrace a more open-minded, integrative approach.
Quantum physics (in contrast to the old Newtonian Physics model) tells us that solid matter as we know it, is in fact, not solid at all, but rather vibrating, circling force fields of energy. Atoms (the building blocks of all matter) are not really solid particles, but rather composed of nearly all empty space. We truly are energy, not particles! And our energy isn't just contained within our physical body. For example, research indicates that our thoughts are not just electrical impulses inside our brain, but they actually emit energy waves that are also transmitted outside the head into the external space/environment. And as everything in the environment is also energy and carries a unique vibration, our thought energy waves thus interact with the energy waves produced by all other forms.
Our hearts also emit an electromagnetic field outside our bodies that can (and has been) measured. In fact, "the heart’s electrical field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain" (Heartmath.org). Similar to the electrical signature of our thoughts/brain activity, this heart-generated electrical field can interact with and affect the electrical field of others (check out www.heartmath.org for more info!). In other words, our own energy and vibrations and that of all other persons and matter around us are constantly interacting with and affecting one another in a very real way that impacts the state of our physical, mental and emotional bodies (though it may be invisible to us through our five senses).
As we let the fundamental truth that "everything is energy" to permeate our worldview, Reiki and other traditional energy healing practices open up a new world of possibilities that hold the potential to completely redefine how we view our health and well-being, and the underpinnings of the universe itself. Pretty darn epic. Here are also some links to studies that have shown positive results.
(Sources: Reiki: The Healing Touch, First & Second Degree Manual, William Lee Rand, ChristianReiki.org, HeartMath.org).