By, Martha Catlette, PhD, PMHNP-BC, Reiki II Practitioner

Have you thought about trying something new for your health and wellbeing in 2023?

There are many alternative health practices that have become popular within the broad category of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) tracked by the National Institute of Health. In the United States CAM is used by approximately 38 % of adults and 12% of children. 

Examples of CAM include alternative modalities such as acupuncture, homeopathy, Ayurveda and Oriental medicine, as well as nutritional, mind-body (meditation and yoga), and energy therapies. Many of these CAM practices are also used to help people cope with illnesses such as cancer and can specifically help with the side effects of treatments, such as nausea, pain, and fatigue, as well as to help comfort and allay anxiety and bring peace of mind.

What are Energy Therapies?

Energy therapies are alternative health practices based on the concept that every cell of the body is made of energy and that energy is continually flowing within and throughout the body. Energy blockages can occur at specific energy center points along the spine and cause imbalances of mind and body that can lead to illness and disease.

What is Reiki and How Can It Help Me?

Reiki is a popular energy therapy that is recognized and practiced worldwide in treating a variety of health conditions. Reiki is non-invasive and uses the hands to transmit energy to the body for stress reduction and relaxation. Reiki is used to complement traditional therapies in a variety of settings to include private healing practices, hospitals, and hospices. 

The practice of Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 1900’s, The term Reiki comes from the Japanese words “rei” (universal) and “ki” (vital life force energy). The effectiveness of Reiki is based on the concept that life force energy flows through all living things. This same energy is known as “Chi” in Chinese medicine and “prana” in Ayurvedic medicine which originated in India. A Reiki practitioner is trained to channel life force energy through the palms of the hands directly to the recipient.

“Reiki is a safe and gentle ‘complementary’ therapy that activates the parasympathetic nervous system to heal body and mind. It has potential for broader use in management of chronic health conditions, and possibly in postoperative recovery. Research is needed to optimize the delivery of Reiki.”

What Outcomes for Reiki Have Been Studied?

The primary areas of Reiki benefit that have been studied and measured include pain, anxiety, and stress by assessing heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels. Since Reiki is an energy practice it is difficult to study it in the traditional way. Measures that incorporate the lived experience, quality of life, patient satisfaction, and stress reduction may more accurately reflect the benefits of Reiki.

What Can You Expect at a Reiki Session?

The Reiki recipient lies on a massage table fully clothed while the Reiki practitioner places the palms of their hands on or just above different energy centers of the body. During the session other therapies such as aromatherapy and crystals may be used.

The Reiki practitioner decides how long to hold their palms in place based on their perception of the flow of energy. The session generally lasts 30 to 90 minutes, with one hour being typical.

The Reiki practitioner only holds their hands in strategic places and no massage takes place. If touch is used it is very light, no more than the pressure of a coin being placed on the skin. The recipient may feel tingling, warmth, or pulsation throughout the body as the Reiki practitioner moves their hands, or some may not feel anything. This does not mean that Reiki is not effective. 

The practice of Reiki is based on the understanding that energy knows where to go. The practitioner has been trained to channel energy; they are not doing the healing themselves. The channeled energy enhances the recipient’s own healing capacity. Some people become so relaxed that they fall asleep. Often the benefits of the session are noticed by the recipient at a later time.

What Should I Look for in Reiki Provider?

Like many alternative modalities, Reiki certification and training is not regulated so it is important that a Reiki practitioner has completed a reputable certification program. Most Reiki certification programs offer beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Level I Reiki certification focuses on learning to provide self-Reiki which is a great way to educate oneself and have easy access to Reiki benefits. Level II requires a high level of self-understanding and considerably more knowledge for providing Reiki to others. Level III is the master level that prepares the practitioner to teach Reiki to others.

Why Not Try Reiki?

If the idea of Reiki resonates for you, I encourage you to try it! Many people find benefit and will testify that Reiki is helpful in creating calm, peace of mind and healing. Having an open mind is essential so that you can receive the full benefits. Energy flows when there is openness and willingness, so if that describes your attitude-Give it a try!