SOUL – Reiki
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a form of energy healing or energy therapy that promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, increases energy levels and reduces fatigue, and promotes an increased sense of positivity by boosting the client’s own self-healing abilities. Energy healing is an ancient form of alternative medicine based on the belief that a vital energy flows through everything – including the human body – and is concentrated in our chakras, or energy centres. The goal of all energy healing is to balance the energy flow in the body so that it can function better, and to bring a greater sense of wellbeing and relief from emotional or physical pain and difficulties.
During a treatment, a Reiki practitioner will move their hands in certain fixed positions around the body with a light touch (or no touch at all), whilst the patient lies fully clothed on a massage table, and direct the flow of this universal energy into and around the body to achieve a balancing of the client’s energies – and a relief and release of pain and blocked energy. When the client’s energies are flowing freely, their own ability to regulate themselves and heal – physically, mentally and spiritually – will be significantly increased.
Energy healing is currently being studied in patients receiving cancer therapy, to find out if it can improve quality of life, boost the immune system, or reduce side effects. It is difficult of course to effectively measure the impact of any alternative, non-invasise and non-drug-based therapy, so evidence for its effectiveness is often only anecdotal; but many, many doctors around the world both recommend and practise Reiki as a wonderful addition to other forms of mainstream medical treatment.
Reiki is not a religious practice, nor is it affiliated to any particular faith. It can of course be seen as a spiritual practice because of the use of universal energy (which some people called God energy), but Reiki practitioners and clients can be of any religion – or no religion at all – and it will still work effectively. If your belief system tells you it’s nonsense (but you’d like to try it anyway), that’s fine. If you believe it’s God energy, that’s fine too. Personally, I believe that all things have an energetic frequency (rocks, trees, rivers, animals, people, buildings, emotions, planets, stars etc.) and I don’t need a religious framework in order to interpret and benefit from a positive flow of that energy.
What is the history of Reiki?
Reiki as it is practiced today was first developed by the Buddhist priest Mikao Usui (known as Usui-Sensei) in the 1920s, according to the International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP). There is evidence that other styles of Reiki were practiced in Japan before Usui created his style, known as Usui Reiki, but these earlier styles weren’t widely known.
After three weeks of fasting and meditation on Mount Kurama, a sacred mountain in the north of Kyoto, Japan, Usui claimed to have first experienced feeling Reiki energy. Though Usui had been starving and near death from fasting, the burst of intense healing energy gave him a sense of vitality and awareness that he’d never felt before. Shortly after his experience, Usui opened a clinic in Tokyo to practice the healing technique. Some of the potential physiological effects of Reiki, like changes in cortisol levels, heart rate variability, and body temperature have since been examined in research.
After this, Hawayo Takata, a Japanese-Hawaiian Reiki master, began teaching Usui’s modality in Hawaii in the 1930s, and it travelled to the rest of the United States in the 1970s. It subsequently became increasingly popular in Western culture.
As early as the mid-1990s, physicians, nurses, and other medical staff who had learned Reiki began using the technique in hospitals around the United States, and Reiki continues to expand as more and more people experience benefits from it. Today, Reiki is regularly used in both hospital inpatient and outpatient settings in the Unites States and many European countries as a complementary therapy for surgery, cancer, and AIDS, according to the IARP.
What is Reiki used for?
Reiki is used to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve physical pain or inflammation and promote general physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is particularly helpful for supporting people to process and release difficult emotions, past trauma, and issues with a dysregulated nervous system (see Somatic Therapy) by returning our bodies to a calm and regulated state. It can help with fears and phobias, problems with sleeping, grief and bereavement, sexual dysfunction and other imbalances of the body-mind.
Reiki is also popular amongst sufferers of all kinds of chronic diseases and cancer. It can provide some relief from symptoms and a greater sense of well-being. Reiki also has its place in end-of-life care and can help someone pass over in an atmosphere of supportive peace and calm.
Generally, Reiki may bring clients the following benefits:
- Relaxation and stress reduction
- Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure, increased heart rate variability) – see my page on Somatic Therapy, which has the same goal.
- Pain control
- Reduced anxiety and depression and increased self-esteem
- Increased quality of life for people with chronic health conditions
- Enhanced well-being and sleep quality
- Symptom management in some conditions, such as cancer
- Stronger sense of connection with self and others (building secure attachment through safe touch – see my Somatic Therapy page for information on the role that attachment plays in our relationships and our general mental and emotional health)
- Enhanced positive thinking and ability to be present in the body, and in the present moment
What happens during a Reiki session?
- Depending on whether it’s a first session or a regular session, most face-to-face sessions will last around 45 – 60 minutes, with 15 – 30 minutes consisting of conversation, aura cleansing and chakra balancing, and approximately 30 minutes of Reiki. Distance Reiki sessions will last around 30 to 45 minutes.
- If it’s your first visit, I will ask you to fill in a form beforehand with some basic personal information.
- When you arrive we will have a brief discussion (a bit longer if it is your first visit) about what you would like me to focus on – for example, physical pain, emotional or psychological issues, general wellbeing and balance etc.
- You can tell me whether you are comfortable or not with light physical touch of specific areas, or whether you would prefer me to hover my hands slightly above your body (I usually use a combination of both).
- I will play some relaxing music and, whilst you are standing, I will cleanse and balance your chakras and sweep your aura by moving my hands over and around the edges of your body.
- You will lie down, if possible, fully clothed on a massage table for the rest of the session. You can close your eyes and relax – go to sleep if you want to (many people do!)
- I will move around the massage table, placing my hands in specific positions on or over your body (mainly in the areas where the 7 chakras are located, or in areas where you feel a specific pressure or pain) and maintaining each position for a period of 2 – 5 minutes.
- I finish by sweeping your aura again and gently bringing you back to reality.
If you wish to give me any feedback about what you experienced during the session, I’m always happy to hear it!
What does it feel like to receive Reiki energy?
Most people say they feel a tingling feeling and warmth from my hands. Sometimes they describe it as gentle, normal human body heat, and other times people say it is really quite intense. It is possible to feel this heat also when my hands are not touching you, as energy is radiating from my hands throughout the session. Often people think I have my hands on them, but when they open their eyes they are surprised to see my hands are 5cm above their body.
Some people feel a release of energy or tension that can be quite strong – as if something has been unblocked. Some people feel sensations of lightness, or, on the other hand, they feel extreme heaviness as they sink into the table in deep relaxation and feel very grounded in their bodies.
Many people see things in their mind’s eye during the session. Anything from bright light, to patterns and images, or perhaps even memories of experiences from the past that need to be acknowledged and released in order to move on from grief or trauma. It is something similar to being in a light trance state, where you’re never quite sure what the subconscious is going to present to you. But don’t be scared about that – you are safe, and not alone – and the Reiki energy helps to process positively and balance anything that might come up to be released.
Others say their mind was completely empty during the session and they felt only deep relaxation, and fell asleep. That’s totally fine. Reiki works, whether you’re conscious or not ;)
Some people find it a very emotional experience and start to cry. Crying is good, and a healthy reaction to healing. You are letting things out that need to be released. There is no need to be embarrassed. It is totally normal during therapy. Our bodies, minds and souls are connected, so you often find that a release in the body is accompanied by tears and an emotional release.
What does the Reiki practitioner do during a session?
My role is to be a channel for Reiki energy. I channel the energy through myself and direct it in to the client’s energy field, with some specific intentions that are tailored to the client’s needs. The intention may be that Reiki energy allows the client to release past trauma and move forwards with confidence. It may be that Reiki energy supports the client in releasing pain and disease and returning to a state of good health. The intention will be different for every client. And, as I move through the different hand positions and intuitively sense issues and imbalances in specific areas, I may adjust the intention to better fit the issue I’m sensing there – so as to further encourage the release of energy from a particular blocked chakra or inflamed area, for example.
When I first started doing Reiki, it happened sometimes that some of the difficult energy released from the client ended up in me; and that wasn’t a very pleasant experience, obviously. So part of my work during a session is to shield myself energetically from absorbing anything released by the client. I do this in several different ways, including the use of crystals and stones, both in the room and on my body in the form of jewellery.
Doing a Reiki session requires quite intense concentration on my side and quite a bit of mental multitasking, as I am focusing and controlling the flow of various energies. I am keeping in the forefront of my mind the intentions for the energy flow that will serve the client’s highest good, whilst also visualising and projecting onto the client’s body specific Reiki symbols that boost healing in certain areas. I am trying to effectively process and release any energy that needs to come out from the client in a way that respects my personal energetic boundaries, whilst all the time being open to any intuitive information that may come to me from the energy I’m working with – extra information that will help enrich my understanding of the client’s situation and needs. It’s a lot to process simultaneously. And, for this reason, I can’t talk during a Reiki session.
You may hear me quietly say some phrases in Japanese (these are the names of symbols I am visualising) or whispering an intention – but I usually do this in my head. You may also hear me breathing quite deeply. I do this because I am using my breath to regulate the flow of energy through my body.
Immediately after the session it is important for me to go and wash my hands in order to remove any residual energy there from the session and bring it to a complete close.
How does Distance Reiki work?
The idea is that, using a specific complex Japanese symbol and mantra, I am able to send Reiki energy to a specific location in time and space – which can include the future (but not the past). To be honest, I don’t fully understand how it works, and I’m alright with that. I’m not an astro-physicist. I tried to study string theory once and to understand exactly what it is they do inside the Hadron collider, but I didn’t have much success. Anyway – when I know enough specific details about the client to be able to direct Reiki energy specifically to them (e.g. their name and date or birth, or their name and address – or address of their current location at the time of the session) I can send the energy to them and focus it in the same way that I would do in a regular Reiki session.
I sit down in a calm and quiet place and I focus on the person’s name or face (if I have a photograph) and I say out loud their name and date of birth or address and ask for Reiki energy to be sent to them. Then I draw and recite the name of a Japanese symbol that opens up the possibility of the energy travelling between me and the client, wherever they are in the world. I conduct the rest of the session like a normal Reiki session, moving my hands through various positons and visualising my hands on or over the client’s body as if I were there with them in person.
I am fully aware that it sounds nuts, but I’ve used this method with people thousands of kilometres away from me, and the feedback I’ve received from them has been mind-blowing. They could tell me what hand positions I had used (even though I wasn’t using standard positions and I gave them no information whatsoever before the session about where I planned to put my hands) because they had felt light and heat in certain areas of their body. Plus, I’ve experienced distance Reiki myself from a practitioner in the U.S. and it was a pretty interesting experience.
I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me – we live in a society where the attitude of “seeing is believing” is pretty prevalent. But there are many things in this world that we don’t understand and many forms of energy exchange that we have not yet figured out – and yet they work. They exist.
So if you are not able to attend a Reiki session with me physically, that’s no problem. I will visit you on the astral plane ;)
What Reiki training have I completed?
I have received attunements for all three levels – up to Master level, and completed a distance-education course with Lisa Powers in the United States up to Master level.
I have attended in-person training sessions with Reiki Master Iva Janíčková at the IRIL Reiki centre in Brno and with Reiki Master Peter Štrelinger of the Psychosomatic Health Centre “Centra Zdravého Života” in Bratislava, up to Level II. I also plan to complete an in-person Level III Reiki Master training course in Bratislava in Autumn of 2023, after which I can do what I do best: teach other people and share this skill with others.