What Is Reiki?
Reiki therapy is based on an Eastern belief that vital energy flows through your body. The idea is that a person who specializes in reiki treatment, referred to as a reiki master, uses gentle touch – or places their hands just above your body – to help guide this energy in a way that leads to balance and healing.
While there’s no research to show that the energy field involved in reiki exists, you may find it relaxing.
Reiki has been studied for conditions like pain, anxiety, and depression. It’s a complementary treatment, which means you use it along with proven traditional medical treatments. It doesn’t cure or get rid of any health conditions by itself.
History of reiki
The reiki healing system, founded by Mikao Usui in the early 1900s, said that people should practice certain standards or values that bring about peace and harmony – ideals that most cultures practice. It was brought to the Western part of the world by Hawayo Hiromi Takata and become popular in the U.S. quickly.
The term comes from two Japanese words: “rei,” which means universal, and “ki,” which loosely translates to a flow of a lifeforce of energy that happens in all living things.
Is reiki a religion?
No, it's not a religion. Those who practice reiki treatment are free to follow their own beliefs and religious practices and make decisions based on these things.
How Does Reiki Work?
Reiki practitioners act as a middle ground between you and energy forces. Energy travels from their hands to you, and more specifically the areas of focus. During a session, you would take only the energy flow that you need instead of what the reiki practitioner might think you need.
How long is a reiki session?
Reiki sessions usually last about 60 to 90 minutes to make time for relaxing deeply and energy flow.
How many reiki sessions are needed?
While the number of treatments can depend on your condition and personal goals, three to five treatments 1 to 2 weeks apart is generally recommended. If you're considering reiki treatment, talk to your doctor about getting these treatments in addition to other therapies.
Studies show that reiki therapy may be useful for reducing stress and anxiety, easing pain, and even improving your quality of life. It can bring about symptom relief and other improvements, like:
- Help with meditation
- Balance to your immune system
- Post-surgery healing of bones and tissues
- A natural form of healing one's self
- Support healing in those who have other medical conditions
Does reiki help with anxiety?
It might. A review of studies found that hands-on reiki was better than a placebo (a “fake” treatment that researchers use to compare with results of a real treatment in a study) at doing things like lowering resting heart rate and blood pressure. The researchers said that reiki has also been found to be more effective than a placebo at easing anxiety, pain, and depression and at boosting quality of life and self-esteem in people with long-term health conditions.
Still, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says most medical research into reiki’s possible effects isn’t high quality, and the results are inconsistent. The center says that research doesn’t clearly show reiki to be effective for any health-related reason.
What conditions can reiki sessions help with?
Because reiki is considered a universal life force energy, it can be useful in helping with many conditions, including:
- Trouble with digestion
- Infertility (a hard time having children)
- Chronic pain
- Parkinson's disease
- Conditions caused by stress
During a reiki therapy session, you lie on a massage table, fully dressed, while a practitioner places their palms on or just over areas of your body that are thought to be zones for energy. The reiki practitioner positions their hands in up to 15 ways. They decide how long to leave their palms in each spot based on the flow of energy that they perceive you’re feeling through their hands at that given spot.
The Usui system of natural healing, named after the founder of reiki therapy, is the form most widely practiced.
A reiki session usually lasts about 60 to 90 minutes to make time for relaxing deeply and energy flow.
How to Do Reiki
Anyone who trains with a reiki master and completes an apprenticeship, along with one or more rituals, can do reiki. There’s no national certifying exam to take, and states don’t have licensing requirements.
How to become a reiki healer
Being able to do reiki therapy is thought to be passed from a teacher of reiki to a student during a reiki class lesson. During the lesson, a reiki master opens what is believed to be energy channels in a person's body. The process of transferring the ability to do reiki is called attunement.
Once you get an attunement, you can do reiki whenever your hands are placed on yourself or another person with the goal of doing reiki, and the energy is thought to start to flow on its own.
There are different degrees of attunement. Reiki supporters believe that:
- First-degree attunement gives someone the ability to practice reiki on themselves and others with touch.
- Second degree gives someone the ability to practice it mentally from a distance without direct touch.
- Third degree (also called master level) gives someone the ability to give other people attunement rituals.
In the Usui reiki system, there are four levels: one, two, advanced, and master.
To find an experienced and ethical reiki practitioner, you might want to ask your doctor if they know of anyone. Reiki is also used in hospitals and hospices, so you could also ask some locations near you if they know of anyone.
What Are the Side Effects of Reiki?
In general, reiki seems to be safe, but it should not be used as a substitute for traditional treatments provided by your doctor or other specialists. Reiki is meant to add on to therapy you may already receive. If you're healthy, regular reiki therapy session may be able to prevent certain conditions and increase your means of responding to stress.
Reiki Session: What to Expect
Reiki sessions can differ in many ways. You can expect or look out for a few differences, like:
- Who the practitioner is. A reiki practitioner can be anyone trained in reiki, even a friend or yourself.
- Where the session takes place. The setting can be anywhere, but a quiet place free of interruptions is usually preferred.
- What sound is present during the session. Soft music or silence can be options for sound; you can request either option before your session.
- Forms or details to provide before the session. Some practitioners may ask you to complete a form about your health or to agree to the therapy before your session.
- How long the session takes. The time frame can be different and can be affected by the setting (for example, a hospital versus a home).
You can take a few other steps to provide comfort before your session, like asking your practitioner to give you some examples of hand placement and letting them know your needs or previous or current medical conditions that may affect the session (such as digestion problems, pregnancy, or scarring).
During the session
Even though you’re resting on a massage table, the practitioner isn’t giving a massage, using pressure, or moving your joints around, making reiki special compared to other touch-based treatments. They’re simply using gentle touch at most.
You might feel sensations like heat, tingling, or pulsing where their hands are, or throughout your body. Or you might not notice any changes. Some people get so relaxed that they fall asleep.
What Should I Expect After Reiki?
You might feel more relaxed or less stressed. If you’re getting reiki for a health condition, you’ll still need to follow your treatment and see your doctor as you usually do. Reiki doesn’t replace your regular medical care.
How Much is a Reiki Session?
The International Center for Reiki Training says a treatment usually costs $25 to $100, depending on where you live. The center says some practitioners treat people for free or for a donation.
Will My Health Insurance Cover It?
It might not. You have to talk to your insurer first to find out. You can ask questions like:
- Do you cover reiki as a complementary treatment for my health condition?
- If so, do I need to get it preauthorized or preapproved?
- Do I need a doctor’s prescription or a referral?
- Are there any limits on the number of sessions I can get or the amount you’ll cover?
How to Find a Reiki Practitioner
Talk to your doctor to see if reiki therapy is right for you. They may also be able to provide resources for finding a reiki practitioner.
Reiki practitioners and masters may post information about their services in health food stores, bookstores, or magazines.
Also, the International Association of Reiki Professionals has a search tool for finding registered practitioners.
When you find a reiki practitioner who could be a good fit for you, you should ask important questions before your session, such as how long they've been doing reiki therapy and their training.
Reiki is a technique that uses energy force to reduce stress and anxiety and encourage relaxation. The method uses gentle touch and placement for healing and tries to improve balance in your body. It does not treat conditions on its own but can be used to support traditional treatment you may receive. Talk to your doctor before getting a therapy session to see if it's right for you.
- What is the purpose of reiki therapy? Reiki therapy may be useful for reducing stress and anxiety, easing pain, and even improving your quality of life.
- What happens at a reiki session? During a reiki therapy session, you lie on a massage table, fully dressed, while a practitioner places their palms on or just over different zones for energy on your body. The reiki practitioner places their hands in up to 15 ways. They decide how long to leave their palms in each spot based on the flow of energy that they perceive you’re feeling through their hands.
- What are the risks of reiki? Reiki is generally considered safe. If you're healthy, regular reiki therapy session may be able to prevent certain conditions and increase your means of responding to stress..