What Is Reiki?


Brief Overview


Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction  and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying  on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy"  flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force  energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and  if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. 

The word Reiki is made  of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher  Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually  "spiritually guided life force energy." 

What Is a Session Like?

The client lies on a massage table fully clothed while the practitioner lightly touches or holds her hands above the client's body. A treatment feels like a wonderful, glowing radiance that flows through and around the client. Many report a warm, tingly feeling; some become so relaxed that they drift off to sleep.

Reiki treats the whole person, including  body, emotions, mind and spirit--creating many beneficial effects that  include relaxation and feelings of peace, security, and well-being. Many have reported miraculous results.  

What Does Reiki Do?

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual  healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been  effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always  creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all  other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and  promote recovery.  Many hospitals around the world integrate Reiki into their programs, from surgery to chemotherapy. It is also beneficial in palliative care and hospice programs.

In her Living Well article "Reiki in a Hospital Setting," Michele Anderson gives a couple of examples:

"Mary, a yoga instructor and registered nurse, tried Reiki treatments out of curiosity. After her first session, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that Reiki  had the ability to work beyond just the physical level.  “Not only did I  feel totally relaxed, but I found for two months after the treatment,  my sleeping was better, I had a more positive outlook, and…experienced a  reduction in peri-menopausal symptoms,” she says.

Like  Mary, clients often report an improvement in physical maladies as well  an overall improvement in mood, mental clarity, and stress levels.

When Kate Peterson from Red Hook, NY had her first Reiki  session, she was suffering from stress and anxiety coupled with chronic  back pain. While she wasn’t sure to expect from the treatment, she soon  became relaxed and comfortable.  Within moments, she began to feel a  pulsing sensation in her lower back which lasted the duration of the  session.  

“After my session,” says  Peterson, “I felt great.  But the next morning was the best part.  I got  out of bed quickly, forgetting the fact that I normally have to do it  slowly or have my husband help me.”   

How Does Reiki Work?

According to William Rand, founder of the International Center for Reiki Training:

"We are alive because life force is flowing through us. Life force flows within the physical body through pathways called chakras, meridians and nadis. It also flows around us in a field of energy called  the aura. Life force nourishes the organs and cells of the body, supporting them in their vital functions. When this flow of life force is disrupted, it causes diminished function in one or more of the organs and tissues of the physical body. The life force is responsive to thoughts and feelings. It becomes disrupted when we accept, either consciously or unconsciously, negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves. These negative thoughts and feelings attach themselves to the energy field and cause a disruption in the flow of life force. This diminishes the vital function of the organs and cells of the physical body.

Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field and  charging them with positive energy. It raises the vibratory level of the energy field in and around the physical body where the negative thoughts and feelings are attached. This causes the negative energy to break apart and fall away. In so doing, Reiki clears,  straightens, and heals the energy pathways, thus allowing the life force to flow in a healthy and natural way."

Who Can Learn Reiki?


An amazingly simple technique to learn, 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.


Its use is not dependent on one's intellectual capacity or spiritual development and, therefore, is available to everyone. It has been successfully taught to thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds.

Many hospitals have programs to train parents of ill children and caregivers to those in palliative care.