Chances are you’ve heard of Reiki and/or mispronounced it in some capacity. While not as mainstream as yoga, pilates, or maybe sound baths, it’s estimated that 4,000,000 people have done some level of Reiki treatment in the world. If you don’t know what it is, let alone how it might provide some health benefits to you, you could be missing out on a spiritual treatment with some empiricism behind it.
While not a medical cure or fix-all, Reiki has been used for centuries as a helpful aid in everything from pain relief to mental wellness…for those willing to put the time and work in.
Are you familiar with acupuncture? Reiki is similar. It’s kind of like acupuncture but without the needles, as we’ll delve further into below.
I’m a certified personal trainer with an understanding of reflexology and energy healing, but I’m not a Reiki Master. Mariah Cheyenne is a Certified Reiki Practitioner so I consulted her for this article.
Here’s what you should know about Reiki … in 5 minutes.
What does Reiki mean?
Reiki is a Japanese word that translates to “life energy,” but more specifically refers to the force that lives in all things. The suffix “ki” is translated to “qi (or 气) in Chinese, which is most often brought up when discussing in Tai Chi.
There is no English equivalent to the words qi or ki, which is not insignificant. Western Cultures tend to focus less on energy healing as a form of medicine and rely almost pre-dominantly on over-the-counter and prescription medicine, which Reiki is largely in contrast to.
How to pronounce Reiki
Reiki is fairly easy for Westerners to mis-pronounce. Reiki is pronounced ray-kee using an English accent. In Japanese, Reiki is traditionally spoken with an “L” at the beginning, such as leiki.
What to expect from a Reiki Session
So yes, imagine someone combined acupuncture with a light massage and added in a side of talk therapy and ASMR. That’s a decent summation for Reiki…
…and a viral YouTube video ready to happen.
Expect the words chakra to get thrown around during a session, mainly because Reiki involves opening up your seven chakras, or energy zones.
Wonder how stress can cause your neck to tighten up? A prominent cause is a blockage in the fifth—or throat—chakra. Negative energy (stress and uncertainty for instance) can close off the energy zones in your body, causing an energy blockage. A Reiki Session is engineered to re-open these chakras.
You’ll likely lie flat with the person performing the session, called a practitioner, discussing what’s causing negative energy throughout your body. They’ll then hover their hands over you, or softly place their hands in certain areas, working to free the negative energy from your body.
That said, every session can be different and practitioners can vary in their practice, but fundamentally the goal is the same.
Reiki and attunement
In a Reiki Session, a master sends pure energy in the direction of a person whose chakras are out of balance. Attunement actually refers to the process a Reiki practitioner goes through prior to a session.
The work of the practitioner is to improve the well-being of the client but cannot do so if they are “out of tune,” hence they go through a process of attunement to calibrate themselves and remove any negative energy from within them before trying to balance another individual.
The benefits of doing Reiki
Many of the benefits of Reiki are still being understood, even if it traces back to the 19th century in Japan, Not dissimilar to talk therapy or other medical treatments, results will vary when undergoing a Reiki Session and will likely depend on the work you put in.
Reiki is effective for those who believe it can be effective. It’s likely beneficial to maintain an open mind and to think about what brought you to do a session in the first place. That being said, numerous studies have shown that:
Reiki can improve sleep and reduce stress
A study on a 9-year old showed that Reiki was able to improve sleep by 33%. The science is primarily focused on how it affects the parasympathetic nervous system. The purpose of sleep is to help the body restore and replenish energy levels. The more your parasympathetic nervous system is active during sleep, the better your body restores its energy.
In some cases, Reiki has been shown to help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, evidenced by its ability to potentially lower an individual’s heart rate during sleep.
Reiki can potentially reduce pain perception
Another study reported that patients recovering from total knee arthroplasty surgery (TKA) had significant reductions in post-surgery pain after receiving multiple sessions. In fact, ten nurses from the hospital became trained in providing Reiki treatment.
Disadvantages of doing Reiki
If there is a disadvantage to Reiki, it’s overcoming the learning curve involved with engaging in something very different than what most Westerners are accustomed to. In a tech-driven world, many of us are inherently closed off. Reiki asks you to betray those instincts and literally transform someone else’s energy into your own. Opposed to having you talk about the negative things affecting you, Reiki asks you to sense what’s negative and offers another person to bring a positive force inward.
Does insurance cover a Reiki Session?
Yes and no. Insurance will often cover a session if it is part of a physical therapy routine as the result of a surgical procedure.
Is Reiki expensive?
At roughly $75 -$125 Reiki is not terribly expensive compared to other health treatments. Also, given that Reiki is a heavily reflexive experience, it’s recommended by many practitioners to allow at least a week to transpire in between sessions. So you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for multiple sessions a week.
Are Reiki and Qigong the same thing?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Reiki and Qigong are primarily the same words, in that they focus on the energy of life which we all possess. But the practices differ. Primarily, Qigong is similar to Tai Chi in that it focuses on movements. Reiki often doesn’t require moving at all.
For many, Reiki has become a powerful tool. When combined with a healthy lifestyle and an open self, the benefits can be felt for a lifetime. Reiki is not a panacea or a pill. It is a process that may require some vulnerability from those who aren’t accustomed to separating the mind from the body. But at a relatively low cost and with seemingly very little side-effects, Reiki can offer something new for those seeking more positivity in their life and who feel like they’ve already tried a little bit of everything.