What is Reiki?

“Reiki” comes from 2 Japanese words “Rei” and “Ki”. “Rei” means “mysterious, sacred” and “Ki” is the vital or universal energy.

Reiki is “sacred or mysterious energy“. So what really is Reiki? And how can we connect to it?  

Ki, Chi or Prana

In yoga, meditation and all forms of energy work, everything is energy. The body is energy, the space we are in is energy, and so is everything around us. Call it Ki, Chi, or Prana, in Japanese, Chinese, or Indian traditions, it is all the same thing: the vital, universal energy that carries life.

Energies move in different ways, and sometimes they stagnate. Just like the flow of traffic! In the body, when energy stagnates, blocks can form along the energy channels or in the chakras. As we work to get those energies moving again, the body returns to harmony.

How do we get energy to move?

1- Get the body moving! Running, dancing, swimming, any physical activity will get the general energy flowing. Practices such as yoga, qi gong, tai chi or somatic movement, dance therapy will get you moving with the idea of balancing the body and mind.

2- If movement is not an option, or just not your thing right now : receive Reiki! Reiki helps get to move and balance energy as you quietly lie down. Delightful! What is more, it is not just any type of Ki, it is sacred Ki, the Ki of light. Get your fill of bright, sparkly, positive energy!

How does Reiki work?

The practitioner is a channel for Reiki, the universal energy of light. It flows through him/her/them.

To start, a practitioner opens the session by intentionally creating a sacred space for both giver and receiver. Then, he calls in Reiki, and directs the flow onto the receiver by laying of hands on the body of the recipient (excluding intimate areas and always fully clothed!). Sometimes the practitioner keeps his hands about ten centimeters / ½ a foot from the body, remaining in the receiver’s subtle body energy, without touching.  

Some practitioners feel the body’s energy blocks through the hands. Others sense the blocks intuitively. They then lay their hands on these places. Others follow a sequence, placing their hands in specific places in a set order.

Many practitioners mix both techniques, and some also introduce other healing modalities into their Reiki practice. Use of crystals placed on the body, tarot cards, shamanic practices, coaching questions, sound healing with singing bowls or gongs or mantra… the list is endless and so rich!

Why is Reiki channeled through the hands?

Our body has energy centers called Chakras. We are usually familiar with the 7 main in-body chakras that align along the spine. But there are also plenty of secondary chakras in the body.

The palms of the hands are one example of secondary chakras! The palms is where Reiki flows out from the giver. This is why the practitioner places his hands on the receiver.

Rainbow Reiki Hand
Rainbow Reiki hands!

How does Reiki feel?

Each person has their own sensitivity. And all ways are fine!

You may feel heat coming from the practitioner’s hands. Or you may feel coolness. Your body and mind may completely relax, or experience an inner upheaval. Visualizations may happen, you may see colors, shapes, or perceive entire inner landscapes. You may also fall asleep, or not feel anything at all!

Everything is great. Reiki is light energy, and only flows with the best intentions for the receiver’s higher good. There is no “right” way to experience it.

Often as well, the effects of a session can be felt hours, days, even months later. This is because a session can set an energetic realignment in motion, the effects of which we do not feel until later. Each session lets us plant Reiki light seeds!

Does Reiki have a placebo effect or is it energy medicine?

Let us look at the question this way. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the meridians are a network of channels that carry Chi, vital energy around the body. But the meridians mostly do not have a physical support: they do not follow the blood circulation system, for example. And yet in the Western world today, and without physical evidence of these energetic meridians, Traditional Chinese Medicine practices such as acupuncture – and Ayurveda’s Marma points therapy- are widely recognized as effective.

It looks like the energy channels, where Chi, Ki or Prana circulates, must have something to do with it.

Reiki and modern medicine

Of course, Reiki is not a substitute for modern medical treatment. It’s not about skipping a chemotherapy appointment because you’re receiving Reiki sessions.

On the other hand, Reiki has no contraindications! I think it can at the very least help the receiver relax, release anxiety and feel more at home in their body. In this way, Reiki is a great complement to classic treatments. And hey, if you are willing to try, the worst that can happen is a placebo effect!

Where I live now in California, Reiki is offered in several hospitals, as complementary care to major procedures (for cancer, HIV, infertility…). Some of my Reiki friends work with palliative care or post-traumatic stress reduction programs. Others offer Reiki to animals in shelters, or front-line workers during California’s forest fires. In Switzerland, certain health insurances include Reiki as a modality they pay for. Maybe Reiki is already mainstream where you live -yay! And if not, let’s get Reiki soon to a hospital near you!

Whether you “believe” in the Chakra system, or that energy can be channeled and transmitted by touch, or in the existence of a luminous, positive energy called Reiki, it’s all up to you!

The best may be to try Reiki for yourself and see!

See my post here for an easy way to feel your own Ki.

To learn more about the chakras, here are some posts:

What are the Chakras?

The 7 main chakras Chakras and

How to work with sound and the Chakras?