What is Reiki?
Many of us have experienced times in our lives where we’ve been anxious, had physical problems and have simply felt that we need a little TLC.
Many of us have experienced times in our lives where we’ve been anxious, had physical problems and have simply felt that we need a little TLC. Alongside yoga and meditation, I have heard a lot of my friends discussing the power of Reiki and recommending it to help ease anxiety and aches and pains that come from tension in the body.
Having never tried Reiki before, I was curious to discover what exactly Reiki is and whether we can use it during isolation to help us cope.
Luckily enough, fellow yoga teacher Louise Stott, also known as @yogini_of_the_north over on Instagram, was happy to help!
“Reiki is a deeply relaxing Japanese energy healing treatment that uses Reiki energy and gentle touch to help balance the energy centres in your body (chakras) to heal on both a physical and emotional level.”
After some research I discovered that Reiki emerged in the late 1800’s in Japan but that energy healing in various forms has been used for far longer. Although hard to prove, Reiki has been increasingly popular alongside Western medicine in recent years, with 1.2 million Americans trying Reiki per year and that number is rising. In fact, over 60 hospitals in the USA offer Reiki to patients.
However, there is plenty of scepticism out there. Studies have found it difficult to prove benefits from Reiki in any tangible way. Some studies have found a reduction in pain and anxiety, but this could be psychosomatic and there has been no evidence to suggest that the treatment is effective in treating disease.
“The number one benefit in my opinion, is sheer relaxation,’ explains Louise. “When you have a treatment it’s like time stands still. You’re in a complete state of relaxation and the gentle touch, the smells, the sensations – it is all so comforting.”
I think many of us can benefit for relaxation and Reiki could be a great alternative to massage, which for some is uncomfortable if they prefer not to be touched.
I asked Louise to explain what a Reiki treatment involves and she explained that “A Reiki treatment works by balancing the energy in the body via the seven Chakras in the body… It stimulates the body’s natural ability to heal and can provide recipients with reductions in physical pain, chronic pain, a boosted immune system, increased energy and better sleep, to name just a few. On an emotional level, it can help reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and it can help to heal emotional wounds.”
Louise also mentioned that Reiki has now been recognised by the NHS and is in fact often given to cancer patients. Cancer Research UK describes Reiki as a complementary treatment to help patients relax, ‘cope with difficult situations, relieve emotional stress and tension, help to improve overall wellbeing’. The website goes on to explain that these positive benefits from Reiki are often because ‘a therapist spends time with the person…after the rush and stress of hospitals and treatment, it can be very relaxing when someone gives you attention for an hour or more, in a calming setting.’
In fact, Reiki is often used in palliative care, especially in hospices. They recommend the treatment to help with the emotional and mental strains of the illness, but also state it’s important to keep your doctor informed of any such treatments.
“Absolutely anyone. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who didn’t enjoy the treatment and more often than not, people get a lot more out of it than they expected.”
“No, there aren’t any contraindications and it’s safe for everyone although if you are undergoing any medical treatment I’d recommend mentioning it to your doctor first.”
“Appointments can be any length of time, but a 45-60-minute appointment is the most popular. I set up my space with my crystals, I use oils on my hands, not on the client unless I have their permission, smudge the space using sage or Palo Santo and play soft, deeply relaxing music. The client lies on the bed and gets comfortable.
“I then do a short meditation for the client to get in the zone and the same time I am ‘activating’ the Reiki energy and going through a series of practitioner rituals in my head that include protecting my own energy and listening to the Reiki principals.
“Each treatment will differ depending on the needs of the clients, but typically the structure is similar. I scan the client’s aura and then cleanse the aura removing any negative energy and inserting positive energy. I then scan the client’s chakras picking up on any imbalances. Practitioners can use their hands or I often use my crystal pendulum.
“I then work through the client’s body, starting with the head, where I spend a lot of time. I then work through a variety of hand positions and channel the Reiki energy into the client. I work down the whole of the body channelling energy at each chakra point and anywhere else it needs. I’ll then re-check the chakras and if there are still imbalances, I’ll work on that area some more.
“I then gently wake the client, disconnect myself from the client’s energy and then we’re done. I like to chat at the end about any sensations or emotions and answer any questions then, or at any time after.”
I feel relaxed just reading about the treatment and thinking about all that time to meditate and have someone taking care of your energy. It’s easy to see the potential benefits of a treatment like Reiki, particularly for someone like me who doesn’t enjoy hands on treatments such as massage but could do with easing anxiety and improving sleep.
However, in the current situation you might be wondering – how can we possibly benefit from Reiki when we’re staying at home and socially isolated?
I asked Louise if there is any way to use Reiki while social distancing and she said; “Yes! Reiki can be done as a Distance Healing treatment in a few ways. There’s a specific distant healing Reiki symbol taught at Level 2 for this purpose. To transmit the treatment remotely I could use a Reiki book, or a photo. Another option is to use a physical replacement, like a teddy or a doll. You’d set a time for the treatment and the client would lie down and relax and the practitioner tunes into the energy of the client and physically touches the teddy channelling the energy to the recipient. Reiki could be sent to a future time using this symbol, for example to a time you are having a job interview or other stressful situation.”
I think many of us would like to be sent some calm at this time and the idea of distance Reiki is certainly an interesting one I’d love to try!
“That it really works. There’s lots that we can’t explain about Reiki but in all honesty most people couldn’t explain how electricity works yet we happily trust and use it on a daily basis.”
Alternative treatments such as Reiki will always divide opinion. Lack of tangible evidence to reassure us of the benefits may put some off, for others the experience of sheer relaxation is enough to prove that Reiki is worthwhile. For anyone suffering with anxiety, chronic pain and sleep issues, trying Reiki could be a wonderful option to take back some control over your own health and wellbeing.
As well as Reiki, Louise offers a variety of crystal healing treatments, yoga classes and workshops incorporating her skills as a holistic therapist. You can learn more about her classes and treatments here.
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