Energy healing has been used for centuries in various forms. Advocates say it works with the energy fields around the body.
Some controversy surrounds Reiki, because it is hard to prove its effectiveness through scientific means. However, many people who receive Reiki say it works, and its popularity is increasing. A Google search for the term currently returns no less than 68,900,000 results.
A 2007 survey shows that, in the United States (U.S.), 1.2 million adults tried Reiki or a similar therapy at least once in the previous year. Over 60 hospitals are believed to offer Reiki services to patients.
What is Reiki?
According to practitioners, energy can stagnate in the body where there has been physical injury or possibly emotional pain. In time, these energy blocks can cause illness.
Energy medicine aims to help the flow of energy and remove blocks in a similar way to acupuncture or acupressure. Improving the flow of energy around the body, say practitioners, can enable relaxation, reduce pain, speed healing, and reduce other symptoms of illness.
Reiki has been around for thousands of years. Its current form was first developed in 1922 by a Japanese Buddhist called Mikao Usui, who reportedly taught 2,000 people the Reiki method during his lifetime. The practice spread to the U.S. through Hawaii in the 1940s, and then to Europe in the 1980s.
It is commonly referred to as palm healing or hands-on healing.
What happens in a Reiki session?
Reiki is best held in a peaceful setting, but it can be carried out anywhere. The patient will sit in a comfortable chair or lie on a table, fully clothed. There may or may not be music, depending on the patient's preference.
The practitioner places their hands lightly on or over specific areas of the head, limbs, and torso using different hand shapes, for between 2 and 5 minutes. The hands can be placed over 20 different areas of the body.
When the practitioner feels that the heat, or energy, in their hands has abated, they will remove their hands and may place them over a different area of the body.
Some Reiki techniques
The techniques involved have names such as:
- extracting harmful energies
- smoothing and raking the aura
Some Reiki practitioners will use crystals and chakra healing wands, because they find these can enable healing or protect a home from negative energy.
However, Annie Harrington, Chair of the Reiki Federation of the United Kingdom (U.K.), told Medical News Today:
"Reiki relies on no other instruments beyond the practitioner. We do not use crystals, powders or wands as a general rule. However, one of the benefits of Reiki healing is distance healing (where Reiki is sent over several miles) then, many practitioners will use crystals to assist with the energy vibrations."
Sessions can last between 15 and 90 minutes. The number of sessions will vary, depending on what a client wishes to accomplish. Some clients prefer to have one session while others have a series of sessions to work on a particular issue.
According to practitioners, the healing effects are mediated by channeling the universal energy known as qi, pronounced "chi." In India, this is known as "prana." This is the same energy involved in tai chi exercise. It is the life force energy that some believe surrounds all of us.
This energy is said to permeate the body. Reiki experts point out that, while this energy is not measurable by modern scientific techniques, it can be felt by many who tune in to it.
Reiki is alleged to aid relaxation, assist in the body's natural healing processes, and develop emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
It is also said to induce deep relaxation, help people cope with difficulties, relieve emotional stress, and improve overall well-being.