Traditional Eastern techniques are finding new life in the West. More and more people are looking for alternative or additional techniques when it comes to supporting their wellness. These techniques not only support healing but can also generate new energy for your daily routine. And studies are showing that Eastern techniques like meditation can support mental health, and possibly even gut health.1
One of these techniques is Reiki — the belief that there’s an inner energy that can support the body’s capacity to heal itself.
Traditional science has yet to support Reiki, but it has roots in principles that have proven to be factual. In addition, there are studies that show its promise.
And some Western healthcare settings like Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine are even offering complimentary treatments like Reiki to help patients relax and “prime them for healing.”2
So, though it may seem mysterious on the surface, it is possible that there’s more to this time-honored technique.
The Principles of Reiki
The overarching concept of Reiki is that there is a “life force” that flows through all living things.
The word originates from the Japanese “Rei,” which means universal life, and “Ki” which means energy.
The idea is that a person’s inner energy should be free-flowing. If energy is weak or blocked it could lead to physical or emotional symptoms. Practitioners promote easing tension or stress as two of the most common reasons to use it.3
A Reiki session is where the practitioner transfers some of their own universal life energy to the patient. Holistically, this transfer will help shift the life force of the patient’s body into balance. Many believe that this can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep.4
Now, this may sound a little like massage, but massage is more about manipulating the muscles in your body. Reiki focuses, instead, on manipulating the field of energy around your body to inspire healing. As a result, physical contact is only one part of a larger plan.
What Can You Expect From A Session?
No two Reiki sessions can ever be the same though there are some commonalities between sessions. Sessions are generally held in a private in order to remove disturbances.
Silence or soft music can be used during the session to mask ambient noise. Generally, the patient lies flat on a table or is seated. The practitioner uses a mixture of light and non-intrusive touch around the head and torso. In some cases, the practitioner’s hands are only placed in proximity to your body — this can still lead to energy transference. A session can last anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes.
It’s important to note that Reiki is a cumulative practice. As a result, don’t expect to see a major energy shift right away. Some patients have subjectively reported feeling tired after a session. And some believe this is a part of the natural healing response. Usually, a short series of sessions will be enough to allow you the time to determine if it is working for you.
Does Channeling Energy Work?
Well, it’s a tough practice to qualify — how exactly do you explain energy or life force? Though scientists that support Reiki talk about the “biofield” — a hypothetical field of energy and information that surrounds the entire body.5
Reiki practitioners, in theory, use this field to transfer energy and promote healing.
Despite the confusion, studies have tried to prove the effectiveness of Reiki. And results show a degree of promise, but the conclusions are somewhat vague.
In one study, patients were examined not to see if Reiki cured their particular health issue, but to see if it helped their overall well-being and comfort. In this regard, it was successful.6 Another study on Reiki healing tested patients suffering from heart issues and showed increased positivity in patients’ mental states.7
A Matter of the Mind
Reiki’s healing potential may be more of a matter of the mind. Studies in terms of cognitive healing tend to show more pronounced benefits. One study focused on nurses with “burnout syndrome.” Reiki treatment led to significant physical markers associated with relaxation. Another study on people with mild depression and stress showed immediate and long-term improvements in these areas. 8
Of course, life energy is a difficult marker to track but some believe its effectiveness has to do with the fact that gentle touch has been shown to aid stress reduction and relieve discomfort.9
Healing In Review
In the end, studies do show that Reiki may lead to some positive results. At the very least, it’s a practice worth testing out… especially if you’re interested in your body’s capacity to heal itself.
Of course, you should be sure to do your due diligence when seeking out a practitioner. Finding a skilled professional is the best way to get the most from this practice.