The gentle art of channelling ‘universal energy’ through the body is considered a safe and non-invasive method of natural healing. But how exactly does it work?
Reiki is an increasingly popular alternative therapy choice, promoting a spiritual, holistic experience. The treatment encourages the idea of balance and harmony within the body, and while it’s spiritual, it’s not a religious experience so can be enjoyed by anyone. It’s found to be particularly effective for those looking to reduce stress or find relaxation, with practitioners believing that life energy flows through everything, and that stress and illnesses occur when this energy is obstructed. Through clearing and balancing these energies, overall health and wellbeing can be restored.
Practitioners believe that life energy flows through everything, and that stress and illnesses occur when this energy is obstructed
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a Japanese healing technique, where a therapist uses hand movements and gentle touch to affect the body’s energy channels. It is considered holistic, addressing the body, mind and spirit, and falls into the category of energy healing.
The word Reiki stems from two Japanese words, which, when combined, translate to ‘universal spiritual energy’. Practitioners are attuned to this and can channel the universal life energy to help others, without affecting their own. Through the therapy’s ability to relax a person, it aims to reduce stress and stimulate healing with the energies aligned effectively.
There are three different levels of Reiki, based on the practitioner’s attunement to the life energy. The first level (Shoden) is primarily focused on learning to be attuned with the energy and practicing it on yourself.
The second level is called Okuden and translates to ‘the deepening’, where you delve more deeply into your personal practice and can perform Reiki on others, realising how to clear blockages in said energy.
The third level is where you become a Reiki Master, and are at a level where you can then teach others the art. It would be expected that you would have spent a considerable amount of time at level two, engaging with clients and exploring the energy before choosing to become a master.
Where does it come from?
Reiki has existed since pre-Neolithic times, but it was brought into the present day by Tendai Buddhist Mikao Usui in Japan towards the end of the 19th century. Born in 1865, he came from a reasonably wealthy Buddhist family, studying at a traditional Buddhist Monastery, as well as mastering Samurai swordsmanship. He was a very open-minded individual, looking to learn about all sorts of medicine, religions, and energy, which led him to be interested in the idea of healing others in a way that wouldn’t deplete his own energy levels. He continued his studies in China to learn more about medicine, before returning to live in a monastery and discovering more about enlightenment. It is the combination of these ideas that led him to develop modern Reiki, which primarily encourages you to heal yourself first, in order to be able to heal others. He went on to train people in the therapy and pass on his knowledge of the art over the years.
The Western version of Reiki (primarily used in Europe and the United States) is likely to have stemmed from Hawayo Takata, a woman who lived in Hawaii but had Japanese heritage. During a period of ill health in 1935, she visited family in Japan and sought treatment there. After being advised to have an operation, Hawayo instead believed a voice had told her there was an alternative way of healing. Her doctor informed her of a clinic offering Reiki treatments, which she attended and had daily sessions. Within a few months, she found she was no longer unwell and felt so inspired by her situation that she trained in Reiki herself, and later brought the therapy back to Hawaii in 1938. As World War II erupted across the Pacific Ocean, Takata slightly altered her Reiki therapies and teachings to be more acceptable to Westerners, probably due to American mistrust of Japan at the time. Her art-form survived the war and continues to be practiced globally today.
For anyone feeling emotionally overwhelmed or disconnected, Reiki can bring a sense of inner calm, much like with meditation
What’s the medical evidence?
There have been clinical trials evaluating the effectiveness of Reiki in reducing pain, anxiety and stress. Research published in Holistic Nursing Practice by AL Baldwin et al. in March 2017 studied the effect of Reiki on patients who were undergoing knee replacement surgery.
The study separated 46 patients into three groups. There was a Reiki group, a placebo or ‘sham Reiki’ group, and a ‘standard of care’ group. Only the group receiving Reiki showed significant reductions in pain, anxiety, blood pressure and their respiration rates. This initial study was based on a very small group of participants, and so further investigation in a full-scale clinical study would be necessary in the future to find reliable data. The positive outlook from this trial does, however, suggest hope that in the future there could be medical evidence to support the use of alternative therapies in conjunction with traditional medicine.
How does it work?
Reiki is considered a safe and non-invasive method of natural healing. During a session, you can remain fully-clothed and lie on a treatment table, where the practitioner will place their hands either on your body or just above, in a series of light motions. The hand movements are made in association with the major chakras, which are believed to be the centres of our bodies that energy flows through.
Chakras open naturally during a Reiki treatment, and through focusing on clearing any blockages to these energies, it is believed that the overall balance in the body is improved, leading to ailments clearing as well.
These can range from headaches and insomnia being focused around the head, to colds and arthritis through other various points on the body.
The experience itself is often described as quite an emotional release. The therapy encourages deep relaxation, and to let go of negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. For anyone feeling emotionally overwhelmed or disconnected it can bring a sense of inner calm, much like with meditation. Some people even describe feeling a radiant glow around themselves, all contributing to an overall positive effect on the mind and body. Improving emotional wellbeing could affect physical self as well, with anxiety often manifesting itself in headaches, an upset stomach or sore muscles.
The key difference with Reiki compared to other forms of therapy is its non-invasive element, which makes it perfect for those who are uncomfortable with removing clothing, contact with needles, or applied pressure. If you respect personal boundaries, you may actually prefer Reiki to other therapies.
When considering a Reiki session, as with any therapy, it is vital to feel comfortable with your professional. Do some research and read reviews on therapists to see if they sound right for you. You can always give them a call first or pop into their clinic to make sure you connect. That way you’ll get the most out of your first Reiki session.
Written by Rebecca Thair, Happiful Magazine
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Download an information sheet here Reiki-information Reiki Information (4)
In Reiki teaching a lineage is very important. It is something that is passed from Master Teacher to student during their learning. Reiki practitioners are very proud of their lineage.
A true lineage will start with Mikao Usui and then may branch in several directions. The most frequent lineage is the Western lineage that goes from Usui, through Hayashi and Takata. Some Master Teachers carry an Eastern lineage that goes from Mikao Usui through Taketomi and Doi.
Essentially, everyone who has been taught Reiki should be following on the tradition taught to them. Initially teaching the basics, and then some teachers add some of their own wisdom and learning. Most importantly the lineage includes all the learning from all those names in the lineage.
Unfortunately, some people have deliberately missed out names from their lineage in order to make it appear they have a ‘Short Lineage’. If a name is excluded, the full lineage and teaching is not declared or honoured.
Ref: Sylvia Clegg
The Reiki Precepts or Principles
Mikao Usui gave his Reiki students a series of ‘precepts’ to follow. A precept is a command, a rule of conduct, or a moral instruction. They are an important part of Buddhist practice.
Today, there are many different precepts related to Reiki. A modern translation of the precepts is:
Just for today do not worry.
Just for today do not anger.
Honour you parents, teachers and elders.
Earn your living honestly.
Show gratitude for every living thing.
Using a pendulum during a Reiki treatment
Reiki Masters and practitioners can benefit from using pendulums during healing treatments in many ways.
- Use a pendulum to determine the health of the seven main chakras of the client.
The chakras are energy centres in the body, and the word literally means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. The seven main chakras (the root, sacral chakra, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown) should all be spinning in a clockwise direction if they are healthy.
People’s chakras can often become blocked with energy or have too little or too much energy in them. Directing the Reiki energy specifically toward these imbalanced chakras is an excellent way to return them to their balanced state. Holding pendulum over each chakra at the very beginning of the session will help determine which chakras need extra attention.
- Let the pendulum guide the Reiki treatment.
In order to use a pendulum effectively, the responses need to be determined before the treatment. If the Chakra is balanced correctly, the pendulum should move in a clockwise rotation.
- Determine when to give Reiki treatments and which complementary modalities to use during the session
Many Reiki practitioners incorporate the use of crystals, sound healing, aromatherapy, acupressure and energy work into their Reiki treatment sessions. Let the pendulum help to determine not only which complementary tools to use, but also when to schedule the sessions to get the most out of them.
Using a pendulum can be an invaluable tool during treatments, the beauty of the Reiki healing energy is that it has an intelligence in and of itself. So essentially, there is no wrong way to use a pendulum.
What to expect from Reiki:
Reiki is a complementary therapy that’s thought to aid ailments from depression to chronic pain. So, what can you expect from a session? Happiful’s Kathryn Wheeler finds out what really goes on behind the therapy room doors.
On a mid-week afternoon, the low winter sun was catching on the leaves of a long, tree-lined avenue leading to the Surrey and Hampshire Wellbeing Clinic, where I had come to try Reiki for the first time.
Reiki is a holistic therapeutic practice that is centred on the belief in a ‘life force energy’. This ‘energy’ is thought to flow through all of us, and the world around us, and followers of Reiki believe that the energies can be rebalanced by practitioners – the results being a calm, soothed, body and mind.
I arrived at the centre and was led into a low-lit treatment room by Reiki master Jenny Douglas. Sitting on deep, comfortable chairs, each holding a mug of herbal tea, I admitted that I didn’t have a clue what to expect from the session. Although, in part, this was a deliberate choice – I didn’t want to obsess over other people’s experiences to the point where I created a mental check-list for my own.
But what I did know before the session was that this was an unintrusive therapy, meaning that you remain fully clothed throughout, with little-to-no physical contact, depending on the therapist. And that over the course of the hour session, the therapist would move their hands over your body to rebalance and manipulate your energies.
In the centre of the room was a massage table. I lay down on a soft pillow and was covered with a heavy wool blanket. As I closed my eyes and settled down, low ambient music played in the background, and I instantly started to feel relaxed.
Jenny’s role in the Reiki session is to act as a mirror for my ‘energies’, able to pick up on the areas of my body where the energy is strongest, and where it needs to be rebalanced. Using her hands, she began by lightly touching my head.
What happened next was unexpected.
I felt as though my head was expanding, or perhaps more accurately, I suddenly couldn’t tell where my head stopped, and Jenny’s hands began. It was unlike anything I had experienced before, and yet at no point did it feel alarming or uncomfortable. It was a kind of tingling, mixed with a sensation of heat, but all of it pleasant.
Jenny moved down to my ears and neck, and then my chest, before holding her hands over my legs and feet. At points, the sensations felt more intense than others – especially around my ears, and later my ankles. And throughout the process, I felt as though I had slipped into the state of mind similar to when you are on the edge of falling asleep, where you feel warm, relaxed, and slow.
As time went on, I was able to tune in to my body in an entirely new way. Feeling the sensations, whatever they may have been, moving down my body gave me the opportunity to check in with each part and realise where I was holding on to the most tension.
When the session finished, Jenny gently touched me on the shoulder. I opened my eyes, and stood up feeling soothed and slow, as if I had just woken up from a long, nourishing sleep.
Leaving the clinic, I went about the rest of my day. But I felt different. I felt lighter, as if my worries had melted away. I was refreshed and rejuvenated.
For those already some way into their own spiritual journey, Reiki is said to tune in to everything, from stress and anxiety, through to bodily pain. But for people like me, for whom this is a whole new world, it’s an opportunity to understand how your body holds on to tension. And at the end of the day, however you choose to do it, we all stand to benefit from taking time to slow down, catch a quiet moment, and listen to our bodies.
KATHRYN WHEELER – Happiful Magazine
Grounding is a practice that can help you pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative or challenging emotions. These techniques may help distract you from what you’re experiencing and refocus on what’s happening in the present moment.
You can use grounding techniques to help create space from distressing feelings in nearly any situation, but they’re especially helpful if you’re dealing with:
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- self-harm urges
- traumatic memories
- substance use disorder
These techniques use your five senses or tangible objects — things you can touch — to help you move through distress.
- Put your hands in water
Focus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?
Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?
- Pick up or touch items near you
Are the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and colour of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colours, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.
- Breathe deeply
Slowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.
- Savour a food or drink
Take small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavours that linger on your tongue.
- Take a short walk
Concentrate on your steps — you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.
- Hold a piece of ice
What does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?
- Savour a scent
Is there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favourite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).
- Move your body
Do a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.
Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.
- Listen to your surroundings
Take a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? Machinery or traffic? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Do you recognize the language? Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.
- Feel your body
You can do this sitting or standing. Focus on how your body feels from head to toe, noticing each part.
Can you feel your hair on your shoulders or forehead? Glasses on your ears or nose? The weight of your shirt on your shoulders? Do your arms feel loose or stiff at your sides? Can you feel your heartbeat? Is it rapid or steady? Does your stomach feel full, or are you hungry? Are your legs crossed, or are your feet resting on the floor? Is your back straight?
Curl your fingers and wiggle your toes. Are you barefoot or in shoes? How does the floor feel against your feet?
- Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method
Working backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, you might start by listing five things you hear, then four things you see, then three things you can touch from where you’re sitting, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Try to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the colour of the flecks in the carpet or the hum of your computer.
These grounding exercises use mental distractions to help redirect your thoughts away from distressing feelings and back to the present.
- Play a memory game
Look at a detailed photograph or picture (like a cityscape or other “busy” scene) for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, turn the photograph face-down and recreate the photograph in your mind, in as much detail as possible. Or, you can mentally list all the things you remember from the picture.
- Think in categories
Choose one or two broad categories, such as “musical instruments,” “ice cream flavours,” “mammals,” or “baseball teams.” Take a minute or two to mentally list as many things from each category as you can.
- Use math and numbers
Even if you aren’t a math person, numbers can help centre you.
- running through a times table in your head.
- counting backward from 100
- choosing a number and thinking of five ways you could make the number (6 + 11 = 17, 20 – 3 = 17, 8 × 2 + 1 = 17, etc.)
- Recite something
Think of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it quietly to yourself or in your head. If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of each word on your lips and in your mouth. If you say the words in your head, visualize each word as you’d see it on a page.
- Make yourself laugh
Make up a silly joke — the kind you’d find on a candy wrapper or popsicle stick.
You might also make yourself laugh by watching your favourite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.
- Use an anchoring phrase
This might be something like, “I’m Full Name. I’m X years old. I live in City, State. Today is Friday, June 3. It’s 10:04 in the morning. I’m sitting at my desk at work. There’s no one else in the room.”
You can expand on the phrase by adding details until you feel calm, such as, “It’s raining lightly, but I can still see the sun. It’s my break time. I’m thirsty, so I’m going to make a cup of tea.”
- Visualize a daily task you enjoy or don’t mind doing
If you like doing laundry, for example, think about how you’d put away a finished load.
“The clothes feel warm coming out of the dryer. They’re soft and a little stiff at the same time. They feel light in the basket, even though they spill over the top. I’m spreading them out over the bed so they won’t wrinkle. I’m folding the towels first, shaking them out before folding them into halves, then thirds,” and so on.
- Describe a common task
Think of an activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar. Go through the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.
- Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behind
- gathering the emotions, balling them up, and putting them into a box
- walking, swimming, biking, or jogging away from painful feelings
- imagining your thoughts as a song or TV show you dislike, changing the channel or turning down the volume — they’re still there, but you don’t have to listen to them.
- Describe what’s around you
Spend a few minutes taking in your surroundings and noting what you see. Use all five senses to provide as much detail as possible. “This bench is red, but the bench over there is green. It’s warm under my jeans since I’m sitting in the sun. It feels rough, but there aren’t any splinters. The grass is yellow and dry. The air smells like smoke. I hear kids having fun and two dogs barking.”
You can use these techniques to comfort yourself in times of emotional distress. These exercises can help promote good feelings that may help the negative feelings fade or seem less overwhelming.
- Picture the voice or face of someone you love
If you feel upset or distressed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.
- Practice self-kindness
Repeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:
- “You’re having a rough time, but you’ll make it through.”
- “You’re strong, and you can move through this pain.”
- “You’re trying hard, and you’re doing your best.”
Say it, either aloud or in your head, as many times as you need.
- Sit with your pet
If you’re at home and have a pet, spend a few moments just sitting with them. If they’re of the furry variety, pet them, focusing on how their fur feels. Focus on their markings or unique characteristics. If you have a smaller pet you can hold, concentrate on how they feel in your hand.
Not at home? Think of your favourite things about your pet or how they would comfort you if they were there.
- List favourites
List three favourite things in several different categories, such as foods, trees, songs, movies, books, places, and so on.
- Visualize your favourite place
Think of your favourite place, whether it’s the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Use all your senses to create a mental image. Think of the colours you see, sounds you hear, and sensations you feel on your skin.
Remember the last time you were there. Who were you with, if anyone? What did you do there? How did you feel?
- Plan an activity
This might be something you do alone or with a friend or loved one. Think of what you’ll do and when. Maybe you’ll go to dinner, take a walk on the beach, see a movie you’ve been looking forward to, or visit a museum.
Focus on the details, such as what you’ll wear, when you’ll go, and how you’ll get there.
- Touch something comforting
This could be your favourite blanket, a much-loved T-shirt, a smooth stone, a soft carpet, or anything that feels good to touch. Think about how it feels under your fingers or in your hand.
If you have a favourite sweater, scarf, or pair of socks, put them on and spend a moment thinking about the sensation of the fabric on your skin.
- List positive things
Write or mentally list four or five things in your life that bring you joy, visualizing each of them briefly.
- Listen to music
Put on your favourite song, but pretend you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics (if there are any). Does the song give you chills or create any other physical sensations? Pay attention to the parts that stand out most to you.
Grounding yourself isn’t always easy. It may take some time before the techniques work well for you, but don’t give up on them.
Here are some additional tips to help you get the most out of these techniques:
- Practice. It can help to practice grounding even when you aren’t dissociating or experiencing distress. If you get used to an exercise before you need to use it, it may take less effort when you want to use it to cope in the moment.
- Start early. Try doing a grounding exercise when you first start to feel bad. Don’t wait for distress to reach a level that’s harder to handle. If the technique doesn’t work at first, try to stick with it for a bit before moving on to another.
- Avoid assigning values. For example, if you’re grounding yourself by describing your environment, concentrate on the basics of your surroundings, rather than how you feel about them.
- Check in with yourself. Before and after a grounding exercise, rate your distress as a number between 1 and 10. What level is your distress when you begin? How much did it decrease after the exercise? This can help you get a better idea of whether a technique is working for you.
- Keep your eyes open. Avoid closing your eyes, since it’s often easier to remain connected to the present if you’re looking at your current environment.
Grounding techniques can be powerful tools to help you cope with distressing thoughts in the moment. But the relief they provide is generally temporary.
This has been developed from Usui Reiki. It has been developed by William Lee Rand – Reiki Master. It is taught to those at the Usui Reiki Master level in two levels. It is considered to be a higher level of energy than Traditional Usui Reiki.