Does Reiki really work?
Updated: Mar 17
Some stranger places their hands slightly above your body and has the capacity to heal all of your ailments within an hour session. Sound like hocus pocus? It might be, but then again maybe not.
A brief background on reiki
Reiki (pronounced ‘RAY key’), which stands for ‘universal life force energy’, is the ancient Japanese practice of laying one’s hands on or slightly above an individual to replenish and rebalance the body’s energetic system. It was rediscovered by a Japanese monk named Dr. Mikao Usui over 100 years ago, and was brought to the United States through Hawaii in the 1940s. Today Reiki is performed by Reiki masters around the world and is said to be possible to teach to anyone who is open to the practice.
There are some studies out there that claim to prove the efficacy of the practice, although most would say that the research is inconclusive. The most consistent claim of positive effect is by those who have experienced reiki themselves. Thus why I had to try it out myself to see what all the hype is about.
My reiki experience
I headed into my first ever reiki session with skeptical optimism. I wasn’t sure if I would feel nothing at all and just lay on a table for 45 minutes with someone hovering over me or if I would feel an unexplained surge of energy, but I was open-minded enough to put any doubts to the side until I was done. The start of the session was simple enough – the Reiki master speaking briefly with me about what she would be doing, asking me why I had come for a reiki treatment, and if I had a preference whether she put her hands on me or hovered them over me. And then I laid down, fully clothed, on the massage table, and the session began. As the Reiki master moved down my chakra system placing her hands on me to administer the reiki, I noticed a few things that I could not explain. First, her hands heated up significantly as she placed her hands on the top of my head (the crown chakra), but by the time that she had gotten to my feet, her hands were back to a normal temperature (significantly cooler than they were when her hands left my head to move to the next placement.) Second, I felt my body buzzing ever so slightly as she was about halfway through the treatment. Once the session had finished, she left the room for a moment to get me a glass of water and give me the chance to slowly transition from the state of deep relaxation that I found myself in. The treatment finished with her talking through some of the things she noticed while she worked on me; most notably, she told me that I have a lot of energy in my crown chakra, which tells her that I spend a lot of time in my head and dwelling on thoughts. I have to stress that she said this to me without me telling her anything of what I felt or experienced during the reiki treatment – I did not tell her that I felt her hands get very hot while she had them on the top of my head. Perhaps this is a coincidence, but seems too connected to be random.
As I walked home after the session, I felt deeply relaxed as well as a bit tipsy, even though I had no alcohol to drink all day. And I can promise you that I have only felt tipsy when I have had something alcoholic to drink. Fortunately it was a minor feeling that was more interesting for me to have than it was a cause for concern.
In reflecting on this experience, I have to say that I am far more of a believer in the power of reiki to affect the physical body. As I have not used reiki to heal an injury or other ailment, I cannot give an opinion on that. But, I do recommend that you give it a try if you are curious. There is definitely something to this energy healing.
Want to learn more or try it out yourself? Here are some additional resources to check out:
If you’re local to Chicago, Chill Chicago offers private Reiki sessions. Reserve an appointment online here.
Research Section of Equilibrium Energy + Education in Chicago, most notably:
Immediate effects of Reiki on heart rate variability, cortisol levels, and body temperature in health care professionals with burnout – “results suggest Reiki [against a control placebo] has an effect on the parasympathetic nervous system when applied to health care professionals with [burnout syndrome]”
Studies on the Efficacy of Reiki – 57% of the 23 studies analyzed showed a positive effect, leading the researchers to conclude that more research is worth doing to see if it can be replicated a higher percentage of the time