When you think of reiki, you might have images of incense and crystals – but there’s more to this ancient Japanese practice than you think.
For the uninitiated, reiki is an ancient Japanese energy healing technique. It’s believed that both mental and physical healing can be achieved through the balancing of energies via touch or crystals, combined with deep relaxation. But if this all sounds too good to be true, here’s an introduction to the holistic practice, according to its masters.
“Reiki is such an incredible tool for your wellbeing and mental health,” says Claire Paphitis, Ayurveda expert, reiki practitioner and author of Balance Your Agni. “The word reiki is a combination of two Japanese words – rei, meaning ‘universal wisdom’ or ‘higher power’ and ki which is ‘life force energy’. So, reiki is a spiritually guided life force energy: a wonderful treatment for stress and anxiety reduction and relaxation, and it also supports deeper healing from grief or trauma, promoting overall wellbeing.”
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What is reiki and what are its benefits?
“Reiki is a Japanese technique that balances the energy centres (chakras) in the body and promotes healing,” explains reiki practitioner Lois Goodman. “A reiki practitioner will channel what is known as ‘life force energy’, to promote the body of the recipient to heal and restore balance.”
Founded in the 20th century by Japanese sensei Mikao Usui, Paphitis explains: “The principle idea behind reiki is that if a person’s ‘life force energy’ or ‘prana’ (Ayurveda) or qi (traditional Chinese medicine) is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stressed; if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. Reiki helps to address this delicate balance.”
So what happens in a reiki session?
The balancing of chakras and healing sounds great, but how does this work in practice?
During a reiki session, a practitioner (or reiki master) will place their hands on, or just above, certain parts of your body, the idea being that this will stimulate your body’s natural healing abilities.
“Reiki sessions usually last one hour and can be either in-person or distance treatments,” Paphitis explains. “Both work equally well. You will be invited to lie down comfortably, often some relaxing music is played, and the practitioner will guide you with their voice to help you breathe more deeply or set an intention for the session.”
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“The practitioner will then work through the different chakras of the body, placing their hands on certain parts of the body, such as the head, stomach, hips or feet – though a completely hands-off treatment is also an option for those who are more comfortable receiving reiki this way. This is also the case for distance reiki sessions where hands-on treatment is not an option.
“People often report seeing colours, feeling sensations such as heat or cold running through them or experiencing little jolts in parts of their body,” says Paphitis. “This is usually a sign that blocks are being shifted and energy is moving.”
Feeling stuck or anxious? Give reiki a try
“Reiki is purported to help reduce pain, ease anxiety, aid better sleep, boost mood and more generally enhance quality of life,” enthuses Paphitis. “It’s an incredibly gentle practice with no known side effects or contraindications, and it can benefit everyone – from babies who have trouble sleeping right through to the elderly or those in palliative care.
“Reiki is such an incredible tool for your wellbeing and mental health. If you find the right practitioner then you will feel so supported and held during the sessions. If you have been thinking about giving it a go or feel stuck in your life right now and aren’t sure where to turn, give it a try.”
While reiki can be an excellent complementary therapy, if you’re struggling with your mental health do make sure that you speak with a qualified mental health professional, alongside more holistic therapies.
And the benefits of reiki haven’t gone unnoticed by more conventional medicine, Paphitis explains.
“Numerous hospitals are also now [offering] reiki to their patients as a complementary therapy,” she tells Stylist. “For example, University College London Hospital offers it to patients with cancer or blood conditions to help them cope with the physical and emotional impact of their conditions and side effects of treatment.”
How to let go of stress and anger via reiki
“Essentially, reiki is more than a healing technique,” advises Goodman. “It is a way of living and spiritual practice. A set of reiki principles are integrated into your life, and you are encouraged to remind yourself of them when preparing to deliver a reiki session. These principles are:
Just for today I will let go of anger.
Just for today I will let go of worry.
Just for today I will honour every living thing.
Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings.
Just for today I will do my work honestly.
By living and working by these principles, one can become more present and in tune with the life force energy, that is everywhere and a part of us all.”
Who doesn’t want to heal and restore balance through deep relaxation? It might be worth a try.
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