Mind Your Body: Reiki to the Rescue

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a subtle and deeply comforting Japanese technique which promotes stress reduction, relaxation, healing, and overall balance. One well-known Reiki teacher defines Reiki as “unconditional love.” It was introduced to the United States by Hawayo Takata in the 1930’s and has increased in popularity in recent years. It works well in conjunction with other healing modalities and is gentle, safe, and highly effective. Reiki is administered by a light hand placement on prescribed areas of the body.

Some common effects of Reiki treatments include deep relaxation, easing of pain, release of worry and stress, removal of energy blockages, increased vitality, a greater sense of inner balance, feelings of peace, and enhanced well-being. Reiki facilitates healing and supports the immune system.

Reiki is typically done on a massage table (although it is easily, and often, adapted to people seated in chairs, in hospital beds, or on operating tables). Sessions are done fully clothed and typically take one to one and one half hours.

As the recipient enters a deep level of relaxation during a Reiki treatment, sensations of warmth, tingling, lightness, or a gentle opening may be experienced. Reiki practitioners are taught sequences of hand positions which they may use to treat the entire body. The practitioner will “listen” to his or her hands to guide the treatment. Areas that need healing will often elicit more warmth or even heat, and stronger sensations, in the hands of the Reiki practitioner. Such areas may require more time to return to a state of balance.


Although we can observe the positive effects of Reiki healing sessions, and there are several well-constructed, mostly small, studies on its effectiveness, we don’t know precisely how Reiki works. It does not appear to be diagnosis-specific, but seems to work with overall balance in the mind and body, which supports our innate healing capacities.

One unique aspect of Reiki is that it is also a technique of self-treatment. In fact, we can think of its practice as rooted in self-treatment. Practitioners of Reiki are taught (and often encouraged) to do self-Reiki every day. This greatly enhances their own well-being, as well as the effectiveness of their treatments.

Reiki can benefit people of all ages, from infants to the elderly; tnyone wishing to feel greater peace and well-being; women who are pregnant; people with chronic health conditions or pain syndromes; those who are facing, or recovering from, surgery; those with acute health conditions, and people who are nearing the end of life.

We cannot predict precisely how an individual will respond to Reiki in that the benefits may be experienced as physical, energetic, emotional, or mental effects. Many recipients of Reiki have told me the following: “I feel lighter, as if a burden was lifted.” “I haven’t felt this relaxed in years.” “My headache went away completely.” “I feel like you drew the negativity out of me.” “My mind is clear, the fog went away.”

In addition to healing, Reiki treatments help us to become more aware of ourselves and more in tune with ourselves. People who receive subsequent treatments usually notice that the sessions become more effective over time, and that the effects last longer.

Reiki is not difficult to learn. There are three levels of study, Reiki I, Reiki II, and the Reiki Master (or teacher) level. The first level is often taught in one to two days and will teach students how to treat themselves as well as others, include a history of Reiki and its precepts, and offer time to practice in the class.

If you would like to feel greater ease and well-being, perhaps it is time to explore Reiki!

Dorian Abel, MS, RYT is the owner of Healing Yoga in Douglassville. An Integrative Yoga Therapist, Reiki Master-Teacher, and consultant on mind/body health, she can be reached at dorian@healingyogapa.com.