Reiki is a form of spiritual healing developed by Mikao Usui, a Buddhist monk from Japan, in the early twentieth century. Although this type of treatment is sometimes referred to as reiki massage, it does not actually involve muscle manipulation and is delivered through the art of sense rather than touch.
Like many other forms of Asian medicine, the concept of spiritual energy is key. However reiki differs from treatments such as Ayurvedic massage, Shiatsu and Reflexology in one fundamental way: physical contact is deemed unnecessary.
Literally translated, reiki means universal life energy:
“rei” the Japanese word for universal; and
“ki” the Japanese word for life energy. This is also commonly known in Asia as “qi” or “chi”.
Reiki philosophy is centred on the belief that we enjoy better health in both body and mind when metaphysical energy flows freely through us. Reiki practitioners aim to help improve the flow of such energy by removing blockages by using a range of touch free techniques.
Like massage, and most things in life, how reiki feels depends on the individual receiving the treatment. Some people say they felt deeply soothed by a layer of unexpected warmth engulfing their body from head to toe, whilst others report cold shivers during an intensifying awareness of their own presence. A number of people also report feeling absolutely nothing at all, neither physical nor emotional.
Reiki healers say that the effects of receiving reiki therapy are sometimes immediate but that the true benefits usually appear over a period time, after the recipient has become truly relaxed and open to this form of therapy and that this usually occurs midway during a series of regular treatments.
You can receive reiki therapy at your own home or in a quiet hotel bedroom. Or you can visit a practitioner at their place of work. You will usually lie face up on a bed or mat, whilst wearing loose clothing, ideally made of natural fibres. The treatment room will be comfortably warm, dimly lit with soft, soothing music playing in the background. Qualified reiki healers are often sensitive minded individuals, who speak gently and have a good sense of empathy. The overall atmosphere will be one of calm and rest, just like this therapy's Buddhist origins. It is best to close your eyes during your session as this facilitates deeper relaxation and helps avoid distracting thoughts.
Reiki therapy usually begins at the top of the head and works down the body towards the feet. Your therapist will usually remain silent throughout the session, but you may hear them breathing deeply as they focus their own energy to apply to you. The treatment is applied by moving hands slowly over your body, using a technique known as attunement. Some healers place their hands gently on your body but most will keep them hovering a few centimetres above. This means that you will not feel any physical interaction between you and your therapist. The therapist will steadily move their position down your body, along your meridian lines and in particular pausing at the points of the seven chakras.
Since your eyes are closed, this can lead to a feel of slight confusion as you feel that you are not aware of how far the treatment has progressed and whether it has already ended. It is best not to worry about things like this and simply close your eyes at the beginning and completely hand over to your therapist. They will inform you when the session is completed. In fact, actions like this small submission of control over the progress of the session are integral to the healing methods. As hectic Londoners, we are accustomed to controlling every aspect of our lives in precise detail. The opportunity to completely let go and let another person take control, can be hugely therapeutic. Many people use reiki sessions as a form of assisted meditation.
Reiki symbols were developed to assist healers to focus their own minds whilst learning and practicing the art of healing through spiritual energy. They were shrouded in secrecy for many years and even today much of what you can find online can be difficult to understand. How to use reiki symbols is not something you need to particularly worry about or even understand as a recipient. Simply lie back and let your trained healer focus on the teachings whilst you just focus on switching off and relaxing.
The jury is out on whether reiki, or any other form of touchless therapy, works. Whilst there is no scientific evidence that supports reiki, many hundreds of thousands of people say they enjoy and benefit from it.
It is hard to argue that spending time in a relaxed environment, in the company of a kind person who has specifically trained in techniques which promote calm contemplation is not good for you. Sometimes we simply need expert help to be taken away from the stress and anxiety that surrounds us. It is all too easy for those of us who are consumed by busy materialistic lives to pooh-pooh an idea like reiki as foolish. This can be especially true for those of us who live and work in hectic and demanding urban environments like London. But consider for a moment the benefits of simplicity and relaxation. Maybe, just maybe, regular reiki can offer you something that is otherwise missing in your life.
In London, a reiki treatment session is usually about 20 to 45 minutes long and costs between £25.00 to £75.00. However, it is more common for reiki to be integrated into other complementary therapy sessions such as hands-on massage therapy, in particular Shiatsu and Ayurvedic treatments. If you book an eastern style massage and at some point you feel that there is no muscle manipulation occurring, do not immediately become concerned. Try to simply relax in the knowledge that your therapist is most probably spending a few minutes focusing on the energy (Ki or Qi) aspects of healing therapy in between moments of applying physical pressure.
It is very common to find that customers who enjoy reiki therapy are also keen on yoga, reflexology and even improving posture through the Alexander Technique.
Variety and balance promotes wellness and good health. So whether you simply feel like relaxing with a traditional deep tissue massage that you know best or feel a little more adventurous and willing to try something that you have never tried before like reiki, do it with an open and approving mindset and you are sure to enjoy it more.