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Complimentary Wellness: Reiki

By Carissa Andrews  •   April 23, 2014

When I was first introduced to Reiki, I was twenty-three and just diving into the idea of alternative therapies. I grew up on a household with a brother who was born with a brain tumor, and an aunt with Down syndrome. I was no stranger to doctors, hospitals, and medicines. I also come from a mixed house of skeptics and alternative spirituality believers. It was no odd occurrence to have a tarot reading taking place in the kitchen, while a discussion on the ramifications of global warming and the latest research was also taking place in the living room.

I have always treaded a fine line between those two worlds. As someone who feels deeply tied to my family, it was natural to hunt for new and safer ways to heal the body. Reiki ended up being that for me. I'm not saying it is a miracle cure, but it certainly grazes a part of me that traditional medicine does not even touch. As a compliment to other treatments, Reiki most certainly excels.

In this era of hustle and bustle, slowing down to honor our bodies is crucial regardless of age. Very few of us take a moment to really consider what our bodies are saying. Disease is simply an imbalance in our equilibrium. Often, if we understand where the disease stems, viewing it with holistic eyes, we find we have more power than we realize to heal ourselves.

Our hands have long been found to be a source of healing, and research is starting to agree. One example: premature infants who are held with skin-on-skin contact and gently touched will gain weight faster than babies who are left on their own. The scientific proof behind Reiki is still being examined, but untangling the evidence is not as easy as it seems. So while the scientific jury is out, I highly recommend giving Reiki a try to make up your own mind about its effectiveness.

What is Reiki?

Reiki (pronounced RAY-KEY) has been around for a long time, though in its current form, a Japanese Buddhist named Mikao Usui in 1922 developed it. At its most basic, Reiki is a hand-on-healing technique, which utilizes the Japanese concept of ki (or chi), the intricately layered vibrational energy field that is said to surround and penetrate the physical body - called the biofield by medical science.

As I was saying earlier, I am personally acquainted with Reiki. I have been a practitioner since 2003, and a Reiki Master since 2008. I found the study and practice of Reiki to be not only good for my body, but also my inner emotional state. I use it on family, friends, pets, even houseplants and of course, myself.

What should I expect when I get Reiki?

The individual will lie down on a Reiki/massage table and be asked to close their eyes and relax. Lights will be turned down, and likely soft music will be playing. Some practitioners use essential oils to trigger the olfactory glands. Reiki is very simple and works in one of three ways: In person, the practitioner will hover their above your body, place them on your body, or in some cases, they will send Reiki energy through intentional remote sending.

I know it sounds a bit bizarre to have a stranger place their hands on different parts of your body, but I assure you, there is nothing inappropriate touched. If you have concerns, let your practitioner know and they will hover, instead. However, I recommend trying the true hands-on approach once before you make a decision. If the practitioner is trained in the Usui tradition, there are very specific hand placements that will be performed each and every time. After your first visit, you'll know exactly what to expect next time.

Are there side-effects?

Because Reiki is so simple, there are no known negative side-effects.

What are the benefits?

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence claiming benefits beyond what's listed below, but for now, here's what we know:

Reiki provides:

• Emotional support

• Stress reduction

• Pain Relief

• Speeds healing

These benefits are becoming so evident even hospitals, clinics and hospices are now integrating it into their own medical arsenal. Nurses and doctors are learning and delivering Reiki because studies are finding it to be effective in combatting pain, reducing stress, leveling out blood pressure, and even reducing depression symptoms. No medical ailment is beyond Reiki's ability to give a sense of peace. It has been used on everyone from cancer patients, to pregnant mothers, to newborn babies.

I have witnessed for myself too many astonishing turn-arounds from people who were not expected to have a good outcome with traditional medicine to cast aside Reiki's ability to influence healing. If you are interested in supplementing your current therapies, I highly suggest you find a practitioner, or learn Reiki for yourself from a Reiki Master in your area. The IARP (International Association of Reiki Professionals) is a good place to start, but not all Reiki professionals will be listed here, as they require a fee to join. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce, or ask around. You might be surprised to find someone you know is a Reiki practitioner.


is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.


The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.