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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin Walters

Energy Work: Tell Me About Reiki

Are you new to the world of energy healing? Are you trying to understand how it works? Or do you think it's an unsubstantiated method? As our understanding of the naturally occurring energy in the earth and the human body deepens, Reiki is evolving as an increasingly accepted method of alternative healing. Here we discuss what it is and how it can benefit the physical wellness of those open to it.

What is Reiki?

The Kanji for "reiki" does not have a direct translation into English. "Ki" refers to the lifeforce that flows in all living beings (aka "chi") while "Rei" can be interpreted as something similar to rays from the sky or heavens. Some interpret the Kanji character for reiki also as rays from heaven descending onto three empty vessels, a visual representation for the manner in which a reiki practitioner helps the lifeforce energy flow into a client (thehealingartscenter).

The core root for mindset and action of reiki practitioners is compassion and kindness. Reiki is an alternative healing method where the practitioner acts as a conduit of healing lifeforce (ki or chi) and directs it into the client. "The energy, being possessed of universal consciousness, does the work while the practitioner is merely the vehicle." (

Reiki is found to benefit whole body wellness, especially dis-ease related to anxiety, stress, sleep, post surgery, as well as help with improving mood and some chronic diseases.

How Does Reiki Work?

This method is usually performed in 60 or 90 minute sessions and involves laying hands on each part of the clothed body -feet, calves, thighs, back, shoulders, and head- for about three to ten minutes each, depending on the healing need. Some practitioners may either visualize or draw reiki symbols in the air over the client to aid in the body's attunement into wellbeing and to facilitate the unencumbered flow of ki. During these sessions, many clients fall asleep or enter a relaxed state (like parasympathetic) which facilitates the healing.


Reiki can be applied in a wide setting, most commonly in private one-on-one sessions. Other applications of reiki include at the start of your day, during meetings, treating animals and pets, and strengthening NICU babies to name a few. As interest of integrating reiki into the nursing practice grows, a new diagnosis called "energy field disturbance" (Lipinski) has been created for application in the field. Lipinski notes, "Nurses that work in endoscopy units, diagnostic labs, and recovery rooms, have told me how putting the symbols in the room before they begin their day calms everyone down and promotes a relaxed and peaceful feeling. Patients seem to do better (less bleeding, quicker recovery, less pain) when Reiki is used."

Controversial Validity

The validity of reiki as a viable healing method is controversial. Part of this mixed regard stems from the difficulty in standardizing some way of measuring its effectiveness on the body. Similar to massage therapy. Another reason for its mixed regard is its spiritual aspect, presenting resistance among practitioners to create a standardization in order to be more widely acknowledged in the medical world, as well as skeptism among individuals having an aversion to spiritual methods.

Additional criticism regarding the effectiveness of reiki revolve around the psychological belief of the practice. If a client thinks that a method will improve their wellbeing, it usually does. The placebo effect of a belief system.

There are however, increasing studies which have found reiki's effectiveness on blood pressure, cancer pain, anxiety, depression, sleep, and mood to name a few ("What are the Benefits of Reiki?", Bedosky).


While it might be possible to wave off reiki's validity, it is hard to dismiss how it enriches vitality in various individuals both with a believing and skeptical mindset. Many reiki practitioners seek to keep this healing method accessible to everyone which can result in hurdles with it being acknowledged as a viable practice in the medical realm. As with everything, each body and soul respond differently and it's important to take note of your own body and what resonates with it. It's also important to be mindful of the intention behind a service or interaction which can affect the harmony within your own being or influence the effectiveness of a healing method.

As one who has experienced the healing effects of reiki which reverberates throughout the body similar to a long meditation session or inner spiritual journey, I am glad that our western-medicine world is increasingly embracing wholesome healing methods such as reiki.


Bedosky, L. (2023, January 17). All About Reiki: How This Type of Energy Healing Works and Its Health Benefits [blog post]. Retrieved from,reduce%20stress%20and%20promote%20healing.

Lipinski, K. More On... Reiki and Nursing [blog post]. Retrieved from

Rand, W. L. Reiki Energy - What Is It? How Does it Heal? [blog post]. Retrieved from

Reiki is for Everybody [blot post]. Retrieved from

What is the History of Reiki? [blog post]. Retrieved from

Additional Sources:

Barnett, J. E. and Shale, A. J. (2013, April). Alternative Techniques [article entry]. Retrieved from

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