Have you heard of reiki? This "hot wellness trend" is actually an Japanese alternative medicine practice dating back to the early 1920s. With the rise of popularity of practices like acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and natural healing like earthing and forest bathing, we wanted to know more about what reiki is and what makes it so special. So, we asked Christopher Tellez, reiki master at SF Reiki Center. Seems like a fitting expert, no?
What Is Reiki?
"Reiki, pronounced 'Ray-Key,' means universal life energy. This life energy is all around us," said Christopher. "With a special attunement process from the reiki master to student, the student can channel this life energy though the palms of their hands."
As noted, "ki" is Japanese for energy — sound familiar? If you're at all versed in traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture, you'll notice how similar "ki" is to "qi," the Chinese word for energy. Just as acupuncture focuses on the qi, both of these alternative medicine practices are designed to aid in the flow of energy. The difference with reiki? No needles.
"Reiki is a gentle, noninvasive, hands-on technique of energy transfer from reiki practitioner to client," said Christopher. In a reiki treatment, you'll spend 60 to 90 minutes (depending on the provider) on a massage table or in a chair, fully clothed, and the practitioner (reiki master) will touch different points on your head, face, body, etc., either a light touch or with hands hovering above your body.
How Does It Work?
The concept is that good energy is transferred from the practitioner to the client. Here's how he explained it: "The energy transfer vitalizes the body's cells, tissues, organs, and emotional centers. By the end of a reiki treatment (front torso of body, head, and back of body), all body systems are operating in a stronger, more normal fashion. After reiki sessions, clients feel calm and deeply relaxed."
But if good energy is transferred from the practitioner to the client . . . what about "bad" energy transferring back to the reiki master? "Practitioners don't take on their clients' problems," he said (that's fortunate). "Energy flows only from the practitioner to the client. It never flows back into the practitioner to trouble them with the energy patterns of the client."
"Practitioners feel better after a treatment than before they started," he said. "Giving a reiki treatment increases the practitioner's own vitality. Since practitioners are hands-on 'transmitters,' some of the energy flow is assimilated by them as they deliver the reiki treatment."
You should keep in mind that reiki is not a massage — don't go in expecting some deep tissue work.
Should You Try Reiki?
"Clients seek reiki services for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for many reasons," said Christopher. Here are some of the types of cases he treats at SF Reiki Center:
- Balance of mental health (fear, anxiety, depression)
- Rest and relaxation (stress reduction)
- Letting go of grief and loss (changes around jobs, relationships, and loss of loved ones)
- Preparing for surgery (pre and post)
- Self-care practices for cancer and HIV (side effects of chemotherapy and HIV medications)
- Creating big life changes (changing thought, belief patterns, conditions that are no longer working)
According to the International Association of Reiki Professionals, "Reiki is not a cure for a disease or illness." That said, "It may assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing." You can use reiki as "a complement to traditional medicine," as it "is practiced in many hospitals and medical care settings."
While reiki has yet to have the scientific backup like acupuncture (very little research has been done), it has been shown to have zero harmful effects or side effects. If you've experienced a life change (or are about to), if you're trying to manage anxiety, or if you're trying to give yourself a healthy start to 2017, why not give reiki a shot?