Have you ever tried Reiki before? Reiki is a unique stress reduction and healing technique that has been used for over a century. Learn more about my first experience with Reiki and whether or not I found it effective. If you’ve had experience with Reiki, I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below the post and share with us!
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I’d heard of Reiki before, but, like many others, I didn’t know exactly what it was. I thought that it was some kind of massage—that was pretty much it. So when my doctor recommended Reiki as a way to calm my nerves and enhance my healing, I was cautiously optimistic. Since I was experiencing chronic pain and illness at that point, I decided that anything was worth a try.
After doing extensive research to find the best Reiki practitioner in the area, I booked my appointment. During my research, I had found out that Reiki is a unique stress reduction and healing technique that originated in Japan in the 1920s. Reiki (pronounced ray-key) literally translates to “spiritually guided life force energy”. The theory behind Reiki is that it aids in rebalancing the body’s vital energy, which engages a healing response in the body. Reiki is typically used to promote healing, support better sleep, provide pain relief, and reduce anxiety and depression.
Reiki has increased in popularity throughout the years and many hospitals and hospices are now offering Reiki treatments to their patients, as well as Reiki education. Nevertheless, much of the evidence for Reiki’s effectiveness is purely anecdotal and it is largely considered pseudoscience by the medical community. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, not enough research has been done to determine whether Reiki is helpful or not, but it is generally considered safe with little to no side effects.
When I first walked in the treatment room, I was apprehensive. I really didn’t know what to expect. The practitioner was nice and asked me a few questions about my condition and my health history. So far, so good. She asked me to lay on a massage table fully clothed and explained that she would apply light tough to certain areas of my body. (Note: apparently, some Reiki practitioners apply a “hands-off” approach instead where they hold their hands slightly above the body—if you want to try Reiki, but are uncomfortable being touched, you could ask your practitioner about this method.)
The treatment lasted 60 minutes, which is pretty typical (most sessions are 60-90 minutes long). Although many people think of Reiki as massage (I did), it’s nothing like a traditional massage. It’s actually considered “energy healing”. As I mentioned above, the practitioner put her hands on certain areas of my body (back, neck, under my thigh, on my foot, etc.) and held them there for 5-10 minutes without moving them. Her hands were typically under my body, so I was lying on top of them (i.e. she would put her hands under by back when I was lying on my back, so her hands were under me).
After a few minutes of holding her hands in a certain location, she would ask me how I felt. I generally felt a warm, tingling sensation radiating through the part of the body she was touching. At first, I felt kind of uncomfortable because I wasn’t used to this kind of treatment, but I eventually got used to it and, I have to admit, it was very relaxing. My stomach began to grumble slightly, which was SUPER embarrassing. But, the practitioner said this was a normal response to Reiki and that it meant that the nervous system was relaxed. Hmm—go figure.
The 60-minute treatment actually flew by and I was taken by surprise when she turned on the light. It felt like I had only been on the table for 10 minutes. I was a little light-headed and disoriented when I left, which like the “Reiki gurgles” (aka what my practitioner called my grumbling stomach), she said was perfectly normal.
How I Felt Afterward
For the few hours following the treatment, I felt very calm and relaxed. However, the feeling didn’t last long. In fact, I didn’t sleep too well that night and the following day I was a little more agitated than usual. In terms of my pain, I felt a slight reduction in pain during the hours following the treatment, but nothing significant.
My practitioner was nice enough to check in via email a few days after the treatment to see how I had responded to it. I told her about my experience and she said that since I had a chronic medical condition (I was still experiencing nerve pain at the time—you can read about it here) that there can sometimes be a fine line between the amount of energy shift in a session that is “just right” versus “too much”. She also said that as we continued to work together, she would get to know my system better and that results typically hold longer with additional sessions.
One thing about our session that I found very helpful is that she encouraged me to focus on the areas of my body that felt “neutral” or even “positive” because focusing all my attention on the parts of my body that hurt can contribute to the feeling of pain. This was good advice that I continue to follow even to this day.
Final Verdict: Did it work?
Overall, I found Reiki to be mildly helpful, but not enough to continue with it. The experience itself was relaxing; however, the after effects weren’t significant enough for me to really determine if it was helpful or not. Perhaps with additional sessions, I would have seen a greater beneficial effect, but the Reiki practitioner I chose was an hour away from me and I didn’t really feel that it was worth the drive.
I enjoyed my experience with Reiki, but it wasn’t really for me. Remember, this is my personal experience and everybody responds to treatments differently. On the whole, I would rate my first-time Reiki experience as a 6 out of 10 (with 0-4 being harmful, 5 being neutral, and 6-10 being beneficial). I would try it again if it’s convenient, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
Update: I did try Reiki one additional time with a different practitioner, when I visited the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health (read about my experience at Kripalu here), but still had the same experience. It was relaxing, but I didn’t experience any significant healing effects.
Alright, guys! I want to hear about your experiences with Reiki! Have you tried it before? Did you have a similar experience to me or was it different? I love hearing different opinions and would especially love to hear from those who are experienced with (or even practice) Reiki. Sound off in the comments section below!
Please remember to always consult your physician or qualified health professional before making any health-related changes, including Reiki. The experience described above is for informational purposes only and not meant to be taken as medical advice.