Reiki: what it is, what it does, and why energy medicine is awesome

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When all your energies are brought into harmony, your body flourishes. And when your body flourishes, your soul has a soil in which it can blossom in the world. These are the ultimate reasons for energy medicine—to prepare the soil and nurture the blossom. 
— Donna Eden, author and energy healer

Energy medicine exists in traditions all over the world, and arguably, is one of the oldest forms of healing. While a single definition of energy medicine is hard to pin down, I think of energy medicine as a way to channel the power of the energy fields from the Earth, from the Universe, and from one’s own internal life force to balance and heal all aspects of mind, body, and spirit. This energy is limitless - and we each have the opportunity to access it, cultivate it, utilize it. At the most basic level, everything we do here at the clinic is a form of energy medicine! But today, I'm talking about Reiki, and breaking down a question we hear a lot... drum roll...

What is Reiki, anyway?

Reiki is a form of energy medicine that was developed in Japan in the mid 1800’s by a Japanese born Buddhist monk, Dr. Mikao Usui. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei, which means “higher power”, and Ki (or qi in Chinese, rLung in Tibetan, prana in Sanskrit, and so on...), which means “life force energy”. So, we can think of the practice of Reiki as a way of channeling Universal Life Energy, a powerful, harmonizing force that promotes healing and balance on all levels. Reiki invites physical, emotional, and energetic blockages to break apart and fall away, and increases the vibratory level of energy in and around the physical body. It can performed in-person or through distance healing, and is an amazing tool for supporting the healing of others and oneself. (Yep, you read that right - you can learn do Reiki on yourself!)

What can Reiki be used for?

Reiki is known to be helpful for a wide range of concerns, such as anxiety, depression, stress, digestive issues, fatigue, pain of all kinds, healing from surgery, injury, or illness, and more. I think it’s awesome during times of transition, when things feel “stuck” and the path forward is unclear, or during periods of emotional or physical stress and trauma, when one’s energy feels depleted. Because it is non-invasive, safe, and very gentle, Reiki is a great complementary therapy to other forms of medicine, and is appropriate for people of all ages and states of health. 

How does Reiki work?

Explanation One: a more "woo” perspective

It is thought that life force energy flows through the body in pathways called meridians, or channels, and gathers at the chakras, or energy stations. When this energy is flowing smoothly, our organs, tissues, and fluids are well-nourished and function effectively, and our minds and spirits are alert and at peace. But life happens, and sometimes, that flow gets interrupted by stress, injury, illness, irregular lifestyle, and poor sleep, among other things. Over time, the disrupted flow causes blockages and build up of energy in some places, while other areas are left undernourished. It is thought that this disrupted energy dynamic leads to a wide range of issues, like pain, poor sleep, a restlness mind, an unquiet spirit. Reiki helps to rebalance the flow in your physical and energetic bodies, promoting openness in the meridians and realigning the chakras - allowing your systems to function more effectively and for you to feel better.  (P.S.: acupuncture, acupressure, cupping, bodywork, breathwork, and physical movement help do this too - all these things move energy!) 

Explanation TWO: a more “science”-y perspective

It is generally accepted that our bodies produce an electromagnetic field, and that our nerves communicate through electrical signals called nerve impulses. While I'll spare you (and myself!) the paper on neurotransmission, I'll say this much: our nervous system is truly electric, energetic, pulsing - and responds amazingly fast to stimulus. So, when you lie back, breath deeply, and feel increasingly relaxed during a Reiki session, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, putting the body into a “rest-digest” state. In this “rest-digest” state, blood pressure lowers, stress hormones decrease, digestive processes activate, the immune system gets a boost, breathing deepens, muscle fibers soften and relax, cell repair and production kicks on. One super cool fact about our bodies is that we can’t produce stress hormones and be in “rest-digest” at the same time - it’s like there’s a switch that turns “off” stress and turns “on” chill. So, when you’re relaxed during Reiki, your body is literally in a state of healing, restoration, and rejuvenation. 

From either perspective, the result is the same: a super blissed out state of relaxation. 

How long is a Reiki session?

Kim and Leah offers 60-minute energy healing sessions here at the clinic, which often utilize a mixture of Reiki, Pranic Healing, and other energy medicine approaches. Amy also offers a 90-minute session that combines Breathwork and Reiki (click here to learn more about Breathwork!). 

We also frequently use Reiki in our acupuncture, acupressure, cupping and tui na sessions. Because Reiki is gentle and versatile, the options are endless!

What happens during a Reiki session?

We start with a brief check-in, exploring what inspired you to make an appointment, your previous experience with energy medicine, and what healing intentions would you like to invite into the session. 

Then, you’ll get comfortable on the (heated!) massage table. As you rest comfortably, falling into a deep state of relaxation, we start our work. Using a pendulum, our hands, or both, we scan your body to check out the energy flow. Then, we gently place our hands on, or hover over, your body, depending on your preference. Through the use of symbols, touch, and intention, we channel energy to help promote balance, moving what is stuck, and directing energy to areas that need nourishment. This is a highly intuitive process, and will vary from practitioner to practitioner, and from session to session.

We may also include stones and crystals as part of the session, and place them on your body or around you on the treatment table. We may burn a small amount of sage or palo santo, or sound the singing bowl, inviting the sacred smoke or sound vibrations to cleanse your physical body, aura, spirit, and the space. Other approaches, such as guided meditation, hypnotic language, and breathwork, may also be used as part of the session.

At the very end of the session, we have a few minutes to share reflections or insights that came up, and discuss options for moving forward. This might include self-care, making a treatment plan for more Reiki, or discussing additional approaches that might be helpful. 

What does Reiki feel like?

Each person’s experience of receiving Reiki is unique. I’ve heard all kinds of things - feelings of warmth, tingling, movement, deep relaxation, “heaviness”, emotional release or clarity, twitching, gurgling in the stomach and abdomen, or visual imagery and colors. A person might feel sensations deep within their body, on the surface of their skin, or in the room around them (I once had a client tell me they felt like a snake had wrapped itself over their torso - in a good way - during a Reiki session). Typically, after a session, people feel more relaxed, clear-headed, and grounded, with a deeper sense of how to move forward in their very own  F L O W.

My recommendation? Lay back, breathe deeply, and approach with curiosity and openness. Greet whatever you feel (or don’t feel) during the Reiki session with non-judgement, and notice what you notice. And if something surfaces for you during the session that you’d like to share, either during the session or after, we would love to hear it. 

How often should someone get Reiki?

There’s no firm answer here - it really depends on you. Because Reiki is very safe and gentle, you can’t really have “too much”. We have some clients who come for Reiki every week, some who come every month, and others who book whenever they feel they need an energetic tune-up. Like many things, though, we find that if someone wants significant change with a specific concern or goal, or if someone is experiencing a time of major stress, injury, or illness, a series of more frequent sessions can be extremely helpful in promoting balance, healing, and change. We can help you find that “sweet spot”, taking into account your health and wellness goals, your schedule, and your budget. 

Ready to try it? Schedule an appointment today!

Have questions? Want to chat before booking?

Shoot us a message from our contact page. We can discuss your questions, concerns, and goals, as well as our approach and the services we offer, to see if working together would be a good fit. We look forward to getting to know you!

*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

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