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What is Reiki?

What is Reiki?

By Linda Emslie on 26 September 2016
What is Reiki?

One of the things I love about reiki is that no two treatments are ever the same. Something different is needed for each person; and what they receive is appropriate to their needs at that moment.

One of the things I find most difficult about reiki is providing an adequate explanation of what reiki is and what each person can expect during and from their treatment.

A formal definition is that reiki is universal life-force energy. To me this means the energy surrounding and threading through all living things. Becoming a reiki practitioner means being attuned to this energy and being enabled to safely channel this energy for healing.

It is my belief that this type of hands-on healing is an ancient art, that we are all instinctively capable of performing. We’ve just forgotten how. Reiki as it is practised today has evolved from the teachings of Mikao Usui. His experiences and insights have been handed down to successive “generations” of teacher-practitioners to ensure best possible healing for the greater good of all.


... Reiki is universal life-force energy ... the energy surrounding and threading through all living things.

From this original source of reiki teaching, different systems have evolved. My personal view is that there is no, one, right way, or better format. Different styles suit different healers, just as different healers suit different people. Our most powerful tool is freedom of choice. You choose what is right for you, and resist the temptation to foist your choices on other people.

A basic reiki treatment format may involve clearing the energy field around the body (aura), cleansing and balancing the energy centres of the body (chakras), and then the practitioner will often place their hands in different locations on the receiver’s body.

The practitioner may also incorporate the use of reiki symbols, crystals, essential oils, colour therapy, guided visualisation or other healing approaches to enhance their work. Again this depends a lot on the tradition they learned, as well as their personal preferences aligned with their strengths and talents as a healer.

What most people report experiencing during a reiki treatment is an overall sense of calm and wellbeing. Physical sensations can include:

  • warmth from the practitioner’s hands
  • gentle vibration or buzzing in some areas of the body
  • a chi-like sensation (the deep, achy, yet almost electric feeling some people notice with acupuncture or acupressure treatments)
  • coolness, like menthol (as you experience using a liniment)
  • seeing images or colours, or experiencing feelings or emotions

As energy conduits, reiki practitioners often become sensitive to the energy body of the receiver and pick up information in addition to the initial discussion. This may prompt some questions, or provide inspiration for some guided visualisation. This may also uncover an emotional element that the receiver can choose to acknowledge and resolve as part of the healing process.

At the conclusion of the healing session, receivers have reported varied responses to their treatment. Some are highly charged and visibly lighter; others quieter and obviously still processing at some level. I have had other clients leave their treatments feeling dubious and underwhelmed by their healing experience. They often ring within a day or two to report back that after initially feeling nothing straight after the treatment, they were now re-energised and sparking along; or had experience an ah-ha moment; or that a chronic, niggly ache or complaint had stopped bothering them.

Reiki is an energy healing system that provides exactly what an individual requires in that moment of time that they are receiving healing. The method of delivery: using symbols or crystals, etc, may vary depending on the personality of the practitioner and their reiki lineage. One thing remains the same: each individual benefits from reiki on some level – body, mind or spirit.