A skeptic's guide to understanding Reiki
A word you may have heard in conversations, with people who you may feel to perhaps belong to another planet entirely (or more consciously awake individuals as how I like to call 'em). So I'm guessing you're reading this hoping to get some sort of clue as to what this Reiki malarkey is all about... however before I can do that, I think we have to first remove a few of the stigmatised ideas surrounding Reiki.
So let me start with everything that Reiki is NOT:
1) Reiki is NOT witchcraft.
Despite perhaps appearing mystical and mysterious to you, Reiki is not some kind of magic performed by a minority of individuals with black hats and broomsticks. The purpose of witchcraft is (presumably) to cast (often evil) spells upon other individuals (perhaps for some sort of gain like finding eternal youth or ever lasting beauty). The purpose of Reiki however, is to create balance in your body by replacing the negative energy, with the positive (no spells involved I promise!)
2) Reiki is NOT made up.
As I stated in the title, just because you can't experience something visually, or come to comprehend the mechanisms as to how it works, does NOT mean that it does not exist. (Think of the glow worms who are unable to see light due to being restricted by their senses, does this mean that light is non-existent? I think not! So as humans we are restricted by our five senses and therefore not all of us are able to visually experience the reiki energy). So whether you like it not, at a subatomic level, we are all just energy vibrating at a certain frequency.
To explain this properly, here's a clip to show how different sound frequencies can impact physical matter (salt in this case) into complex shapes and patterns. This is a useful way of understanding how Reiki works-which operates on a high energetic frequency to balance and restore your mind, body and soul. For example, in Reiki 2 we are taught to use different symbols as a part of the healing, which each represent a different energetic frequency and therefore producing different results to the energy within the body (just like how the salt forms a more complex pattern when the sound frequency is higher).
3) Reiki is NOT only available to a select few
Let me get this straight, Reiki is not some kind of weird cult that only "special" or chosen individuals can be a part of. You don't have to be a certain type of person to do Reiki and there are certainly no special requirements. The truth is, Reiki is available for absolutely everyone to do (so long as you get attuned by a Reiki master). I got attuned to Reiki Level 1 when I was just nine years old due to having chronic cramps in my legs as a young girl. Twelve years on and I'm still practising Reiki (level 2 as of recently) and I can't remember the last time that I have experienced cramps in my legs since my early childhood.
4) Reiki is NOT a magic cure
Reiki is not some kind of external force that is going to heal all of your problems, pains and issues all in one hit. Reiki (translating to universal life force energy), is something that flows throughout your body from the practitioner (who acts as a channel for the energy to flow through), which speeds up the healing process of your body. Your body will naturally draw in all of the Reiki energy that it needs; Therefore Reiki does not heal you, it simply enhances your body's ability to heal itself (and often at a faster than usual pace) -Now how empowering is that! (And don't worry, this also means you'll never be able to overdose on Reiki so bring on all of the Reiki sessions!)
So now that you know what Reiki is not, let me tell you about what Reiki IS.
Reiki is a hands on (and off when preferred) ancient healing system, practised across three levels including Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 (which is a master level). Reiki has arguably been around for thousands of years, believed to have originated in Tibet during Buddhist times (however it was rediscovered in Japan towards the end of the 19th century by Dr Usui).
Reiki was brought to the West by a lady called Mrs Hawayo Takata, who trained up twenty two Reiki masters. Since this, Reiki is now extensively practised worldwide and is growing more and more popular (including in massage parlours, in athletics and sport and is more recently being adopted within hospital settings as a complementary therapy to cancer and HIV positive patients). Research supporting the use for Reiki in hospital settings has been conducted by Midilli & Eser (2015), who found that Reiki application was able to significantly reduce the intensity of pain, anxiety and breathing rate amongst patients who had undergone cesarean delivery. Therefore positioning Reiki as a useful intervention for nurses to utilise amongst patients.
Further supporting recent research has been conducted by Carnerio et al (2016), who have suggested that Reiki is effective in significantly reducing anxiety levels and perception of muscle tension amongst cardiovascular inpatients in comparison to a sham Reiki and control group; therefore increasing an overall sense of wellbeing. Similar positive Reiki outcome results has been conveyed by Bremmer et al (2016) based on individuals living with HIV. This research found that Reiki was able to significantly improve pain relief, whilst also reducing levels of stress, anxiety and depression amongst the HIV positive individuals over a 1o week period of Reiki treatment.
This research therefore highlights a small fraction of the wonders that Reiki can bring to people, and the impact that it can have on improving one's life for the better. This also points out that it is important to note that Reiki is not just useful for physical conditions such as pain relief. Reiki operates on a holistic level and is therefore helpful on a psychological, emotional and spiritual level.
Those attuned to Level 2 in Reiki are taught three sacred symbols, one of which representing a distance healing symbol which represents 'no past, no future, no present'. When carried out by the practitioner, this symbol allows for healing reiki energy to be sent across time and space (therefore no barriers are present and the reiki energy is enabled to freely flow to where the practitioner intends it to be sent). Distance Reiki is argued to work according to the Hermetic Law of Similarity, which posits that we are all connected as we are all energy matter, as a part of a larger whole.
Therefore a Reiki 2 practitioner is able to connect with his/her recipient in order to send the reiki energy to one who is not physically present. Despite how far fetched this may sound (no pun intended), the benefits of distance Reiki healing has been supported through empirical research. For example, recent research conducted by Vasudev & Shastri (2016) has suggested that a 21 day distance Reiki healing treatment for IT workers, was able to significantly reduce stress levels in comparison to a control group (who received no Reiki).
In summary, Reiki can:
- Accelerate healing and recovery
- Promote stress reduction and increase levels of relaxation
- Balance the the flow of energy in the body by releasing blockages
- Relieve emotional distress by balancing and clearing emotions
- Assist the body in cleansing toxins
- Enable the individual to become more in tune with their higher self
- Promote inner peace and harmony (a powerful tool for those on a spiritual quest)
Article written by Maddie Lynch:
This article was written by Maddie, who began her Reiki journey at just 9 years old due to having chronic growing pains in her legs. After her mother, Michelle, got her attuned by a Reiki master, she was then able to give herself Reiki to ease and heal the pains. Several years later, Maddie now has a degree in Psychology, a diploma in sport and exercise nutrition and has since received her Reiki Level 2 certification in Melbourne 2016.
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