What is Reiki?
Excerpts from this article by Reiki master Pamela Miles
What does the session consist of?
A complete Reiki session is offered to a fully clothed recipient who is lying on a treatment table or sitting comfortably supported in a chair.
Most commonly, Reiki is offered through light, non-invasive touch with the practitioner's hands placed and held on a series of locations on the head and front and back of the torso. The placement of the hands should never be intrusive or inappropriate, nor should there be any pressure.
Additional placements on the limbs can be done as needed (for example, if there is an injury or surgical scar), and some practitioners routinely do so. The Reiki practitioner can hold her hands just off the body if needed (for example, in the presence of an open wound or burn), and some practitioners always offer Reiki in this way.
What Might I Experience?
"I feel very refreshed and seem to be thinking more clearly." "I think I fell asleep." "I can't believe how hot your hands got!" "I feel more relaxed than even after a massage." "My headache is gone." These are some of things people typically say after a Reiki session.
The experience of Reiki is subjective, changeable, and sometimes very subtle. People often experience heat in the practitioner's hands, but sometimes the practitioner's hands feel refreshingly cool. Other common experiences are subtle pulsations where the practitioner's hands are placed or cascading waves of pulsations throughout the body.
People often comment how comforting they find the experience of Reiki to be. An interesting study reported that recipients frequently feel that they are hovering in a threshold state of consciousness, simultaneously aware of their surroundings and deeply indrawn. Some people fall into a deep, sleeplike meditative state. Sometimes the experience of Reiki is dramatic, while for other people, the first session in particular may be uneventful, although they feel somehow better afterward. The most common experience is an almost immediate release of stress and a feeling of deep relaxation.
Reiki is cumulative and even people who don't notice much the first time usually have progressively deeper experiences if they continue. Besides the immediate experience of the Reiki, you may notice other changes that continue to unfold as the day goes on: perhaps stronger digestion, a sense of being more centered and poised and less reactive, and sleeping deeply that night.
What should I do during the session?
Once you have taken the time to find a credible practitioner with whom you feel a rapport, what can you do to be comfortable during your Reiki experience? Not much, but here are a few suggestions:
If you have music that you particularly enjoy and which is relaxing, bring it to your session and ask the practitioner to play it. You can also request silence if you prefer.
Use the rest room before your session so that you are able to lie down comfortably.
Especially if you have any shyness about being touched, ask your practitioner to show you the hand placements before starting so you are very clear what to expect.
Let the practitioner know your needs before you start. For example, if you have trouble breathing and lying flat is uncomfortable, say so. Or mention if you have had surgery recently and don't want to be touched where the scar is still tender (the practitioner can float her hand here). If you are pregnant or have digestive complaints, it may not be feasible to lie on your stomach. Inform your practitioner.
As the session progresses, you will feel more relaxed. If you become uncomfortable, you can adjust your position at any time. Be sure to ask for anything that will add to your comfort, such as additional support under your knees or a blanket. This is your special time and your practitioner is there to help you.
Receiving Reiki is a wonderfully passive experience. Don't try to relax, just let the Reiki relax you. Your state will shift quite naturally as the session proceeds. Meanwhile feel free to daydream, enjoy the music, or simply observe your breath or the sensations of the therapy.
What happens after the session?
Do not expect a diagnosis, as that is not part of Reiki. Some practitioners may make common sense suggestions for after-care, such as drinking water and following your body's needs.
Although people typically leave a Reiki session feeling refreshed, sometimes they notice feeling more tired in the evening than usual. This is not viewed as an adverse reaction, but rather as the body's natural healing response, something to be heeded. People commonly report a sense of calm and mental clarity and sleeping well after Reiki.
How many sessions should I receive?
Your practitioner may suggest a series of sessions. Four sessions is a traditional recommendation and gives you time to evaluate what benefits you are receiving. Discuss with your practitioner how best to space the sessions to suit your needs and your schedule.
In the presence of a serious health challenge, Reiki practitioners often recommend four sessions over four days. These need not be given by the same practitioner.