Reiki is a subtle yet powerful form of energy medicine. It can resolve a healing crisis—or may even bring one on.
A healing crisis is any event in which you feel worse on your way to feeling better. A healing crisis may not be a linear journey and can be brought on by holistic health treatments. Knowing how best to care for yourself is key.
Interestingly, reiki healings have the potential to both provoke and resolve a healing crisis.
What Is Reiki?
The word reiki means spiritual lifeforce energy, or universal life energy. Reiki healers work to move stuck energy, which may manifest as pain, anxiety, confusion, or depression. The five principles of reiki are as follows:
- Just for today, do not worry.
- Just for today, do not anger.
- Honor your parents, teachers, and elders.
- Earn your living honestly.
- Show gratitude to every living thing.
Reiki reduces stress and promotes healing and is both safe and noninvasive. This type of healing is often referred to as energy medicine or biofield therapy (biofield referring to the energy in and around our bodies). Most people know that our nervous system and heart both depend upon an electrical conduction system, but there’s so much more to it than that.
Subtle Energetics of the Biofield
Conventional medicine understands the biofield to some extent. Doctors use electroencephalograms to study the brain. They can treat arrhythmia with electrical cardioversion or even use electric shocks to restart a heart that’s stopped beating. But most doctors don’t understand the more subtle energetics of the biofield.
Many alternative practices work with the body’s energetic fields. This is the science behind the ancient Hindu concept of chakras. It’s the underlying force that creates the energy meridians studied by modern acupuncturists as they learn traditional Chinese medicine.
Reiki is a subtle yet powerful form of energy medicine that’s an effective healing modality for a wide range of chronic illnesses. Studies have shown reiki to be an effective treatment for chronic fatigue, mental illness, and even range of motion in people with restricted mobility. It can also reduce pain and anxiety in people recovering from surgery or another form of injury. Reiki is an effective therapy for people suffering from chronic headaches, nausea, insomnia, and more.
[Read: “Clearing Unwanted Energy.” ]
If you are experiencing a healing crisis, reiki may be able to help. Just remember that a reiki session could also provoke a healing crisis; you may feel fatigued or anxious afterward, and new symptoms may continue to arise for weeks. Don’t be alarmed. Like any true healing, reiki is not a quick fix. You may feel better immediately following your session (I did!), but you’re just as likely to feel worse on your way to feeling better.
The History of Reiki
Reiki was named and introduced to the modern world by a man named Mikao Usui. He climbed a mountain and meditated for 21 days in a last-ditch attempt to discover the question that he had been pursuing for years: How did great men like the Buddha and Jesus Christ heal people? At the end of this three-week fast, he had the answer.
It is said that on his way back down the mountain, Usui performed miracles; he healed himself from an injury he sustained as he walked, and then he healed a farmer’s wife and an elderly monk.
Dr. Usui passed his teachings on to Dr. Hayashi, who in turn passed the Light of Reiki to a woman named Hawayo Takata. She was born on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. She studied reiki in Japan and eventually brought it back to the United States.
Barbara Garcia is a reiki practitioner (traditionally referred to as a reiki master, but she dislikes that term) with nineteen years of experience. She lives and works on the big island of Hawaii. When I asked her for an interview, she replied, “Why don’t we start with you experiencing a reiki session?”
My Experience with Reiki
I had never experienced reiki before, and I was happy to accept. Barbara asked me some basic questions, including what I was hoping to get from the session. I replied that I’ve been working towards nervous-system regulation.
“Reiki breaks things loose energetically,” Barbara explained. “It’s different for everyone, and it’s different every time.” She advises her clients to take it easy after a session, and tells them that new symptoms may arise over the coming weeks. Memories may pop up, or suppressed emotions may work their way to the surface.
Barbara handed me two crystals to hold, and I lay on a massage table fully clothed. She began by holding her hands over my head while she offered a soothing invocation.
During my session, Barbara encouraged me to breathe deeply and let the energy flow. I found that my breath was catching somewhere around my diaphragm. This is a common experience for me—that feeling that I can’t take a full breath—when I’m stuck in a state of chronic stress. That exact sensation is what first sent Barbara to a reiki master in search of healing.
In some ways, my reiki experience was similar to a guided meditation. And yet my mind kept wandering away from my breath, and even when I focused my attention on breathing, I had that feeling of my breath getting stuck on its way in. Wasn’t reiki supposed to help get this anxious energy out of my body?!
As Barbara continued to work, I came to a slow realization. Rejecting pieces of ourselves does nothing to help us along the path to good health. Categorizing my anxiety as bad or wrong was doing nothing to help me regain my equilibrium. Only when we accept and integrate our overwhelming emotions can we begin to release them.
As I realized this, I took my first full, deep breath of the day. I left our session filled with mellow, positive energy and a renewed sense of wellbeing.
You’re Always Doing It Right
Your body is always working towards vibrant health and wellbeing. Sometimes, health is something to relax into rather than something to strive for.
“Patience is key,” Barbara said after our session. “We have to be really patient with ourselves and not be afraid to ask for support.” We’re always doing it right, she told me, and we need to forgive ourselves for thinking that we’ve been doing it wrong.
Is your feline's energy stuck in a metaphorical tree? Read: “Reiki for Stressed-Out Cats.”