What is reiki?

Reiki is a gentle form of healing massage therapy that originated in Tibet, and has been practised for more than 2500 years.

Loosely translated, 'reiki' means 'universal life-force/soul/spiritual energy'. As with other treatments, like acupuncture, shiatsu and reflexology, reiki is a holistic treatment based on the idea of balance and 'qi' (say 'chee') - the life force that needs to flow freely through us if we are to be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. Reiki aims to renew and refresh your energy flow, encouraging healing and increasing your sense of well-being.

However, reiki is far less physical than similar treatments, and depends on the relationship formed between the giver and the receiver - the practitioner channels their own reiki into your body, by laying their hands on you.

What is reiki good for?

It is important to recognise that reiki affects each person differently. Reiki works on the basis that many physical and emotional problems are related and so these problems must be treated simultaneously. Reiki is generally recognised as being relaxing and good at releasing stress, and can help with physical problems too - people who have reiki say that it helps relieve muscular aches and pains. Reiki is also thought to boost the immune system, and relieve even chronic, long-term conditions, as it works with the body to help it heal itself.

It is also believed to rebalance your energy, and your organs, and to help your body rebuild tissue, which means it can help with pain relief and first aid.

Reiki is now available on the NHS and has been used successfully with children undergoing cancer treatments as well as adults to relieve stress and depression, and promote healing.

Before you go

Reiki is not a faith-based treatment, however it is important that you are open and willing to receive and benefit from the treatment if you are going to get the most out of it.

Wear loose-fitting clothing.


Reiki is a non-invasive therapy which does not involve heavy massage or manipulation, so it is unlikely to cause anyone any problems. However, whenever you have a body treatment, it's always a good idea to tell your therapist if you have any medical conditions, including whether you are, or might be, pregnant. Reiki can be very powerful for some people so it's worth making sure your therapist knows all about you.

What to expect from reiki

The person giving you reiki will probably ask you to lie on a massage table or quilted mat. They will lay their hands on your body, in a variety of positions, working on different areas in turn. In this way, they direct their healing energy into your body, and stimulate your own.

Some people report feeling heat building between the therapist's hands and their own bodies.

One of the pleasures of receiving reiki is that it is a peaceful treatment - the person giving reiki is unlikely to chit-chat, as they'll be focusing on channelling their energy.

Some people are sceptical about reiki - it is a subtle treatment and does rely on your being open to its power and effectiveness. If you aren't open to the idea of life energy then this is not the treatment for you. It is not a pampering, or a medical treatment - it is a spiritual treatment that can have benefits for your health and wellbeing.

Hot tip!

If you're going to go for any belief-related treatment, it's really important that you try and open your mind and relax, if you're going to get the benefits. If you're uptight or cynical, you're in the wrong place.

Read up on the treatment, and if possible speak to some people who've had the procedure. This should tell you whether it's liable to help you.


Reiki is a very gentle spiritual treatment that should leave you feeling relaxed and calm. As with all massage treatments, you should try not to schedule anything too demanding afterwards so that you can get the full benefit from the treatment.

Different kinds of reiki

There are various similar, but different types of reiki, each of which use slightly different positions and techniques. They are all based on the same core-theory and energy. Types include:

  • Integrated Energy Therapy
  • Fox Paw reiki
  • Karuna reiki
  • Radiance reiki
  • Shamanic, and Shambala reiki
  • Traditional Usui reiki, and variations
  • Traditional Usui Tibetan reiki, and variations

Courtesy of the Good Spa Guide

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