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Reiki is Universal, but the experience is not

Some of you may know what Reiki is, have some personal or secondhand experience with it, but if you’re like I was just a couple of years ago, you may have never even heard of it. A quick Google search for “Reiki” will lead you on a whirlwind tour of people’s thoughts and opinions on Reiki and other healing methods. You’ll see articles about how Reiki has changed people’s lives for the better right alongside headlines like “Reiki is Nonsense.”

What we talk about when we talk about Reiki

By definition, Reiki literally means “universal life energy” in Japanese. The story goes that 200-some-odd years ago, a Japanese military doctor named Mikao Usui went on a spiritual journey that led him to the top of a mountain. There, he had a vision of universal life energy being given to him (and all of us) by a divine source/god/the universe/however you define such things along with symbols representing the power of this energy, when harnessed and directed, to bring about healing.

As a healer, Usui was naturally interested in trying to impart this wisdom and energetic healing method on his colleagues and patients, which he did in prolific fashion for many years until the end of his life. Since then, millions of people across the world have been trained in or experienced Reiki in a number of different forms by countless different schools of training, inspired by countless gods, goddesses, elements, teachers, etc. But by and large, when we talk about Reiki, we are talking about the process of channeling universal life energy, the energy that already exists within you, for the benefit of yourself and all living beings.

Is it nonsense?

I grew up a skeptic. I’m a guy who needs to see results, outcomes, concrete proof of things, and that’s more or less the way I’ve always been. I watched the Penn & Teller HBO show “Bullshit,” in which the two magicians systematically debunk a number of beliefs and practices, including “energetic healing” more broadly. There’s hardly any scientific study into this stuff, and what study there is, cynics will say, is questionable and not definitive. So I get it when people don’t take it seriously. I get it if people scoff or nod patronizingly. I also get it if you’re not religious (I’m not particularly religious myself), or if you don’t do the Santa Claus thing with your kids, and on and on. We’re a society of traditions and faith, as well as a society of science and learning, and those things aren’t always compatible on the surface.

Have you ever heard of the placebo effect? In medical research, including in the development of new drugs and treatments for disease, the placebo effect is a known and accounted-for phenomenon in which some members of a “control” group (that is, the group of test subjects who receive sugar pills instead of the drug being tested, for example) will experience healing and recovery commensurate with what would be expected if they were being treated “for real” despite taking a pill that shouldn’t have any effect on them. When we talk about energetic healing and other so-called “pseudo sciences,” many cynics will dismiss any positive effects attributed to the healing as just being the placebo effect.

But let’s think about that for a minute: what exactly is happening when a person experiences the placebo effect? A person thinks they are being treated for a disease, injury, or other malady, but unbeknownst to them, they aren’t. Still, their body actually heals itself, even though the only thing that’s changed is that the patient is now THINKING they are being healed by some external force.

In the old days (like in Biblical times), they called that kind of a thing a miracle. People have been canonized – made a saint – for less. Now in our information-filled civilization, it’s “just the placebo effect.” Our minds, spirits, and bodies coming together to bring about spontaneous healing is somehow something to be discounted in scientific research.

But this is, in essence, what energetic healing like Reiki is all about. By channeling life force energy through body, mind, spirit, chakras, aura, etc., practitioners are bringing people back into a positive alignment. You can’t expect Reiki to heal disease, but there have been instances where people’s diseases have gone away at the same time they were receiving Reiki on a regular basis. You can’t expect Reiki to treat a specific condition or pain, but I’ve seen and experienced firsthand the effect of pain leaving the body in apparent response to a Reiki treatment.

All I can say is: Try it for yourself

In my experience, Reiki has helped (myself and others) with depression, anxiety, restlessness, minor muscular pain, sleeplessness, and gastrointestinal distress. I can’t say it would work for you in the same way, but I can say that if you are open to the possibility that Reiki can help you, chances are it will in some way.

In the course of training to be a Reiki practitioner, I was told several times that sometimes people will “feel” nothing at all during a Reiki session and then, sometime later on, feel some positive effect or have a personal epiphany. I was also told that Reiki is universal spirit and, as such, will “know” how best to help the people who call upon it. If it does nothing for you and you think it’s a waste of time, so it is. But for those who have experienced calming, healing, peace, clarity, and other effects as a result of Reiki, it can become a regular part of an elevated living experience, right alongside yoga, meditation, proper nutrition, exercise, and all the other healthful things people do to improve their lives.

It’s my hope that you will give Reiki a try, and if you give it a try with me, I can promise I will be open and accepting of your experience, even if you find it’s not for you.


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