"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." ~John Muir, 1911
Before my introduction to Reiki, I never gave much thought to the idea of distance healing therapies. Until then, my studies focused more on physical sciences such as chemistry and geology and my idea of health had to do more with what could be measured in blood panels. However, during my journey toward wellness I recognized I was more than just a grouping of cells and organs and there was more to being alive than could be explained by biological processes. There was something else I recognized as Me that existed beyond my physical body. I experienced more of this connection to my nonphysical self as I practiced yoga, hiked through forests, and spent time in quiet contemplation. I realized that perhaps this aspect of my being was more who I am than my quantifiable body.
I began to understand the great importance of this nonphysical, energetic aspect to health and wellness when I learned Crystal Therapy and Reiki. In my second Reiki class, my teacher taught us how to send Reiki across any distance around the world. My understanding of this nonphysical, energetic aspect—known as the biofield in the current scientific framework—expanded from surrounding individuals in a field, sometimes called an aura, to something that could reach outward to connect and affect across space and even time. It was mind-bending (is mind-bending) and I’m still amazed by distance Reiki.
The practice of sending distance Reiki involves using a sacred symbol passed down from teacher to student that originates with Mikao Usui, the founder of Usui Reiki Ryoho (Usui Reiki Healing Method). When invoked by a practitioner, this symbol connects the sender and recipient of Reiki regardless of the distance between them. In an article reviewing the effect of Reiki on pain and anxiety in adults, the authors suggest that “distance healing may be explained by energy particles being simultaneously present at the location and time of the Reiki practitioner and the location and time of the recipient through the intention of the Reiki practitioner.”2
The idea that particles are able to be in two places at the same time is based on discoveries by Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland that won them both the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. Theories in quantum mechanics and quantum physics may one day be able to offer a more complete explanation of how this occurs, but these theories are still being explored and their connection to distance healing and the power of intention is in its nascent stages. Distance healing might not be an easy concept to grasp, but my experience and anecdotes from other practitioners provide compelling evidence that a connection is made that offers support across any distance.
One of the first times I offered distance Reiki was for a friend at the dentist. In between her travels, Amy needed to visit her dentist to have a cavity filled. Her tooth had been causing her pain and she only had a short window of time before she left on another business trip. Although she had a history of dental anxiety, she rushed to her appointment without taking her usual support. She reached out to me in a panic while waiting for her appointment to begin, unsure if she would be able to calm down enough for the procedure. I offered to send her distance Reiki, and she accepted. As I drew the symbol and intended for Reiki to flow to her, my hands grew warm just as if I were offering Reiki to someone right next to me. I didn’t hear from her for awhile and I hoped that it was a good sign. When she sent me a message a few hours later, Amy told me she had calmed down quickly without receiving anything other than Reiki. Her appointment continued well and she immediately returned home to take a nap. I was amazed and grateful that distance Reiki had offered her the support she needed at that time.
One day I received a last-minute request for a distance Reiki session from a local client who normally scheduled in-person appointments. Joy told me she her body had started to ache and she felt sinus pressure building throughout the day. She also had a raised temperature and worried that she would get behind with work and would have little energy for her kids if she fell ill. I proceeded to send her distance Reiki that evening after her children were put to bed when she would be able to relax. The next morning, Joy told me she had slept well and woke up feeling recovered. She said that normally when she felt like she did the day before, the infection would settle in for about a week before she could finally begin to recover. She was delighted to feel better so soon!
Although miles apart, clients receiving distance Reiki report the same responses as those receiving Reiki at my office. They describe feelings of deep calm and relaxation as the session progresses and often feel a warmth or pleasant tingling. Sometimes, if they fall asleep, they wake up shortly after the session ends. Distant clients also report easier movement in previously tight and painful muscles. During emotionally difficult periods, clients say they feel uplifted and more clear-minded following the session.
A study I mentioned last month about Reiki’s effects on mental and emotional health is also relevant to distance Reiki. Participants with symptoms of stress and depression were split into multiple groups—one group received hands-on Reiki and another group received distance Reiki while control groups either received simulated Reiki from an actor or no Reiki from a distance. All participants had a weekly session for six weeks and weren’t told which group they were in. Each of the groups receiving Reiki showed a significant decrease in symptoms of depression and stress over the groups that didn’t receive Reiki. The researchers also found no significant difference between the hands-on and distance Reiki groups! Also, both Reiki groups maintained a significant improvement a year after completing the active study.1
These cases and this study show that even if you are far away, not feeling well enough, or too contagious to schedule an in-person Reiki session, distance Reiki provides meaningful support. I’m looking forward to advances in physics and other sciences that might explain how a sacred symbol creates an energetic connection for Reiki to flow across any distance. Until then, I remain curious to learn more and grateful that distance Reiki is possible.
1. Shore, Adina Goldman. “Long-term Effects of Energetic Healing on Symptoms of Psychological Depression and Self-Perceived Stress.” Alternative Therapies, vol. 10, no. 3, 42-48. May/June 2004. https://www.equilibrium-e3.com/images/PDF/Effects%20of%20Energetic%20Healing%20on%20Depression%20and%20Stress_web.pdf
2. Thrane, Susan and Susan M. Cohen. “Effect of Reiki Therapy on Pain and Anxiety in Adults: An In-Depth Literature Review of Randomized Trials with Effect Size Calculations.” Pain Management Nursing, vol. 15, no. 4, 897-908. December 2014. NIH Public Access, doi: 10.1016/j.pmn.2013.07.008.