What is Reiki's place in holistic healthcare?

Can we define Reiki?

Language uniquely expresses concepts that are engrained in each culture. There is more emphasis on spirituality in Japanese culture, so a greater ability to describe spiritual concepts within the Japanese language. The American way of life generally emphasizes the physical and material over the unseen and spiritual. This makes it difficult to translate the Japanese concept of Reiki into English—there is no direct translation.

When I first learned to practice Reiki, I wanted to know how it worked. I had conducted research in a geology lab and studied Forensic Science at university, so I wanted science to explain Reiki to me. However, science does not know how it works because there is no known mechanism of action. Eventually, I accepted that not everything worth knowing is knowable in a physical sense. Some things can be explored and understood on a more subtle, spiritual level. Reiki practice is a spiritual practice, and its effects ripple outward into our emotional, physical, and community experience.

It isn’t necessary to translate or to truly understand Reiki practice to be able to experience it.

Reiki: a truly holistic approach

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Spirituality is an innate part of ourselves just like our physical bodies, mind, and emotions. Our spiritual self is the part of us that witnesses our outer experience of body, mind, emotions, and interactions with others. We can choose to develop our spirituality just as we can choose to develop our physical bodies by exercising or our intellect by reading. There is a phrase used by spiritual teachers, “The way out is in.” The way out of our suffering and separateness is to drop inside and witness our present experiences. Developing the spiritual aspect of ourselves helps us to recognize our oneness with the Earth and her inhabitants while supporting our ability to express our individuality by taking appropriate action at the appropriate time. Through supporting our individuality in this way, spiritual practice improves our relationship with ourselves. And when we feel better about ourselves, we take better care of ourselves—we make better choices that support our overall well-being.

When I was first initiated into Reiki practice, I had been living with chronic pain and fatigue for about 8 years. This widespread pain and low energy led to feelings of low self-worth and days where I wanted to give up trying to get better. I felt a small glimmer of hope that my health could improve but some days it shone brighter than others. Once I started my Reiki practice, the hope for recovery began to glow brighter. I felt empowered because by resting my hands on my body, my breathing slowed, worries diminished, and the ache in my body lessened. I felt a deep sense of love and support. I realized that I didn’t have to reach so far outside myself to find help from my suffering because what I needed was already within me. The light of hope began to shine like a beacon within me and I made healthcare choices from a place of strength and certainty. Soon, I began to feel better in every aspect of my life. Today, I continue my daily self Reiki practice. It helps me to remain balanced and supports my sense of well-being.

Reiki practice and our bodies

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In Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide, Pamela Miles, a Reiki practitioner for over 30 years who has introduced Reiki to many hospitals and healthcare providers, describes Reiki as “a spiritual healing practice that can help return us to balanced functioning on every level—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, even social—regardless of our age or state of health” (8). Balance can mean different things at different times, depending on our present state. I have witnessed a Reiki treatment calm anxiety before dental treatment. It has increased energy and brought clarity to a client suffering from a concussion. I have witnessed it soothe decades-old chronic pain and support recovery from surgery.

Recipients of Reiki often report feeling less stressed and overwhelmed, improved mood and outlook on life, greater self-esteem and confidence, improved sleep and digestion, better relationships, and a greater overall sense of well-being. Some of the measurable physiological responses witnessed in a clinical setting include a more balanced heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygenation levels. When we physically and emotionally feel better, we are better able to make beneficial choices that support our well-being, so that we continue to function better and feel better.

Reiki treatment and practice can be an effective step toward living a more satisfied and well-rounded life.