by Lisa M. Wolfson
I was introduced to Reiki several years ago and then came across it again while volunteering at You Can Thrive! As a breast cancer survivor always searching for techniques in stress reduction and self-care, I found that Reiki resonated so strongly with me that I have gone on to train in the discipline and advance to the level of Reiki Master.
Reiki, pronounced ray-key, is a combination of two Japanese words, “Rei” which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power,” and Ki which is “life force energy.” So Reiki means “spiritually guided life force energy.” It is a gentle, non-invasive yet powerful method of healing based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. This “laying on hands” technique promotes relaxation and stress reduction, and enhances the power of the body to heal itself. It also supports and enhances other medical and healthcare treatments. For example, Reiki is considered excellent therapy in preparing for and recovering from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and all other types of trauma.
Anyone who is open to receiving this life force energy can benefit from Reiki, and anyone willing to work with this healing energy can learn Reiki. While it can be performed seated in a chair or lying on the floor, Reiki is most commonly administered with the recipient lying flat on a padded massage table, with pillows and/or bolsters propped under the knees and the head. Typically a session begins with the recipient lying face up for about 30 minutes, or half the normal duration, and then face down for the remainder of the session, except in cases where one position or the other is not advisable or comfortable.
All that is needed from the recipient is the openness to accept the Reiki energy. Then a simple exchange begins, consisting of the practitioner’s desire to ease the burdens of another and the recipient’s willingness to receive. Most practitioners use soothing music and dim lighting to promote relaxation. Some will use essential oils or fragrant incense. Others may work with crystals, wands or other stones during the treatments.
The Reiki treatment itself consists of the practitioner placing their hands on or slightly above the client’s body, starting the flow of Reiki energy. There is a treatment protocol involving a series of hand positions spaced along the client’s body, providing good coverage of the entire frame. By covering all parts of the body, the recipient will, by default, get the best treatment possible. An experienced practitioner may deviate from the traditional hand positions, according to the needs of the recipient at the time. Practitioners rely on intuition and other methods, such as sweeping or scanning of the energy field, to find spots that need healing. Reiki is not complicated. It is a simple exchange of energy between two or more people. Reiki can also be performed by more than one practitioner at a time.
Following the treatment, the practitioner will gently wake the recipient from a meditative twilight state which they may well drift into. This deep state of relaxation is desired during a Reiki treatment and it may take a few minutes to come back to full consciousness while you rest comfortably. The feeling of relaxation can stay with you for hours and days following a Reiki treatment. After a Reiki session, you will truly understand and appreciate the power of Reiki.
Lisa Wolfson lives in Rockville Centre, NY. She’s a Reiki Master and the Program Director at You Can Thrive!, an organization that provides free and low-cost support services for breast cancer survivors.