Reiki for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started
Here, we answer some of the most common questions about this popular form of energy healing that beginners to Reiki (The Universal Life Force) often ask.
According to Reiki practitioners a session of Reiki can help shift your body’s stress response into a state that is more conducive to healing.
Reiki is a form of energy healing that involves no (or very light) touch. Using gentle hand movements, Reiki practitioners guide energy within a person’s body to encourage self-healing, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
While there is still little conclusive evidence to explain precisely how or why Reiki works, there is a growing body of data suggesting it helps some people with sleep, pain, anxiety and depression, stress management, and symptom management for chronic health problems.
One theory behind Reiki is that interactions between the energy field (also known as the “biofield”) of the practitioner and the energy field of the recipient trigger the healing effects, according to a review published in the journal Pain Management Nursing.
“Reiki gently encourages the person’s system to restore balance,” says Pamela Miles, a New York City–based Reiki master and researcher who has collaborated with the medical schools at Harvard and Yale to help develop Reiki programs there.
Primarily, Reiki shifts your body’s stress response from its “fight-or-flight” state to a more restful state during and immediately after the session, which is better for your well-being and your health in the long run, Miles says. (Being in fight-or-flight mode triggers the release of stress hormones and other physiological changes that can be damaging if experienced constantly.) Then, once your body is less stressed, it can better heal itself, Miles says.
Curious about how to get started? Here’s what you need to know.
As Reiki is gentle and non-invasive, it’s really safe for everyone, says Vickie Bodner, a licensed massage therapist and Reiki master in the Center for Integrative Medicine at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. People most commonly seek Reiki to help them prepare for or recover from surgery, manage stress and anxiety, cope with the loss of a loved one, or as an adjunct to professional medical care, like cancer treatment, Bodner says. Some people seek Reiki for supportive touch when they feel alone in dealing with troubling situations, she adds.
Reiki may be especially helpful if you haven’t seen results from other treatments or solutions. “If nothing else is working, it’s usually because the [nervous] system is so stressed,” Miles says. “Reiki may boost the effectiveness of other medical treatments by reducing stress, which can be a roadblock.”
However, Reiki is not a substitute for medical treatment. “People should always contact a doctor for professional help for any medical or mental [health] issues,” Bodner says. “Once you’ve gotten help from a professional, Reiki may be added as a form of complementary care.” she says.
How Do You Find a Reiki Practitioner?
Reiki isn’t regulated like other treatment methods, which means you have to be an informed consumer when it comes to finding a practitioner, according to Miles.
Start by looking at the practitioner’s level of training and experience. “A well-trained Reiki practitioner should be certified and have received their training with a Reiki master teacher who’s certified.” says Joan Maute, a licensed Reiki master teacher in Waikoloa, Hawaii, and Charlottesville, Virginia.
Two large, reputable Reiki training organizations in the United States include the International Center for Reiki Training (ICRT) and the Reiki Alliance. Both have online directories to help you find trained practitioners in your area. The Center for Reiki Research includes a directory of hospitals, medical clinics, and hospice programs where Reiki is offered.
What Will the First Reiki Session Be Like?
Reiki sessions typically last 60 to 90 minutes (though that varies), according to the International Association of Reiki Professionals. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork and prepare for the session.
Expect to spend the entire session lying fully clothed on a treatment table. You may be on your back for the full session, or the practitioner may have you roll onto your stomach at some point. Just make sure to tell the practitioner beforehand if you’re pregnant or can’t lie flat for some reason; they may have a recliner for you to use.
The practitioner may work with their hands on or off your body, though they’ll never touch genitals or women’s breasts (unless someone with breast cancer specifies that she or he would like that area worked on).
The goal of the session is relaxation, so there likely won’t be much talking (though that may depend on the practitioner). It’s important, however, that you tell the practitioner if you need any adjustments at any point during the session. “Your comfort is the most important thing, so if you’re uncomfortable for any reason, like if you’re too hot or cold, or the position you’re lying in is uncomfortable, I ask you to let me know,” Miles says.
She keeps blankets and pillows near the treatment table in case people get cold or need a lift under their knees.
As the practitioner works, you may feel a warm, pulsing energy coming from his or her hands. “All these sensations are very comforting, and they don’t mean anything other than that the Reiki [energy] is really flowing,” Maute says.
You should feel deeply relaxed during the session. Some people fall asleep; others enter a deep meditative state. For this reason, practitioners will gently awaken people once the session is over. The Reiki session should leave you feeling very calm and relaxed, Miles says. “The idea is to bring this state with you, so you want to get off the table in a calm, slow, deliberate way. Sit for a few minutes and sip some water.”
If possible, go home and relax after your Reiki session, Maute says. If you can’t go straight home, try to avoid stressful errands or tasks — or build in a nonstressful buffer activity before returning to your typical routine. For example, if you have to go back to work, stop and have lunch on your way.
What Should You Wear to a Reiki Session?
Wear comfortable clothes that you can relax in. If you’re coming from the office, feel free to bring a change of clothes — just be sure to check with the practitioner before your session to make sure there’s a place for you to change. Miles recommends dressing in layers so you can add or remove clothing during the session, if needed.
Finally, make sure you remove belts and other bulky items before the session starts.
Is Reiki Covered by Insurance?
Many insurance companies don’t cover the cost of Reiki treatments, though some do, according to the International Center for Reiki Training. You may receive coverage if Reiki is part of a treatment plan recommended by your doctor, or if it’s given during a hospital stay by a nurse or licensed care professional, according to the University of Minnesota. Check with your insurance provider to find out about the terms of coverage.
How Much Does Reiki Cost?
The cost of a Reiki treatment varies depending on where you go, as well as the length of the session. Expect to pay between $25 and $100 per session, according to the International Center for Reiki Training. For example, an hourlong Reiki session at the Cleveland Clinic costs $60, according to Bodner.
How Often Should I Get Reiki Treatment?
“Sometimes one Reiki session is enough to resolve whatever the issue is, and sometimes it takes several sessions,” Maute says. Your Reiki practitioner may be able to give you a better idea of how often you should go, depending on the issue you’d like to address.
You can space out the sessions according to your needs and schedule. The University of Minnesota Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing recommends trying out at least four sessions to evaluate potential benefits of the practice.
Keep in mind though that Reiki is a spiritual practice, and you can receive it as often as you’d like. Bodner sees clients who come in once a month for relaxation and stress management, whereas other clients treat themselves to a Reiki session for their birthday every year.
Can I teach myself Reiki?
Yes, you can take an online home study course which will taqke you through every step of the journey to becoming a Reiki Master. However, if you just want to learn to perform Reiki on yourself, your friends and pets the Reiki Masters Training Course For Beginners will teach you that too.