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Reiki: A Beginner’s Guide to Energy Healing

via @harlowskinco

I’m an optimistic skeptic.

This is kind of my line. It’s what I say at parties when I’m introduced to a new friend, on first dates when I explain my job, and how I reveal to people that I’m extremely down with energy healing, specifically Reiki.

Because ‘energy healing’ — so vague, yet so descriptive — gets a bad rap. Using the term makes you sound like someone who lives in Venice and only wears white linen dresses and sprouts their soynuts and has *some thoughts* about the moon landing. Someone who’s maybe a little out there, maybe a little foolish, maybe a little gullible.

Not someone like me, who graduated summa cum laude from NYU. Who works in tech. Who used to read medical journals for fun. Who listens to NPR, and votes, and loves eating organic but also really likes a good martini. I treat my body well, but it ain’t no temple. It’s more like a really nice vacation home.

But in my experience, when you reveal to someone new that you do something as unconventional as Reiki energy healing, they look at you a little differently. Sometimes they understand it — I love when the person I’m talking to nods enthusiastically because they get Reiki, too — but sometimes they cock their head to the side and raise an eyebrow, narrowing their eyes as if to say, “What, exactly, do you mean … and are you crazy?

And dude, I totally get the questioning. My whole life, I was that person who rolled her eyes at the mention of things like ‘universal life force energy.’ I grew up going to religious school, and unfortunately, studying religion had the opposite of the desired effect. Instead of cementing my belief in a higher power, it made me question anything vaguely magical or spiritual.

I could only trust what I could see; I could only believe in the physical in which I had autonomy and control; I could only have low expectations of the world around me because the minute I had anything but, I was usually disappointed. (Yeah, I was a SUPER fun kid.) It was easier to be pessimistic, and assume that the world kind of sucked. And a lot of what I choose to see proved my worldview to be correct.

So when Reiki worked on me, I was shook.

*record scratch* — but what is Reiki?

So glad you asked. Reiki is a Japanese energy healing modality that originated in 1922. Rei means ‘higher power,’ and ‘ki’ means life force energy. Generally, Reiki practitioners use the method for stress reduction, self-care, and emotional and physical healing.

In a session, your practitioner will channel Universal Life Force Energy (basically, the energy that’s all around us at all times) through their hands. They’ll move over your body, aligning or clearing your energy using the chakra system as reference points. Reiki can only be done for your highest good — the outcome can *only* be positive. If you feel anything but good, you might have experienced a different type of energy practice.

Reiki can be done in person, but it’s actually incredibly effective when done remotely. In fact, you can get Reiki while you’re sleeping (great for busy people) by a practitioner who’s 5,000 miles away and experience benefits just as powerful as when they work on you in-person.

And every Reiki session has a unique outcome, even if you work with the same practitioner consistently. Some people report experiencing the following:

- feeling energetically lighter 
- calm, clear, relaxed 
- rejuvenated 
- unexplainable visions 
- clear messages from a higher power 
- tingling, heat, or pressure in certain areas of the body 
- emotional healing 
- pain reduction 
- quicker healing of a wound or injury

My first Reiki session was with one of my professors at NYU. I studied dance; we had a very physically rigorous schedule, and at any given time at least 70% of my class was rocking a severe injury. On this particular day, a chronic ankle injury was nagging me — I could barely walk, and I was expected to perform onstage that evening. Given my current state — hobbling up and down the halls — it looked like performing would be impossible.

I went to explain to my teacher what was up, and she asked me if she could do Reiki on my ankle to see if it would help. With shrugged shoulders, I consented, and she hovered her hands above the offensive ankle … and the pain dissipated.

Placebo effect!, the skeptic in me said. Magic! the Pisces in me said. Solution! the athlete in me said.

At that moment, I didn’t care why I felt better — I just knew that I did. I was able to perform that night, and that was all that mattered.

I’ve since worked with Reiki practitioners regularly for a whole host of reasons, and I’ve experienced an array of outcomes in Reiki sessions. I’ve had treatments where I truly thought felt like I just took a really great nap (very necessary, as I was experiencing some serious insomnia at the time) and other treatments where I saw or felt incredible, unexplainable things.

For me, Reiki is the modality I turn to when I’m feeling stuck. It was really helpful to me when I went through a particularly brutal breakup a few years ago, and I was also getting a lot of Reiki healing when I got the idea to start Holisticism.

Truthfully, my first experience with Reiki was a watershed moment. I didn’t realize that those five minutes of energy work would so greatly impact my life — but I’m so glad they did.

Curious about Reiki? Check we’ve got some pretty amazing practitioners on Holisticism! Book a virtual session with them to get a taste of what Reiki is all about.