“The second time I received Reiki, I was stimulated by a breakup. I felt a lot of sensations around my throat and an intense urge to sob uncontrollably.
When I was nine, I had my first panic attack. My teacher was discussing world news when the walls of our classroom suddenly felt like they were tightly built around my body. Everything went completely black. In the years that followed, I began the cycle of check-ups with the GP, appointments with the psychologist and various medications.
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Anxiety wrapped around my childhood and beyond like a pesky, damp mold that always grew back. Nothing seemed to stick. So I started exploring options outside the realm of typical western medicine. I saw naturopaths, iridologists and possibly a Reiki healer.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is the Japanese expression for “life force energy”. It is achieved through techniques such as hand-body contact and palm healing (hovering over the body) to tap into the body’s chi or what some scientists call “biofield energy”. The technique has taken root in many different cultures and is linked to ancient spiritual practices and teachings of Buddhism and Shintoism.
The primary function of Reiki is to heal. Currently, Reiki is practiced in many parts of the world. It is important to recognize that the variations of Reiki that we find in various communities today may not be closely tied to traditional practice.
Modern Reiki can use techniques inspired by other cultures and healing practices, including meditation, crystals, swinging pendants, palm reading, tarot, and sound healing (to name a few). some). You can also meet psychologists or general practitioners using reiki-inspired techniques with their patients. This will often be called “healing touch” or “therapeutic touch”.
Reiki has been shown in some cases to be effective in healing the body from various ailments such as chronic pain, mental health, and even wound healing. Although medical research on this form of healing is still limited, a 2017 study compared Reiki to be more or just as effective as medical placebos. My personal experience with Reiki challenges my view of what it means to be a healthy person and what it takes to ‘recover’.
What happens during a Reiki session?
I couldn’t tell you what would happen in yours, but I can give you an overview of my sessions. What you feel during a Reiki healing session will depend on the individual and the style of the practitioner, but often people report feeling physical sensations (even without contact) such as heat, tingling, twitching and cramping. I have seen a Reiki practitioner three times in my life, each time providing a very different experience.
The first time, I found it overwhelming. The concepts of energy, chakras, and chi were completely new to me, and not something I had grown up with culturally. I found the physical and emotional sensations during the session so powerful. The second time I received Reiki, I was spurred on by a breakup. I felt a lot of sensations around my throat and an intense urge to sob uncontrollably. I was told that my throat chakras were blocked, which often happens when we have been unable to speak our truth. When I left that session, I felt completely disconnected from the relationship that I couldn’t spend a few minutes without thinking about it a few hours earlier.
The third and last time I took Reiki was a totally different experience. After a particularly dark winter, I was running empty to feel just about anything. With little explanation of this to my Reiki healer, she somehow seemed to tap into this almost immediately. This time, much of the physical sensation was around my stomach. I felt an extremely heavy liquid sensation under my ribs (a VERY strange sensation). This, I was told, was due to my body shutting down to feel joy. Strangely, this time I felt the urge to giggle, laugh, and even dance during my session.
Should You Try Reiki?
If you are considering Reiki, it is important that you consider where to go. I suggest reaching out to your circle of trust to see if they have any recommendations. Reiki can be a very vulnerable experience, so you’ll want to make sure you’re in a comfortable environment.
Second, do your research to make sure your practitioner honors the cultural history of Reiki, but also performs a style of healing technique that works for you. Nothing should replace what a trusted doctor recommends. Although there is no one method for the body or the mind, if something calls you to try Reiki, I would say give it a try.
To learn more about Reiki and mental health, go here.
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