Is Reiki a universal panacea, a placebo, or a scam?

Reiki – is it the panacea of all ills the human race has been waiting for, or just a harmless placebo?

What is Reiki and does Reiki work? 

Reiki is an energy healing system, with its roots in Japan. The first time I had a Reiki treatment, I had literally no idea what it was, what the treatment involved or what it was for. I was offered a free session with a lovely therapist I met in a networking group, just to try it out.

I’d like to say I went to the clinic with an open mind. The truth is I was deeply cynical that anyone could have healing hands. Also, I didn’t feel I had anything that needed healing.

An unforgettable experience

I told the therapist that I had no ailments or stresses above and beyond the usual 40-something aches and pains, took up my position on the therapy bed, closed my eyes and waited.

There were swishing noises as she moved her hands around above me and I could feel her moving around the bed. I stifled childish laughter as I imagined her wafting and waving her arms.

And then it happened. She put her hands gently on my shoulders and my whole body went WHOOSH. An intense heat seared through me, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Not a wave of heat, but simultaneous heat throughout my body. Not in a hot flush, cold sweat, moist skin kind of way, but like someone had turned the heat on in my veins.

Laughter burst out of me. I couldn’t help it. It was so unexpected and intense. I continued to giggle for half a minute or so until the heat subsided.

At the end of the treatment the Reiki practitioner put her hands in mine – her hands were cold. She said she felt a blockage around my knees (could it have been the arthritis which regular readers will know about, but which hadn’t even been diagnosed at the time of the treatment?). 

Go figure.

So for the time-being, I was converted. Reiki had worked. I’m not sure what it did exactly, but it worked goddammit!

I told the hubster and insisted he book a treatment too. I needed him to experience it for himself, so that he’d stop looking at me like I was weird.

He felt nothing. Nada. I was deflated. The cynicism started to creep back in.

My second experience

Years passed.

One morning, an inexplicable trauma happened to my knee, resulting in two weeks without leaving the house, accepting favours from friends who took my kids to school, and walking with the help of a stick.

Arthritis was the diagnosis. Physiotherapy was the solution.

A friend had recently taken her first Reiki course, Reiki One, which allows students to practice on friends and family, but no money is allowed to change hands (that comes with later courses). She offered to practice on me while I was housebound. I gratefully accepted.

Is Reiki real? Can we learn to have healing hands? From cynic to convert and back again in a post about my personal experience with Reiki energy healing.

Jane (name changed) treated me on my living room sofa. Part way through the treatment my cleaner let herself into the house and found Jane on the floor, sitting in silence, with her hands on my prostrate body. Awkward.

I felt the familiar heat, although this time it was localised around my knee. I didn’t feel the whoosh of my previous treatment, but the warmth was definitely there.

I was grateful to Jane for coming over with her healing hands. What a gift to be able to offer. I realised I wanted to do it too! There was so much unhappiness and sickness around me at that time, I desperately wanted to help in some tangible way.

I imagined laying my healing hands on my sick brother in law, and helping my sister to achieve a much-needed, peaceful sleep. I thought I’d be able to ease my own knee pain and help my husband manage his stress levels.

I want healing hands!

I bought a book by Torsten Lange and took the Reiki One course run by the author, the same course Jane had taken at Reiki Academy London.  

I was hoping, really hoping for a weekend of spiritual awakening. But I couldn’t quite block out that quiet voice that was telling me this was all a bit woo woo and quite possibly a huge con.

The course was held in leafy Barnes, a lovely village in South London, one sunny weekend in May. I instantly bonded with the woman next to me and we enjoyed each other’s company throughout the course. She also had this nagging feeling that we might be paying for the Emperor’s new clothes. But onward.

Over the next two days, we learned about the history and theory of Reiki and received four ‘attunements’. This is when the flow of Reiki enters the students (stop smirking!), giving them the healing energy and enabling them to give treatments to family and friends and use it for themselves, ‘for healing and personal development’.

Is Reiki real? Can we learn to have healing hands? From cynic to convert and back again in a post about my personal experience with Reiki energy healing.

We were told that not all students would feel the flow of Reiki during the course. Some would have an intense feeling that the energy had arrived, while for others it might take a few weeks of practice before they felt the flow.

Sounded like a ‘get out of jail free’ card to me. How could we complain we weren’t feeling the flow if it could take several weeks to experience it.

Day two of the course involved giving and receiving a 45 minute treatment with another student. I gave it my all folks, and my victim, I mean client, said she felt the energy flowing through me. Was she just saying that to encourage me? I wasn’t feeling it.

Honestly, I left the course deflated but with a little fight left in me to make this work. Afterall, I didn’t want to look like a fool for taking the course.

So does it work?

For the next four evenings, I practiced on my 11 year old son. He said he’d like help to relax at bedtime and I was happy to oblige. Any excuse to get close to my babies.

I felt like a fraud giving him his treatments, knowing that the energy wasn’t there, yet so wanting both of us to believe in it.

For four days he said he felt calm and comforted after his treatments. On day five he told me to stop with: “It’s all a load of crap isn’t it Mum?” I didn’t have a defence.

So is it just me? Am I not receptive to Reiki’s energy? If not, how do I rationally explain my first experience with Reiki – that intense rush of heat?

Is Reiki just a belief system? Perhaps the affects I felt from my Reiki treatments were just the result of my willingness to believe in it.

Does it matter?

Ultimately, does it matter if Reiki energy exists or not? If Reiki is just a placebo, but makes the ‘patient’ feel better in any way, what’s wrong with that?

Some say that just laying hands on someone in need is a comforting experience, lifting spirits, which in turn has a healing impact. In fact, studies have shown that patients given Reiki do feel better. But Reiki can certainly be dangerous if used as a substitute for contemporary treatments.  Torsten only endorses Reiki as a complementary therapy, rather than a substitute for chemotherapy for example.

I have no conclusion. I feel somewhat embarrassed that I paid for the course and that, either I don’t have the capacity to use the Reiki energy, or it just doesn’t exist. Part of me still wants so desperately to believe there’s an energy out there, that connects us all and that we can tap into.

What do you think?

What do you think? Who’s had a Reiki experience? I’d really love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below. I aways reply.

Much love, Vx

[Disclosure: nothing to disclose. I paid for the course myself]

Is Reiki real? Can we learn to have healing hands? From cynic to convert and back again in a post about my personal experience with Reiki energy healing.