Reiki for Inmates

Reiki master Caitriona Doyle attended my Medical Reiki Intensive in Dublin. When she mentioned offering Reiki healing in a prison, I begged her to share her story. Reiki Healing

Reiki Healing in Prison
by Caitriona Doyle

I was invited to offer Reiki healing to inmates in a local Dublin prison. They were high category prisoners: rape, assault, murder. I accepted because I was intrigued, but I was equally terrified.

Twenty prisoners gathered in a small room, guards outside the closed door. I started by chatting a bit with the lads about Reiki healing.

Then I offered chair treatment to each prisoner, placing my hands at the crown, brow, throat and heart — what seemed to me the “safest” placements, given the men I was treating. I stayed with each inmate for up to ten minutes.

There was a mix of mental states in the room. Some men were quite agitated, one young man sweated profusely, while another seemed blank. I started out nervously, but as I moved from man to man, I felt myself become steadier, more solid, more secure in my environment.

Although I was aware of something else developing in the room, I was absorbed in offering Reiki treatment and didn’t focus on it. As I approached the final prisoner, I looked around the room and realised what I had been feeling. It was their respect, respect for what was happening in the room.

The men had sat in silence for two hours as I went from one to the other practicing Reiki. I was amazed by the calm and peace that Reiki healing brought to the room.

What surprised me even more was while practising Reiki on the men, in the time I spent with each one of them, all I felt was their goodness. Without judging their crimes, practicing Reiki let me feel their core, their invisible part, which felt like goodness to me. I wasn’t prepared for that, and it was lovely.

I thanked them for their respect and shared what I had experienced.  They stood up and clapped. Some formed a queue to chat with me.

One of the lads said he had learned First degree Reiki and promised he would start regular self-practise that evening. Another prisoner had read a lot about Reiki practice, and loved everything to do with angels.

Each man had a story. Practicing Reiki with them let me see that the angry person they presented to the world was not all that they were.

To be honest, that realization disconcerted me.

It is a human reaction to judge harshly someone who injures or murders another person, and I had felt such judgment. And yet, I cannot deny what I experienced that day.

After the event, the prison officers said they were shocked and amused to look through the tiny glass window in the heavily bolted door and see such hardcore criminals sitting in silence and stillness. The officers said they could feel the peace of the room.

I visited the prison as part of a Holistic Week where prisoners were invited to experience various therapies each day. The men said they enjoyed their Reiki treatment the most because they felt soothed and peaceful for a few days afterwards.


Caitriona’s experience illustrates the power of Reiki as a spiritual practice. Yet all too often, practitioners avoid speaking about spirituality lest they seem too “out-there.” It is possible to speak about spirituality without being New Agey. After all, spiritual practices existed long before the New Age Movement.

You will understand spirituality and be able to speak about it more effectively after listening to the audio recording of the webinar Mainstreaming Reiki: What Is Spirituality? 

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10 thoughts on “Reiki for Inmates”

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. It touched me profoundly.

    It’s so beautiful when we can put all prejudices and opinions away for awhile and focus on the heart which pumps in the chest of all of us.

    In my humble opinion Reiki should be offered to all prisoners. It could be very interesting to do studies on the effect of providing this form of calmness and inner peace to people in prison.

    @Nancy fantastic! you did reiki with prisoners too :)

  2. What a beautiful and inspirational story. I applaud you for having the courage to give Reiki inside a prison. I don’t think I would be brave enough to do that, Caitriona. However, I can relate to what you said about the officers who said they could feel the peace in the room. A while ago, when I gave weekly Reiki treatments to a patient at a cancer center where I volunteer, the patient’s husband thanked me each time for what I did for his wife. She had a private room at the center, and I would close the door before giving Reiki. The patient was always so grateful for the Reiki. Her husband told me that while I was giving his wife Reiki, he could feel the entire room become peaceful.
    Reiki is absolutely amazing, and I continue to be in awe of its effects.

  3. Absolutely beautiful story. I admire your courage & openness to such a scary unknown. After I read your story I came across these words in a Dr Brian Weiss book that I am currently reading – “The rain falls on the weeds as well as on the flowers, and the sun shines on prisons as well as on churches. God’s light does not discriminate, and neither should ours.” Thankyou for sharing.

    1. I would love to take a Reiki class/training because I would like to help people. Is there any online course I can take?

      1. Carlin,

        Reiki is a spiritual healing practice that we learn for self-practice first and foremost. I have been practicing since 1986 and I still practice a full self-Reiki session every day. Practicing with others best comes in time, on a solid foundation of continuing self-practice.

        There are no regulations governing the standards for Reiki practice or training. Traditionally, students are only trained in-person with a Reiki master in a full class setting of 10-12 hours. However, people can do whatever they want, because this is an unregulated practice. Therefore you have to be an informed consumer. I wrote an article to help people understand what would be the best situation for them to learn. Click here to read it.

        Although there are online courses, as a traditional Reiki master, I find these to be disreputable and encourage students to avoid them and find a qualified Reiki master who will train you in-person and be there to guide you afterwards.

      2. Hi Carlin,
        I too have offered Reiki to prisoners in hospitals, as a nurse and as a Reiki practitioner. I also experienced peace. The guards with the inmates seemed very nervous to have me so close to the prisoner as i did my nursing assessment, treatments and Reiki. But for me it was a gratifying time. Blessings on your Journey.

      3. Carlin, the Reiki Alliance lists Reiki masters around the world who are trained according to Mrs. Takata’s standards, meaning longer trainings, adequate time to practice between levels, and training Reiki masters in an extended apprenticeship format rather than a class. As there are always differences among Reiki masters, even well trained ones, I still advise evaluating your options using the questions in the article cited above to help choose the best option for you.

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