Is the Reiki Practitioner Safe?

Reiki master Susan Mitchell learned Reiki practice from Hawayo Takata, who brought the practice from Japan to the U. S. with her Reiki master, Chujiro Hayashi, a Reiki master trained by lineage founder Mikao Usui.

Reiki master Susan MitchellLearning to Trust Our Reiki Practice
by Susan Mitchell

One question is asked in nearly every Reiki First Degree class is: how we can protect ourselves when we offer Reiki treatment to other people?

Behind that question is the concern that we might absorb or somehow take on the illness or emotional state of the person we’re treating. This issue becomes more pressing as we start treating a variety of people, some of whom are addressing serious medical conditions.

Reiki healing

Therapists of all stripes know the feeling of being depleted. Traditional healing practices usually include techniques for protecting or rebuilding the practitioner’s energy before and after sessions.

Reiki practice does not.

In fact, Hawayo Takata made it a point in every class to tell her students that you do not pick up anything from other people when you practice Reiki.

That statement was the sole reason I signed up for the First Degree training.

Until that time, feeling depleted by other people had been a big issue for me. I worked in a psychiatric halfway house after graduating from college, and quickly learned that I had no idea how to maintain my boundaries. I was a sponge and paid a painful price.

After leaving that job, I wanted nothing to do with helping people.

Trust in Reiki practice confirmed

At least not until my husband came home from hearing Hawayo Takata speak about Reiki at San Francisco State University. Paul had been deeply impressed by the healing stories she told, the integrity she radiated, and her statement that anyone could learn to practice Reiki.

I listened as he shared every story she told. When he quoted her saying you don’t pick up things from other people when you practice Reiki, I had a powerful, visceral recognition of the truth of that statement. And that’s when I decided to learn to practice Reiki.

Thirty-five years of Reiki practice experience have confirmed my initial trust.

The mirror of Reiki practice

Reiki practice is transformative. Nonetheless, we still have personalities, limitations, and blind spots. Through daily self-treatment and receiving treatments from others, our Reiki practice helps us to see ourselves much more clearly.

And we see ourselves more clearly when we let go of assumptions or ideas about what we “should” be able to do. Each of us is different, and each one of us needs to respect and care for ourselves.

I’ve learned, for example, that I cannot treat unlimited numbers of people. I’m happiest when I see three or four clients a day, three or four days a week. Being an introvert, I need time away from people in order to be consistently present.

Occasionally we may feel disturbed after giving a treatment. If that happens, look to see how detached you were during the treatment. Instead of passively placing hands, were you trying to do something, to make something happen, or were you attached to a particular outcome?

Another possibility is that the client is mirroring something about you, perhaps your own personal issue. It may be something in his condition or her personality that resonates with you.

It’s critical for us each to engage in our own inner work.

That said, occasionally we encounter a person we are not comfortable treating, and we may not know why. In those moments, respect your needs and honor your intuition. You are not required to treat everyone. You can always refer a person you are not comfortable with to someone else.

I’ve found Hawayo Takata’s teaching has withstood the test of time: we don’t pick up things from other people.

And as we treat ourselves daily, take care of ourselves, and respect our needs, we experience the wisdom of her prescription: “Reiki practice is first of all for yourself, then your family and friends.”

You can print a Spanish translation or a Portuguese translation of this article. Please do not make any changes to the content, and please do not share the pdf through email. Rather, direct your friends to this page. Thank you for your support.

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12 thoughts on “Is the Reiki Practitioner Safe?”

  1. Susan,
    I’ve been trained and attuned as a reiki 2, by a reiki master/teacher trained by you. I feel very fortunate to have had that experience. Thank you!

  2. Miriam Stollar

    Dear Susan, thank you for the article. Only last week I attended a Reiki share in which the facilitator was saying you need to ground and protect yourself from unwanted influences. One of the favoured methods is visualizing yourself in a bubble. I questioned him about this and said why do you need to protect yourself? He was quite adamant it was necessary. Maybe for some people this is so.

    1. When people think something is necessary, it might very well be necessary — for them. If they don’t want to examine the situation and acknowledge the distinction between their needs and the practice, if they just become adamant, what can you do?

    2. Miriam, I’ve found myself in similar situations. I feel it’s worth asking the question and having a conversation with the purpose of making connection with one another as practitioners . . . as long as we let go of trying to change one another’s minds.

  3. I’ve noticed that I naturally pick up other peoples stuff, so to speak. I’m an energy magnet on a daily basis, but never while doing, or after Reiki. After I fully understand what the clients intentions for the session are and get a feeling for the person, I always envision the white light surrounding me before I start a session and usually feel great afterwards. It’s what I’ve learned with Reiki and the white light that has taught me to do my visual techniques daily at various times of the day depending on who I’m around.
    Thanks Susan, for sharing.

  4. Thank you so much Susan for sharing your story. There is so much misinformation about Hawayo out there, that you don’t know who to trust; with that being said, even though you do not pick up things from other people, it’s not to say that you don’t pick up on their vibes, or even things at a cellular level. I for instance, see images when I treat people with Reiki – and if I do not look after myself, I feel sometimes feel drained after giving it; but I know this is due to my own blockages. I know during these times I am often not in the “right” spot.

    But, if I have learned anything from Reiki is that, It’s not something outside of yourself, as some would believe. I have learned that Reiki is your Higher-Self, and that the people that you treat are indeed somehow mirroring your life in one way or another, otherwise they would not be in your life.

    We are all connected.

    Thank you again for your wonderful post. 🙂 I really enjoyed it.

    1. I definitely agree that we pick up on people’s states of being, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. Part of the beauty of the practice is also this on-going opportunity to understand ourselves and our clients more fully.

  5. Thank you all, for your comments. I’m happy to hear that this has been your experience. I, too, experience a sense of well-being during and after giving Reiki treatments.

    Elise, I know Pamela has been in touch with you about making this post more broadly available.

  6. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your experience. Reiki practice is often made unnecessarily complicated, and I appreciate that you are bringing some light to this issue as someone who has trained with Hawayo Takata. Once I began to practice reiki self-care daily, I never again felt that I needed to protect myself from anyone or anything during the reiki session. I have also found that I am more in touch with myself and my boundaries, and I know when I am not capable to provide reiki treatment to another person.

  7. I so very much appreciate your article, Susan. I always convey this truth to my Reiki students, knowing that they will practice self-Reiki honestly. May I have your permission to use the material from your article in my Reiki classes, Susan?
    I also have always wondered that if we hold the fear that we “need” to be protected, then, of course, we will need to be protected. But with Reiki practice, we soon gain confidence and trust, and fear vanishes.
    Thank you again, Susan!

  8. Really enjoyed your post Susan. I have never felt like I had “picked up” anyone’s stuff when doing Reiki – I feel fabulous after doing a Reiki session. I can do Reiki for hours and feel fine.

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