Reiki Treatment: Local vs. Global Effects

Reiki students often have questions about hand placements, particularly:

  • Does it matter where Reiki hands are placed for treatment?
  • Are some of the hand placements more important than others?
  • Does the order of the hand placements matter?
  • Is a full treatment necessary?

Let’s start with the big picture, and forgive me for stating the obvious: what matters most is that you actually practice. If all you do is put your hands on yourself as you fall asleep, that’s better than nothing. Mrs. Takata* often said, any Reiki practice is better than no Reiki practice.

That said, let’s look at the local vs. the global effects of Reiki treatment.

Reiki practice to the rescue

Clearly there is a local aspect to Reiki practice. Where we place our Reiki hand seems to matter most when we practice Reiki as an immediate intervention to address a problem.

A Reiki hand gravitates toward the head to waylay a threatening headache, or to the solar plexus to settle a jittery stomach. When an accident happens, Reiki hands reach immediately for the site of the injury, and revisit it often during the healing process.

Besides the local benefits, each Reiki touch also brings global, whole-system benefits. Even brief Reiki treatment encourages the entire system to move toward balance.

For example, one hand to a single placement at bedtime can be enough to stimulate the overall balancing response from within your system and ease you into sleep. In stressful situations, even moments of Reiki touch can evoke a sense of well-being that puts everything in a more workable context.

When a brief hands-on can bring such palpable results, why bother with a full treatment?

Why a full Reiki treatment?

The overall balancing effect of Reiki practice brings benefits far beyond symptom relief. Reiki healing happens through the system’s own self-healing mechanisms, and offers the potential for the deepest possible healing–healing that not only helps you feel better, but which, given adequate treatment, can resolve the underlying cause of a symptom or condition. Mrs. Takata referred to this frequently in her comment, remove the cause and you remove the effect.

Even when there is no apparent condition to remedy, there are powerful incentives to maintain a balanced system:

  • A balanced system functions better, making life more enjoyable.
  • A balanced system is resilient, responding efficiently to stress and even trauma, thereby minimizing damage to the system.
  • Maintaining systemic balance is the essence of preventive health care.

Although the systemic balancing response can be elicited no matter where we place our Reiki hands, profound healing is best supported by a consistent full treatment. We don’t just want to start this balancing response; we want to maintain it.

What Reiki results do you want?

I’m guessing you want to receive the greatest benefits from your Reiki practice as quickly as possible (yes, I am a New Yorker).

If that’s what you want — as much as possible as fast as possible — give yourself a full hands-on Reiki treatment every day. This is the only way to be sure you receive the full local and global benefits that Reiki practice offers. (Click here if you want a self-treatment protocol to follow.)


Full session.

Every day.

What do you think?

Here are my responses to frequently asked questions about hand placements. Please leave yours as a comment below:

  • Does it matter where Reiki hands are placed for treatment?
    Yes and no.
  • Are some of the hand placements more important than others?
    Possibly, depending on the situation, but making contact is more important than where we make contact.
  • Does the order of the hand placements matter?
    The order is not critical, but having an habitual protocol supports the ease of your experience because you don’t have to remember where you’ve been and figure out where to go next.
  • Is a full treatment necessary?
    Full treatment is clearly optimal, but in any situation, we do what we can, remembering that any Reiki treatment is better than none.

*Hawayo Takata and her Reiki master Chujiro Hayashi brought Reiki to Hawaii from Japan in the late 1930s.


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14 thoughts on “Reiki Treatment: Local vs. Global Effects”

  1. Dear Pamela, thank you for this article.
    Could you give us your opinion about the effectiveness of self-healing using (any) distance healing method in comparison to the touching hands method?
    Thank you in advance.
    Reiki Blessings,

  2. Dear Pamela,

    Can you shed some light on Reiki Box, or wish box and how to give reiki to it, how to understand that it is accepting reiki from my hand, and the wish is getting blossomed?

    1. I am sorry, Ria, I cannot help you with this. I am a traditional Reiki master, practicing as Reiki was brought to the U.S. from Japan in the late 1930s by Hawayo Takata and Chujiro Hayashi. My understanding is not that I “give Reiki” but rather that I practice Reiki. What you mention is not traditional Reiki practice, but rather was made up by someone after Takata.

  3. Hi all,
    Although I observe my taught hand positions when treating humans, when it comes to animals they kind of go out the window. Animals are excellent at manoeuvring themselves into whichever position they need to in order to get the maximum benefit from a Reiki treatment. No matter where I move to, animals always put themselves where they need to be. I have learnt to go with the flow and let the animals guide me where to put my hands, even when it means one of my regular cat clients is usually upside down and twisted round to get in his purrrfect position. Bright blessings xx

  4. It was interesting to read this. I found this on the facebook page of the Reiki Master who trained me. I’ve done Reiki for a few other people on occasion but have felt maybe a little guilty that I mainly do Reiki for myself. This was certainly affirming to read and also a reminder. I am always amazed how much difference it makes. Why I continue to be amazed, when it always does, I don’t know; nor, why, after awhile, I forget to do it. Thanks for reminding me. I did learn from my Reiki Master that there is no wrong way, but still tend to question myself. You also put my mind at ease on that count. The protocol I follow is pretty similar to the one you recommended. One thing I questioned, but continue to do, that I didn’t see anyone else mention, is to use the symbols in my self-treatment. Well, not just on myself, but I guess it’s partly how I pace my self treatments, and when I have a short time for each position it seems to make it more powerful. I just mentally and visually go through the symbols as I place my hand on each position. The second I place my hands and begin the first symbol I immediately feel the healing power of love start to flow through me. If I don’t have much time, I just do that at each position and get great benefit from it. When I’m not rushed I’ll just leave my hands at each position till I feel “cooked,” as Ruth Ann says.

  5. In Jikiden Reiki, we teach that Hayashi sensei gave treatments with two practitioners simultaneously, treating the head and feet of the client first. Whenever possible we recommend practising this, too, and it’s a great way of circulating Reiki through the body (for a systemic response). It’s also a good way of highlighting the areas where there a blockages for subsequent focused and localised treatment.

  6. Getchie Argetsinger

    Thank you for these posts Pamela- I look forward to them and am always moved forward by them – there is always something I needed to hear, remember or learn and I leave the site energized and grounded. I am so grateful for Reiki and inspired by how you live it.

  7. How do you become professional on the phone when a client calls I had a client ring up and ask about reiki was and what was the difference between massage and reiki was I told him that massage was hands on physical using oils to manipulate muscles and tendons and reiki was hands on off or off depending how you feel and was natural healing I could not say more that as caught me surprise as I don’t get many calls.

    1. Peter, you noted an important distinction between Reiki and massage, that massage involves the manipulation of tissue, but don’t you think they are both natural healing?

      There was a recent conversation about this on You could probably scroll back to it.

      One can certainly be a wonderful Reiki practitioner without being able to speak coherently about it, but it’s important that professionals can communicate what we do. Have you considered taking the live webinar on communication June 29?

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