Protecting Reiki from Regulation: What You Can Do Now, Part One

Your advocacy to protect your Reiki practice from regulation starts now. Let’s begin with strategy, and in my next article, I’ll suggest actions you can take from home. The strategy I’ll share comes from my decades of experience presenting Reiki practice to doctors and nurses. Why is that helpful?

Like healthcare professionals, legislators tend to be mainstream and a bit conservative about health issues. They are, after all, charged with keeping you safe and protecting the public’s well-being. We want them to be careful.

In response to the public’s trust, healthcare professionals and legislators look at things differently than the lay public does. They’re looking at you — the individual in front of them — but they’re also seeing wide-ranging implications for public well-being. And they’re understandably very careful where they source their information. It has to be credible.

If you want to influence people whose job it is to protect others, you need to appeal to their concerns, and you need to be credible. It’s up to you to bridge the gap between your usual Reiki perspective and language, and mainstream perspective and language. That’s something I recognized when I was asked to create the first-ever in-hospital Reiki program in the 1990s. Since then, I’ve gone on to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Harvard Medical School (and others), teach Reiki practice at Yale University school of medicine, present at medical conferences, and author papers published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Think of it this way: you use comfortable, informal language when speaking to your family, but you speak more mindfully on a job interview or when meeting an official. Similarly, moving out of your familiar Reiki language into more mainstream language will help you get your points across to a broader audience, even critical thinkers like medical professionals and legislators. We’ll come back to specifics of how to do that. Let’s first flesh out the strategy.

Protecting Reiki by taking the practice mainstream

Reiki practice is better known every day (the word Reiki was mentioned in the New York Times twice in a recent weekend), but the practice is still far from mainstream.

The best protection for Reiki practice is to have it become widely recognized by the mainstream public as a spiritual practice that helps people feel better, function better, and make better choices, and a practice the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has deemed to be safe. A successful strategy would raise the visibility of Reiki practice before the mainstream public in a favorable way.

Meditation is an example of a spiritual practice that now has favorable mainstream recognition (that wasn’t always the case). No one is trying to regulate meditation. The Reiki community can learn a lot from how successfully meditation has been brought mainstream.

How mainstream is your language, really?

It’s time to make an audit of the language you use to present Reiki practice. Many people who would be interested in the benefits associated with Reiki practice are put off by the language and model generally wrapped around the practice. You know, the “Reiki energy coming through and going where it’s needed.”

Please note, the question isn’t whether that model’s correct; it’s whether the Reiki energy model communicates to a mainstream audience.

As someone who practices as Hawayo Takata taught, I know very well that Takata, the Reiki master who brought the practice from Japan in the 1930s, gave us the definition of Reiki as “universal life force energy.” That was her best effort in translating a Japanese concept that doesn’t have an equivalent in American English.

Please note again, I’m not saying that translation is wrong. I’m just suggesting it’s not a good start for a mainstream presentation. Most people aren’t interested in “universal life force energy;” it might, in fact, spook them.

The Reiki energy model — which makes so much sense to us and is so comfortable to Reiki enthusiasts — usually doesn’t make sense to people who haven’t experience Reiki practice, and actually makes them uncomfortable and/or dismissive. Why?

The common Reiki model involves a belief system not shared by the mainstream public in our culture. We don’t need to challenge people like that because belief in that Reiki model isn’t necessary to practice Reiki or experience Reiki treatment.

When introducing something new, it’s not helpful to lead with a belief system your listeners don’t share. You want to start by finding common ground, so your audience sees you as being like them, and then you can build on your shared experience.

How to speak about Reiki in everyday language

If you want more people to benefit from Reiki practice and you want to protect your freedom to practice Reiki as you choose, try presenting Reiki practice in a straightforward, credible way that appeals to a mainstream audience (or a legislator or healthcare audience).

Doesn’t it make sense to speak to people about what they want in language that is meaningful to them? It’s going to take some rethinking and practice in order to communicate and stay true to what Reiki practice is, but isn’t it worth it? Not only will you help protect Reiki practice, you’ll also gain confidence and clarity.

Here are some tips about presenting Reiki to a mainstream or healthcare audience, which I share from more than 3 decades as a Reiki professional.

Neutral language is key to effective communication

Talk about Reiki practice in neutral language that’s relevant to a mainstream listener. The Reiki energy model might be meaningful to you, but it’s a belief the mainstream public doesn’t share.

When speaking about Reiki practice, avoid jargon. People who don’t have spiritual practices don’t usually disparage them, but talking about “energy” can push them away.

Here are some examples of substitutions you might make:
Spiritual practice (neutral) rather than energy healing or energy work (New Age)
Reiki practice (neutral) rather than Reiki energy (New Age)
I feel balanced (neutral) rather than my chakras are balanced (New Age)

Are you concerned about the word “spiritual?” If so, you might specify that spiritual is different than religious, that it refers to one’s inner experience and resources. What is spirituality is a topic worth diving into. Reiki practice makes more sense and is easier to speak about when you understand spirituality. Meanwhile, you might be more comfortable with “subtle” or “light touch.”

Share simply and succinctly how Reiki practice helps you

Write a sentence or two on how Reiki practice helps you. Write it in everyday language anyone can relate to. Keep it short and sweet.

Keep revisiting your statement to get clearer and more confident.

Think of your statement any time you’re asked about Reiki practice, but don’t “recite” it; let it be natural. Stay present and refrain from turning people off by talking too long. Let people ask if they want more.

Here are some sample statements:

  • My Reiki self practice kept me sane and functional during the long Covid lockdown.
  • The doctors and nurses were great during my chemotherapy, but I might have given up if not for my Reiki practice giving me a sense of hope and renewal.
  • When I was recovering from surgery (or accident or illness), at times the pain and disability were so intense I couldn’t see my way through. My Reiki practice reliably brought me a sense of peace and possibility so I could keep trying.
  • My sleep improved shortly after I started practicing Reiki. I no longer need sleep medication and I’m sleeping better than ever. Not being exhausted all the time has improved my family life and my overall health. Now I enjoy taking walks most days.

Your Reiki statement

Take a few minutes to get started writing your Reiki statement now. Just start. It might take a few revisions. It might take more than a few revisions. But you won’t get it done unless you start, and now is a good time.

Please share your statement as a comment below, and let me know if you’d like me to comment (I won’t say anything unless you ask). To give you some incentive, I’m happy to mentor the first five Reiki practitioners who ask for feedback how they might make their statements even more impactful.

Talking to your elected officials to protect Reiki practice from regulation

You want to start writing your Reiki statement now because soon I’ll write about how to contact your elected officials. To make sure you see that article, sign up for the Protect Reiki email list.

I encourage you to read the summary of the Protecting Reiki from Regulation webinar. There’s a link to the recording at the beginning of the summary.

And if you’d also like to receive credible Reiki information tailored to your specific interests, sign up here for ReikiUpdate.

Please sign this petition opposing the MA licensing bills. You don’t need to live in MA. Then please share it. We need to demonstrate that this is a concern to many people. If MA enacts licensing, it could influence other states to do so, and provide a blueprint. Thank you for your support!

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28 thoughts on “Protecting Reiki from Regulation: What You Can Do Now, Part One”

  1. Since practicing reiki on a daily basis, I am less angry, and more willing to see the good in myself, in others and in my life.

    Thank you Pamela for your commitment to helping us understand reiki practice. I would appreciate any feedback.

    1. That’s good, Lena. The only thing you might add is a concrete detail that illustrates the shift you refer to. For example, “my home life is more peaceful,” or “my husband and I get along so much better now even he noticed a difference in me.”

      It’s always helpful to show how feeling better, whether it’s less anger or less anxiety or less sadness, is actually showing up in your life.

  2. Hi Pamela, I would love to get your feedback on my statement:

    I worked in the legal field for over 20 years. The demands of my job as a legal professional would cause me to suffer from states of anxiety, fear, prolonged stress and sleeplessness. My Reiki practice brought me a sense of peace and better focus. When I began to practice every day, I was able to release the fears and anxiety and started sleeping better.

    1. That’s a great start, Judy. You could make it shorter and more straightforward: I worked in the legal field for 20 years and suffered from anxiety, stress and insomnia. Once I started practicing daily self Reiki, I started sleeping better and became less anxious, more peaceful, with improved focus.

  3. Ernie Linkous, Shian Kaku

    I am a retired Jikiden Shian Kaku practitioner living in North East Tennessee. I am “retired” because the state of Tennessee REQUIRES you to be certified as a massage therapist. This is a major expense and over 1,000 hours of work to obtain your license to practice Reiki in Tennessee. Since I am over the age of 72, it is battle I choose not to endure. I applaud you and the work you are doing on behalf of a profession I worked in for over 25 years. I do feel there needs to be consistent core values and teachings. I do not agree in regulation of the industry. By adhering to a code of ethics and other practices of professionals in the holistic fields, regulation can be avoided.
    Here are Tennessee requirements.
    POLICY TENNESSEE MASSAGE LICENSURE BOARD REIKI AND ENERGY WORK
    Massage is defined by statute as “manipulation of the soft tissues of the client with the intention of positively affecting the health and well being of the client.” T.C.A. § 63-18- 102(3). Any person practicing massage for compensation must be licensed by the Tennessee Massage Licensure Board unless otherwise exempt. T.C.A. § 63-18-104.
    The Board has been asked whether Reiki or other “energy work” (including but not limited to “healing touch therapy,” “quantum touch therapy,” etc.) constitutes the practice of massage in Tennessee. It is the Board’s opinion that any technique that does not include any touching of the body does not meet the definition of massage in Tennessee. However, the Board is aware that Reiki and other “energy work” often involves the practitioner touching the client’s body and manipulating the client’s soft tissues through various techniques. It is the Board’s opinion that any technique that does include such soft tissue manipulation constitutes the practice of massage in Tennessee, and the practitioner should therefore be licensed by the Board unless otherwise exempt pursuant to T.C.A. § 63-18-110. Adopted by the Tennessee Massage Licensure Board on February 6, 2017
    I wish you all the success in the world in fighting for Reiki as originally taught by Usui Sensei. Namaste

    1. Thank you for your comment and this information, Ernie. Your story illustrates how much we have to lose by regulating these non-invasive practices. Are you able to teach?

      According to the information you posted, it would seem that Reiki practice does not fall under the regulations in Tennessee. Even with the diversity of Reiki practice approaches currently available, I don’t know of any Reiki practitioners who manipulate soft tissue. To my knowledge, we all either place hands passively, or practice off the body. Am I wrong?

    2. You are correct with passive healings. SOME practitioners do use hands on that MIGHT be construed as tissue manipulation. Tennessee law is not specific and in today’s cancel culture and litigation, I choose not to challenge an ambiguous regulation. Many part-time practitioners do not charge a fee and if I did decide to teach in Tennessee and see clients, I would charge a fee for my time and experience, not for Reiki. Tennessee law allows you to do Reiki if you do not charge a fee or “manipulate” tissue. Since I am close to the Virginia and North Carolina borders I could open a practice in those states. However, my choice is to retire. Thank you for your time and consideration.
      Namaste

      1. I can appreciate why you wouldn’t want to risk being a test case, Ernie. Being taken to court is so stressful, and it would be costly to defend yourself.

  4. Hello! I’ve just found your writings and they are so helpful. I am new to Reiki, and am loving it so far.
    Feedback is appreciated!
    Reiki practice allows me to relax, feel less stressed, sleep better. It’s fulfilling to me to share Reiki practice to help other people (and animals!) feel the same.
    Thanks for your articles and work- I look forward to diving further into it all!

    1. That’s a great start, Eve, and since you asked, I’ll offer some suggestions.

      Does Reiki practice “allow” you to relax (your word), or does it enable you to relax, or help you to relax. Allow is an odd word in that context.

      While I appreciate how fulfilling it is to help people and animals feel better, I don’t know what purpose it serves to mention that in an introductory Reiki statement.

      Why not use that opportunity to share another benefit, such as a difference it’s made in your life to feel more relaxed, less stressed and to sleep better?

      Think of something concrete, not vague. Instead of “I feel better,” which is good but vague, this is concrete: ” Now I’m just as productive at the end of my workday as I was in the beginning. I’m getting more accomplished, and better able to let go of work stress when I leave the office.”

      1. Thank you! This is all great insight. I will rework it with these tips in mind. I appreciate it!

  5. Thanks so much for getting this timely information out to us. In California, we have the CAMTC state massage organization who wants Reiki practitioners to be certified as massage therapists in order to do Reiki. In Sacramento County, we must be CMTs to get a business license to do/teach Reiki. A small group here is working with the state and elected officials to release the limited ability to do this spiritual practice which may or may not include physical touch. It is true that a lot of massage therapists include Reiki in their hands-on practice, but so many others of us use it for emotional/mental healing and spiritual healing and enlightenment. I look forward to hearing more about your efforts to keep Reiki free from regulation.

    1. Yes, Marion, attempts to regulate Reiki practice frequently come from the massage profession. Massage therapists see Reiki as a tool rather than a practice. So the situation before us is that people who don’t really know what we do (and don’t do) are trying to grab the power to control what we do. Please share this information with your group. We need to increase the number of Reiki practitioners who can effectively address this. More articles coming soon.

  6. This is a great exercise, thank you for the challenge Pamela!
    Being naturally inclined to accomplish a lot in a day, I often get exhausted. My reiki practice causes me to feel rejuvenated, reset and peaceful when I’d otherwise be depleted.
    How is that?

      1. My fiery temperament has me super busy and productive and my reiki practice gives me a much needed respite, leaving me feel rejuvenated and peaceful afterwards.

      2. Really good vibrance, but if you were talking to a friend, you’d take a breath in the middle, right? “Leaving me…” might become “I feel rejuvenated and peaceful after I practice.” You see how it makes it more sharing, less pontificating?

  7. The minute I place my hands on my body, it’s like giving myself permission to exhale, to take stock. I feel like all the systems in my body befriend each other and come into harmony, life is somewhat renewed. I can start again. How wonderful is that?

  8. Thank you Pamela, I follow your teachings very carefully.
    I love Reiki, it is a simple spiritual practice that helps me connect with my essence, maintain balance, feel peace and clarity to make decisions.
    From my inner peace, I can help and teach Reiki to other people for their well-being.
    I like Reiki and meditation as preventive medicine.
    Blessings

  9. Losing my mom from the physical realm a couple years ago & currently experiencing global loss & collective grief in the pandemic – Reiki has proved to be a constant support and foundation for my strength, courage & capacity to truly love myself and others.

    I welcome any feedback. Thank you so much for all you do for the reiki community.

    1. As with Rebecca’s first draft, Lauren, I know what you mean, but it could be written in simpler, more straightforward language so people get it right away and don’t have to think about what you’re saying.

      For example, “I was still mourning my mom’s death when the pandemic hit, so the last year has been really tough. My Reiki practice helped me find the strength to get out of bed and meet another day, no matter how raw I felt.”

  10. Hello
    First, thank you for taking this project on and for helping many of us. I have found that people really don’t ”get’ or ‘care’ about ‘Reiki, Energy Work, Chakra or Meridian work’ because they do not understand the lingo and think it is woo-woo or something too new age. I have found that if I speak to people where their need is, stressed, overwhelmed, not sleeping well, that gets their attention.

  11. My reiki practice helps me live each day with greater peace and with an attitude of gratitude and greater possibility.

    I would welcome comment/feedback…. it’s a starting place statement.. I’ve always found it challenging to verbalize the HUGE benefit of a daily self practice.

    1. Well done, Rebecca, not only what you wrote but also that you were willing to start.

      While I have a sense of what you’re referring to, someone totally new might not. What’s a concrete example of how that shows up for you, perhaps a moment of frustration that you’re able to turn around? For example, if you were a creative working in a corporation, it might be something like, “As the communications designer in a large corporation, I can feel under-valued and frustrated by the narrow-minded professionals I work with. My Reiki practice helps me soften in the moment and look how I could be a more creative team player.” Do you want to give it a try?

  12. I love your communication about Reiki. Speaking about it in new age terms and sort of “woo-wo” never sat well with me. My first ah-ha moment came when I read an article in Massage and Bodywork Magazine you were interviewed for, stating that Reiki is NOT energy work but a spiritual practice. Since then, I’ve connected better to my own Reiki practice at home and in office. Thank you for your continued work.

    1. It’s always good to know someone finds my work useful, Richard. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve been interviewed by Massage & Bodywork Magazine a number of times over the years but I think you’re referring to the most recent article, Reiki Is Not Energy Medicine. Many Reiki practitioners found it useful, a better fit for their own experience, while others (it seemed mostly massage therapists who don’t self practice but only integrate Reiki touch into their professional massage work, had knee-jerk reactions.

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