Reiki for Skeptics. Say What?

Reiki for skepticsReiki for skeptics. To some, that thought seems impossible. Absurd, even.

Knowing I’ve been collaborating in medicine as a lay Reiki master since the mid-1990s, Reiki professionals often protest: You don’t understand, the doctors here are conservative.

Reiki for skeptics and conservatives

News flash! Doctors everywhere are conservative.

And that’s exactly what we want them to be. Doctors make recommendations that affect people’s lives. We want doctors to make those recommendations carefully, conservatively, relying on research data and clinical practice.

It would be dangerous for doctors to capriciously jump on board every new health fad without getting the facts and thinking it through.

First state the Reiki facts

Doctors aren’t the only ones who prefer facts.

We all have our moments of skepticism, especially when moving into unknown territory. And when we feel skeptical, we look for facts to help us decide if something is worthwhile pursuing.

People who are put off by claims will perk up when presented with relevant facts.

When introducing Reiki practice to someone, try leading with the facts that are of most interest to the person in front of you, which is: how can Reiki practice help that person (or his/her family or patients)?

What qualifies as a Reiki fact?

Reiki facts can be personal and anecdotal, as long as you state them simply, such as, “After I practice my self Reiki each morning, I feel calm and settled in myself. My mind is clear and I’m ready for my day.”

Reiki facts can also be research-based, such as, “Although we don’t yet have many well designed Reiki studies, reduction of pain and anxiety are two benefits that show up frequently across various populations.”

If you are a Reiki professional, you can share the commonly reported benefits from your clinical practice, such as, “The benefits I hear most often from my clients are that they feel better, they have less pain and anxiety, and they start making health-promoting choices in areas where they had been struggling, such as food and exercise.”

Or, “My students who are in treatment for cancer tell me their Reiki self practice relieves the exhaustion and aches they feel after chemotherapy.”

Then stick with the facts

Then stop talking and let the other person continue the conversation, or not.

If you’ve shared any of the above information in a reasonable, personable way, speaking calmly, making eye contact, remembering you are the living representation of the end product of Reiki practice — if you’ve done that, you’ve done enough.

Now let it be.

Reiki skeptics

Peter Ustinov said, “Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.”

Why not play to people’s natural tendency to doubt, and let every discussion of Reiki be Reiki for Skeptics?

Speak to people’s skepticism and you won’t turn off anyone who is new to Reiki practice. Rather, they will feel reassured that the matter is worth learning more about, and perhaps they will move closer to experiencing Reiki for themselves.

Skeptics, not cynics

Please note we’re talking about skeptics, not cynics. Don’t even start the conversation with a cynic, or anyone who doesn’t seem open-minded enough to have a conversation.

How can you tell? If you are paying attention, you can tell.

And if your enthusiasm for Reiki practice has kept you from seeing the other person, if you’ve let your passion for Reiki practice override your good sense, then exit the conversation gracefully and chalk it up to experience.

Contemplate where things went awry, and make the effort to be more present next time. Since many people are interested in the benefits of Reiki practice — benefits such as being calmer and having less pain and anxiety — you can be confident there will be a next time.


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9 thoughts on “Reiki for Skeptics. Say What?”

  1. Hi Pamela,

    Thank you so much for all your work.

    I’m about to receive my level 2 attunement. I have a close relative who is quite dogmatic when it comes to her own religious beliefs (she is a devoted catholic, continuously giving lectures and the like) and, when I cheerfully talked to her about my recently discovered path with Reiki and all the wonderful things it’s given me with regard to self-development and tried to explained what it was all about as well as offer her to give it a try in the future (so I can practise and she can probably benefit too), she stated that she would only be willing to do it “if it is only physical”. As nonsensical as this may sound since Reiki has a holistic and integrative effect at all levels, she also stated that “it is not a spiritual thing”.

    I’m afraid I became a bit nervous and upset and told her that she couldn’t know because she hadn’t studied and practiced Reiki, and that it IS definitely spiritual, and that one has to be careful as to what kinds of speeches one listens to (I had already done some research and found out what the Catholic Church has to say about Reiki, and I know this relative of mine has a tendency to not think for herself or question stuff, hence my saying that she is quite dogmatic).

    The thing is, we love each other and we definitely share some core values (we are both into the spiritual world after all), but, when it comes to rigid structures, we have a completely different approach. I don’t need her to practice my Reiki skills, to be honest, but I’d like to offer her the chance to benefit from it since she has a couple of health issues… however, I did feel quite offended by her cold and arrogant attitude. I know that we don’t need to convince anybody of anything and I’m certainly not willing to waste my time or twist my own beliefs just to please another human being… yet I feel sort of guilty but don’t really understand why. Would you label this person as a cynic?

    Thank you so much.

    1. Sorry, I forgot to add that, after the little “argument” we had, I came to her again and spoke in a calm tone offering reassurance, saying something like “I understand why this creates some conflict within you but, you see, what praying is for you, meditation is for me”, and that kind of thing. Her answer? She barely even looked at me and she didn’t utter a single word. I wonder why I’m even still thinking about this issue, to be honest. The more I think of the situation, the more it pisses me off. I sincerely hope you can shed some light on this so I can move on. Thanks again!

    2. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate the care you are bringing to your dilemma and hope I can help you find peace. Good for you that you were upfront about Reiki being a spiritual practice.

      No need to label your relative a cynic or anything else. Labeling doesn’t help.

      But looking at your interaction, does she seem open to the conversation? If not, why are you continuing it?

      You made two comments that might be a starting points to help you explore your motivations:
      “yet I feel sort of guilty but don’t really understand why”
      “The more I think of the situation, the more it pisses me off.”

      You might find Reiki free-writing, as we do in WRITE REIKI, to be helpful. It’s simple, just free-write after a hands-on Reiki self practice without trying to form your thoughts or make sense. You can write to vent if you need to, writing out your feelings without worrying if they’re fair or not. Emotions aren’t fair; they’re emotions. All we need to do is to experience them without climbing on board.

      The best we can hope for in a good conversation is to have an open, stimulating, respectful exchange of ideas. People aren’t obligated to validate our perspective.

      BTW to my knowledge, the Catholic Church has not made a public statement about Reiki practice, meaning nothing has been issued from the Vatican. What you’re referring to is likely the statement made by the American Catholic bishops, who have their own opinions and have flauted the Vatican as recently as last week.

      You might look online for a letter my dear friend Reiki master Wanja Twan had from a nun who received permission to practice Reiki from the pope.

  2. Barbara Kolber

    Western practices of Reiki have been altered the way many Yoga practices have as well.
    The transference dynamic between practitioner and client, as in psychotherapy and other healing, transformative disciplines, is the significant dynamic. We all want to believe, to be understood and supported. Whatever floats your boat, go for it!

    1. It’s very true what you say, Barbara: we do all want to be believed, understood and supported.

      What separates Reiki practice from yoga, psychotherapy, and other healing disciplines, however, is initiation. Is it helpful to alter initiation? Or does it dissipate the access to one’s transformative power? These are questions that are rarely considered as so many blithely make alterations, generally without much practice foundation.

  3. Thoughtful and enlightening post. I especially enjoy the reminder that we are all living examples of the Reiki practice. We can only speak of the practice and then let it be as you said. So often we feel unaccepted or unsupported when what we engage in isn’t shared by another, but that’s ok. We’re all on our own individual journeys and thats one of the many beautiful things about life– the vast diversity of experiences!

  4. I am a retired ordained minister in a “mainline” Protestant denimation. I teach yoga and I am a Reiki Master. Recently, I facilitated a four session pack of Reiki Healing Sessions. The client knew very little about Reiki. The client allowed me to use four highly valid self-reporting tests before the first session and after the last session. The results were significant. The client also kept a journal of her experience and wrote a blog. I have permission from the client to publish both the study and the blog. I am seeking Journals or Publications where I can submit the work. Can you help me with this quest?
    Thank you.
    Janis Dey

    1. Janis, what self report scales did you use?

      What you did is not a study, it is a case report. Was there any third party documentation? That would make it more credible.

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