Not a week goes by without me hearing of someone who’s been hurt by Reiki misinformation or a clumsy Reiki practitioner.
I say “clumsy” because while they do happen, I rarely hear apparently deliberate attempts to hurt someone via Reiki practice. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible — how can balance be harmful? — but when someone nefarious calls their manipulative behavior “Reiki,” which they can legally do, it’s deeply problematic. It shifts the attention away from the predator and directs it to Reiki misinformation, which of course is presented as fact. There’s no way to know how many people who could have been helped by Reiki practice come across that story and decide Reiki is disreputable and not for them.
Let’s put that problem aside for the moment and look at 2 much more common ways Reiki misinformation is shared, and the negative consequences that no one takes responsibility for.
The garden variety misunderstanding-leading-to-misinformation about Reiki practice is so abundant, it’s easier to find than credible, documented information. Such Reiki misinformation alarms people who might benefit from Reiki practice, leading them to decline Reiki support. An example is false contraindications, such as being told not to receive Reiki treatment during surgery.
Such Reiki misinformation persists even though the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states “Reiki hasn’t been shown to have any harmful affects.”
There’s a third way Reiki misinformation is shared that causes the receiver unnecessary pain. Have you ever heard a Reiki practitioner blithely passing an occult message or disturbing comment to a client or acquaintance? I’ve heard of it happening over cocktails, as if it were party banter.
Time to pause for a common sense moment. Why would anyone mix cocktails with psychic messages? Isn’t it all too possible it might be the alcohol speaking, and not an angel or deceased loved one? And psychic readings have nothing to do with Reiki practice, at least not traditionally.
The Reiki practitioner might have been well intentioned, or might have been showing off their psychic prowess. Regardless, when you volunteer unsolicited occult messages, or share what you imagine to be an insight, people get hurt, no matter how good your intentions are. At the very least, the receiver feels violated. That sense of violation can reverberate through past trauma.
And that experience of violation gets attached to Reiki practice. The people who get hurt don’t realize it was the practitioner’s misstep. Instead, they associate it with Reiki practice, across the board. Which of course leads to more pain, and more Reiki misunderstanding.
Regulation is not the remedy for this, but I can think of a few things that could make a difference. If you have more ideas, please share in a respectful comment below.
Increase awareness of the diversity of Reiki practice
Neither conventional medicine nor holistic health providers nor the mainstream public realizes there are no standards for Reiki practice or education. Many who consider themselves to be Reiki masters have less experience and training than my First Degree students. People can watch a video and start charging for Reiki services. That’s how Reiki misinformation begets more Reiki misinformation.
And that’s how people get hurt, because practicing Reiki professionally requires ethics, skill in maintaining a therapeutic relationship, and the ability to hold healthy boundaries.
Emphasize (daily) Reiki self practice
Many people only know Reiki as a treatment you do to others, not as self care. Yet Hawayo Takata famously said, “First yourself.” Takata learned Reiki practice in Japan and brought the practice to Hawaii in the late 1930s with the support of her Reiki master Chujiro Hayashi, who was trained by Reiki founder Mikao Usui.
Recognize Reiki as a spiritual practice
Mikao Usui saw Reiki as a spiritual practice. It became energy medicine in the Americanization of the practice. That’s understandable, because Japanese language and culture include concepts which are not part of the English language. Much Reiki misinformation stems back to what was lost in translation, and American’s lack of spiritual practice savvy. European-based American culture doesn’t have a tradition of spiritual practice (as distinct from religion).
Recognizing Reiki as a spiritual practice might help people appreciate the need for daily self practice in the same way daily meditation is valued.
Reiki misinformation hurts now and in the future
Reiki misinformation hurts in the immediate situation, and keeps hurting.
If someone asks about Reiki, and receives misinformation — such as a false warning against combining Reiki practice and surgery — they might be scared away from something that could help them feel better and heal better.
And they’ll likely share that Reiki misinformation with friends, who will in turn share that Reiki misinformation, meaning more people will suffer unnecessarily in the future.
Correcting Reiki misinformation
The Reiki community needs to make it easier for people to find credible Reiki information by getting more of it to the mainstream public. If you’re a Reiki professional, please take a good look at the information you share on your website.
When you come across Reiki misinformation, either in the media or from a friend, address it appropriately and respectfully. For example, if a friend shares Reiki misinformation, you might say, “Yes, I used to think that too, and then I found out that’s not reliable.”
When someone asks you about Reiki, share credible information and avoid spreading Reiki myths. Hear what they’re really asking, and help them understand what Reiki practice is and whether it can help them.
I’m careful to offer only documented Reiki information and thoughtful perspective, drawn from my many decades of daily self practice and professional Reiki practice. My goal is that the links shared in this article will help you prepare yourself so you can support public awareness of Reiki practice, help people who are wondering if Reiki practice can help them, and respectfully counter Reiki misinformation with credible Reiki information.
If you’re a Reiki professional, please look at the resources available in my Reiki Professional Academy.
Mainstreaming Reiki is for home and professional practitioners.
WRITE REIKI is also for home or professional practitioners.