Reiki Anxiety

Reiki treatmentAfter decades teaching Reiki practice, I thought I’d heard every variation of every concern faced by new Reiki students.

That delusion faded recently as my inbox handed me “please help” emails from several new Reiki students.

All those students seemed sane. They wrote coherent, reasonable emails.

They were each trained by different Reiki teachers, some of whom I know to be excellent, experienced masters who teach what I lovingly refer to as Slow Reiki (meaning their classes run ten hours or so over at least two days and include lots of practice time).

Reiki practice and anxiety

The new Reiki students wrote because they felt anxious during their Reiki self-practice.

They felt anxious at other times as well — that’s what led them to practice Reiki. They were unpleasantly surprised to feel anxious during Reiki practice, and feared that practice was increasing their anxiety.

Since relief of anxiety is one of the two benefits most documented in the (very little) Reiki research we have, I was intrigued by the students’ experience.

As is my way, I asked questions. Lots of questions. And what we discovered together is that the students were bringing to their Reiki practice the same perfectionism and fears (of failure, of not being good enough, etc.) they brought to the rest of their lives.

The stillness of Reiki practice opened their awareness of what they were doing that worsened the anxiety, and gave them an opportunity to be present with their experience of anxiety instead of spiraling into panic.

Practicing Reiki with anxiety

If you experience anxiety when you practice Reiki self-treatment, please go easy on yourself.

Try gently noticing your breath for a few minutes before you start practice, and continue while you practice. If you need help, listen to the Observing the Natural Breath track of my Meditate cd.

Try practicing at night when you go to sleep, perhaps listening to the Quiet Repose Flute Meditation.

Don’t worry if you fall asleep during practice. Reiki practice is balancing, and if you practice consistently, you will feel stronger and steadier slowly, over time.

Reiki practice perfect

Reiki self-practice doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be done.

There is no perfect practice. There is only the practice you do, or the practice you don’t do.

Please share how Reiki has helped you or your students and clients address anxiety.


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21 thoughts on “Reiki Anxiety”

  1. Hi Pamela, I have taken Reiki 1st degree last October. I have suffered for 30 years with chronic general anxiety and depression. The last few years have been most challenging as I am determined to find my peace and joy again. The built in habitual thoughts and feelings have made it difficult to relax and let healing begin. Just when I think I’m tuning into my truth and awareness I seem to slip back into the same pattern and it pulls me back into my lower self. I want to take Reiki 2nd degree but wonder if it’s even helping me at all. I do self treatment every morning. Would you have any insight to this? thanks

    1. Laura, without knowing you or the details of your practice, I don’t have much to go on. The phrase that jumps out at me is “have made it difficult to relax and let healing begin.” We don’t have to “relax and let healing begin;” healing begins when we start practicing. You might be making it harder than it is.

      I would wait for Second degree training until you have a stronger relationship with your First degree practice.

      This might be a good question to continue on tomorrow’s free Reiki Mentoring online discussion. You can register here

  2. Regina Goulding

    Pamela, do you know where I could find articles or research related to the effects reiki has on children with anxiety, depression, and/or ADHD?
    Thank you for all your help.

  3. I appreciate reminders that Reiki practice does not need to be perfect… just practiced. I find I was (and at times still am, but am more aware) expecting something to happen and often disappointed if “it” didn’t. I then had a tendency to judge myself and my practice. So I am continuing to learn it is in just being with my self and the Presence of the moment that is enough and is what is most important. Thank you again, Pamela for this reminder.

    1. You are so very welcome, Terri. I often joke with my students that the hardest part about learning to practice Reiki is appreciating how very simple it is. It takes some time, but those who stay with a simple practice invariably tell me that’s what they appreciate most, being able to help themselves (and maybe others) so easily, and without judgmentalness.

  4. Carol Rivermoon

    The Reiki Master I learned from emphasized that there was a 21-day “cleansing period” accompanying each attunement, where emotional and other “issues” might surface to be dealt with. When I attune folk I pass along this information, and I also make sure my students know how to Ground the energies they are working with. Grounding, in my opinion, is the most very basic skill that everyone should have and practice–especially people who will be working with subtle energies like Reiki ! Various grounding methods can easily be found via Web searches. Bright Blessings !

    1. Carol, thank you for your comment. I have often heard the same thing, that there is a 21-day cleansing period, but I think it is one of those things that got added to Reiki practice.

      Each Reiki practice is balancing, and we have no way of knowing what an individual’s process of restoring balance will be. It doesn’t make sense to put a time limit on it, because the balancing process is on-going.

      And because Reiki practice is balancing, there is no reason for grounding. When we are balanced, we are grounded, we are present in our bodies.

      That said, it doesn’t make sense to move too quickly after a practice session, because we never know how deeply we have dropped into ourselves. Rather, it is wise to give oneself a few minutes to contemplate savor the after-effects of practice, and make sure we are fully present in our bodies before getting up. Simply moving the hands and feet a bit is a good litmus test of how physically present we are.

  5. I have just started to meditate on the reiki precepts and mantras and symbols . I see a profound difference in myself. I started teaching Reiki last year and have 3 students only they have taken 2 levels and come regularly for meets. In last meet they shared how Reiki practice has helped them in their daily life to cope with day to day issues. I did my Reiki master/teacher in 2008 but only started to understand and learn more on traditional Japanese Reiki since last aprox. 2 years. I think everyone should know atleast level 1 to work with Reiki precepts to help themselves , to me it should be essesntial 🙂

    1. That’s wonderful that you have found a practice that you enjoy, Seema, but a simple First degree practice is sufficient to experience a lessening of anxiety and find an inner anchor from which one can avoid the tendency to get anxiety about feeling anxious.

      1. So true Pamela, success is practice consistently every day I think.I am seeing profound results only after that. Its funny but I have struggled with weight for several years when I started doing consistently I noticed I wasnt craving for ” bad” foods and Started loosing weight . Still need to loose but I am getting there 🙂

  6. I too am a perfectionist by nature and it has taken a long time to let go and just trust in the process, to no longer have the anxiety about doing it right. Re-establishing a daily self-practice routine over the past few months (thank you Pamela for your guidance with that) has had such a wonderful result in my life. If my schedule somedays does not allow for my usual practice time I move my self practice to when I go to bed and often fall asleep during the process.

  7. I find starting my reiki practice with even a minute of Gassho helps me to connect deeply with the energy and move past any initial thoughts which may produce anxiety–whether it’s perfectionism, or just wondering if I have enough time to practice, etc. Just thought I’d share that! 🙂

  8. Karla Hartzell

    Relief from Pain is the #1 most documented benefit of Reiki treatment I believe.

    I wanted to write to tell you how Reiki has helped clients of mine with regard to Anxiety. My Practice is mostly daily self practice with a select few clients that routinely ask for Reiki ( I praise them for asking because this quality if awareness is rare! )
    and one in particular seeks Reiki to help balance her feelings of anxiety and panic. This woman is a fountain of love, home and family….very outgoing and courageous but suffers panic attacks at oddly unpredictable times and does not wish to be medicated for her anxiety. She feels Reiki centers her, relaxes her when she feels she can not self regulate her own relaxation and puts her back in the command chair of her negative emotions. She wholeheartedly and completely enjoys her Treatments and considers them a gift and a valuable tool in her toolkit for maintaining well being and balanced health. I have seen her only a handful of times for Reiki treatments but can see first hand how Reiki returns this woman to the destination of self. She feels empowered and renewed and returns to her daily life with the knowledge that she is within her innermost self balanced and capable. — Reiki Daily – Karla Hartzell

  9. Hello,

    I just started learning Reiki a few months ago, mainly to help myself because I was being bothered by someone mentally (an elemental?).
    And there was some fear in me too but I understand that it is that elemental that is being afraid because it will no longer be able to bother me as I advance.
    Then I read an article about a Dutch lady that helps with these kind of problems and she says that people that search for help for this often feel a lot of resistance going trough with the help because of the influence of the entity that is bothering them.
    So maybe some of the Reiki students being so sensitive might have this problem too? Sometimes it takes a long time to realise that something is being projected onto you. And I wanted to tell you this because so little is being said about these things and I do see it every now and then (I go to therapy groups regularly).



  10. Hello Pamela,
    I think the other one is pain. I personally have seen lot of benefit in pain as I am an Occupational therapist in an acute hospital and at times when the only thing they have is pain and anxiety and they are unable to get out of bed , do there ADLs ( activities of daily living ) or ambulation providing them with just few minutes Reiki help assist there anxiety and they are more willing to participate in functional tasks. I then incorporate it with the gentle mobilization exercises , some light massage and then do mobility. I do tell them what I am doing and they feel good and receptive about it. Some of them want to come to me post d/c for Reiki sessions and I think they hope that it will be covered by there insurance ( like chiropractor 🙁 .

    1. Eileen Anderson

      I have been doing self practice everyday for the past 2 years. At times I experience anxiety during self practice. I do not feel that the anxiety is coming from Reiki itself but bringing some of the deep anxiety to the surface so that It could be dealt with more openly. Most other people I practice on feel more relaxed and have asked me if I take insurance. I think more people would be open to it if covered by insurance

    2. Yes, Seema, you are correct! Relief of pain and anxiety are the two benefits that are most documented in Reiki research. I’ll email you to set up our session. I look forward to speaking with you.

  11. Improved sleep?

    I am an anxious perfectionist as a result of childhood emotional and physical abuse. Reiki is helping me relax into being OK with “being.” I am so grateful to realize that variation IS the nature of daily practice. Daily self Reiki practice is definitely decreasing “Reiki anxiety” and general anxiety.

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