Toward a More Plausible Reiki Model

How does Reiki practice work?

This question comes up often.

The answer is simple: We don’t know.

We don’t know.

Reiki energy, or healthy balancing?

I find the words “we don’t know” to be liberating. They free me from the common explanation: “the Reiki energy comes through and goes where it’s needed.” “I don’t know” enables me to explore and contemplate my practice.

The “Reiki energy” model is, to me, deeply unsatisfying. For one thing, in this culture, it stretches credulity. And it doesn’t really match my experience.

Yes, when I practice Reiki self-treatment, I often feel subtle movement, a sense of flow. I just don’t assume that flow to be “Reiki energy” coming through.

I realize it’s my own system reorganizing itself toward a more balanced state the same way it does in response to other healing practices. (Some hypothesize that this starts by balancing the biofield.)

I vividly remember my first Reiki treatment in 1986. It was such a special experience to me that I learned to practice First degree Reiki the following week.

Before experiencing Reiki practice, I had already experienced acupuncture and various hands-on healing. I had practiced yoga, pranayama, meditation, chanting, visualization — the list was long and varied. So I knew very well how balanced I felt when my biofield circulation was even.

And I knew there were many ways to gently and effectively influence the human system toward a more balanced state.

Reiki, acupuncture and meditation

As a Reiki newbie, I was given the usual rap about “Reiki energy.” I knew something good was happening during my Reiki practice — the experience was palpable and familiar enough to be beyond doubting — but the explanation didn’t make sense to me. It raised more questions than it answered, and it didn’t seem necessary.

After all, when the acupuncturist needles me, he isn’t putting energy into my system that went where it’s needed. He stimulates my system, helping it reorganize itself so it could function more efficiently.

And when I meditate, even when I feel an inner quickening and fullness, I don’t jump to the conclusion that an outside pump is filling me full of whatever. Meditation guides my awareness to a place which exists within all of us, a place where we experience all is well.

Through that shift in awareness — moving my attention from my thoughts to the space in which the thoughts exist — my system lets go of the clutter that obscures my well-being.

Reiki healing and the ocean

Practicing Reiki never felt to me like some outside “energy coming through me going where needed.” It was more like a trip to the ocean. When I sit by the ocean, I feel my system recalibrate itself.

Simply being in the presence of the ocean deeply affects me, as if I were sitting in the direct presence of my inner wellness.

The ocean is a reminder of that inviolable inner state in which we feel the proximity of the ocean of consciousness.

My entire being responds to being reminded that, on a profound level, all is well. I walk away from the ocean feeling relaxed and refreshed — very much the way I feel after my Reiki practice.

When I practice Reiki, it’s as if I am sitting beside the ocean of consciousness.

Reconnecting with that inviolable core of wellness through my daily practice helps my system stay well tuned, its self-healing mechanisms whirring and functioning optimally.

At least until the next major onslaught knocks me flat, or a steady stream of smaller insults disrupts that naturally rhythmic state. Then I may opt for additional care from a trusted practitioner, usually Reiki treatment, acupuncture, or homeopathy. (Seems like a good place to share this: My esteemed acupuncture colleagues tell me the meaning of the Chinese character qi, commonly translated as “energy,” is actually closer to flow.)

Have you ever longed for a more plausible model for Reiki practice? This perspective may seem radical at first, but if you contemplate it, you may find this line of inquiry helps you conceptualize Reiki practice in way that is more empowering and satisfying, and that reflects your actual practice experience.

Please share your comments and let’s chew on this together.

This post has been translated into Spanish, Hacia un Modelo Más Creíble de Reiki.

Related reading:
How Does Reiki Help?
Spiritual Practice? Energy Medicine? What’s the Diff?


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137 thoughts on “Toward a More Plausible Reiki Model”

  1. Hi Pamela,

    Your thoughts about a more satisfactory Reiki model are deep.

    “You are one and the same
    In happiness and sorrowfulness,
    Desire and despair,
    Life and death.
    You are already overflowing divinely”

    There are innumerable sages from Yoga, Tantra, Taoism, Hermeticism etc, who have pointed to a deeper all encompassing reality of wholeness and completeness. So I understand why you feel uncomfortable with the notion that “Reiki may be an energy that comes from a higher being or form outside ourselves”

    For the record I am not a Reiki practitioner, but I would like to learn. So many ideas about Reiki can create a bit of confusion and this is probably the reason why I have not done it.

  2. Hello Pamela.

    No mental model will always exactly reproduce reality.

    If you have a model which explains a lot, you will even use it to predict further occurences sucessfuly. But, some years later, you will see that your model is not longer able to explain your experience, and thus you will want to find another model.

    Reiki is very powerful, because it open our eyes to see the world in a differente way, it changes our mind. And it is this change that enable us Reiki people to discover 1000 amazing things that other people are taken for granted that doesnt exist.

    Someday we will also discover that Reiki model is outdated, and we will find a new model.

    To resume, you could use the words of George E. P. Box, a statician who said:

    “All the models are wrong, some are useful”

    Enjoy your models and remember:
    You models limits your outcomes!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Gustave. Of course no model exactly reproduces reality; that’s why it’s called a model.

      A model is a way for the intellect to engage with content so that we don’t get stuck in unexamined beliefs.

      A good model supports continuing inquiry; it doesn’t limit outcomes.

  3. Joey, thank you for your comment. It also was a refreshing read. I took a peak at your website and commend you on the professionalism of your approach.

    However, I want to go on record as pushing back against classifying Reiki as a technique. The modalities you mention are techniques; Reiki is a spiritual practice, as are meditation and yoga, to name a couple others.

    Reiki is a unique practice — in my experience, anyway — in that it has therapeutic applications and can be offered to others as a treatment. Although all spiritual practice has health benefits, we cannot meditate or yoga someone else — they have to do it themselves.

    Although becoming proficient in modalities might require learning more techniques, we grow as Reiki practitioners primarily through practice — and particularly through daily hands-on self-treatment.

    When we practice in this way over time, we realize that the practice alone is enough, and we stop trying to do something to people. And ironically, that’s when things really get interesting, when we are willing to simply sit in silence and stillness and offer our Reiki hands.

  4. This was a refreshing read! One of the goals in my practice is to expand the scope of any laying-on-of-hands technique. I practice Reiki, Johrei (OPT) and the Domancic Method of Bioenergy Therapy. I have also studied SHEN and Pranic Healing.

    In my deduction I’ve come to an understanding that the practitioner’s awareness of the clients willingness to heal is key. When the client is present with themselves and potentially their fears while another being acknowledging them, this encourages discharge of the energetic congestion related to past trauma.

    I rarely use the symbols. I still use my breath to direct the intention into my hands but for the most part, I am remaining disconnected from any other perception or expected outcome. Western medicine indoctrinates the patient into a problem-set whereas in my Bioenergy practice, I work on acknowledging the client as being present. Simply.

    By next year I will be certified in TRE – Trauma Release Exercise. These exercises encourage neurogenic tremors in the body, similar to how you shake when you are afraid. These tremors release trapped energy related to suppressed trauma.

    My overall passion is trauma release through the central nervous system so I am interested in any modality that is supported by this philosophy. I continue my education through independent research daily.

  5. Justin, thank you for your comment.

    I don’t know that this is the “best” conceptual model, but it’s a work in progress and has its advantages, if only to help people refine their understanding why they don’t like it!

    My goal is not to rule anything out — not even “energy” — but rather to look at Reiki practice in a larger, more plausible context, one that isn’t dependent on belief or speculative thinking. Which is not to say we cannot speculate about the missing links, as you mentioned.

    Your suggestion that the person receiving Reiki treatment might absorb more “energy” from the surroundings includes a couple of assumptions — that there actually is more “energy” in the surroundings, and that more “energy” is better.

    The Asian perspective is not a quantitative “more is better,” but rather a qualitative “more balanced is better.”

  6. Pamela, I found this article through twitter. I love it, and have been enjoying your whole website. Thank you for putting so much time into blogging and writing!

    I really appreciate that you’re giving another theoretical model or POV from which to understand how this all works.

    One point of discussion I have.. You wrote “when the acupuncturist needled me, he wasn’t putting energy into my system that went where it was needed”.

    It’s true he wasn’t doing that. But what if, as a result of the re-calibration, your system was instantly able to absorb more energy from the surroundings? What if the cleansed or rebalanced meridians/chakras/whatever meant that energy *was* coming in to your system?

    That puts a slightly different twist on it- and could be a bit of a ‘missing link’ between the model of reiki as a “flow of energy” and the model you’ve just described. Even if the latter is the best conceptual way of describing it, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that energy is also moving into the client somehow.

    Thank you again, I’ll be sharing many of your blog posts on my own twitter and FB over the coming days and weeks 🙂

  7. For whatever it’s worth, for me Reiki always felt like a flow. It comes up from the earth, it flows through me, and it goes out my hands.

  8. Thank you for reminding me of this, Pamela. I really needed to read it. I love my personal daily practice, but I find that I struggle–often!–with thoughts like “What’s going on here? Why does the simple act of placing my hands on my body make me feel like something’s happening? Did the attunements “really” do something to me? What IS Reiki anyway?”

    I forget that sometimes I don’t need to know the answers. Or at least know the “intellectual” answers Sometimes I just need to trust the wisdom of the experience.

    1. Thank you for words of wisdom, Jason.

      It seems to be human nature to reach for external validation, facts, certainty, but there are times when we have to rely on ourselves and on what we know to be useful to us, and just keep on keepin’ on.

      Practice. Observe. Contemplate. Repeat.

  9. Hi Pamela,

    Do you believe that all initiations are equal or can the transfer of energy be affected by the Master’s preparation or lack of it? the energy field or state of mind of the Master at the time of Initiation. Also some recipients say they don’t experience anything and therefore doubt it.

    1. Catherine, I prefer to stay out of the realm of belief, and I don’t understand initiations to be a transfer of energy. I also wonder what you mean by “all initiations are equal.” So I guess I’m not much help here. 🙂

      When I look around at the natural world, I see great variation. All the leaves on a plant, for example, are not exactly the same, and although different plants grow better in different conditions, many will grow even in less than optimum settings. Perhaps this is relevant to your question.

  10. Wow! What a thought provoking discussion! I am a Level 2 Practitioner at this time. I will be taking my ART/Master course in April 2011. My understanding, as it has most recently evolved, is this. Whether Reiki is from within or without is a moot point. They are one in the same. We are all part of a greater system. Just as electrons are part of an atom and planets are part of a solar system, we are part of humanity which is somewhere in between these, but a part of The Whole. Asking if Reiki pours in or springs forth from us is like asking if we are alive because the heart pumps or if the heart pumps because we are alive. One does not happen without the other. Its all perspective, which is essentially an illusion we create for ourselves based on our human experience. No explanation is right or wrong, yet they are both right and wrong. As humans, most of us will not comprehend the true meaning under normal circumstances. All we can do is make others comfortable enough to allow us to guide them to the beginning of their own understanding of Reiki through treatment. The words we use will be given to us as appropriate to the person and the situation just as the treatment works as appropriate to the person and the situation. For the most part, when I “treat” people, I feel that more than anything, I am providing a reference point for healing. I am showing the connection to the person so that he/she can recognize it if he/she chooses. I am conveying what the words cannot. I am not causing the healing. The person heals because he/she is ready to do so. This is as far as my words go at the moment. My intention is that as I contemplate this blessing that is Reiki and continue to use it daily, my understanding will grow continuously and therefore allow me to heal and help others heal in a more profound way.

  11. I enjoyed this post immensely. Yes, I have yearned for a plausible explanation of Reiki. I agree with the idea of Reiki stimulating the system, helping it reorganize itself so it could function more efficiently. It is already in place. We get in it’s way. I think that mindfulness and body awareness ( and other factors) help promote this reorganization. We are so up in our heads in this fast paced world, Reiki Treatments offer an opportunity to slow down and in slowing down we may be entering the present for the first time in a long time. there is alot of power in the presnt moment. Thank you for this post and discussion.

  12. My words of wisdom are always the same, Elizabeth: practice, observe, contemplate, repeat. Nothing ripens our understanding like contemplated daily hands-on self-treatment over time, and usually longer than practitioners want to give it.

    There are many resources on this site which can help you, but ultimately you have to decide for yourself what is real for you. There is no shortcut and I encourage my students to let the questions stay open, rather than filling the space with a story.

    So much of what is commonly said about Reiki lacks depth and subtlety. This may be frustrating to practitioners, but the fact remains that while we can easily learn to practice Reiki, it’s not so easily understood or communicated. We have to have a committed practice for a long time and be content to sit in not knowing.

  13. “Namaste”
    I’m an Usui Reiki Practioner.
    I was taught that Reiki is a simple method of natural healing whereby the Reiki Practitioner channels the ULFE to balance the mind, body, spirit. That this balance allows the body to heal itself and be in a state of wellness. It is not a religion or creed. Also that the ULFE is channeled through the practitioner to the client by means of hand positions Takata invisioned. That the ULFE is intelligent energy and goes where it is needed. That the ULFE is the source, not the practitioner’s energy.
    So some of the discussions on where the energy comes from are quite confussing…(No ill will intended or directed, only Gratitude for the discussions shared)

    I do know that Reiki has been such a blessing for me in my life! I have many health issues that had become quite severe, Fibromyalgia, I.B.S. ect… It had gotten to the point that I was on very strong pain meds, muscle relaxers, ect, just to get through the day. I ended up having to quit my job. Then I discovered Reiki & My world has been forever changed!! I very rarely take any meds. and my symptoms are very much undercontrol. Even the way I think & act have made an awesome transformation! I am so excited & want to share this awesome gift! I have even set up a room in my home for clients. But I have a huge dilemma…

    My dilemma is that I have moved to a very small town where people have never heard of Reiki and are (for lack of a better discription) Very Religious and are not opened to the understanding of ULFE… So trying to explain Reiki is like speaking another language. I am treated as if I practice witchcraft or vodo. If it can not be explained in Biblical terminology, it is considered to be of the Devil. Exactly where the energy is coming from is a very importaint issue here and things can not be (as one person put it) Vague. I’m kind of at a loss for an explaination of Reiki and how it works without subscribing it to a certain Religion, which I know is not the case.

    Any words of wisdom or advise would be Greatly Appreciated!
    In Light & Love, Elizabeth

  14. Pamela, thanks for pointing out something I may need to clarify in the next edition. The “intention” referred to in my definition of Reiki is the intention of the practitioner to allow himself/herself to be an instrument (channel) of healing grace, not an intention for the session.

    I do have the client establish an intention prior to the session for several reasons, one of which is that I think it is easier for our guides to work with us if they know the desired outcome. However, I agree that we do not want to limit the possibilities; therefore, my prayer prior to a session always includes this statement: “We ask for the healing of all that is ready to be healed in ______, whether that is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.” I then ask for the healing that the client has specifically stated they desire. I consciously release all attachment to outcome, knowing that all healing that takes place is in the hands of the client and the Higher Power. I’m simply the conduit connecting the two in a powerful way.

    Marianne Streich
    Reiki Master Teacher
    Seattle, WA
    Author of Reiki: A Guide for the Practice of Levels I and II
    Editor Reiki News Magazine

  15. Beautifully stated, Marianne–“Reiki is profoundly simple and a profound mystery.”

    And I agree that science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive–and so does His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has asked Richard Davison to research meditation, with valuable results.

    However, I disagree with your perspective on intention. In fact, it seems that intention is entirely unnecessary for Reiki healing to occur, and may even complicate the situation if the practitioner has limited intention. The Reiki connection clearly activates without the practitioner’s intention.

  16. Thanks so much for initiating this interesting discussion, Pamela. It has given me much food for thought. Here’s what’s come up for me:

    I think most practitioners struggle with explaining Reiki. We may make statements such as: Reiki is a relaxation technique; it balances the body’s energy field; it helps the body remember how to heal itself; it removes stagnant energy. All of which are true, but none of the which is “The Truth.”

    As Reiki has become more well known and more accepted by mainstream medical practitioners, we have stepped up our attempts to explain it, quantify it, analyze it, and study it to prove “scientifically” that it works. Although these exercises can be valuable, It seems to me that our attempts to define Reiki and quantify it limit it and make it small.

    In truth, Reiki is profoundly simple and a profound mystery. We cannot know exactly what it is or how it works or all that transpires during a treatment. We know simply that it works. We know that the client feels better as a result and that healing happens. We know that we can’t predict what that healing will be and that the experience is unique to each person who receives Reiki. One must experience it, not to understand it, but to gain the benefits it offers.

    My personal definition of Reiki is this:
    Reiki is Divine Love directed by the Higher Power (whatever you understand that to be) through the intention of the practitioner for the purpose of healing. (From my book: Reiki, A Guide for the Practice of Levels I and II; 2009.)

    Clients often tell me they have the experience of unconditional love during a treatment. As a practitioner, I experience giving a treatment as a mystery beyond understanding, as a spiritual act that I approach with deep gratitude for the privilege of doing this work, and which, afterward, leaves me with a deep sense of peace and well-being.

    Perhaps we are coming to a time in history when we can accept the gift and embrace the mystery without feeling the need to dissect it. A time when we do not see science and spirit as mutually exclusive; a time when we are not embarrassed to say that giving and receiving Reiki is a spiritual interaction between client and practitioner.

    Marianne Streich
    Reiki Master Teacher
    Seattle, WA
    Author of Reiki: A Guide for the Practice of Levels I and II
    Editor Reiki News Magazine

  17. Christine, we all call the Ultimate Oneness by whatever name(s) appeal to us. Reiki is just one name.

    And the Reiki practice that we received from Usui-sensei is one way to connect with that Oneness.

  18. I am Reiki 2 attuned and self-practice Reiki every day. (Will soon get Reiki Master attunement.) I rarely practice on others but will occasionally do distance Reiki.

    I also practice Kundalini yoga every day, after having practiced Hatha yoga (Iyengar style) for five years . I have had acupuncture galore, 20 sessions in all until it was too costly, attempting to help heal chronic pain, which is how I first discovered the energy. I also had a couple of sessions of Healing Touch — same energy sensations. I have had Kundalini awakened and now I am experiencing Kundalini rising and a spiritual awakening.

    It has all been the same sensation of energy and love for me. Each practice and experience brings forth the same energy sensations.

    I call it “Source,” or “Universal Energy/Love” or “Highest Power” or “Shakti” or “Mother” or “Goddess.” Call it what you will, what feels right for you. With all of my experiences, I can’t just call it “Reiki” because that is not the only way I have for being One with it.

    Light and Love to all.

  19. If Reiki is not from a universal source then there is no point in doing an attunement. With no Reiki attunement you are doing another sort of energy medicine.

  20. Nancy, it’s wonderful to read of the new dimension of experience that your Reiki practice has brought you. Thanks so much for taking the time to post.

    I would like to respond to your comment about “language for marketing.” Marketing is simply relationship. We speak to people in a more restrained way when we are introduced and save our intimate sharings for after we have created strong common ground. But at no time do we alter the truth of our experience. This is why it is so important to practice self-treatment daily, and to contemplate our experiences. It is easy to conflate things that are happening in subtle realms. It takes time to even begin to sort through it. It may be that the interactions you are experiencing have always been happening, and that you are becoming more aware. At the same time, there is clearly an acceleration that happens during treatment.

    There is the ocean, and there is the sun. And then there is the great Emptiness in which all exists.

  21. Dear Pamela,

    As a new Reiki practitioner, I read your blog thirstily. I have been practicing on myself and others for about six months. I am a former nonprofit CEO, as well as a former Nurse Practitioner, and am delighting in learning something that is so much grounded in my body and soul and not my mind. I realized the other day that my life is forever changed by this indescribable presence in my body. Sometimes indeed it feels like the ocean flowing inside me. Sometimes it surges relentlessly in one part of my body, demanding my attention, sometimes it shoots out my hands like sparklers. When my hands are on another person, I experience a myriad of sensations, with hardly any words to put to any of it. I’ve already had many many experiences where healing seems to happen, an indication to me of how powerful Reiki is, that even a novice can make such a difference in people’s lives. I feel such a sense of adventure, not being able to begin to imagine where this gentle, powerful, beautiful learning will lead me.

    So I am thirsty for conversation with others who are experiencing this. And at the same time, I feel averse to using language and conceptual frameworks, much as I understand the importance of framing Reiki in a way that the general public can accept and understand and open to. I’ve spent too much of my life in my left brain, articulating and conceptualizing.

    I was surprised by your initial premise, as I often do feel that the Reiki energy is flowing into me- and I guess I have no doubt that it is from a divine source. Other times though I experience the balancing and calibration phenomenon that has been discussed here. What I haven’t seen discussed here is almost a dance between my biofield and the other person’s, and it’s hard for me to tell what is coming from whom. There is a symbiotic experience, an interaction.

    For me it all seems like nothing short of a miracle, a gentle and loving miracle, filling my life with light and warmth. There is the ocean, yes, but there is also the sun.

    Sorry, I’m not yet ready to translate it into language for marketing. I am too awestruck, too joyful. I know it has to be done, and love the blog. Thank you!


  22. Arthur, take a look at the medical papers page of the website and read the Reiki review and the cancer paper. There is also a chapter in my book on Reiki and medical research.

  23. Any research information from the conference or elsewhere on Reiki success appreciated, whether the researchers can measure the relaxation or pain reduction or other energy healings that take place are appreciated.

  24. Yes, Julie, Reiki is a spiritual practice, primarily for self-care. I don’t know what an LSH is but I don’t know why any kind of license would be needed for self-care. Local ordinances would govern the legality of practicing Reiki treatment on others.

    Reiki is a specific lineage of practice. It is not the Silva Method. I cannot comment on how the Silva Method defines spiritual law. To my knowledge, Reiki practice is not codified in that way.

  25. Question for you Pamela. Would it be true to say that Reiki is a spiritual practice?
    Would it be needed to be a Licensed Spiritual Healer (LSH) I know that there is no reference to religion but Spiritual Energy is defined in the Silva Method as cohesive and adhesive force that keeps matter together. Spiritual energy exist in the microcosms, and macrocosms. To me this seems possible ? There is of course the spiritual law defined in the Silva Method , as a group of subjective laws that are universal, and govern creation, and harmonious flow. This sounds like Reiki practice. Is there a connection?

  26. Virginia Richardson

    Thank you, Pamela, for initiating this discussion. It has been extremely helpful, especially as I have been asked to do a brochure for our local Reiki practitioners.
    –Ginny R.

  27. Please let’s avoid disparaging comments such as leaving it up to the doctors to act “like robots with training.” Nothing is gained and much is lost by such generalizations. There are low-functioning practitioners in every field, and it is unfair to attack physicians or any other professionals in that way.

    Although it is off-topic, given Holly’s comment about her in-hospital experience and the fact that I supervise a Reiki internship on the general surgery floor of a hospital and have worked in hospitals for 15 years, I’d like to clarify that when we offer Reiki treatment as part of an institutional program, we are honor-bound to adhere to the agreements we make to the institution.

    For example, if the Reiki practitioner agrees to follow a specific protocol, it is not a legal option to ask the patient’s permission to deviate from that protocol. This is a violation of professional trust and opens the door for serious problems, including the dissolution of the Reiki program.

    What if the patient later complains about the practitioner’s touch? The institution is then in an indefensible position. Protocols and policies exist for reasons. If a practitioner is unwilling to conform to protocol, she doesn’t belong in institutional practice.

    Since there is so much false or undocumented information about Reiki and Reiki history passed around as fact, I always like to ask the source. Holly what’s your source that Usui was “more of an intuitive healer?”

  28. I agree, Holly. I do communicate imagery to the client that comes to me during the session to support them in healing, but I stay with the hand positions of Mrs. Takata. I look forward to trustiing my intuition more, and am glad to hear that you follow your guidance and unique way of working.

  29. In response to Nadya, the ironic thing is I am not a musician, but I admire their talents and their internal music. I feel like I have music inside me, but I express it through photography, film and dance more effectively. But, ohhh, to really play an instrument…! It is like magic to me that a musician can take their instrument and bring people to such heights of bliss and enjoyment and even healing them, as you did..! I really feel it inside me…

    I translate this feeling into a healing session with movement from within extended outwards to the client/patient. Sometimes, my body physically moves to this internal beat when I am in a session.

    I just wanted to mention that when I was trained for the first and second level degrees, I was taught by the Reiki Master I trained with to put my hands in the prescribed places that Mrs.Takata taught her students. This ALWAYS felt very unnatural to me.

    Later and I stress, years later, I learned that Dr. Usui was more of an intuitive healer and placed his hands where ever he felt drawn to place them.
    This felt right to me and I was glad to hear he responded to this calling.

    For me, I feel like it is very important that a Reiki practitioner remains true to their inner guidance. If I had continued to practice how I was trained, I would have gave up Reiki many years ago.

    I believe when I approach a client or patient, they can sense when I feel confident about what I am doing and following this intuitive guidance always make for a more powerful session for the client and me.

    Unfortunately, in the hospital sessions, I had to conform to the traditional manner of giving Reiki, but sometimes, I would ask the patients for permission to work where I felt drawn to work, if I felt they were open and receptive to such a suggestion.

    Also, as Reiki becomes more visible to the public and the demand increases, I am aware it is useful to create a Reiki protocol, but it is imperative to not respond to the demands that we all act alike or like robots with training. I leave that up to the doctors.

    To me, Reiki flows the best when I can respond to each patient/client from their heart and energy centers. This service is the upmost importance to me.

  30. What lovely images in your piece, & what a lively discussion!

    In addition to Reiki sessions & classes, I play folk harp & NA flute, inviting the Reiki energy to flow thru the music, & the feedback I receive indicates that it does. The images people share often involve a sense of the energy flowing into them, or in some cases, into me!

    A number of years ago, a friend who was developing 3rd eye vision commented that when I played harp at a Reiki circle, he could ‘see’ energy pouring stright into my crown, while the practitioners doing the ‘palm healing’ had an arch streaming into one side (L??) of their head!

    An Image that was shared in a less ‘mainstream’ Reiki class was of Usui ‘pouring water’ from Medicine Buddha’s well into the head of the person doing Reiki. I shared that story in a class, & one student smiled, & said ‘that’s what happened to you while you told that story!’

    Another student, who’d been reluctant to take a Reiki class with me, as she practiced a form of healing already, nevertheless joined us at her ‘guide’s’ insistance! I invited her to stay for the ‘talk story’ part, then decide if she wanted to continue – she stayed. After the first initiation, as she began practicing with the other students, she commented that in the other form, she had to ‘work’ at ‘gathering’ energy from around her, with the Reiki, all she needed to do was place her hands, & she could feel the energy pouring into & through her! And that it was, indeed different than what she’d done before.

    When I played harp background for a guided meditation, (< 5 minutes) another Reiki Master commented that he'd had an awful stomachache, & intended to leave after the meditation, if he still felt awful. Then I began playing, & 'the white light came down, the gold light came down, & my stomach ache was GONE!' On the way home, his wife 'reminded me' that I 'did' Reiki with my music – "So, I just wanted you to know – it works!!"

    & relayed from a friend who does animal communication, her dog asked "Is that (harp w/Reiki) another way she talks?? It makes my WHOLE BODY feel good!"
    Oh, yes!

  31. Helen’s book is listed on the Articles and Books page of the website, or you can click this link to purchase. The book contains valuable stories of healings that Mrs. Takata participated in, but be aware that the story of how Reiki practice began is Mrs. Takata’s teaching story, and not a factual history.

    Mrs. Takata’s standards include reliance on daily Reiki self-treatment and slow Reiki training over time (her students had to apply for Second degree); see Earn Your Reiki Training.

  32. I have never heard that Reiki practitioners who share Ms Takata’s’ lineage do not honor her standards. It seems to me that to “be Reiki” is to acknowledge the healing power that ” Reiki ” offers. I practice in the moment with each client
    knowing that we are all different and no 2 Reiki sessions are the same.

    Helen Haberly a student & friend of Takata’s has written a short “Reiki Hawayo Takata’s Story ” an interesting read for Reiki students who would like to learn more about the woman Takata. John Gray another student of Takata’s has an original tape where you can hear Takata speaking.

  33. Almost everyone practicing Reiki outside of Japan learned, at least originally, in Takata’s lineage. However, most practitioners who consider themselves to be in Mrs. Takata’s lineage do not honor her standards (if they even know what those standards are), and many Reiki masters have made arbitrary changes to Mrs. Takata’s practice.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I want to state clearly that I do not think Mrs. Takata’s practice should be freeze-dried and applied mindlessly. The Reiki is a living lineage, and there will be a natural, organic response to the current times. It is, however, crucial to the integrity of the practice and of the lineage that those adaptations emerge from Reiki masters who honor the traditional values and have a committed daily practice of self-treatment.

    Chujiro Hayashi and Mrs. Takata drew from his years of practice and her in-depth training with him in Japan in adapting the treatment protocols to Americans. The basic principles and values of Usui’s Reiki were not altered. Mrs. Takata practiced 40 years before she trained Reiki masters.

  34. Pamela you suggest I read Donna Eden. I have been practicing her work for many many years. 🙂

    You mention you are from the Takata lineage so am I 🙂

    I know many Reiki Practitioners who use the term ULFE. I teach my students to be accepting and kind and practice the 5 principles every day. They should choose words that make them feel comfortable. Divine, for the highest good, ULFE, God.

  35. Dana Lisa, we are of one mind in this area.

    Even when I am presenting Reiki in a medical environment, I specify that it is a spiritual healing practice. I am concerned that the spiritual roots of Reiki practice be maintained even as it becomes more available in health care. In that sense, I wouldn’t say that I am as much eager for Reiki treatment to be available to patients as I am willing to help the process, and to try to avoid the medicalization of the practice.

    The way I do this is by stressing two points: the innate spirituality (and distinguishing it from religion/dogma) and the word practice. For all the reasons you articulated, it’s vital that the public realize Reiki can be learned for home self-care, and equally important that Reiki professionals ground the care we offer others in our own daily self-practice.

  36. Holly, that is a very good question: who is the conductor? Perhaps the conductor is Reiki–not Reiki energy (I don’t think there is such a thing), but rather all-pervasive consciousness, which is called by other names in other systems (Tao, Absolute, Great Mystery, etc.) and is called Reiki in this system.

    Regarding Reiki guides: my training was in Takata Reiki, and didn’t include Reiki guides, which are a New Age add-on to the simple, practical Reiki practice which Hayashi and Takata brought to the US.

    I agree that people want an explanation that is familiar, and it helps to give them one, but I’m not so sure it is helpful to give an explanation that is as misleading as equating a Reiki treatment with an acupuncture session. An acupuncture treatment involves a level of knowledge and skill that Reiki practitioners simply don’t have–and don’t need to have.

    Acupuncturists are actively intervening. They have to diagnose their patients health and come up with a relevant and effective treatment plan. Although Reiki practitioners have very varying styles, there seems to be consensus that Reiki treatment does not involve diagnosis and that as practitioners, we are passively offering our client’s system a connection through which it can balance itself, rather than intervening to create the balance along specific pathways.

  37. Hi Pamela,

    I agree that we do not substantially know “how” Reiki works, and that often we are more successful if we can simply and accurately describe how Reiki may benefit people by helping reconnect to and balance their own energy in order to promote self-healing. I always tell my clients and advise my students that the Reiki practitioner is helping to facilitate the process, but it is the recipient who is initiating the healing within their own body.

    Like you, I am eager to see Reiki gain acceptance within the medical community, but with some caveats. I am fortunate to work out of a chiropractic office, where the work I do is supported and seen as a good complement to the chiropractic, acupuncture and therapeutic massage work they offer.

    However, I always remember that first and foremost, Reiki is not about palm healing. The system that Usui Sensei developed was far more comprehensive, and at its core are practices designed to develop spiritual awakening, which also includes energy work that can promote healing on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels. As a spiritual teacher, he understood the profound benefit of sharing Reiki with the general public, because anything that could promote healing and improved well-being would also benefit society as a whole.

    This approach is more common in the East than in the West, where we tend to focus on quick, tangible results. If I do yoga, will it help me relax and stretch out tight muscles? Yes, but there is also a philosophical and spiritual system associated with yoga that can be profoundly life-changing if you have some understanding of how doing asanas fits in to the larger system of practice. Same with Reiki. But what we’re running up against is the discomfort of an Eastern spiritual practice and system for healing that is not easily congruent with Western philosophy, scientific rationale and religious dogma. The end result is to strip it down to either a scientific explanation (biofields, etc) or to undercut the practice by just speaking of Reiki’s physical/emotional benefits – the end game. I’m not sure I’m satisfied by doing that. I take enough of an interdisciplinary approach to be able to utilize those explanations when necessary because as a teacher I understand that people need to hear things in different ways. In my own life and how I teach Reiki, it is fundamentally a spiritual practice with the potential for life-changing growth with the added benefit of healing.

    In gassho,
    Dana Lisa Young

  38. I like the image Pamela created of the Orchestra playing out of tune until the sheet music is handed over to the conductor. But, I have been thinking…who is the conductor? Is it the patient, Is it the Reiki practitioner? Is it ULFE?

    When having to describe Reiki to a patient, I often liken it to acupunture without the needles. Accessing energy points around the body to open a flow of energy that is closed or blocked. For some reason, people and patients seem to accept
    this analogy readily. To me, they are listening to hear a procedure or modality described to them that feel’s “familiar”. Once they hear this, they relax into the session/treatment easier.

    When ‘giving’ a Reiki treatment, I often see myself as a cello, an instrument,
    playing music and a song to the person who is in pain or has a dis-ease.

    I play “their song” on a vibrational level without sound. Some hear it loudly and others hear some part of it or very faintly. But on some level, it is heard. Each song is different and unique, thus my experience of it is different and unique.

    I was given this image many years ago by my “Reiki Guides” (a discussion I didn’t see above) and Spirit Guides after an attunement. I can’t remember which one though.

    So, back to the Orchestra analogy…I imagine the conductor is whatever each person wants or needs to guide them toward the healing that is necessary to create the rhythm in their lives again. In tune and to their own unique internal beat. It is my heart-centered intention to create an opening of space and time to access this healing force within them all.

  39. Pamela,

    Thanks, as always, for working so tirelessly to clear up misconceptions about Reiki, and to make sure that our language as Reiki practitioners is always clear. I agree with you that clarifying the language around Reiki and tweaking the model for it can only benefit the practice, not harm it. The more clear it is, the more accessible it is to people of all levels. I appreciate the work you do on this matter.

    Lisa Fabrega

  40. To those of us who are reaching to understand with greater clarity, the term universal life force energy falls short. It is simply not a specific term. And to say all alternative healing modalities use universal life force energy is a sweeping generalization that simply cannot be documented.

    There are many different types of subtle “energy” and they do not necessarily have anything to do with Reiki practice.

    The clearest, most comprehensive approach to understanding the subtle realms that I have seen is that of Donna Eden’s work. I suggest studying her book Energy Medicine.

  41. Sue, the word Reiki refers to a healing system
    created by Dr Usui. many people have re-created
    their own versions of this Reiki system world wide.

    All alternative healing modalities use Universal life
    force energy. This energy is free and available to
    all, you do not have to be enrolled/ initiated in any
    formal organization to use the healing energies
    of ULFE. Without ULFE we would not exist.

  42. I completely agree with you, Sue, that Reiki is a healing practice that was started by Usui, but I am unclear if you are saying that I am Americanizing the practice and making it a model of health care.

    In case it appears that I am trying to make Reiki practice fit a health care model, let me clarify that I myself find this model more appealing, and more accurate. It just so happens that because it is a more credible model, it is also an easier fit in health care. And of course, having Reiki treatment available in health care means that more people will benefit from it.

    This is in line with Usui’s stated desire to have the beginning level of Reiki practice (not Reiki master level) be widely available to the public.

    The model is simply a framework in which the mechanism through which Reiki practice works might be understood. There is nothing about it that would affect how people practice.

  43. I would suggest that Reiki is a healing that was started by Usui. If you change what he said or did it is not Reiki, call it something different. They are all valid because Usui didn’t invent Reiki , that is his version of energy healing. There have been a lot of other people who have brought this (energy healing) to the world and I believe we should use what works for us. We do not have to Americanize these practices or make them into Models of health care.

  44. Our feelings when we do Reiki seems to be on topic to me – the experiene of Reiki shows us how Reiki works. I meant,the power of love… as manifested through humans.

  45. I am indeed sorry if I helped get this thread off topic. Pamela, how far is it afield? Your original post asked “How does Reiki work? We don’t know.” I was just exploring how it works from others’ experiences. Perhaps this is not the place to do that. 🙂

  46. Sorry Pamela. I was being spontaneous and should have remembered that the topic
    is ……..

    How does Reiki work?

    This question comes up often.

    The answer is simple: We don’t know.

  47. Tear to release joy 🙂 that’s whats wonderful about self healing its not always about negativity. I continue to self heal sort of maintainece. Even then I always have different feelings, At times I feel my hands are not were they are suppose to be they feel like they are in another dimension. Like an out of body experience it’s really a weird Sensation.

  48. Bridget, I have experienced that in my self-healing practice, that no two times are the same. At first I wanted to define and predict Reiki but I soon learned that is not the way it works. I have not shared Reiki with anyone other than my dog (who seems to love it) because I feel I need to grow and learn more first.

    My tears were of joy at the love, richness and fullness I was filled with, a very positive thing.

  49. Christine no two people have the same experience in fact each time we have a session/treatment we never have the same experience. Each day we are at a different place in our lives at the moment we experience a session/treatment.

    Tears are releasing 🙂

    Phyllis, that’s interesting, I like that “the power of human love”

  50. I’m gradually getting it, Pamela. I wonder why we don’t know this intrinsically but I expect it’s because we have bred it out of our selves (“selves” being the key word, ‘eh?).

    Phyllis, one of the first self-healing sessions I did after my attunement brought me a powerful feeling of incredible love, so much so that I was almost overwhelmed and found myself in tears, just as happened during my attunement. However, I did not feel it as human.

    This discussion has already had a great impact on my Reiki practice. Thank you to all who have contributed.

  51. When I saw Pamela with her Reiki hands on the head of the woman from the audience who had a headache, I saw that Reiki is the power of human love. That’s what I’m seeing.

  52. I should have been more specific: I was asking about self-healing only. Thank you for the reply, chi-solas, I ditto your kudos to Pamela.

    I am sometimes challenged to put my hands around, as it were, your posts, Pamela. But after reading a couple of time, it’s “aha!” Very helpful for this Reiki newbie. Thanks.

  53. Yes Christine I was directing the Reiki energy to my uterus
    but it appears that the energy was breaking down other areas
    that were blocked. The body has many area’s where it stores
    problems. These problems show up in many forms of dis-ease
    within the body. It can be arthritis,cancer, and other forms of
    dis-ease. I have a documentary that you can check out on vimeo
    under, Bridget’s healing journey by Monika Fimpel.

    I understand that not everybody is ready to accept Reiki
    Dr Oz has put it on the healing map. I have observed Pamela
    in the field of medicine for quite a few years and knew some
    day that Reiki would get recognized. Pamela all the work you
    did documenting has paid off and you where there in the fore
    front when it happened:-))

  54. One could look at it as the energy being intelligent, which is a dualistic perspective, or that Reiki is itself the intelligence.

    When we “focus energy,” we are healing through a dualistic perspective. Whether we use medical or non-medical interventions, it’s still the same model. When we practice Reiki, we are facilitating self-healing. This is an important hair to split. For one thing, when the healing is coming from within the person, there are no dangers. When someone is directing energy for specific outcomes, there can be adverse responses.

  55. I have been told by several people that the energy is intelligent and it knows where to go for healing. chi_solas, are you saying that you focused, you directed the energy for your healing? You had some pretty incredible outcomes!

    (I am very excited about this conversation!)

  56. Ennure, there is no magic in Reiki. We do use it without thinking about it. If we focused on where we would like the energy to go then things begin to happen. When I reversed my cancer without medical intervention, Reiki was one of the tools I used and before the cancer reversed other things began to change . It was like the onion peeling away the layers to get to the root of the problem. My diabetes 2 cleared up
    my roascea cleared up, blood pressure stablized. These things just did not happen
    there was a reason. There is a wholistic process, it involves the mind, body, and spirit. I believe that there is an explaination.

  57. I agree, Pamela, feeling like an actor in our lives is definitely empowering, which why I also like the shamanic way of working. FYI, I made a good faith effort to watch you on the Dr. Oz show, but missed the Reiki segment. Let us know if replay or transcript becomes availale.

  58. You raise some important points about locality. Ultimately there is no in or out, yet as we manifest, the architecture of our systems organize around the choice of experiencing Source within or outside. Identifying Source within is empowering, we are co-creators. We are also responsible. Identifying Source as being outside of us, separate from us, seems to carry the danger of seeing oneself as a victim, and not responsible for our lives.

    The ultimate reality is of course beyond thought. At the same time, our thoughts matter. They lead to the seen and unseen choices that create our experience, if not our reality.

  59. I just looked at all the posts on this blog after having been attuned to and having practiced Reiki for self healing for some time.My undrstanding and faith in this practice is now much more deepened than before after reading what everybody has said.I used to wonder,while practicing it on myself,whether it was an energy flowing from above into my body or whether it was flowing from within.But it definitely feels that something is happening from the Source that balances the natural forces within harmonising them and creating increased peace and well being.May be the Source is within itself or may be it is everywhere-within and outside as an all pevasiveness-and just getting connected with it helps in healing and a raised level of consciousness.Sometimes it has felt like the flow of energy in the body and sometimes as an expanded consciousness.I am still wondering what exactly it could be.Or,perhaps it is better not to bother about it so long as it helps,like in Homeopathy the process of healing cannot be explained,only one knows that the healing results are obtained,and that what really matters.

  60. I came to Reiki simply by following my intuition that this was the next step on my journey: I just trusted the gut feeling. I did a bit of research on Reiki but that was after I scheduled my attunement. Nowhere online did I find any explanation of Reiki that describes what I am experiencing. (But I didn’t run across your site, Pamela, until after I got your book that my teacher recommended.) I had no idea how spiritual it would be and was knocked over the first time that filled me up.

    I say this to support Pamela’s original post, and subsequent posts in this thread. If the words don’t exist in English, it is a great challenge to describe, especially without appearing woo-woo and new-age-y. I applaud your efforts at this, Pamela.

  61. Ultimately there is one Source, but there are endless ways to connect with that Source. It’s important to keep the Source in mind, but it is also useful to maintain the integrity and distinction of the various paths. This came up a bit in the discussion following Reiki in the Name of Jesus.

    Seems like a good time to reiterate: to me, Reiki is not a separate energy, but rather another name for the ultimate Source. Reiki practice is the gift of a particular lineage of teachers that started with Usui. Reiki practice is a specific way to connect with Source, that from which “energies” arise. I see Reiki as a spiritual practice that reconnects us with oneness, rather than an energy intervention.

    Healing is a natural by-product of any spiritual practice. The distinctions among practices, and the distinction between practice and intervention, are worth noting if we want to be able to communicate clearly to more people than the ones singing in the choir.

  62. Interesting discussion; many points touched upon. (no pun intended)

    My introduction to Reiki was in a hypnotherapy class, where it was touted as the be all, end all for healing. When it was explained to me, I realized and commented that my father had taught me, as a very young child, that if I didn’t feel well to go sit next to a tree trunk and pretend I was part of the tree, or find a rock and while holding it concentrate on how it felt in my hands and then place my hands on whatever part of my body was aching or hurting to make the pain go away, or the bleeding stop. I might add that I’ve since realized that Da, being a Scotsman, was a Celtic shaman. In the class I poohpoohed the claims of Reiki as just another form of concentrating and gathering help from nature to feel better or heal a wound.

    I became a hypnotherapist and after several years the director of our healing center was holding a class for first level Reiki. She asked if I would help her since the other teacher had an emergency. Hah! I was hooked and within the year became a RMT. What I found in that first class was that Reiki was the same energy Da taught me, but it was more organized and put a structure to using Universal Energy for health and well being.

    It also became apparent that the healing my maternal grandparents were known for, Bracheria, was just another form of the same modality, with a few adjuncts of herbalism.

    My point is that many cultures have a form of energy healing, they just carry different names. Reiki is more formalized than most, but they all come from the same source and utilize Universal Energy. I found that the formality and learning the structure of Reiki was very valuable, although I now combine several aspects of UE within a healing session.

  63. (I’m glad I could be of service, Pamela! Namaste.)

    I wonder if there are truly words in the English language or Western cultures that really allow us to communicate what we are experiencing. (I am a communicator by profession.) And I wonder how much was lost in translation from the Japanese language, which I understand has such an ability.

    But I don’t worry about that. 🙂

  64. Christine, you made my day. And it was already a very good day.

    The ability to communicate will come in time, especially if you are regular in self-treatment and you continue toobserve and contemplate your experience.

  65. I apologize. This problem has now been fixed and everyone should be able to see all the comments. And if there are any more probls, please use the Contact link on the website so I can address them as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

  66. I want to add that Pamela’s ocean experiences resonates with me because long before I experienced the modalities I mentioned, I have been drawn to the ocean and the full moon. Connection with both of those leaves me with a fullness and richness that I cannot describe or define, and that I’ve never had an explanation for.

  67. I am very new to Reiki and am finding this discussion very helpful. I came to Reiki after some very rich experiences with acupuncture, healing touch, qigong, Eden’s energy medicine and my yoga and meditation practices. My experiences with all of those modalities were very similar and became very powerful after a while — Was it qi? Prana? Some sort of energy flow?
    I came to Reiki somewhat out of frustration because this “stuff” would just show up during these experiences and I had no way to focus or nurture it. Thus I was a bit confused at my level one attunement to be taught that in Reiki we are channeling ULFE from elsewhere, as it were, as I had certainly experienced some of the same with the other modalities before I was attuned.
    With every day’s practice I get further past the duality concept and that is a wonderful feeling.
    So in some ways, Pamela’s original post has validated what I am learning about this practice and I can go ahead and continue to learn and experience Reiki without my ego tripping me up with requirements for facts on where the energy comes from. (I’m a long way, however, from being able to communicate what I am experiencing!)

  68. I’d like to also thank you, Pamela, for your insights, your questions, this platform to learn from each other. . .
    When I read your initial post I felt a rush of “yes!” I never felt comfortable with the explanation I learned and it was becoming increasingly inadequate . Something didn’t feel quite right about that explanation, but I wasn’t able to articulate it. Once again, you articulate this so beautifully – at least in a way that feels absolutely more “plausible” and approaches a better explanation for me. As Nancy says “you have the gift for getting to the heart of Reiki healing.” I agree!
    I am also remembering a previous post of yours about “being Reiki.” To me, Reiki feels like pure love, spiritual connection, and “all is well.”

    I’m in the same boat with Nancy – my practice is deepening and I’m learning so many things that seem to unravel what I learned in my early Reiki days (it’s a good thing) – that my challenge now is to communicate it clearly. This blog will help me do that.

  69. You got right to the heart of it, Nancy–the trick is to never stop learning from your practice and your contemplation. Then the communication is just a matter of developing a skill. I know you’ll do well.

  70. Thank you Pamela for this blog. It is the first of any kind that I have visited, no less commented on. As I transition to a full time healing practice (hopefully), I am so glad to have encountered this discussion. Pamela, you have a gift for getting to the heart of Reiki healing. I know I will never stop learning about Reiki. I hope to get much better about communicating it. Just what I have read on this page has helped already.
    Thank you again!

  71. Pamela,

    Thanks for the response, it was very helpful. I agree with you we should observe without drawing conclusions–it’s certainly something I have learned in my first year as a Reiki Practitioner that I need to constantly remind myself of, so thanks again for the reminder. I had a healer tell me very wise and gifted healer tell me once that coming to conclusions about experiences that happen during sessions can be “very seductive” and I agree with that 100%. I always have to remind myself to just observe and not interpret. 🙂

    It’s interesting what you say about self-protection and I have been wanting to take that course you offer but never can seem to get it to line up with my schedule. When I was taught Reiki I was taught that Reiki protects me and the client/person receiving treatment, so nothing can penetrate that boundary. But I have had experiences where I have broken out in terrible hives after a session (only happened to me once) and while I have refrained from trying to figure out why that happened or come to conclusions, it certainly made me wonder about what I was taught about Reiki always protecting me as a practitioner. That’s slightly off topic though. This discussion, I have to say, has been my absolute favorite so far. Really has helped me come up with a good way to describe Reiki to others!

    Thanks again, always a very thought provoking conversation on your blog!


  72. Very interesting perspective!

    Unfortunately, for some reason I can’t access others’ comments so this is responding only to Pamela’s.

    I am pretty good at cooking up plausible explanations for energy phenomena. They may not be factual, and they bring in ideas still considered speculative or fantastic in the conventional world, but they’re coherent and make sense:-) However, I have to fall silent at the Mystery that is Reiki.

    I don’t know where Reiki comes from, unless I invoke the concept of God or Great Spirit. If it comes from within me, then it comes from that place that is so deep, it, too, is God or Great Spirit — the Deep Self or Higher Self of our spirit that is already and always One with God, that Self connected with the concept of “enlightenment.” From this perspective, there is no outside or inside and the idea of “where” Reiki comes from becomes meaningless.

    I have to say, however, that my experience in the mundane world feels like Reiki coming from the “outside.” The filling-the-pipe metaphor has been an accurate one for me. But my spiritual tradition, which is the Western Mystery Tradition, teaches that energies and beings we may encounter that are seemingly external are, in fact, already part of us. The Master symbol used in attunement (as I understand it) is that idea of a luminous Being who is Self, Great Shining Being, Light of Sun and Moon.

    A good rumination to begin the New Year!

  73. Lisa, this is how I envision the process, and I will use images to evoke the experience; this is not a linear reality. I’m just painting a picture here.

    While it is our job as professionals to create a space in which healing can occur, it’s important to remember that the inner space of healing comes through the Reiki connection.

    We offer ourselves or our clients the Reiki connection, either by placing hands or by the Second degree technique. This connection is somewhat like sitting ourselves down by the ocean, except the ocean we are sitting near is the ocean of consciousness. Of course the ocean of consciousness is ever-present and always near, but we get distracted and lose sight of it, and our Reiki hands remind us.

    The Reiki connection brings the ocean of consciousness closer to our awareness, and we feel a sense of connectedness. As the treatment continues, everything falls into a different perspective. In hospitals, patients sometimes report after treatment that they still have pain, but it doesn’t affect them in the same way–they experience their pain from a different perspective, one in which it doesn’t have such a tight grip on them. When people have physical pain, this is easier to notice, but don’t you feel that our emotional, mental, social and spiritual pain also loosens its grip with Reiki treatment?

    As we connect with our wholeness, our wellness, our core universality, our systems reorganize around that center and this brings greater harmony, integrity, and coherence to the system. As the system regains coherence, its innate self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms are optimized.

    It’s both very simple and worth contemplating, again and again. The Usui Virtual Retreat on my website takes us through this process, so you might want to find some time to do that.

    In my experience, our systems recalibrate a lot faster than we reconsider our worldview, but it does happen, slowly over time. This is one reason why daily self-treatment brings the most profound transformation.

    Regarding your last part of your post, I cannot comment on anyone’s subjective experiences, even my own. I personally refrain from interpreting them. For example, you can simply adjust your hand placement to where it feels “right” and comfortable, without creating a story about anything. This protects us from getting involved in fantasy and becoming ungrounded.

    When we have a conversation with someone, there is more passing between us than words. Imagine the potential for subtle interactions when giving a Reiki treatment, especially if one is not skillful in holding subtle boundaries. If you experience something, look at it closely to determine if there is a safety issue. If you feel unsafe, disengage. Don’t wait until you understand what is happening. Take care of yourself first.

    If you feel safe, then just observe, without drawing conclusions. From my perspective, the types of experiences you described are not Reiki, but that’s not to say nothing’s happening. That’s why I started offering the Spiritual Self-Protection workshop.

  74. All very interesting and thought-provoking. Being mindful and openminded are important keys to explaining Reiki. I used to struggle with a description, stutter, stumble, usually a confident speaker, finding myself at a loss of words trying to tell people what Reiki is and how it works. I had to first realize that there are people who will always question Reiki or other ‘natural’ healing methods, not ever giving it a chance and second, not to take that personally or think I have failed in giving a valid description. Since experiencing it myself as a cancer patient 4 years ago, I now explain Reiki as how it made me feel. I describe the benefits that the body can generate once relaxed, and compare it to a gentle, soothing touch, that, just like when I child falls down and is comforted by a mother, so too can the body respond to a Reiki Practitioner, or self, offering a Reiki session. When the Reiki association I am part of was giving a presentation to a board of doctors who ran a cancer clinic we wanted to be involved with (we have been there now 1 year giving Reiki to patients while they receive chemo), I shared with them that while going through surgeries, lab work, chemo treatments, and doctor visits, Reiki offered me peace, comfort, and love during a stressful, unpleasant experience. Knowing I could go to a place where life felt a little better made the whole thing more bearable. Explain from the heart and from personal experience, what you have witnessed Reiki to do. When working with healthcare professionals, I use common sense- if a person receives a gentle, supportive Reiki session, the body is experiencing relaxation, the person will be less stressed, have a chance to heal faster, and one’s own body system will be more in balance, be sick less often, and avoid many illnesses caused by stressors in daily life. The more the body is in a natural relaxed state, physically and mentally, the more likely they’ll be healthier and happier. Meditate, ask for the right words to offer, and whether or not your explanation has been accepted, a seed will have been planted. Reiki is sent to those who need it. Even if there might be a poor definition given to someone, if he/she is supposed to find serenity in Reiki, the right time will come…..Like you say, Pamela, it is there inside of us waiting to awaken. And it will at the moment each soul needs it.

  75. Pamela,

    Thanks for replying to my questions. It’s interesting because I experience Reiki in a similar way to the way you describe. I remember when I was Level 1 and just starting out, reading a book about Reiki that said that when you are preparing to start a Reiki session/treatment that you will know you are “ready” when you feel the heat of Reiki “entering” through the back of your neck or top of your head and then move through you body. This gave the impression that Reiki was this ULFE that needed to enter my body so that I could channel it through to the patient, and that it was somehow separate from me and not always in me. I always found this description utterly confusing, as I did not have that experience at all with Reiki, even now that I have been a Reiki professional for about a year. I always have felt it’s something that gets activated from within me that then causes heat to arrive at the palms of my hands. I also feel when I am giving a Reiki treatment to another person that my hands are a “reminder” to the person’s body of what it already knows how to do very well. I like how you describe that your hands carry the potential of the Reiki connection once initiated. I think that is a simple yet profound way of describing it.

    Following that statement, does this mean that the purpose of our hands in a Reiki session/treatment is to facilitate a Reiki connection with the person receiving treatment, which will then remind their body of how to recalibrate itself and heal?

    Another thing I am curious about is what the essence of this Reiki connection is, or what is going on in this connection. Do the hands in this “connection” serve as a subtle reminder to the person’s body of “hey, remember how you can do this? go ahead and remember what your natural rhthym and alignment is”? Sometimes I think of a connection as an energetic exchange–but I’m not sure if that is what you mean by “Reiki connection.”

    One thing I have been starting to feel in my professional practice and also in my professional practice with others, is that sometimes I feel the most important thing Reiki does is to create a safe space and time for the person to begin to heal, or as you said in another post, to connect with their own kind inner being. Many times it’s hard even for people to meditate on their own. I feel that when a person comes for a Reiki session, my main job is to create that space for them to begin to connect with themselves and with their ability to heal. If I combine this with what you were saying earlier about the Reiki connection and our hands, then I can also add that in addition to creating that space for the person to connect with themselves and “recalibrate”, the hands/hand placements are also there to faciliate that connection as gentle reminders… does this make sense? Would love to hear your/everyones thoughts on this.

    On a slighly different note, though most of my experience with Reiki is not as an “energy coming into me” but rather something that gets activated from within (after my attunements), I have had some interesting experiences during Reiki sessions that I’m not sure what to make of or what they might be. For example, several times when putting my hands on a person I have felt almost as though a hand is pushing my hands away. I don’t know why but I have taken this to mean that the person’s bioenergetic field doesn’t want me directly on the body, so I keep the hands at a distance. When I get the hands at a comfortable enough distance, the pushing feeling in the palms of my hands stops and things go back to normal as though my hands were right on the person. It’s an interesting sensation. I have also felt a feeling as though a ribbon is being pulled from the center of my palm by the person receiving. I don’t know what to make of these sensations, being that I lean more towards Pamela’s view that Reiki is not an outside energy (I hope I have not oversimplified your view Pamela)..

    Anyway, that’s all for now–these posts are certainly raising a lot of good questions! 🙂

  76. Not sure how this fits with the dialogue, Bridget.

    But to address your comments: It has been my experience that doctors quickly recognize the benefits Reiki brings their patients. And I am not tiptoeing around the medical profession, but I am deeply respectful of conventional medicine, its culture, and especially the people who function there, who are, after all, people.

    So many Reiki practitioners have had painful experiences connected to health care, and the unresolved emotional pain presents an obstacle to working together. And some Reiki practitioners come from a place of arrogant self-righteousness, convinced that doctors have it all wrong, and Reiki will save the day. Then they’re surprised that no one in health care is listening.

    Connecting with conventional health care requires skilled out reach. Reiki practitioners need to be able to bridge cultures, and personalities.

    The more consistently we engage in practice and self-inquiry over time, the clearer we become. The clearer we become, the more present we are. Today only…

  77. Pamela Just read your last post. My RMT when doing Reiki sessions with a 7 year old boy cancer patient who is in remission , remissions is a word I do no use myself
    The child’s mother would ask the DR to record the Reiki sessions on his chart. When the “healing ‘ happened and when it was shown on local TV for days Reiki was never mentioned. My oncologist never made a big deal out of my self-healing from cancer
    so Healings that happen when Reiki’s involved IMO the medical profession ignore it. Antedotes is all that Reiki folks have. My client who self healed from uterine cancer
    another anedote. If it does not happen within the medical profession its/ignored or called a “miracle”

  78. The language I use for Reiki is relaxation, balance and harmony. Reiki itself is only a system that was created by DR Usui and uses Universal Energy. It has taken a long time for Dr’s to begin to see the benefits of the Reiki system. For years we have tiptoed around what Reiki is, using words like complementary so as not to offend the medical profession or at least to get in the doorway. Dr Bernie Segal and many other Dr’s were pioneers within the medical profession not an easy place to be. I offered free Reiki sessions to nurses in the hospital. The sessions were set up with a hospital laision supporting /setting up a special room to make it possible for nurses to have a 20 minute session. Nurses could not take the time for those sessions so it ended up that administrators/other support staff came. My intent was that a nurse could get 20 minutes Reiki then go back to her /his station more refreshed to continue their day.

  79. I want to be very clear that I am not advocating anyone adopt language that is not true to their experience and understanding. My motivation is not to get people to agree with me, but to stimulate practitioners to add an ongoing internal inquiry into their own practice. That ongoing inquiry is part of the practice, and how we protect ourselves from delusion and assumption. And I am not implying that anyone here is in danger; I’m just making a general statement about the dangers of not contemplating one’s practice.

    What I suggest is simple:
    Mindful observation of our practice,
    Mindful contemplation of our experience (for deepening and to notice places where we might be making assumptions), and
    Mindful communication.

    The operative word is “mindful.” Although Reiki practice can be done effectively without paying any attention, and that is clearly better than not practicing at all, we lose so much when we go on automatic. This loss is critical for practitioners who are functioning in public venues.

    Phyllis–I don’t doubt your experience, and many share it, including me. But I’m mindful of the steps between describing a subtle experience and declaring it to be fact, and then communicating it as such. I find the experience does not hold up to the inquiry. People may be content to believe there is literal reality in their subtle experience, but I’m not. To make such a direct translation from subtle experience seems like a form of fundamentalism to me.

    When I have an experience such as you describe, a sensation of streaming, I contemplate some questions:

    Is energy actually actually streaming in, or am I focusing in on a piece of a larger enhanced flow (remember the definition of qi as flow)?
    Is it possible for me to step back (or deeper within) to view the experience from a larger perspective?

    Observing from an ever-expanding perspective transforms my understanding–repeatedly. There is no end to this process, just as there is no end to practice, and no end to Reiki (the state). The practice of aligning my understanding with that unified field means my understanding will go through constant transformation and deepening. That process seems to be the point of practice.

    So the point of inquiry is not at all to negate our experience, but simply to identify the assumptions we are making about those experiences, the content one we are wrapping around the experiences, and by continually releasing those wraps, to open ourselves to a larger frame of reference.

    Michael described how he has been going through this process very beautifully. Practice and continual inquiry protects Reiki from becoming dogma. I, for one, am not interested in a Reiki religion. I want a practice that can keep me in awe as long as I live, and through death.

    How’s that for a holiday message? 🙂

  80. Hi Dan,

    I actually do feel energy streaming in – maybe it’s “recalibrating” a connection with the light we’re made of and is always present. Sounds mystical, but that is my experience. I could use other vocabularies when communicatig with others.

  81. I found this post and thread extremely helpful. What I experience through Reiki self-treatment are sensations of recalibration, reorganization and rhythmic re-patterning…not the channeling of some outside energy. I find this realization so helpful because it connects my experience of Reiki to other areas of my life where I find similar processes at work: during yoga, through homeopathic and acupuncture treatment, and when worshipping God. All are unique experiences, but I have always wondered about the common threads.

    Pamela – I think this exploration of Reiki as synergistic with our “self-regulating mechanisms” has lots of potential. Thank you for it, and I hope you will write more about it!

  82. Colleen, Hartley, Sandy and Michael, welcome aboard! And thanks for your comments.

    Pam, the image of refreshing oneself by the ocean is not in the least bit esoteric, nor does it require one to believe in anything.

    Rather, the image evokes an experience common to many, and is a reminder of the power of the mere presence effect (how proximity affects us). Even people who may not feel drawn to the ocean don’t think it strange that others do.

    Neutral, common images and words aid communication. The word “channeling” has connotations that are immediately discrediting, and the word “energy” has a specific meaning to a scientist, and not the one you have in mind.

  83. Pamela and in this difficult conversation,

    I have been chewing on this conversation since the one day retreat you taught at the reiki school in Philadelphia. I was very frustrated since I began reiki at the lax language used in most of the books (By lax I mean assumptive, from personal experience that becomes law, almost dogmatic at times. This being said I think the challenge of discussing reiki is a noble persuit. Very difficult but worth the energy lol, no pun intended. However what I have come to realize is that it is all perspective. Takata is either praised or picked on, and all I have to know her is what is in the books. That being said I am intrigued to find out that she knew her audience. I don’t what book I read this from but I do know that she always taught to the audience. As a former elementary and middle school teacher I have found this to be very important. We all have different perspectives and experience. My experience is from a daily self-treatment with meditation, hundreds of treatments with hospice patients and my professional practice, and teaching around 20 students. I share this because it seems important to get the back story to know why people use the language they use.

    So, when I first received reiki attunement which I would be now more comfortable saying initiation I felt what appeared to be energy coming up my legs and my heart bursting out energy. Since that first initiation treatments felt like reiki was coming out of my hand. Then I learned quantum touch here I kinisthetically ran energy from my feet to my head down the arms and out the hands. I realized that was not the same as reiki. It became more clear that reiki was not chi or qi energy. It was something different. It appeared to be a connection. Then with hospice patients it felt like it was sucking out of me. However I then opened my consciousness or awareness to realize it felt like a rhythmic pulsation and at times a wave like vibration. Now I am sharing this because this was my perspective. None of it was the truth it wa my experience. As my students and I discuss during classes their experience I see a wide variety of perspectives and views.

    Now as I discuss it with more conservative people (conservative meaning people that do not use complimentary therapies, meditate, practice yoga, etc.), I share the image of me connecting to reiki so I can be a mirror of their wellness that has innately a part of them throughout their life. As I place my hands on them a connection is made and this allows their body to recalibrate their body to the rhythms an harmony of wellness. They may feel chi shifting, their belly gurgling, they may fall asleep, or have an emotional rush. All is just a part of syncing back up as I sync my iPhone to my MacBook. So as this mirror or facilitator their body and mind are doing all the work. So reiki to me is undefinable but these are the harmonizing effects of the reiki. They are not the reiki.

    I do hope more people will be open to the benefits of reiki, however I would like to make sure this discussions grows and does not become another form of dogma like the previous paradigm of reiki.

    I would also like to discuss what takes place during an initiation, attunement, and empowerment because I think there is even more lax language in their description. As time continues I would love to see each patient being able to take a more proactive approach in their healing. This would require a more open dialogue about such initiations. The medical field may be even more taken aback by the descriptions that are curently used.

    Thanks for allowing me to join this conversation.

    Much peace and many smiles during this holiday season,


  84. I am enjoying the discussion. I am trained in both Healing Touch and Reiki (and a few other modalities). Healing Touch, developed by a nurse, describes their work as creating balance and promoting self healing. They never talk about universal life force energy, channeling, or bringing energy in. Always, they describe their work as balancing what is already there.

    Although Reiki is “my first love” (been practicing 20 years), I have always preferred the language used by Healing Touch because it is more neutral and less provocative. For a long time, I have believed that language may be the single biggest barrier we have in the adoption of Reiki.

    I manage a non-profit organization that uses both Reiki and Healing Touch in medical settings in Denver, Colorado. In our program we train our volunteers to speak about Reiki in terms of outcomes – what the experience is like, and generally avoiding the discussion about “what it is” if possible. However, when needed, we use terms like “balancing” and supporting the body’s natural ability to heal”.

  85. Sorry, Pamela, not to have responded earlier, but for some reason I didn’t receive a notification that you’d responded to my first post. In any event, now that I reread what you said and what I said, I don’t understand my question about the ocean either. Yikes!

    More to the point, I hope, would those in the medical field find “refreshing oneself by an ocean” to be any less esoteric than “channeling energy”? I think maybe I’m missing the point here.

  86. Pamela, love your original blog. It is beautiful in it’s lack of assumption. Some of the later comments are not as clear, but when we don’t know how something works (as you say originally) more and more words are bound to trip us up eventually. So thanks for the wonderful framing and the chance to discuss.

  87. I have used the word ‘recalibrated’ many times in the past year or so, and it’s interesting to me to hear it used here, too! I definitely see this as one of the healing effects of Reiki for myself and others. My own desire is to bring Reiki into “mainstream healthcare” — but when a particular locale is less receptive and less informed, the way it is presented really can make a difference. I live in a small-town area, slow to try something new to them. The process is s-l-o-w. Moving forward at my own pace for my own practice is OK, and I can flow along gently with that or pay more attention to expanding…but if the focus shifts to sharing with a wider, medical audience, this type of discussion can be really helpful. I have no experience with that like Pamela does, and so I definitely expand my capacity by participating here. Happily, no matter how we individually choose to promote/share Reiki, our combined intention for the highest good quite naturally creates growth. This is a beautiful thing! And…the acceleration rate is building, thanks to mindful, caring souls who live Reiki.

  88. If we are talking about how does Reiki energy work
    Our world/Universe is energy all around, & we feel
    other peoples energy/lack of energy. If you watch
    the ripples of a pond the rings spread out wider
    and wider as energy moves. The movement of the
    elements/earth/ocean are always in motion. Animals,
    people, transportation on the ground and in the air
    can be in motion.

    Reiki energy is part of the motion of the Universe.
    During a Reiki session we focus on our own energy.
    Once we put our feet back on solid ground and with
    each step we take we pick up the ripples of the earths
    energy with every breath we take.

  89. When I use the term practitioner, I mean anyone who has been initiated and practices, even if they only practice self-treatment. Pnce we’ve taken our First degree training, we are all Reiki practitioners. A Reiki professional is different than a Reiki practitioner. A Reiki professional has a paid, public practice.

  90. I was not a Reiki practitioner yet during my healing journey I did self Reiki everyday.
    After I healed I did become A Reiki practitioner/teacher. Many people who are not initiated/attuned to formal Reiki Systems are vibrant they just do not have a name for what they do naturally.

  91. We should publish this exchange and call it “Toward a More Plausible Reiki Model.”
    With Reiki, we are plugged in, in some way, with the Source. The circuit is complete. Though there are of course other ways to experience this….

  92. Great question, Phyllis. And again, I don’t use the word energy, or conceptualize Reiki in that way. Reiki is consciousness, which is primal, foundational, more subtle than the energy/matter equation. The system isn’t returning to its core–it never left. Rather, it’s reorganizing around it.

    An image I often use is of driving in an unknown area and moving out of our GPS connection. Someone along the way points us in the right direction, and at some point, our GPS picks up the signal again and we are able to find home on our own.

    Once we are initiated, we carry the potential of the Reiki connection in our hands. This potential activates spontaneously, not on demand (many practitioners experience the connection activating at times when they are not deliberately practicing). My experience is that this gift of the initiation is extraordinarily subtle and vibratory in nature.

  93. Pamela, what is it in your hands that helps the system to return to its core or harmonized energy? How do we explain that Reiki?

  94. People have different sensitivities about words. I use the word treatment quite comfortably, and refer to my daily practice as self-treatment. I don’t see “treatment” as limited to conventional medicine. Holistic therapies are also treatments.

    But whether one calls it a treatment or a session, and I use the words interchangeably, the operative part for our purposes is the Reiki connection. I for one do not use ULFE. When I’m giving a treatment, I use my hands, and that’s all I use. I use my hands to offer the Reiki connection, and my client’s system responds in the way it responds.

    Lisa, you are definitely on track regarding my perspective. I actually don’t speak of Reiki “energy” at all. I don’t think there is a separate “Reiki energy,” nor do I equate Reiki with qi or prana (which are two specific subtle energies that are distinct from one another).

    From my perspective, the Reiki connection reminds the recipient’s system of its own innate wellbeing and points it in the direction of its own deepest core. This happens most often through touch. Of course, at our deepest core, we are One, we are Reiki, we are united. When one’s system is reminded of that, it spontaneously begins to reorganize around that wellness, that sense of support, being an individual in the profound Oneness, and moves away from the splintered, disconnected vibrational patterns that have resulted from stress, life, etc.

    So, yes, as you said, the person’s system recalibrates itself from the disconnected rhythms that underlie disease states to its more natural rhythms. There is increasing recognition in medical science that disrhythmia–being out of our natural rhythms–is an underlying cause of disease. Disrhythmia lead to other problems, including chronic, widespread inflammation, which has already been scientifically linked to a wide range of disorders. You can think of this as the difference between hearing an orchestra with all the musicians doing their own thing, versus an orchestra with the musicians being led along the sheet music by the conductor. It’s all vibration, but the harmony, the consonance, the integration of the different players makes a huge difference. When the system is organized around its core, the self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms function in concert, self-healing is optimized, and the system gains resilience.

    From this perspective, Reiki is the unified field, that reality that is everywhere all the time, that is without limit, so there is no question of something coming in or out. And I’m not saying that those things don’t happen, I’m just proposing that stopping the model at “Reiki energy” is incomplete, that there is a bigger picture which is often missed.

    I once gave a Reiki treatment to a very astute and accomplished healer. At the end, he commented how much he enjoyed the experience, and mentioned that it was the first Reiki session he had received in which he didn’t feel that the Reiki practitioner was doing something to him.

  95. This is beautifu, chi_solas, thank you! Bringing clients back to taking their first breath of universal life force energy! Or taking a breath and feeling like it’s for the first time! I have been watching the Hudson River and the sea gulls on a pier in New York City recently (from indoors!) and feel the same thing – connecting with the source of energy that is always flowing.

  96. Lisa, I like to refer to giving a Reiki Session over”treatment” which is a medical term.
    I also like to take people back to the day they are born and they take the first gulp of Universal Life Force Energy and we delight in hearing the baby’s first sound of Life.
    That’s the same ULFE that we use during a Reiki session.

    We do not utilize our ULFE until we find ourselves in crisis and take deep breathes to control ourselves. Most of us do not pay much attention to this built in healing energy until we get involved in alternative energies. Reiki is simple/passive.

  97. Pamela,

    Thanks once again for a very thought provoking blog entry. You have certainly gotten the wheels turning in my mind (as well as the discussion that follows the entry). I find the way you think of “how Reiki works” very interesting and wish to further explore it.

    I find too, that very often, clients who are more scientifically minded tend to ask me “well how does Reiki work?” I agree with you that the best way to explain that is to just put them on the table and let them experience it. But for those who need the verbal explanation I always find it challenging to explain “how” it works without sounding New Agey (which is a turn off to many of my clients). I try to be very careful with my language when explaning Reiki, as a variety of people seek out Reiki and they all speak different “languages”.

    I’d like to tell you what I got out of your blog post and see if I’m on the right track here. From what you wrote, would an accurate summary of what you said be that to you, Reiki is not necessarily an energy coming from outside the person through you into the person, rather, the Reiki treatment just facilitates the body’s own natural ability to heal itself? So in essence, Reiki treatment allows for the person who is receiving the treatment–for their body to “recalibrate” itself according to its own natural balance and rhythm? Did I get that correct? It’s probably a simplistic way of describing what you said, but I want to make sure I understand so that I am on the correct thinking track here…

    If so, that is such an interesting way of seeing it and I like seeing it that way. It takes the emphasis off the ego of the practitioner, and reinforces that the person coming for treatment is coming to work WITH the practitioner to facilitate their own healing, which I really like. I get many clients who come to their first session and are worried that I am “putting energy in” to them. I try to explain to them that I am not putting in or pulling out any energy. But I too was taught that Reiki channels through the practitioner and then is pulled from the practitioner by the person receiving, allowing the Reiki to go to wherever it is needed. I like the different way in which you are explaning how it could work.

    If my assumption about what you are saying is correct, this also brings up an interesting question for me which I’d like to share and get your thoughts on–does Reiki enter the person’s body, or is it already in the person’s body, being reawakened by the practitioner’s hands? Or, if there is no Reiki entering, what sort of reaction do the hands on the body elicit that enables the person to aid in their own self healing? This is all very fascinating to me…your thoughts would be much appreciated.

    Thank you!

  98. And beautiful thoughts they are, Pamela.

    I don’t understand your question, just so you know why I’m not responding to it. But I completely agree with your perspective that Reiki is the cosmic soup–I’m just talking about a model here, one in which the point of reference is connecting with oneness and self-healing.

  99. I haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s comments yet, but my initial response to your post, Pamela, was the same as Phyllis’s in terms of the question of inner/outer. To me, Reiki is the “soup” that all living things are afloat in. To me, Reiki is Divine light, Divine grace. It is both outside of us and inside of us.

    Yes, our biofields (not a word I ordinarily use) readjust, but why? What is causing the shift? My sense is that it is the Divine entering us and assisting us in remembering who we are, remembering the state of health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) we are designed to be in.

    I have no idea how Reiki works, and say so with regularity. But I do believe that the inner and outer Divine are having a conversation when Reiki is being channeled. If you want to call it an ocean, that’s fine. But where did the ocean come from? It wasn’t there until you began sharing the Reiki with yourself, right? (I’m not sure I’m asking this question correctly.)

    Just my initial thoughts.

  100. I’m sorry, Phyllis, there is no print version of the medical talk. Perhaps you can listen on a friend’s computer.

    You might want to read some of the articles on health care in the Articles and Books page of my website, or look at the Medical Papers page.

  101. Thank you for joining the conversation, Satia, and for your thoughtful comment.

    There is a difference between communicating about Reiki and defining it. When presenting Reiki professionally, which I do often, I start with an experience, and follow with discussion.

    Actually, there is a tradition of debate in Eastern philosophy. Tibetan Buddhism makes much use of skillful debate to refine the intellect. We see a similar approach in Judaism. The refined intellect can be used as a tool for the individual to connect with inner truth. It is ultimately an individual process, but we can support and stimulate one another, should we choose to engage in this way.

    I am deliberately stimulating a respectful debate among interested Reiki practitioners with diverse perspectives.

    It’s not about what’s correct or what’s wrong, it’s about deepening and identifying our assumptions, which are obstacles to the inner experience of truth.

    For those of us who communicate about Reiki in public venues–or who want to–it’s very important to identify our assumptions, because our audience certainly will, and then we’ve discredited ourselves. This is particularly true when speaking to physicians, who are highly trained in critical thinking, so important in the practice of medicine.

    Considering a perspective that is different from mine sharpens my intellect and opens my heart. The process develops both my understanding and my communication skills, which I then bring into my work before the public to help Reiki become a possibility in more lives. Anyone who values this process and is respectful of others is very welcome to participate and, as I wrote in the initial post, to chew on this together.

    Debate–the process of developing understanding through hearing and considering different viewpoints, and expressing our own well reasoned perspective–can be especially useful in the Reiki community, where there are often no distinctions drawn among experience, assumption, and fact.

  102. Thanks, Pamela. Want to make sure I understand. Couldn’t listen to recorded talk on my computer. Is there a link to a print version?

  103. I have to say that my experience with Reiki before I was attuned or even received a Reiki treatment was an energy flow.

    I think the “division” you are trying to avoid by writing this article is actually creating a division. If you do not experience Reiki as an energy that flows, if you prefer to define your Reiki experience differently, then that is one way of experiencing and defining it. Does that mean your way is the right way? If so, then any other way would be wrong. Of course, I don’t think that is what you are implying nor suggesting.

    Ultimately, there are some poor rhetorical choices made in the initial post that are stirring an unnecessary debate. We all agree that Reiki works and there are some that say Reiki doesn’t work let alone exist. Again, unnecessary debate.

    There is a story where a monk came to the Buddha and said, “Are you a god?” The Buddha thought a moment and said, “No.” A few moments later another monk approaches the Buddha and said, “Are you a god?” The Buddha thought a moment and said, “Yes.” His disciple, who had seen both monks ask and receive answers, waited until he was alone with the Buddha and said, “Master, when the first monk asked if you were a god, you said no. But when the second monk asked if you are a god, you said yes. Which is true?”

    Depending on the version of the story you hear (and all of the stories are true, right?) the Buddha either says nothing or he says “both are true” or (and this is my favorite version) the Buddha looks at his disciple and, in response to the question “Which is true?”, the Buddha says “yes.”


    Western philosophy and rhetoric is deeply rooted in debate, in argument, in right/wrong, black/white, either/or. If A = B and B = C then A = C.

    This is not how Eastern philosophy works. Zen koans are a perfect example of how contradictory statements are used as a meditation tool. The Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) is full of intentionally obtuse metaphor that doesn’t always agree with itself. The same is true of the I Ching (Yi Jing).

    Is Reiki energy? Yes
    Is Reiki energy? No
    Is my experience valid? Yes
    Is my experience invalid? Yes
    Is my experience more valid than yours? No

    Frankly, I’d rather meditate and give Reiki to myself or someone else than try to define it. It is rather like defining the Tao for, as the sacred text says, “the tao that can be defined is not the tao.”


  104. I don’t say that Reiki helps rebalance someone’s bioenergetic field.

    You might want to listen to the Integrative Health Care Symposium talk I gave. There’s a link at the upper left of the homepage.

    There’s no reason to rush it, Phyllis. Give yourself time to chew on this, to digest it. As you engage with it, you’ll refine your understanding and find your words.

  105. I want to make sure I understand, Pamela — when you explain to someone in conventional settings that Reiki helps to rebalance their bioenenergetic field, how do you explain how one person’s hands can do that for another? That seems to invite further questions, which lead us back to the ineffable and nonlinear. I’m doing a client’s first Reiki session soon, and would like to be more clear about what you’re suggesting.

  106. Rest assured, Sherri, I’m not proposing that we lose anything. I’m just offering another perspective for people who want to explore either because the usual explanation seems a bit woo-woo to them, or simply because they want to keep growing in their understanding.

    Reiki practice is effective regardless how the practitioner conceptualizes it, but the way the practitioner presents it, the model and language that are used, often make the difference between someone becoming interested in the possibilities or deciding the practitioner–and the practice–are not credible.

    It’s important to me that Reiki practice be available to relieve the suffering of people beyond the New Age community, both the general public and patients and staff in conventional health care settings such as hospitals. Whether I am speaking to an individual or I am speaking to an audience of 100 or more, the words either stimulate my listeners’ interest in Reiki, or close their minds. I cannot imagine that I would have been so successful representing Reiki in medical settings if I spoke about Reiki in the way it is commonly represented.

    And I cannot help but wonder what role the usual model for Reiki has played in the American bishops’ judgment that Reiki is not aligned with Catholicism.

    Reiki is Reiki and is truly greater than any model or words we use. I think we all agree on that.

    That said, it’s also true that our words matter.

  107. Pamela, my point is simply that when someone says “Reiki energy” they may very well mean the energy that has become common to them through Reiki. I tend to have some very common sensations and feelings that occur with Reiki – other practices often give some different sensations even though they all may be a manifestation of ULFE. As in my comment, the ocean seems to energize me. I might say that I am going to soak up the ocean energy – even though the ocean itself isn’t energy – just a manifestation of an energy at work. Yet the comment of “ocean energy” is not lost on most, and most with any basic sense of or feel for energy completely understand. Saying something like “soaking up ocean energy” doesn’t necessarily imply that it is a separate energy from everything else, just that it is has an energetic feel or that it arousing such.

    Some people are very technical in their approach to things like Reiki. Others get it more from feeling and intuition and less about technical approach. Both approaches have their benefits. Since there are amazing healing results from both kinds of approaches, I think it would be unfortunate to lose either. Practicing things like Reiki with good intentions is a great thing, and it is so good to see so many doing it.

    I think that idea that “we don’t know” is appropriate. No one really knows. And the good thing is that we don’t have to know in order to get benefits or perhaps even discover more than has previously been experienced. It is a great universe just waiting for open minds to discover more!

  108. Reiki is a system that uses ULFE. many healing alternatives use ULFE. I know that through the Reiki system people relax during a session. When folks are relaxed
    the body begins to heal. Rest/relax is a term that the medical profession has come to realize helps folks before/during /after an invasive procedure. Many hospitals are embracing the values of the Reiki System as it helps the patient heal faster and less medicine is needed.

  109. Sherri–I’m not so sure that there is an energy brought forth. That seems to be an assumption, and one that is understandable, based on the experience.

    But if we can have the same experience through other practices, why assume that there is a separate Reiki “energy?” Isn’t it possible that the sensations people feel are not a stream of energy entering from outside but rather the movement as the energies of one’s own biofield are reorganizing? Then it would be not a matter of bringing in another energy but rather changing the relationship of the energies that are already there, for example from being congested to flowing.

      1. Erin, nothing is “making” the biofield reorganize itself. That is an important distinction between practice and energy medicine.

        Energy medicine involves active interventions; the therapist does something to make something happen in the client, just as a conventional doctor or nurse does something to cause a specific change. The difference, or course, is in the type of intervention used.

        Reiki is a practice, not an intervention, and the reorganization occurs spontaneously from within the person, as part of the self-healing response. This is similar to the way the body responds when placed in various yoga asanas — and I mean simple ones that can be done in bed, not advanced postures. When the body’s position is adjusted even a little, we see changes in the breath and a response in the digestive system, which indicate that the body’s self-healing mechanisms have kicked in.

  110. People have been accessing primordial consciousness, the unified field, Source, Oneness, Reiki state, whatever one wants to call it, throughout time.

    However the practice that has come to be called Reiki dates back to Usui. It’s helpful to differentiate between these two uses of the term “Reiki” so that people don’t get confused.

  111. I think Reiki helps us access that ULFE – just as many other methods do, or in the same way that sitting by the ocean or walking through a forest might do. Very often, when I do Reiki, I feel the actual stream of that energy flowing through me -sometimes like a gentle stream, other times more like a locamotive, but with a definite flow to it! However, I do not ONLY achieve this by doing the protocol Reiki process or even by using Reiki symbols, so there are many ways to open ourselves up to this energy and this challenge.

    I think when people refer to the Reiki energy, it is sometimes more of a label for the energy that is brought forth through this practice….just like one might refer to the energy of the ocean, or the tides…the energy is the energy…the ocean or tides may just contain the energy or be a vessel for it, but it would still pretty accurately convey the idea of the feeling of energy that comes through the ocean. In that case, for example, it would not really be necessary in general conversation to say something technical like, “the universal life force energy that comes through the practice of sitting by the ocean”…. and would be informally understood and acceptable to say one is soaking up the “ocean energy”.

    And to your original comments of “we don’t know” is a great way to explain the sometimes unexplainable. We do not have to know all of the answers to feel the wonderful effects. It is even sometimes better when we let go of the need to define and just feel and allow.

    Great thoughts from all!

  112. Pamela when you mention the acupunturist needle stimulating energy. I see my fingertips/hands doing the same.We are born with “Reiki” Energy known as ULFE
    A Reiki session awakens the natural energy that has been dormant. I believe it’s dormant because we give our power over to the medical profession. I know we do need DR’s and nurses when we find ourselves in a car accident and other critical situations. When we go to the DR with a cold they send us home to drink lots of fluids and rest that’s natural healing also common sense. When we cut our finger/nick ourselves shaving it heals naturally. Most times we ignore the natural healing that takes place. We do not use our breath to our advantage. I healed from uterine cancer without an operation, chemo, radiation. My friend and I did made a short documentary it does not cover everything we are amatuers but I did
    write up a brochure that offers more info to give out when we have shown the documentary. I can give more detail if folks are interested. I do have a natural healing web site. If you want to see the 14 minute documentary you can type in….
    “vimeo Monika Fimpel Bridget’s healing journey.”.. After my healing I went on to become a Reiki Master Teacher. I have helped folks through chemo, using Reiki
    I also had a young woman who healed her Uterine cancer in 6 months without
    having an operation,chemo,radiation. I believe that Reiki brings us down into such a relaxed state that healing can happen. Reiki is one of many tools that helps us heal. Like any tool we need to use it the right way. Hopping onto a massage table to receive a Reiki session is only the beginning. It is the recipient who needs to move their own blocked energies. I as a Reiki practitioner facilitate the session, its the client who knows the depths of their own needs and have to be ready to acknowledge the work they need to do. Reiki is simple even science are still trying to find an explaination. I’m glad I used Reiki without waiting for science or others to give me permission after they, find a good explanation as to why it works

    When parts of my past surfaced like the memory of my mother cupping her hands around my head at about 7 years old to heal my headache cause we could not afford medicine. That was Reiki but we did not know that. It was a mothers love doing instinctively what mothers do put their hand on where the child hurts a knee a belly ache and so on. We have been using Reiki for centuries without a name just because it feels good and it works.

  113. I agree, Pamela… we are part of the ocean of that energy, rather than it being separate from us and entering us… by “cleansing” I meant that I have inner obstacles like feelings self-doubt and uworthiness, or just plain weariness, and when I can release or let go of these (as Reiki helps us to do), I feel my natural oneness, one with that energy which is beyond any words to describe….

    I like your idea of “entraining” with the ocean – waves’ rhythm lend themselves to that image… and entraining sounds like what we do with a (healthy) mother ….

  114. Great point, Phyllis. No, we do not have to choose; this is simply a model, a perspective from which to conceptualize and communicate. In the ultimate reality, there is no distinction between outer and inner, and even the most inclusive and refined concepts are lacking.

    What I’m really challenging is the concept of Reiki being an energy, which is inherently dualistic, rather than consciousness, which is nondual. When we speak of Reiki as an energy that enters us in any way, an essential separation is implied. When we think of Reiki as a consciousness that has become us, that is the very foundation of our being, but which we simply forget about or lose sight of, there is no separation.

    It’s interesting that the image of sitting by the ocean leads you to an image of being cleansed. I hadn’t thought of that. My feeling is more along the lines of entraining to the rhythms of the ocean. And then of course there are also those negative ions, so as you said, there is an inner and outer shift happening simultaneously. My concern is that focusing on the outer alone is incomplete and sounds magical. I think of this inner Reikiness, as one of my students calls it, as being accessed within, but actually all-encompassing, non-dual.

  115. Also wanted to say… I like the comparison to being cleansed by the ocean… could be seen as letting go of our inner obstacles to feeling that oneness…

  116. Thanks, Pamela. Another thought: I’m wondering if we have to chose between “outer” oriented explanations (Reiki comes in and goes where it’s needed) or “inner” ones (our own biofield becomes reorganized). There is a wonderful energy that seems to enter, but we and that universal energy are one, and connecting with this realization is where the healing lies… for me.

  117. I think you hit the nail right on the head, Diana! Well said.

    Leslie, I agree that this model doesn’t capture everything about Reiki. I simply offered it as a conceptual model for anyone who might be interested to explore their practice from another perspective.

    I am aware of the research you refer to but disagree about its impact on the public or on health care professionals. That’s why I didn’t mention it in my book. Regardless its merit, that body of research has not yet been widely recognized. You might be interested in reading The Science of Biofields post.

    I’m curious what conclusions you see me jumping to.

  118. Excellent post! Reiki, and the explanation of Reiki, is simple and profound. I sometimes think that in an effort to “validate” Reiki to the general public, as well as sometimes ourselves, we make both the explanation and practice of Reiki much more difficult than necessary.

  119. I hear what you’re saying, Pamela, but before you jump to conclusions, please consider reading all the research (coming out in books) that has now been done about energy work, energy and biomagnetics, and Reiki in particular. From a physics perspective, it’s pretty eye-opening. Not that your “sea” analogy is wrong, but I’m feeling it is only a part of the picture. Gianluca, people believe in science now, so if you print out a few of the key research articles and offer clients a list of books on the physics of all this, they will likely be much more accepting.

  120. This is great! My objective is to grow with a mainstream audience, often adverse to the new age speech, which at times make me (and them) feel confused and lost in the midst of cold currents… but your explanation it’s like being hit by a warm ray of sunshine. Thank you, I love it and will certainly use it … and quote the source 🙂

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