What is Reiki healing?

Reiki healing is a form of complementary therapy that works on the basis of channelling ‘universal life energy’ through the practitioner’s hands to the client. Reiki has been around for centuries and is often referred to as energy healing, having emerged in Japan in the late 1800s but Dr Mikao Usui, who sought a way of healing that was unattached to a specific religion or belief.

Woman in Reiki session

Taking a holistic approach to healing, Reiki is based on the belief that the flow of energy is present in all living things. It is thought that when this flow of energy becomes disturbed or blocked, you’re more likely to experience stress, poor health and even disease. With Reiki, your practitioner works to bring the body into balance, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

How does energy healing work?

Reiki is a popular form of holistic healing due to its non-invasive practice and relaxing nature. In fact, Reiki is part of a growing movement that recognises holistic treatment as of equal importance to that of traditional medicine and now more than 60 hospitals across Europe and the US offer Reiki treatment to their patients.

It’s important to note that Reiki should not be considered as an alternative to medical treatment, but can work in harmony with ongoing treatment, under the supervision of your doctor and practitioner.

The practice sees practitioners place gentle hands-on specific areas of the body in a sequence, often starting with the head and working down towards the toes. A Reiki practitioner is honouring your space for healings so they will direct energy into specific areas that need help most – having discussed this beforehand – whilst incorporating the body as a whole. Reiki can also be done without touch, placing the hands inches above the body.

It is thought that bio-magnetic energy flows from a practitioner’s hands, and when transferred through a pulse to the client – the practitioner is thought of as a mirror to the universal life energy – can stimulate flow in tissues and cells which taps into your body’s natural healing reserves. 

Energy healing for emotional well-being 

Commonly used as part of a treatment plan for stress, overwhelm, exhaustion and pain, advocates of the practice often describe Reiki as calming and grounding, feeling warmth, light and security in a session.  

Sophie Masi, a Reiki practitioner, often treats people with physical pain, but bereavement or mental health conditions like anxiety may also benefit from Reiki treatment. “Reiki is an excellent emotional healer too. I had a few people who could not accept the loss of their loved one; they got back on their feet after one session. 

“The first factor that Reiki helps with is to release stress and anxiety. After a session, most people report a sense of immense wellness and serenity. They feel more positive with a sense of calmness. They also seemed to cope better with normal life situations.”

Reiki on feet

Reiki and the chakra system

The chakra system represents the seven chakras or energy centres found throughout the body. Often described as spinning wheels of energy, the chakras’ positions each correspond with an endocrine gland, ducts that secrete hormones into the bloodstream and thus regulate hormonal balance. 

Focusing on the seven chakras whilst performing the holistic modality of Reiki is known to improve physical health that is not a result of an injury. Each chakra works on the premise that the other chakras are functioning to their full capacity, engaged and aligned, so chakra and Reiki work should always incorporate the seven chakras.

What is Reiki attunement?

All these wonderful benefits of Reiki wouldn’t be possible without ‘Reiki attunement’. This process lies with your practitioner when they were a student and learning the practice of Reiki with their Reiki Master. 

Reiki attunement is a journey that all training practitioners undertake to align themselves and connect to the universal life energy.

The process is extremely powerful and allows a Reiki Master to open a student’s energetic pathways to allow Reiki energy to flow into them, enabling them to channel this energy into others, hence the name of energy healing.

When receiving Reiki, your practitioner will practise attunement, moving their hands over the body following the lines of the five sacred Reiki symbols. Reiki symbols were actually designed as a teaching tool, they don’t hold special powers themselves but allow practitioners to connect with frequencies that boost Reiki energy. It is the intention of the practitioner which gives energy to the symbols to support your physical and emotional well-being.

The five traditional Reiki symbols are:

  1. Power 

The power symbol (cho ku rei) can be used to energetically cleanse a person, often acting as a light switch to draw on the energy of the universe, generally translating to ‘Place the power of the universe here.’ It’s particularly effective to open or close a session.

  1. Harmony 

The harmony symbol’s (sei hei ki) intention is purification and to support emotional well-being. It is commonly used for clients with depression or recovering from past trauma as it is known to restore spiritual equilibrium.

  1. Distance 

Another intention for emotional support, the distance symbol (hon sha ze sho nen) is used to help heal clients dealing with childhood issues or trauma. The intention can also bring people together across time and space.

  1. Master

The master symbol, (dai ko myo) has one intention, to draw together all that is Reiki for enlightenment. It combines the harmony, power and distance symbol in its intention.

  1. Completion 

To complete a Reiki treatment, the completion symbol (raku) is often practised. Its intention is grounding, settling the body and sealing the awakened energy within.


If you’ve been feeling stuck, stressed, procrastinating and fatigued with headaches, it might be worth exploring Reiki as a form of complementary therapy, alongside visiting your GP. It is thought that when your energy is balanced and flowing unperturbed, you can tap into unknown reserves of power within. 

Find out more about Reiki or use the advanced search tool to find a Reiki practitioner who’s right for you.

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Written by Katie Hoare

Katie is a writer for Therapy Directory.

Written by Katie Hoare

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