What Is Reiki & Should We Believe In It?

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What is reiki?

When I first heard about it maybe 20 years ago, it was from my sister—a nurse practitioner who saw reiki being used in the hospital where she worked.

She reported to my very skeptical younger self that she had seen miraculous things happen.

It would take a long journey of self healing before I had an inkling of what she meant.

Officially, “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It’s administered by laying on hands and can be easily learned by anyone.”

In reality, reiki is so much more.

Here I sit once again, in this lovely old home on the North Shore, ready for my long anticipated level-two reiki training.

Outside, the sound of dogs occasionally barking and the joyous shrieks of children playing on the neighboring playground. It is an unapologetically bright summer day, the kind of day that makes going indoors seems criminal, unless you have something very important to do—and I most certainly do.

We, my two fellow students, my teacher and I, gaze at each other eagerly. We know good things are about to happen.

First, a meditation.

To allow reiki (also known as as healing energy) to flow through the body more energetically, we ground ourselves by imagining a cord extending from the base of our spine to the center of the earth. We breathe the power of the earth up through that cord and into our bodies, through the spine, the belly, the heart and the head. Hovering above us, we envision a radiant sun which beams down a pyramid of golden light, and encapsulates us entirely.

We are suspended between these two great forces, plugged in all all sides, and the sense of connection is absolute.

After who-knows-how-long, we reluctantly leave our meditation to discuss the practical pieces of level two.

These include sacred symbols which we are to master and use as a way to channel reiki more powerfully, and other techniques intended to give us greater access to the always flowing positive energy that wraps in vibrational rivers around everything that has existed, does exist or will exist.

We learn how to send reiki to the past, to the future and across physical distances.

We learn how to clear rooms and objects of negative energy and how to bless things in our day to day lives.

Reiki can be called upon almost indiscriminately we discover, put to use in any situation imaginable.

As we sit there, talking, learning and applying reiki in myriad ways to ourselves, to the room, to each other and to distant friends, I am suffused by a sense of belonging. Not belonging in the way of belonging to an exclusive club, (which reiki practitioners can ironically appear to be), but of belonging to the universe.

All the techniques we use to flow reiki are really just ways for us to break down walls and remember what we already know—all things are one.

Understanding this is to understand the same principle taught to yogis, the only difference is that in yoga, we call it “om.”

We are all part of a dynamic system of energy and if we  allow ourselves to be swept up in it, seemingly magical things can happen.

Things like helping a barren woman become pregnant, or a veteran find relief from debilitating migraines, or an insomniac sleep consistently through the night. (All events that I know first hand to have transpired.)

Many people hem and haw at the idea of reiki—how is it possible to simply lay our hands on someone and help them heal? Or stranger still, to not even touch them, or perhaps never meet them and still be the agent of powerful healing?

Nonetheless, like love (which would be another apt word to describe this phenomenon), reiki is real.

Sometimes, when we realize our human minds are simply not equipped to comprehend the totality or vastness of an idea, we must simply sit back and accept that it is true.

There can be danger in faith, indeed, and people across the centuries have been manipulated to bad ends as they remain stuck in their own ignorance, but that can not be the case with reiki.

Reiki is not political, reiki is not a club, reiki does not conflict with anything or demand any particular set of behaviors or beliefs.

True reiki practitioners are concerned solely with helping to bring about the greatest good.

No, they don’t pretend to know what that is—there is no ego in real reiki. They set aside all personal expectations and simply act as an agent for positivity, hoping to bring light into the darkness and love where there is fear.

When I hugged my teacher after our last level two session ended, I thought how lucky I was to have peeked into the machinery upon which the illusions of our lives have been built. The machinery is beautiful and elegant and always working  away efficiently.

We, as spirits, are much more than we generally perceive we are, part of a thrumming, ever expanding whole, whose destiny is yet unknown, but whose vibration continually rises and whose fabric is woven in love.

The gift reiki offers is the ability to connect those dots—if even for the space of a few breaths—and to be healed by the knowledge that we are love, and that we are loved.



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About Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on Facebook and Twitter. And visit her website.


18 Responses to “What Is Reiki & Should We Believe In It?”

  1. Yea.... No. says:

    What is Reiki? Woo
    Should we believe in it? No

    • Erica says:

      Did I hit a nerve? Do you believe in love? I know it's indefensible…but so many beautiful things are.

      • Curo says:

        Reiki does NOT use God's power. If you are "called to share reiki," it is not Jesus calling you to do it; it is a very different, dark calling you are listening to. If you want to discuss this more (and I hope you do), please let me know if I may contact you via the email you provided.

  2. marc says:

    Yes….nicely written article about reiki pure and simple.

  3. danielschar says:

    This is inspiring, Erica. Clearly you love Reiki very much.

    I've heard that becoming a Reiki Master (level 3) can be very expensive. Is this something you're going to do?

    • Erica says:

      I do love reiki! And I do plan to become a reiki master. I don't know what exact cost is, but it is reasonable. My level 1&2 trainings were $175 approx, so I expect level 3 (which is twice as long) will be a little over $300. It's well worth the investment, and I would (obviously) highly recommend 🙂 xoxox

    • Erica says:

      Thank you Daniel..I do love it! It's not all that expensive and I am absolutely planning on doing it!!!

  4. Davy says:

    Nice piece.

    To those who disbelieve, that’s cool, but why are you so keen to tell everyone your point of view? You need to empower yourself by dis empowering others? Sad way to live. I believe in Love, the most powerful force. Are you gonna tell me because it can ‘t be weighed, bagged or bought in bulk that it doesn’t exist? You’d be wasting your time if you did.

    Namaste 🙂

  5. Andrea says:

    Yes! All so very true. As a reiki master teacher I can say that I have experienced so many amazing things in my own life since practicing reiki! My life has changed and improved in so many ways! And I have been able to channel this energy to assist others in healing on many levels. It's an amazing gift that ANYONE can learn and use to benefit their life and the lives of others!

  6. Reiki is a way either heal yourself or it can be a way to channel positive energy from one person to another to promote healing. I believe we can benefit from Reiki. But I think we have to be open to the concept for it to give us optimal benefits. And I think it's worth looking for an experienced practitioner that has a good reputation too.

  7. vbroshan says:

    Reiki is the art of channeling unique divinely guided life force energy through the healer and passing the energy on to the person who is being healed. As the energy is being channeled the reiki healer is also healed and energized during the healing session. The healing energy possesses innate intelligence. reiki is a divinely guided energy, it knows how and what to heal. http://www.reiki.ooo

  8. pamelamiles says:

    While I applaud Elephant Journal for bringing attention to Reiki practice, I wish it were clearer that this article represents one of many approaches to Reiki.

    Although the writer says, "Officially…," there is nothing official in Reiki practice. There are no standards for training — and I'm not saying there should be — but that leaves the public at a disadvantage. Unaware of the lack of standards, the public doesn't know how to identify credible practitioners or a class that is a good fit for them.

    I have worked in conventional medicine as a lay Reiki master since the 1990s, creating hospital programs, publishing peer-reviewed medical papers, collaborating on research, and teaching at academic medical centers, including Harvard, Yale, and the NIH. As with other spiritual practices such as meditation and yoga, no belief is required to practice self Reiki or receive Reiki treatment from someone else and experience Reiki practice's balancing effects.

    A shift into parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) dominance is a documented physiologic response to Reiki practice. That shift is valuable because the body digests and self-heals when the PNS is dominant. And that's why people feel better quickly, even when other help is needed, including medical treatment. http://reikiinmedicine.org/

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