The Beginner's Guide to Reiki
Updated: Feb 3, 2019
If you are not familiar with Reiki, it can be easy to feel so overwhelmed by ambiguity and mystery that you take a pass instead of diving right in. It shouldn’t come as a surprise - while Reiki as it is currently practiced is only 100 years old, the art of channeling divine light for the purpose of healing the mind, body, and soul is several thousand years old. This doesn’t exactly “jive” with our current experience of allopathic, modern medical care.
But if you are feeling the pull - that quiet but persistent nudge to explore energy therapy - then perhaps you owe it to yourself to part the clouds and shed some light on this ancient Eastern practice. Reiki is a gift that should be shared, and one that everybody should experience at least once.
So - let us begin!
Reiki 411: Before a Session
Reiki is a Japanese word that is composed of Rei (spiritual wisdom, universal consciousness) and Ki (life force energy, similarly known as Chi or Qi). Put together, we can understand Reiki as universal life force energy. Many understand it as divinely-guided energy that connects and guides all life, and is in all living things. It is derived from the source of all existence – whether you believe that to be God, Universe, Creator, etc. When channeled into the body through the touch/hands of a Reiki practitioner, it can bring about balance and orderliness on all levels – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Since the rediscovery of this energy by Dr. Mikao Usui in the 1920’s, who formed the practice of Reiki after a 21-day spiritual fast on Mt. Kurama (Japan), Reiki has been taught in a lineage fashion often revered in Eastern culture – master to pupil. Practitioners are “attuned” to a direct connection with Reiki through certification classes taught by such a master (sometimes referred to as Sensei). Once attuned, this connection is consistent and life-long. Before an attunement, most people experience this connection in brief spurts and at random, inconsistent times.
Reiki benefits any person (child, man, and woman) and any living creature, including but not limited to companion animals (any species, breed, or temperament). Reiki’s benefits are cumulative and become more powerful and transformative the more you receive it. As with any preventive health measure or healing remedy, consistent and/or periodic treatment is encouraged for best possible effects and outcomes. True, lasting healing takes time but is equal to the effort and care that we put into it.
Expectations: A Reiki Session
What exactly does a Reiki session look like? At Sacred Touch LLC, you can expect the following at most every one of the sessions I conduct:
1. Welcome/Consultation - This is our first greeting and an opportunity to get to know one another, and to become comfortable and acquainted with the overall aspects of Reiki (if you are brand new). I will also review some client forms I will have had you fill out ahead of time, most of which cover your health history and any current physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual issues you may be experiencing.
2. Get Comfortable - Depending on your physical needs, most of my clients will lay down (fully clothed) on a treatment table which is very much like a chiropractic or massage table. You will have the option to be covered with a nice warm blanket. If you have physical limitations (pregnancy, injury, arthritis, etc.) you will be guided to a lying position adjusted to suit your needs or be seated on a padded chair.
3. Receive Reiki - As the client, your main job is to relax and receive Reiki energy. As the practitioner I will channel this energy for you, and because it is a spiritually-guided life force energy, it will go exactly where it is most needed in the quantity most needed. Though touch is not necessary, I generally place my hands lightly along the seven major chakras (energy centers) as well as the minor chakras in the knees and feet. There is no massage or muscular/skeletal manipulation of the body, or special positions that you need to be in (as per yoga). This is a non-invasive and painless approach to wellness and relaxation. My job is not to heal you, it is to bring this beautiful (concentrated) energy into your body so that you can heal yourself.
4. Parting/Summary - I typically allot 15 minutes following a session to hold a conversation about what you as the client felt, and what I as the practitioner felt (including my professional interpretation of the energy patterns in your body). This also allows you the chance to fully wake up, as many clients tend to fall asleep on the table due to the deep state of relaxation they are able to achieve.
Kundalini, Nadis, & Chakras, oh my!
It is helpful to understand why a Reiki practitioner works with specific areas of the body once you have a better understanding of the chakras. Firstly, chakra is a Sanskrit word for “wheel”, and chakras are essentially spinning wheels (or more appropriately, vortexes) of light. Their main purpose is to filter the energy of the world from the universe or heavens into the body, via the endocrine system and nervous system (plexuses). Our bodies first have an energetic blueprint – through the chakras, this gets translated into tangible, corporeal form. Therefore, whenever we have an imbalance in the chakras and our overall biofield (aura/energy body), so too will this show up in corresponding physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual imbalances (think in terms of disorders, emotional patterns, chronic or acute pain, mental blocks, etc.). Each chakra governs a specific part of the body and relates to various and specialized functions. There are 7 main chakras (some say 12, some say 5 or 8, and depending on the origin of tradition these are valid as well) throughout our central spinal column, and 22 minor chakras throughout our body.
While the idea and translation of the chakras is present in many ancient civilizations - especially Indian, Tibetan, Egyptian, and most of Asia - one of the most fascinating I find is that of the chakras as present in book of Revelation. Here, St. John of Patmos speaks about the seven seals of the scroll only being able to be broken by the Lamb - in other words, the seven seals of humanity (scroll) representing the seven chakras (seals) which are only opened (broken) and fully alive through Christ Consciousness (the Lamb). Reiki is, of course, energy from the Divine Creator and so this isn't a stretch to believe. The Prophet Ezekiel further describes wheels of light appearing in his angelic visitations which are not all that different from how we understand chakras to appear.
But why do we have major chakras in the specific places that they appear? What makes the throat so important, or the pelvis? They were not, in fact, randomly formed, and one helpful way to understand the purpose for their layout is to learn about the flow of overall energy in the body. While this deserves greater depth of explanation, to make it manageable and easy-to-digest I have pared the following information down to its meat and bones. The picture below helps illustrate this concept wonderfully.
So, energy from the outside the body enters in two main ways: Cosmic/Divine energy through the crown of the head, and Sacred Earth energy through our feet. These two energies will meet and intermingle within the body at different points and create different results. However, we are also born with our own life force energy, commonly referred to as Chi/Ki or Prana (or even Soul). One variation of this personal life force energy is Kundalini, which when stirred has powerful “awakening” side-effects that helps to usher one into a more unified state of consciousness.
(Backstory: Kundalini is an Indian [Hindi] term for the energy which lays dormant at the base of our spine and is present from birth, often depicted as a coiled serpent. Once awakened through yoga, meditation, energy work, and/or deep spiritual work, this energy can be stimulated and rise through the spine toward the top of the head, enriching the major chakras throughout its journey upward and elevating our being with enlightenment, wisdom, and rising beyond the chains of human suffering and experience.)
According to Tantric texts, these various forms of energy are all transmitted through the body via 72,000 nadis (channels), but it is most vital through these three distinct channels: the Ida Nadi (left, female channel), the Pingala Nadi (right, male channel), and the Sushumna Nadi (central, neutral channel). These channels intersect at several points throughout our spine and head, and can you guess where? You got it: the major chakras. Their junction creates the vortex from which a chakra is born. To help bring this into perspective, I’m going to assume you are familiar with the serpent & staff symbol of first responders and medical professionals. This perfectly illustrates the idea of the Hindi Nadis and how they relate to the major chakras. Side-by-side illustrations below help bring this to light (photo credit: http://themodernvedic.com/life/nadis-network-body/).
This is quite the lead-up to learning about the chakras, but I feel that to get a full sense of their importance it helps to understand energy flow as a whole. And now that we’ve had a snapshot of the whole, let’s take a look at the parts. Again, for the sake of simplicity, below is the briefest summary of each chakra. They deserve further explanation but you also deserve not to be overwhelmed by new information.
1st Chakra (Red) – Root/Base, Muladhara
Located near the coccyx (tailbone) and perineum, this chakra governs the legs, feet, and bones. Its central focus is on survival, with the sacred right to exist and have enough. Root chakra goals center on stability, grounding, physical health, prosperity (especially in career), and trust. Excessive energy in the first chakra expresses itself as materialistic/hoarding, workaholic, aggressive, greedy, addiction, and fearful. Deficient energy expresses itself as anxiety, depression, spaciness, financially unstable, chronically unhealthy, and low vitality.
2nd Chakra (Orange) – Sacral, Svadhishthana
Located in the sacral plexus, this chakra governs the sacrum, lower abdomen, hips, and reproductive organs. Its central focus is on sexuality, emotions, and gratification, with the sacred right to feel and to want. Sacral chakra goals center on healthy relationships, pleasure, sexuality/reproductive function, and desires of fulfillment. Excessive energy in the second chakra expresses itself as overly emotional, addicted to pleasure/indulgence, obsessive, controlling, and manipulative. Deficient energy expresses itself as isolated/withdrawn, fear of intimacy, apathetic, insecurity, lack of passion/desire, and creatively blocked.
3rd Chakra (Yellow) – Solar Plexus, Manipura
Located in the solar plexus (near the celiac ganglia), this chakra governs the upper abdomen above the navel and digestive system. Its central focus is on personal power, confidence, and willpower, with the sacred right to act. Solar Plexus chakra goals center on vitality, strength of will and purpose, and self-esteem. Excessive energy in the third chakra expresses itself as power hungry, perfectionism, domineering, inability to accept responsibility, competitive, and the need to be right. Deficient energy expresses itself as low self-esteem, oversensitivity to criticism, inferiority complex, poor follow-through, undisciplined, and regularly putting your needs last.
4th Chakra (Green/Pink) – Heart, Anahata
Located in the cardiac plexus, this chakra governs the chest, lungs, thymus, arms, and hands. Its central focus is on love and relationships, with the sacred right to love and be loved. While the heart chakra is dominantly green in color, the High Heart chakra (pink) can be thought of as chakra “4.5” and is located right at the thymus, assisting in selfless, spiritual love and is directly connected to Divine love. Heart chakra goals center on balance, compassion, self-acceptance, and healthy relationships. Excessive energy in the fourth chakra expresses itself as codependency, over-mothering, martyr tendencies, people pleasing, conditional love, clingy, and uses money/sex to control others. Deficient energy expresses itself as antisocial/withdrawn, critical, intolerant, lacking empathy, narcissistic, unforgiving, terrified of rejection, depression, afraid of letting go, and feeling unworthy of love.
5th Chakra (Light Blue) – Throat, Vishuddha
Located in the throat at the pharyngeal plexus, this chakra governs the throat, neck, mouth, ears, hands, and thyroid. Its central focus is on self-expression and creative identity, with the sacred right to speak and be heard. Throat chakra goals center on clear communication, creativity, and honesty. Excessive energy in the fifth chakra expresses itself as talking over others, opinionated/critical, poor listener, gossiping, deceitful, disrespectful, and a dominant voice. Deficient energy expresses itself as fear of speaking up (especially for your needs), unable to express feelings, afraid to be your authentic self, denial of creative expression, secretive, frequently misunderstood, and excessive shyness.
6th Chakra (Indigo Blue) – Brow/Third Eye, Ajna
Located in the forehead, this chakra governs the eyes, nose, ears, and pituitary gland. Its central focus is on intuition and imagination, with the sacred right to see and think clearly. Brow chakra goals center on psychic perception, accurate interpretation, imagination, and vision. Excessive energy in the sixth chakra expresses itself as trouble concentrating, mental fog/confusion, headaches/migraines, excessive fantasizing, obsessions, nightmares, and afraid of psychic gifts/perception. Deficient energy expresses itself as unimaginative, insensitive, poor memory and vision, inflexible thinking, can’t see the big picture or beyond the physical realm, self-doubt, indecisiveness, and cannot remain objective.
7th Chakra (Violet) – Crown, Sahasrara
Located at the top of the head, this chakra governs the brain, crown of the head, and pineal gland. Its central focus is on awareness and self-knowledge, with the sacred right to understand and connect. Crown chakra goals center on wisdom, knowledge, consciousness, and spiritual connection. Excessive energy in the seventh chakra expresses itself as intellectually intimidating, addiction to religion, judgmental, prejudiced, detachment form spirit, disassociated from the body, ungrounded, and “living in your head”. Deficient energy expresses itself as trouble learning, limited spiritual beliefs, apathetic, closed-minded, depression, brain fog, and anger at the Divine.
And there we have it, folks! The Reader’s Digest version of Reiki, its inner workings, and the many benefits it brings to the body on all levels. I fully encourage you to ask me any and all questions you have about this beautiful healing practice – how it can help you, uplift you, empower you, and be exactly the right thing for you.