What is reiki, anyway?

By Patty Hiller

Definitions of Reiki abound, but the simplest way of defining something so indefinable is to examine the word itself. It is a real Japanese word, and though there is no direct English translation, we can still make sense of it.

Ki is the word equivalent to chi in Chinese and prana in Sanskrit. It’s what we call the vital life force and it flows throughout your body along subtle highways called meridians. When you visit the acupuncturist, he will be using needles to release your meridian obstructions; a Reiki practitioner uses Reiki energy to accomplish the same thing.

Rei is harder to define. It is an all-encompassing energy. I feel it is the energy of whatever you believe created life and sustains it. So Reiki, then, would mean a combination of both energies: the fundamental energy, which brought everything into being, as well as the energy of our life force.

What is a reiki treatment like?

Reiki is a hands-on treatment where the client is lying down fully clothed. The practitioner invokes or channels the Rei energy and performs a series of lying on of hands in very specific positions. As the recipient absorbs the Rei, obstacles along the meridians dissolve, and balance and harmony are restored. Reiki is a holistic treatment, affecting the whole being, rather than just the illness or the injured body part. Thus it works on all levels of our existence: body, mind, emotions, spirit, etc. It is helpful in non-physical problems like depression or insomnia. It can be a great facilitator in releasing grief; it is wonderful for stress. Reiki can be used to treat yourself as well as others.

How will I feel afterwards?

The most often heard comment about a Reiki treatment is how relaxing it is. It is so relaxing that many people fall asleep, which is just fine. Afterwards, people generally fall into two categories: those who are so relaxed they want to go home and sleep, and those who are so energized they want clean the house or go out salsa dancing. Either way, what you experience is just the tip of the iceberg. The true healing takes place at a much deeper, more subtle level and continues working for days.

Who can learn Reiki?

With training, absolutely anyone can learn to do Reiki. The beginning level of training usually takes place over two days, after which, the student is fully prepared to treat themselves and others, as well as their pets.

Reiki and spirituality

While it is neither a religion nor a spiritual path, the practice of Reiki does put you in touch with something greater than yourself. Practitioners experience a natural and effortless meditative state during a treatment, and for those who have not experienced this before, it can be, and often is, the first step on their spiritual path. For others more advanced in these matters, Reiki brings an added depth and richness to their present spiritual or healing practice.

For classes or treatments, call 415-119-7522. Home treatments are also available.

Patty Hiller is the founder and former director of The Reiki Center in Santa Rosa,

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