Reiki — 7 Things to Know Before You Go [FAQ]

As a Reiki Master Practitioner, I’ve received quite a few questions about Reiki—what it really means, if it’s a religion, what a Reiki Session involves, what the side effects might be afterward (hint: they’re all positive), and overall, how Reiki can therapeutically support you on your Life’s Journey. Whether you’re interested in receiving a Reiki treatment, or already receive Reiki sessions, you’re sure to learn something new amongst these seven core questions and answers about Reiki.

1. What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese word that translates to ‘Universal Energy.’ Universal energy is what naturally flows around us and within is. Universal energy allows the wind to blow and the grass to grow.

Reiki is a complementary therapy—used in conjunction with professional medical treatment—to help heal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual imbalances, which can be at the root of dis-ease. (Dis-ease is the opposite of being at-ease within ourselves). Reiki practitioners do not prescribe medicine or perform medical treatments. Reiki practitioners simply are the vessel in which positive, loving Universal Energy is channeled for the recipient’s highest and best good.

Hospitals offer Reiki Sessions as a form of holistic therapy for patients because it works so well in conjunction with traditional medicine. A Hartford Hospital Research Study on Reiki indicated that Reiki Sessions improved patient sleep by 86%, reduced pain by 78%, reduced nausea by 80%, and reduced anxiety during pregnancy by 94%.

The Reiki methodology was originally founded by Dr. Mikao Usui (1865-1926), in 1920’s Japan, as a system to balance one’s energy. Dr. Usui discovered by focusing on the energy of the Seven Chakras, Reiki worked to restore balance, positivity, and radiant light to one’s energy field. Dr. Usui’s knowledge was passed on to thousands of people, and a few dozen of them became Reiki Master Teachers. One of these Reiki Master Teachers was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a former naval officer, who then passed his knowledge on to Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who eventually brought Reiki to the United States. Since that time, Reiki has expanded into almost every corner of the globe.

Today, it’s very easy to find a Reiki Practitioner who provides Reiki Sessions, as well as teaches the Reiki Methodology, so you can become attuned to practice Reiki on themselves and others.

2. Is Reiki a Religion?

While Reiki is a spiritual practice (i.e., relating to the human spirit; built on love and compassion), it is not a religion. Members of many religious groups, including many Christians, Muslims, Hindus,Buddhists, and Jews, teach, practice, and are recipients to Reiki and find it compatible with their religious beliefs.

Because Reiki is not a religious practice, a recipient doesn’t need to believe in the effectiveness of Reiki for it to work. Reiki works just as equally for non-believers as it does for believers. If you’re open to experiencing a Reiki session, then you’ll receive the positive benefits you’re meant to receive.

You are in control of your healing process. Reiki Practitioners simply hold space for you while you awaken to your natural inner healing abilities.

You are in control of your healing process. Reiki Practitioners simply hold space for you while you awaken to your natural inner healing abilities.

“In simple terms, Reiki is energy, and the body recognizes this energy and uses it for its therapeutic effects,” said Manna Lu-Wong, R.N., Reiki Master Teacher, and Licensed Acupuncturist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

3. How Will Reiki Help Me?

Reiki works really well to heal any imbalance mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Reiki does this by helping to balance the energy centers in the body. These energy centers are also known as the seven chakras. Chakra is an ancient Sanskrit term meaning “wheel.” Healthy chakras are thought to provide a balanced amount of energy to your mind, body, heart, and spirit. When a chakra is out of balance—either emitting too much, or too little energy—one can experience health issues.

Whether it’s a physical ailment, like a sprained ankle, or aching joints—or mental and emotional disturbances, such as anxiety, worry, heartbreak, tension, or depression, Reiki will work as it should to heal the root of that ailment. Reiki treats the underlying energy imbalance, which in turn, helps heal the related symptoms, so you can prosper and thrive inwards and outwards.

Reiki has a beneficial effect on all forms of illness and conditions of dis-ease. This can involve minor ailments like a headache, nausea, a cold, the flu, tension, or anxiety, as well as serious illnesses like heart disease, cancer, leukemia, and more.

Reiki can also help reduce the negative side effects of medical treatments, such as the adverse effects of chemotherapy, post-operative pain, etc. Reiki works alongside modern medicine to improve the healing rate, which can even reduce the duration of a hospital stay.

Reiki works in conjunction with regular medical or psychological treatment and is not a replacement for professional medical care. If a person has a medical or psychological condition, it is recommended that they see a licensed health care professional in addition to receiving Reiki treatments.

Reiki also clears mental and emotional blockages. If you suffer from family quarrels, job difficulties, or any other kind of problems, Reiki can bring balance to them. Reiki can help tie-up unfinished business, solve personal life problems, and bring joyful harmony back to your life.

Because Reiki clears physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blockages, receiving Reiki treatments can also enhance your spiritual growth process. With Reiki, you can rid yourself of harmful habits, improve the quality of your life, deal with any blockages from a balanced perspective, find your true passions in life, and enjoy life more fully and wholly.

If you are interested in becoming a Reiki Practitioner, Reiki provides a therapeutic treatment to support yourself and others. You can channel Reiki to people, animals, plants—and even past, present, or future events.

4. What Should I Do Before a Reiki Session?

Here are some recommendations to follow prior to your Reiki Session:

  • Use the Restroom — Use the bathroom before your session so you can lie down comfortably throughout the full duration of your Reiki Session.
  • Specify Music or Silence — Generally, your Reiki Session will have relaxing music prepared, but if you prefer a specific type of calming music, let your practitioner know. You can also request a treatment in silence.
  • Discuss Questions and Concerns — If you feel comfortable sharing what might be troubling you, the Reiki Practitioner can then hold intention for healing the root cause of the specific concern during your Reiki Session.
  • Express Your Touch Preferences — Your Reiki Practitioner will ask if you are okay with light touch. If you have any nervousness about the light touch, you can request no touch, or ask your Reiki practitioner to show you the hand placements before starting so you can be clear on what to expect.
  • Share your Individual Needs — If you have trouble breathing, and lying flat for you is uncomfortable, let your Practitioner know. A Reiki Session can be performed with you sitting upright in a chair, or on your side too (which is more comfortable for pregnant women). Let your Reiki Practitioner know of any sore or tender spots that shouldn’t be touched. The Reiki Practitioner can float their hands above instead.

5. What Will I Experience During a Reiki Session?

At the beginning of your Reiki Session, the Reiki Practitioner will explain the process, ask if you are comfortable with light touch, and if you have any specific needs. After the initial intake process, you may discuss anything that is troubling you, so the Reiki Practitioner can focus on balancing the issue at hand during your Reiki Session.

When you are ready, you will lie flat on your back, fully clothed, on a massage table (there is no massage involved), or in whichever position you are most comfortable in to receive your Reiki Session.

Your job is just to lay back and relax while your Reiki Session takes place. You might even fall asleep! And that’s perfectly okay. Feel free to daydream, let your mind wander, enjoy the music, or simply observe your breath, and the sensations of the Reiki Session.

During a Reiki Session, the Practitioner will use light, non-invasive touch or no touch at all. The Practitioner will hold their hands lightly on or above the recipient’s body in different positions from the head, all the way down to your feet. Each hand position can be held from three to ten minutes, depending on how much Reiki energy the client needs at each position.

The whole Reiki Session can last anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.

Throughout your treatment, you may feel warm, a tingling sensation, or have a general overall sense of peace and relaxation. You might even have old memories come to the surface which were held in your body and are now ready to be released and recycled back into the Earth.

As your Reiki Session progresses, you will feel more and more relaxed. If you ever become uncomfortable, you can adjust your position at any time. Be sure to ask for anything that will add to your comfort, such as additional support under your knees or a blanket (usually these will be offered right away). Your Reiki Session is your special time to relax and heal, and your Reiki Practitioner is there to help you throughout the treatment process.

Personal experiences during a Reiki treatment can vary. However, feelings of deep relaxation are usually felt by all recipients. As the Universal Energy encourages you to let go of all tension, anxiety, fear, or any other negative feelings, a state of peace and well-being is usually experienced. You may drift off to sleep. At the end of the treatment, you’ll feel refreshed, grounded, and have a more positive, balanced outlook on your life.

6. Are There Side Effects After a Reiki Session?

After your Reiki Session, there is no diagnosis. Diagnoses are not part of the Reiki methodology. Usually, Reiki Practitioners will suggest drinking plenty of water, taking care to listen and follow your body’s needs, and sticking to your current prescribed medication and professional medical care plans.

The most common experience after a Reiki Session is an almost immediate release of stress, followed by a feeling of deep relaxation. Besides the direct experience of the Reiki Session, you may notice changes that unfold during the day, such as better sleep, digestion, feeling more centered, and generally feeling peaceful and calm in your environment.

7. How Many Sessions Should I Receive?

Reiki is like an “energy shower” for your body, mind, heart, and spirit. Each day, we collect energy from our environment, conversations, and personal experiences. Over time, if what is not needed is stored in the body—rather than released—the energy system of your body, mind, heart, and spirit can become out of balance and can cause ailments. Reiki works to bring things back into alignment with your highest and greatest good and healing.

Start your journey with your first Reiki Session. Afterward, you can assess how you feel, and work with your Reiki Practitioner to set up a schedule that works for you. Weekly, or even monthly treatments, is a good start.

You know your mind and body best, and you are the best spokesperson for your needs. Your Reiki Practitioner is there to listen to your needs.

Here some other elements to consider when evaluating the frequency of Reiki Sessions that is right for you:

  • Feeling “Off” Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, or Spiritually — If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or are chronically or acutely ill, you may want to receive several Reiki Session as often as possible. These can be either daily or a few times per week. Weekly sessions can also have a significantly positive impact on your health.
  • The Duration of the Issue at Hand — Acute issues (i.e., present for a shorter duration but can be more severe) may potentially heal faster than chronic ailments (i.e., present for a longer period of time). Reiki Sessions work as a “rewind” button on your health issues—the longer you’ve had the ailment, the longer it may take to heal.
  • Your Open Mindedness Towards the Benefits of Reiki — It’s not necessary for you to believe in Reiki, but the more you are willing to be open to the energy, it could make a positive difference in your life. Some people may not be ready to heal or are attached to their current state of being, such as covering up deeper emotional pain. Being more willing and open to feeling better can intensify the effects of the Reiki and speed up the healing process. You are in control of how much you are willing to receive from Reiki.
  • What are your experiences with Reiki? Do you have any additional questions about Reiki that I didn’t cover here? I would love to hear your stories and help answer any questions. Feel free to post your thoughts below.

Thank you for reading. I wish you the best on your uniquely special healing journey.

With Joy & Gratitude,

Kelly Eley Reiki Logo with Flower

We Need Mental Health Transparency Now

6/8/2018: I am updating this post to add some words after the saddening high profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. May they rest in So Much Love and Peace.

Below are the powerful, honest, and incredibly healing words from my favorite poet, Andrea Gibson, shared from their Instagram post today, on the subject of mental health and wanting a world where we don’t feel shame in sharing our struggles:

Stay here with me, Precious Life.

You are So Needed.

You are So Loved.

You are So Cherished.

You are the Ultimate Gift.

To all the people who’ve told me to keep quiet about my mental health challenges—I say to you—I will not keep quiet. Life is too Precious to hide or to feel Unnecessary shame.

The World is crying out for Love, and Connection through the honest sharing of our challenges, traumas, and inner struggles.

We need to offer our compassion, support, acknowledgment, and hold safe, nurturing spaces to release and heal.

And again, here is my Mental Health Transparency:

I have been coping with symptoms of social anxiety and agoraphobia since 2008, just after graduating from high school. I am empathic, and highly sensitive to the energy moving through me and around me. I feel things deeply. I have happy days and sad days. I honor those energetic, emotional fluctuations of being a human on this planet.

It is okay to not feel okay. And it’s okay to talk about not feeling okay.

We need mental health transparency.

We need to share, and listen to each others’ stories. We need to connect and support each other. We need to collectively heal, learn from one another, and understand we’re not the only ones going through challenges and times of darkness.

I will continue to shine my Light out of Love for others. I will continue to speak truthfully and authentically from my Self. And I will continue to hold healing space on this blog for my Self, and all of you Beautiful Souls.

You are a Precious Life. You are So Loved, Cherished, and Valued.

If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts and feeling helpless, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, below:

NSPL Phone: 1-800-273-8255

NSPL Online Chat:


Below is Jessie J’s music video for “Who You Are.” I remember watching the video for the first time and was so moved, especially when she sings:

It’s okay not to be okay
Sometimes it’s hard
to follow your heart
tears don’t mean your losing
everybody’s bruising
just be true to who you are

– Jessie J, Who You Are

You can watch Jessie J sing “Who You Are” while on a subway platform, and watch the touching reactions of passerbys, here (warning: healthy tears may flow):

Sending So Much Love and Blessings to You.


Original Post:

I often wonder why there seems to be a taboo on speaking openly and honestly about mental health. Is it because others do not want to appear “weak” or “less than”? Has society taught us to suppress core parts of ourselves that are anything other than what it deems “normal” to function in a fast-paced, corporate, commercialist culture? Is it healthy to give up parts of ourselves so others can feel more comfortable? Do we deny others the chance to get to know all sides of ourselves because we are afraid of what they might think, say, or do? Is this all based on an illusion that we are all distantly separate from one another in this life?

To me, this taboo on speaking genuinely about our mental health journeys denies the true magnificence of humanity.

How we live is what makes us real

Each of us holds a palette of beautiful, unique colors that make up our mind, body, and soul painting. Our unique canvas brings an abundance of positive qualities to our environments—new perspectives, observations, ideas, and changes.

If we deny or hide parts of ourselves, we may also inhibit our growth potential. Years later, our shadow-selves may eventually come up, no longer hiding in the light of the moon. This integration process, if allowed, helps us become more whole, happy, and healthy human beings.

Sometimes though, it can feel lonely if we are around others who are not very like-minded or supportive of our mental health and healing journey. When you connect with people who are of like-mind, it can feel safer and more comfortable to authentically express our core being and can make all the difference in remembering we are all connected, in one way or another.

These are the simple secrets to true, authentic living:

  • Know Thyself
  • Love Thyself
  • Express Thyself

When we know ourselves deeply, and express ourselves outwardly, we lovingly create our splendid reality! (Did that all surprisingly rhyme?)

The truth is, life is too short and spectacular to hide in the corner. It is too temporary and special for us to be concerned over what other people could be thinking about us. We are only responsible to ourselves—our mind, body, and spirit—to reflect our Inner Painting outward, and share collectively in the glory of an honest and full life, together.

And this year, I promise to do my part and not hide any part of my Self in the corner or be overly concerned with others’ assumed judgments at the expense of expressing my true being-ness.

I will Think, Speak, and Act with Integrity to My Self
I will think, speak, and act with Integrity to my Self.

The world needs our integrity more than ever now. It is time to show up for ourselves and shine our unique, honest, and brilliant lights outward. By doing so, we simply inspire others to do the same.

And here’s my transparency: I have been coping with symptoms of social anxiety and agoraphobia since 2008, just after graduating from high school. And I accept and love all parts of myself, including the challenges which help me to appreciate life even more.

Have a Soul-Full day,

Kelly Eley Reiki Logo with Flower

I Met Fear, and It Rewired My Brain

Have you met Fear and it changed the way your brain processed life?

I sure did.

Fresh out of the chains of high school, I was thrilled to start an exhilarating, unknown college experience hundreds of miles away in Philadelphia, PA. I was a rebel and wasn’t afraid of anything. When I turned 18, I bought my first pack of cigarettes and smoked them until I enjoyed it. I was ready to try anything and everything and welcomed the world and its inhabitants with an open heart and mind. I was living the “dream”–at least the dream that I wanted when I was 18 years old–adventuring around the city at all hours of the day and night, cutting class, talking and sharing with all walks of life, and drinking 40’s with the homeless.

Then, one bright and sunny day, I heard that a person got stabbed outside my apartment building–The day I met fear. Immediately after hearing this, a switch turned on in my brain, and I never thought or acted in the same way again. I was rewired. I couldn’t leave my apartment without someone accompanying me. I was desperate–because I felt it was a life or death matter–for someone to go with me everywhere. If I heard a noise that somewhat resembled a gunshot, I would lay face down on my floor until I felt it was safe to get up. I didn’t have curtains on my windows–which completely boggles my mind now–and one time someone had a laser pointer in a hotel high-rise across from my building, and I saw it go across my wall. I felt like I was in a fishbowl and being out in public felt like I was in a video game where someone, somewhere was after me–and it was my turn to “go” next. I was afraid to die.

After that day, I started noticing more people sharing their traumatic experiences and stories that happened to people they knew in the city (e.g., robbed at gunpoint, raped and killed, and other horrors). With each traumatic story, I dug myself a deeper grave of seclusion (Oh, the irony). I started losing my friends, and it felt like I wasn’t “cool” to them to hang anymore because of the challenges I was going through. I had no idea what was truly happening in my brain–I was lost, confused, vulnerable, and wanted to feel “safe” in hibernation for the rest of my life. After a few more weeks of ordering groceries online and hiding in trembling fear in my apartment, I moved back home to my dad’s. I felt like I was a failure and ruined my shot at a good life in the city. From that point on, I began understanding and coping with the symptoms of agoraphobia.

This experience isn’t the end of my story. Nor is it all dark and gloomy; it is quite beautiful and I wouldn’t change a thing. The most significant step I took towards healing was unconditionally accepting and loving myself—and my rewired brain. From that point on, I started to see stars in the darkness and wasn’t running around in fear of the dark–as much. As the years go by, I reach new mental goals with my post-traumatic condition. It isn’t easy, and it feels like I am back at the start sometimes, but I know I have come a long way in healing my body, mind, and spirit.

And this is what I will be writing about from here on out–healing, taking risks, going on challenging solo adventures–and learning to sit next to my mind and hold its hand, instead of shaming it into hiding.

Fear is just a scared little kid that needs a hug.

Kelly Eley Reiki Logo with Flower