How Does Reiki Help People?

Reiki is a type of energy work that originated in Japan. It’s a simple method of light touch that is based on the Asian concept of ki or life energy. A session feels like a glowing radiance that flows through and around you. The experience is very soothing and results in the client entering a wonderful state of relaxation in which one’s worries and cares seem to melt away.

In a session the client lies fully clothed on a massage table while the practitioner gently places his or her hands in positions around the head and shoulders, the abdomen and the legs and feet. The hands can also be positioned an inch or so away from the body. The method is easy to learn and is taught in a weekend class. Once trained, a person can give Reiki to others or to oneself.

Its popularity is increasing and a recent survey indicates that over a million people in the U.S. have received Reiki sessions.(1) Its value is recognized by over 800 hospitals that offer it as a standard part of patient care.(2) And rigorously designed scientific pilot studies have demonstrated its therapeutic effects.(3)

The concept of ki or life energy has been recognized around the world since ancient times and goes by many names: in China it’s called chi, in Japan, ki, in India, Prana and science calls it biofield energy. This is an unseen energy that flows through all living things and directly affects the quality of health and one’s sense of well-being. When your life energy is low, you’ll feel weak and be more susceptible to stress and illness, will lack confidence and not think as clearly as you usually do. When your life energy is strong, you’ll feel strong, be sure of yourself, be more creative and resourceful, have clarity of purpose and feel good about yourself and about life.

The main thing that reduces life energy is stress, and yet our lives can contain stressful experiences. As an example, there is often stress at work or at home with one’s spouse or children. There can be stress about money and about illness or unexpected events or plans that simply don’t work out. And in fact, stress is a normal part of life. And because of this, people who live happy, healthy and abundant lives aren’t people who don’t have stress in their lives; they are people who have learned to deal with stress in a healthy way. Reiki is a method of dealing effectively with stress, and its use can lead to living a happier, healthier, more abundant life.

By reducing stress, Reiki will improve your health, making it less likely that you’ll get sick. It can also promote the healing process and works well for simple things like headaches, stomachaches, sprained ankles, bee stings and so forth, but can also work alongside regular medical care for more serious illnesses or conditions such as heart disease, cancer and serious injury. Reiki has been known to reduce the negative effects of medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, thus making it easier to follow through with prescribed medical treatment.

The following is a list of conditions and situations that Reiki has been known to help. However, keep in mind that for serious conditions or injuries, it’s important to seek medical care in addition to using Reiki.


The relaxing effect of Reiki can be used on yourself or on your spouse or children to help them get to sleep. Simply place your hands anywhere on the person’s body such as the head, shoulders, legs or feet and allow Reiki to flow. Soon the person will drift off into a very pleasant sleep and often sleep soundly all night. To treat yourself for insomnia, simply hug yourself by placing your hands on your shoulders.


Hold the person’s head with one hand over the forehead and one on the back of the head, or place your hands on both sides of the head. Do the same for yourself.


Place your hands on the abdominal area or one hand on the abdomen and one on the back opposite the abdomen. Also, simply placing your hands on the person’s shoulders will help too. Often a stomachache will be caused by something other than what’s going on in the stomach. Focus on your inner awareness and ask to be shown the best place to treat. Trust what you become aware of even if it doesn’t make sense and place your hand(s) there. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. Do the same for yourself.

Aches and pains

Place your hands on or near the area in distress. Reiki will relax sore muscles and provide a wonderfully soothing feeling that will bring comfort and reduce or release the pain. Do the same for yourself.

Sprained Ankle or Wrist

This works best the sooner the sprain gets treated; immediate treatment is best. Simply place your hands gently over the sprain. This is the main area to treat, but sometimes you’ll be guided to treat the joints close to the sprain such as the knee and hip or the elbow and shoulder. It is amazing how quickly a sprain can be healed with Reiki. A second session may be needed later.

Sports Injuries

Any type of sports injury can be helped with Reiki. Simply place your hands on or close to the injured area. I was once playing a game of volleyball and injured my wrist. Knowing Reiki, I stepped to the side of the court and gave my wrist Reiki as the other team members took over my position. However after only a few volleys my wrist had healed enough to continue playing and I was back in the game!

Not Feeling Good

Life can sometimes be difficult and from time to time either you or your spouse or children don’t feel good. This can be from emotional upset, overwork, lack of sleep or other stressful situations. Sometimes the person will not know why he or she doesn’t feel good. At times like these, Reiki can often be exactly what is needed. Offer to give the person Reiki and do so in a comforting way. It will be good for both of you. If you’re the one in need, take some time to give yourself Reiki or ask a friend who has Reiki for help. Reiki will care for you, helping you to relax and let go of what’s bothering you. You’ll feel lighter, move into a place of greater freedom and you’ll feel better.


It’s always important to “put our best foot forward,” to be in touch with who you are and to feel that you are capable of “getting the job done.” But sometimes the challenges life presents to us can bring up feelings that get in the way of being in touch with our inner strength—feelings like fear, worry, anger, regret, shame, ambivalence, anxiety and so forth. Reiki is a healthy way of dealing with these feelings that helps them heal. The relaxation of Reiki will work on any unhealthy emotions you might have and allow them to release and be replaced with their healthy counterpart such as trust, self-acceptance, forgiveness, self-esteem, kindness, peace, joy, love, clarity of purpose and confidence. Just place one hand on the solar plexus and one on the heart or back of the neck, or simply allow yourself to be guided to the places that feel right.


This comes with emotional and mental flexibility and a sense of feeling relaxed and safe. In fact children at play are in a wonderful state of creativity. And Reiki can help you move into this state of mind in which you connect with your feelings and have the curiosity and initiative to try new things—to combine balance, proportion and flair in a way that expresses that deeper part of yourself that means so much to you. Giving yourself Reiki before you start a project and giving yourself more Reiki from time to time during the project will keep your mind fresh and your purpose clearly defined.

Serious Illness or Injury

Along with the problems directly related to serious conditions, stress about the effects of the condition can add to the difficulty of dealing with the situation. In addition stress can restrict blood vessels and capillaries thus decreasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body and interfering with the transport of toxins away from areas of illness or injury and out of the body. The relaxation provided by Reiki will allow the stress and anxiety associated with the illness or injury to be released, thus increasing one’s sense of well-being and allowing one to deal with the situation in a more effective way. Also, hospital nurses report that Reiki improves appetite, improves sleep, improves wound healing, decreases nausea and reduces pain.(4) Reiki has also been known to decrease the negative side effects of many medical procedures such as chemotherapy, radiation and drugs.

End of Life

Reiki has proven to be an effective part of the palliative care given to hospice patients. This can be a stressful time, often involving fear, regret, anger and pain, not only for the patient, but for family members as well. Reiki can help release negative feelings and replace them with peace and acceptance, thus helping to make the loved one’s transition into the next life a more positive experience filled with love, compassion and dignity. And giving Reiki to the family is as important as giving it to the patient.

Being able to offer Reiki is a wonderful skill since as we have seen, Reiki makes life’s difficulties easier to deal with and can also increase the effectiveness of our talents and abilities. The above list is a sample of the many ways Reiki can be used to help yourself and others. One of the wonderful things about Reiki is it provides a way to help people regardless of the situation. There is something very healthy about doing this as it is a way to fulfill an important human need—the need to connect with others in a kind and caring way. May you always be blessed by love, joy and peace.

by William Lee Rand

1 P. M. Barnes, B. Bloom, and R. Nahin, “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use Among Adults and Children: United States, 2007,” CDC National Health Statistics Report #12, (December 2008).
2 L. Gill, “More hospitals offer alternative therapies for mind, body, spirit,” USA Today, September 15, 2008, (Online)
3 The Center for Reiki Research, Touchstone Project, Research Conclusion.