What is Reiki and Is Your Hospital Seeing Health Benefits Too?
Throughout the years, I’ve been on a constant never-ending search for myself, the meaning of life, ways to improve my mental health, and everything in between. I had come across reiki a few times (pronounced ray-kee). Years ago, I tried it through a random Groupon. Most people I knew were like, “WTF?!”. They had no clue what I was talking about. Now, I feel like reiki is gaining some traction and becoming more mainstream. However, a lot of people here in the United States still haven’t heard of it, so hopefully this post helps those interested in learning more about it. Or maybe before you try a reiki treatment, you just want an honest account from someone of what it’s actually like.
What is reiki?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Reiki is an energy healing technique that promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety through gentle touch. Reiki practitioners use their hands to deliver energy to your body, improving the flow and balance of your energy to support healing”. Reiki isn’t some new age thing just created for a marketing gimmick. Mikao Usui is known for inventing reiki in early 1900s Japan. But history has shown the practice of healing energy fields dates back even further than early 20th century. The term reiki comes from the Japanese words rei, which means “universal”, and ki, which describes the life force energy that flows through all living things.
The use of reiki at hospitals
Reiki is being used to promote healing in virtually all major hospitals across the United States and the U.K. Many hospice and palliative care providers offer it as well. I even checked my local area and found that reiki treatments are available here too. It’s a complementary treatment to their more standard forms of care, falling under the category of alternative medicine. It is important to note that not all insurance companies cover reiki therapy. Luckily, you will find that it is offered for free by volunteers in many instances. And more nurses are going through reiki training, making it part of the medical care they give to patients.
Is reiki covered by health insurance?
Yes and no. Yes, reiki is being covered by health insurance companies. It can be covered just like massage therapy, palliative care, and physical therapy is. Medicare even covers it like those other treatments. But, insurance companies and Medicare tend to only cover it if it is part of an overall treatment plan. Of course, the reiki service would have to be prescribed and done by a physician, nurse, or other licensed care professional for it to count as well. So, you can’t just go to your local hip reiki spa anytime you want and expect it to be covered.
Benefits of reiki
Experts and supporters of reiki say there are many benefits to both our physical body and mental health. It can promote tissue and bone healing after injuries or surgeries. It can also stimulate your body’s immune system, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce stress. There have also been many studies showing reiki can help reduce pain and anxiety for those with herniated disks all the way to cancer patients. Therefore, we are starting to see hospitals take a more integrative health approach. The scientific evidence is there, but the studies are small, and more research needs to be done. To experience it for myself, I made an appointment with a reiki master. That is someone that has been attuned to the highest level of reiki and enables them to teach as well.
What to expect
A typical reiki session takes approximately 60 minutes. First, you’ll lay on a massage table (fully clothed, don’t worry). Then, the reiki practitioner will gently place their hands palm down on you in different energy locations like your head, arms, legs, and feet. There are up to 15 different hand positions used. There is no sort of pressure or massage therapy at all, only a very light touch. They may even just hold their hands slightly above your body without ever touching you. Next, this particular reiki master smudged around me, the room, and herself to remove any negative energy (she did ask for permission first for those that hate smells of any kind). It had a very pleasant smell. So, she continued to burn the incense during the remainder of the treatment. Lastly, she quietly said a reiki mantra and then began the actual treatment.
What does it feel like?
Even though I kept my eyes closed and she hadn’t touched me yet, I knew she had started. I knew because I could feel heat radiating from her hands above my head. In my mind, I was even thinking about how her hands must be really hot if I could feel them above me. She then lightly touched my cheeks. To my surprise, the practitioner’s hands were actually quite cool, almost cold. It was crazy because I expected them to be super hot.
“For instance, there have been many studies showing reiki can help reduce pain and anxiety for those with herniated disks all the way to cancer.”
During, I could feel her lightly place her hands on my arms and legs. Yet, I also felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I kept having to swallow and breathe obviously, but at the same time I felt very far away and almost not in my body. It’s hard to explain. But, my reiki session was very calming; and I used it as a time to meditate. I didn’t fall asleep; but I have heard of people doing that. I’ve also heard that some people feel tingling or pulsing sensations throughout their body. Most likely, you’ll feel nothing at all…except stress reduction!
What else can you use reiki for?
After she was done, she discussed the reiki technique used to clear all my chakras and any energy blocks I may have had (which is exactly what I was looking for!). She felt she was supposed to focus on my third eye and heart chakras. I about died right then and there my dudes! During the session, I was meditating and asking for my third eye to be strengthened. I realize it probably sounds like I’m making this stuff up. And I should mention that during me first reiki session years ago, I didn’t have the same experiences. I do remember feeling a positive energy and enjoying it though.
An act of self-care
Reiki is worth trying if it is something you are interested in. It’s not earth shattering or totally life changing. And you may feel absolutely nothing at all when you go. That is completely normal too. It should be viewed as more of a relaxing act of self-care or you may view it more as a spiritual practice. Reiki can offer a gentle dose of mental, physical, or emotional healing. It isn’t a replacement for any current medical treatments you may currently be on for a specific illness or disease. However, it could be a great complementary therapy when used in conjunction with more typical western medicine treatments. As always though, you could ask your healthcare provider about adding reiki to any current regimen.