≡ Menu

Is Reiki Really an Energy?

Article by Taryn Walker

It’s likely that you were taught that “Reiki is universal life-force energy” and that “Reiki moves through the practitioner to the receiver”. I once read that life-force energy enters through the crown of the practitioner and moves down to the heart and then along each arm and out the hands to the receiver.

When I first started practicing Reiki I took these explanations for granted. There hasn’t been much concrete scientific research into Reiki, but from an Eastern perspective on healing these descriptions made some sort of sense to me. Over years of daily practice, however, I started to question these theories and have enjoyed entertaining other possibilities of what is actually happening when we practice Reiki.

Instead of thinking of Reiki as an energy, I became more comfortable thinking of it simply as a practice that reconnects a person with their natural intelligence. I imagined that during a Reiki attunement a special piece of information is passed on from teacher to student. This piece of information may be a powerful reminder of the incredible inner wisdom we all have. It’s that same intelligence that heals our wounds without our effort, that tells seeds to grow into trees, that creates galaxies and all of life! It’s always there and it’s everywhere. When a practitioner places their hands on or near someone that person is given an opportunity to respond to this information.

Each person will respond uniquely depending on what is possible at the time. Most practitioners feel twitches, tingling, heat and other interesting sensations in their hands while practicing Reiki. Is this the feeling of life force energy moving through the hands? It feels to me more like the receiver’s etheric body or bio-energy rearranging in response to the reminder of our natural capacity for self healing. It’s like the practitioner establishes the connection to this information and then rebalancing begins to happen naturally.

Is Reiki Really An Energy?

I’ve found that many more people who’ve asked me about Reiki feel more comfortable with this explanation than the theory of some sort of energy moving through me. Some people told me they worried that the practitioner could be channeling something that wasn’t pure Reiki. Others just can’t believe that anyone can become such a channel in a matter of days. A reminder of the natural ability to heal is an easier description to accept and it also makes more sense to a lot of people.

Getting the ego out of the way is also much easier for the practitioner when you think of the receiver driving the experience instead of the practitioner trying to become an empty channel for life-force energy. When you imagine that the receiver is automatically responding to that reminder of their innate intelligence your job becomes to simply establish the connection and let the receiver respond as they will. This is also very empowering for a person who wants healing and offers them an important lesson in taking responsibility for their healing process.

I think the translation of Reiki as universal life-force energy refers to this very subtle universal intelligence that is found everywhere and is always available. I now teach my students different possible explanations and ask them to decide which feels more true in their hearts. Are you channeling life force energy through you to the receiver? Are you connecting the receiver to the subtle universal wisdom and holding space as they respond? The more I practice the more inclined I am towards the second explanation.

Our ability to self heal is always present and all we need is a little prompt or suggestion to activate the healing response. I think this is why distant Reiki works and why it doesn’t seem to matter how you practice Reiki. Traditional and new age styles all produce great results and I believe it’s because of the simplicity of this reminder of our incredible capacity to move towards balance and wholeness when given the chance to relax enough to reconnect to this wisdom.

Taryn Walker

Taryn Walker

Taryn Walker is a traveling Reiki Master Teacher who wishes to inspire people to realise that they are miraculous! She believes that Reiki can reveal our natural ability to heal ourselves and this empowers us to take responsibility for our lives. She works a lot with distant Reiki and loves the way it allows people to experience the illusion of separation. Taryn is grateful for being able to connect with her Reiki clients even while traveling. She usually lives on a little island in Thailand, where she practices and teaches Reiki, but finds ‘home’ wherever she is. Taryn enjoys yoga, nature, creating art, cooking and finding magic in “ordinary” places. Follow her here: http://reiki-alchemy.com/, http://www.facebook.com/alchemyhealing, and http://bit.ly/reikialchemyoutube.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Tracy August 16, 2015, 6:43 pm

    Lovely article and beautifully put….and I agree with everything you have written…..I believe both explanations are happening at the same time <3
    Thank You for sharing <3

    • Taryn September 2, 2015, 6:18 pm

      Thank you Tracy! Yes it’s both and it’s so difficult to talk about 😉 and the greatest part for me is the mystery of why it happens at all! Xx

  • Angie Webster August 16, 2015, 8:30 pm

    I also believe that both explanations are happening…and that it is wonderful! Life Force isn’t just something that is outside of us which comes into us and through us, it is part of us, within us always.

    • Taryn September 2, 2015, 6:20 pm

      Yes Angie! Totally! It’s one of those amazing and mysterious paradoxes of life isn’t it..and we’re so often looking for answers outside of us when they’re right there within us all the time. Thanks for commenting and your inspirational articles Xx

  • Naresh September 26, 2015, 4:41 am

    Dear Taryn,
    Thank you, for sharing your perspective about Reiki. I, personally, am inclined to believe the explanations which you have give. Everything in this Universe is energy, compressed in different ways to give different things. Reiki, by that definition is also energy.
    During, an attunement, the Master/Teacher implants a seed, a part of his own spiritual practice, and it is for the attunee to keep nurturing the seed and help it grow. It grows differently for each person, hence the different experiences we have both during an attunement and also during healing.
    The sensations/feelings we, the channel, get during a healing session is more the response from the recipient than one from the channel. Hence that explanation that “It feels to me more like the receiver’s etheric body or bio-energy rearranging in response to the reminder of our natural capacity for self healing.” This is the body’s self0healing mechanism being activated.

  • Urmila September 26, 2015, 4:42 am

    Holding space for balancing to take place is wonderfullly put……it brings us to ” we are one” from ” you & me” …..To singularity.????

  • Joel Brothers September 26, 2015, 5:01 am

    What you postulate may be true for other forms of Energy Healing, but it is not reiki. The one of the reasons we trace our lineage in a direct line back the Founder is to keep Usui and Karuna reiki pure.

    What you are describing is simply meditation, which is great, but it is not reiki. Meditation is internal, and reiki is external. Both work well, but if a client comes to you for reiki, then they should be receiving reiki, not a guided meditation.

    • Norman W Wilson, Phd May 21, 2016, 3:06 am

      How correct you are, Joel. Saying Reiki universal energy does bother me because it is redundant if my understanding of the Japanese word, Reiki is correct, that is, it means energy.

    • Mike Ferrell January 12, 2017, 6:03 am

      Thank you Joel, as a reiki Master and teacher, I agree, they are not practicing Reiki. It’s something else. I think it helps sell candles.

  • Helen Cowden September 26, 2015, 6:49 am

    Thank you Taryn – just exactly what I needed to read right now!

  • Paula September 26, 2015, 1:17 pm

    I like this explanation, but I have to say that I still prefer the old term more. In my experience of using the term ‘universal spiritual energy’ that doesn’t limit it to ‘life force’ energy, like switching on a light you suddenly transmit. Instead it’s an all inclusive term. The words we use define, limit or allow what we want to manifest.
    That older description includes universal intelligence and wisdom, also, and that is what we do channel, in the sense of putting our egos aside and becoming a hollow or pure vessel for healing or ‘reminder’ of that spiritual presence.
    Holistic practitioners know that it is always the innate wisdom of the body and soul that does the healing, and that reiki is just a trigger or bolster. But it is still an ‘energy’ or spirit, because everything is energy, and, as all shamans know, everything has it’s own spirit; is spirit, and therefore can be identified as distinct from something else, having an identity of its own amidst the One or All. So the distinction is arbitrary, except perhaps to explain to less intuitively-minded people that need a more analytical explanation they can better understand.

  • Dahniel September 26, 2015, 2:16 pm

    Hello Taryn. I appreciate you sharing your experience with Reiki. The beautiful thing about life is that our perception becomes what we will experience. So, there really is no right or wrong way to explain Reiki. It is simply relative to one’s experience with it that determines it’s meaning. Also, we tend to think of energy as being internal or external. I think if life is whole then life force energy is everywhere, through every living thing at the same time without division or separation.

  • Archana November 11, 2015, 9:50 am

    Lovely post Taryn , I feel these energies are so beautiful , so full of wisdom and intelligence!! You become humbled as you see these energies work in their own way in each individual!!
    ????????

  • manyanstarr January 7, 2016, 9:48 pm

    I have been asked many times to explain what ‘Reiki’ really is.

    I compare the system of Reiki to that of a burning Candle.
    When lit it has no Shadow.
    When lit it gives of Light
    When lit it gives of Warmth and Comfort.
    Sometimes when not handled with care it will burn.

    And it takes only a slight miscalculated breath that will blow it out.
    But somebody has to know how to light it so that it keeps burning

    So how does a candle compare to the System of Reiki.

    The system of Reiki has no shadow yet when shown, you know it is there.
    The energy that it gives out is light and love
    The healing power it gives out is Warmth and comfort
    But, when not handled at the introduction with care, the connection will fail.

    But somebody has to know how to light the system to keep it burning.

    The system of Reiki is a something that is not easy to explain as it is awareness that allows for an understanding as to ‘What it really is’.

    And the trick is how to light the candle and to allow for it to keep it burning.

    Once the candle is lit there will be an endless flow of Unconditionallove/Fathermother source/Satisfaction/Situation/Vitality/Youth within all of the cells of the physical from a balanced Mental/emotional Body.

    So: May the force be with you till the ends of your days.
    Len

    • Jyoti January 9, 2017, 9:41 pm

      Thank you Len! That is beautiful!

  • ana cristina January 8, 2016, 9:44 am

    Beautiful article, simple and clean.thank you Taryn.

    • Sharon Johnson Geurts June 21, 2016, 5:58 am

      This is a topic I think about frequently, because I have some trouble comprehending it, and I don’t think of it the same each time. It doesn’t feel the same each time, either. Usually, it does feel like energy flowing from/through me to the other person. When it gets really strong, I can feel it flowing up through me with heat and tingling from one of my chakras, often my base chakra or my heart, but not always. During my last session, I felt it rising up like that, and I suddenly had the vision of a serpent rising up. It startled me, though maybe it shouldn’t have, since we have the symbol of the fire serpent, which always makes me think of trantric yoga. And then I wonder, is this a spirit as in the consciousness and energy of a supernatural being? Which I’m sure would freak out some clients. Sometimes I visualize white light flowing both from above and below and out my hands. I often have messages or littles visions come through, and when I tell people them, they are astonished because they are correct. Once I had a client whose own heart energy was so big, I could feel it flowing up my arms. Sometimes, when people have really cold spots, I can feel it flowing up my arms and it is painful until it finally balances. I would be very interested to hear about more people’s experience. It is not the same for everyone.

  • Sharon Johnson Geurts June 21, 2016, 6:00 am

    This is a topic I think about frequently, because I have some trouble comprehending it, and I don’t think of it the same each time. It doesn’t feel the same each time, either. Usually, it does feel like energy flowing from/through me to the other person. When it gets really strong, I can feel it flowing up through me with heat and tingling from one of my chakras, often my base chakra or my heart, but not always. During my last session, I felt it rising up like that, and I suddenly had the vision of a serpent rising up. It startled me, though maybe it shouldn’t have, since we have the symbol of the fire serpent, which always makes me think of trantric yoga. And then I wonder, is this a spirit as in the consciousness and energy of a supernatural being? Which I’m sure would freak out some clients. Sometimes I visualize white light flowing both from above and below and out my hands. I often have messages or littles visions come through, and when I tell people them, they are astonished because they are correct. Once I had a client whose own heart energy was so big, I could feel it flowing up my arms. Sometimes, when people have really cold spots, I can feel it flowing up my arms and it is painful until it finally balances. I would be very interested to hear about more people’s experience. It is not the same for everyone.

  • Bob Simmons July 18, 2016, 4:32 am

    Well put. I came to the same conclusion myself about 6 months ago, but have kept it to myself because it seems to run counter to what I was taught. But I feel far more comfortable thinking of myself as a catalyst that invokes another’s inbuilt ability to heal, rather than a channel that Reiki has to pass through to get to the other person.

  • Russell January 9, 2017, 3:43 pm

    It’s a 4th or 5th or both spatial dimensional energy. Therefore unnoticed by physically (3 dimensional) constrained awareness. It surrounds & penetrates, & induces harmonic vibration in all the Chakras at all 52 resonance points (petals) Agnya to Muladhara, & the 960 or 1000 petals in Sahasrara.
    The concept that it enters only the Crown is kindergarten, faery tale stuff to get you started.
    Yes it flows from the hands, the fingers, the feet, the toes, the lips, the tongue, & the region of the heart is an extremely strong source.
    The body is like a succession of bells which ring in harmonic sympathy with all of this energy swirling thru & around in akashic space…& you can direct this energy, or simply allow it to flow where it is required…because it does have its own intelligence.

    The nonsense concerning whether this or that isn’t Reiki, & keeping keeping it “pure”, is the usual rigid fundamentalist clap-track you expect from religious bigots of all persuasions. Reiki is definitely no exception

    • Norman W. Wilson, Phd January 12, 2017, 2:08 pm

      Because we are human we make things our own and that includes Reiki. There simply is no such thing as “pure Reiki”. The point of Reiki as well as all other healing modalities, is to bring healing energy to a client.
      Norman W. Wilson, PhD
      Reiki Master

  • Mitch Hargreaves February 27, 2017, 2:04 am

    This is interesting and relates to a vivid dream I had a couple months ago. I am a Starseed and Reiki 2 practitioner , I am also psychic and recieve many messages in dreams , meditations etc. This one dream portion I remembered was very vivid and in colour. I was inside a newsagent and was looking directly at a magazine cover, on this magazine was printed in bold writing, “People think that they are channeling Reiki, but 80% of it comes from inside of you”. I believe this was a direct message from spirit and worth taking note of. I messaged my Reiki teacher who first attuned me and received no response as yet. So as with your article it may be controversial as to traditional Reiki teaching but it just may be correct.

  • Dez March 10, 2017, 4:18 pm

    Very interesting thinking. Would your thinking, on this connection route, drain our inner energy for this spiritual kick start in the patient as the thought of us just being an energy conduit lays better in preventing self draining entergy. In terms of energy I am now visually seeing coming from my hands and arms what looks like smoke rising from the skin…not heat waves…..rising smoke as if from a burning cigarette. Weird as have seen white light for a long time from hands and arms but now visually seeing smoke like rising.

    • Rev. Dr. Norman W. Wilson, PhD March 10, 2017, 4:53 pm

      I am not clear about the smoke rising along your hands and arms. Is this while you are doing a Reiki treatment for a client or on yourself? Is there a possibility of over charging your body with energy? If so, I strongly suggest taking some time off from doing Reiki and go into some quiet meditation for a few days.

      • Dez March 10, 2017, 5:41 pm

        Thanks for advice …will take some time off for a while. I had taken note about white light and had just thought this smoke like visual might be Chi and that is what Chi looked like. Ho hum

  • Kashi November 13, 2017, 8:27 pm

    Thanks for the interesting article! My own experience of touch from massage school tells me that yes just touching somebody’s body in a loving but neutral way activates the Periferial Nervous System (which activates the bodies natural healing process). I think this is part of reiki, but it doesn’t really account for distance healing and doesn’t explain why practitioners and receivers both frequently report experiences of feeling the reiki energy. Also that a lifelong reiki master does seem to be even more effective so why does it get stronger? This system came from the east and just because it doesn’t fit in our western scientific understanding doesn’t mean that eastern explanation isn’t correct, or even more advanced than out own understanding. For this reason I plan to study reiki in Japan to learn about the traditional roots and what may be missing from our western perspective regarding this art.

  • Kashi November 13, 2017, 8:40 pm

    One thing that I don’t understand about the current practice of reiki is the anything goes, it’s all correct attitude. It used to take years learning reiki in order to purify your body and heal yourself and there is a lot of depth and daily practice that goes into it. Now you get tuned in and then you’re good to go own your own and legally practicing as a master. While it’s great so many people are learning about reiki, one of the reasons it’s not taken as seriously here as a genuine medical practice is because the practice has been diluted. To improve the people’s acceptance of reiki, instead of trying to explain reiki in a scientific way, we should strive to learn it in its original essence.

  • Sharaz May 23, 2018, 4:57 pm

    This is so in line to how use reiki! Great article. As a reiki master myself, I don’t practice traditional reiki, I do more of an activation process, activating in each client their own innate ability/healing within their own subtle body.

  • nwwphd May 23, 2018, 5:30 pm

    I agree with you Sharaz. It’s one’s body that actually does the healing. The Reiki practitioner is a conduit for healing energy; not the healing force.

  • Stephanie Edwards July 14, 2018, 8:02 am

    Thank you for sharing your article. I to believe that we are just remind ourself that we can self heal. I tell all my clients that we all have this innate ability and the rawest form we can all see it is when a mother rubs the wound of her small child. To not only comfort the child to inniciate the healing process

Leave a Comment

Our site uses cookies. By continuing to use our site you are agreeing to our privacy policy.