Article by Angie Webster
It’s often repeated that Reiki can do no harm, only good. But is that completely factual? Let’s explore this often misunderstood idea about Reiki.
Sometimes in our eagerness to share the joys, wonders and benefits of Reiki, we forget that it can be an intense and deeply purifying experience. The Reiki energy moving through the body can feel very intense, particularly as it opens blockages during the session, or rebalances an area that has an excess of energy. The healing crisis, while typically very mild, can be strong, uncomfortable, and even somewhat alarming for some. It’s important to discuss the possibility of a healing crisis with our clients and help them through any difficulties they may have during or after a session.
Reiki does appear to have no harmful or lasting side effects. Even the scientific research that has been done has found no harm. However, there are occasional reports of people who had very strong reactions during a Reiki treatment. These can be anything from feeling extremely overwhelmed physically or neurologically, to having a seizure. People who are especially sensitive and open to energy are the most likely to have an extreme reaction. However, they also typically benefit the most from well grounded, sensitively administered Reiki treatment.
Groups that tend to be the most sensitive to Reiki are those who have a neurological condition, autism, or a mental health imbalance. It is usually a good idea with clients who have an upper chakra imbalance to begin the session at their feet. People with neurological conditions, autism, and mental health issues typically have an excess of energy at the head and the added energy can be overstimulating. Starting at the feet draws balanced energy into the lower body, grounding some of the energy from the head. This is helpful to bring balance to them and it avoids the issue of an overload of energy.
Other groups to treat with care are those who cannot speak for themselves, such as those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, babies, and animals. It’s very important with these groups to have a “feel” that the client is receptive to the energy as you begin treatment. It is especially important with non-verbal clients to maintain awareness during the treatment and stop if the client seems to be uncomfortable or no longer receptive. Seal their aura and end the session, even if you’ve only done a few minutes. Never assume that just because someone is non-verbal that they don’t know what they can handle energetically. Their energy knows, so listen to the signals.
With animals, always ask their permission by showing them what Reiki is and allowing them to indicate if they want it or not. They are quite capable of knowing if it is right for them and just how much they need at that time. Follow their lead. In particular, never direct the flow of energy to a caged animal unless the animal is receptive, no matter how much you believe she needs it. It is far better to simply sit in compassionate meditation nearby the animal, offering lovingkindness.
While a reaction during or after a Reiki treatment is almost always a sign that energy is unblocking, it can still be quite uncomfortable, even painful. Things such as seizures, while quite rare during a Reiki treatment, can be avoided by treating those with neurological conditions and other upper chakras conditions feet first.
There has never been a report of a lasting reaction to Reiki, either during a session or from a healing crisis, however, it can feel traumatizing to someone if they are overcome with energy or discomfort. It is important to avoid this by offering clear counseling regarding what to expect during and after treatment. Always advise the client to let you know if any part of the treatment feels uncomfortable so you can move on or stop. Use awareness during a session to tune into your client’s needs, especially if they are non-verbal. Their comfort is your primary concern. Healing is most likely to occur when a client is relaxed and at ease, so help to create this by being open and attuned to them.
Reiki seems to be unlikely to do harm, though it can certainly cause extreme effects in certain cases. Care should be taken to inform and respond to the needs of all our clients in order to adjust treatment as needed to assure they receive the greatest benefit.
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Angie Webster is a Reiki Master, Teacher, and Author. Angie’s primary focus is animal Reiki, which she adores. She teaches online classes on energy healing, flower essences, herbalism, and personal growth. Angie often works with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Animal Reiki: How it Heals, Teaches & Reconnects Us with Nature and Reiki from A to Z. You can follow her at: angie-webster-healing.teachable.com and on Facebook (facebook.com/angiewebsterhealing).