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Explaining Reiki to Others

Article by Angie Webster

One of the most interesting challenges I have met as a Reiki practitioner has been learning how to explain what Reiki is and the ways it works to help us to those who know little or nothing about Reiki. I find that a different explanation is needed depending upon the person to whom you are speaking.

Some people are ready to learn more than others, so it is best to tailor the explanation to the needs of the specific person. Many people will want to learn more as they take in a small amount of information, whereas if you overload them with too much information at once, they may lose interest or misunderstand something. Think of when you are explaining something very new to a child who has never heard of it before. It is best to give a small bit of information and let them lead the way with their questions.

It may be easiest for you to think back to your own level of understanding when you first heard of Reiki. What sort of things did you wonder about? What information did you find confusing? What information did you find helpful? When I first the word Reiki years ago, I was very confused about how to pronounce it (RAY-key) and what it did. I decided it wasn’t for me based on a few pieces of unclear information. This can be the case for many people, so go slow and easy. It is not going to be helpful information if you overwhelm the person and they may become confused.

Image by Nicholas_T

The best way I have found to explain Reiki is to say that it is an energy healing method that is usually done by placing the hands in a series of positions over or slightly above the body. If the person wants to know more, I will explain that Reiki promotes healing by activating the relaxation response and helping the body to balance itself from a very deep level. Sometimes it is best to offer a demonstration of Reiki, if the person is open to that. The experience of Reiki says more than words ever could.

Something that can frighten people who are new to learning about Reiki is the use of spiritual terminology. This kind of terminology can lead to the fear that Reiki is a religious practice or that it goes against certain religions. It can also lead to thoughts that Reiki is ineffective. Many people are uncomfortable with the word “spiritual” or “spirit”. Use your best judgment in deciding if the person is able to understand that healing occurs on all levels, including the soul or spirit level.

Some people will want you to explain how Reiki works. No one really knows the answer to this. But you can tell them that Reiki allows positive energy to flow into the body through the hands of the practitioner and that this balances and heals the energy in the body. You could also explain some of the things that Reiki has been scientifically shown to do, such as decrease pain levels, speed healing and relax the mind and body. Make sure that the person understands that Reiki can only do good and can never cause harm.

Let your own understanding of the person you are speaking to guide you in what to say. When a person wants to know more and is enthusiastic, you will sense that. Likewise, you will learn to sense when a person is not able to take in too much information. Remember, it is not your role to force information onto someone who is not ready to receive it. Allow time and patience and be at peace. When the person is ready to receive more information about Reiki, they will know it is time. As healers, part of the process is allowing things to go forward at the pace that is comfortable to each individual. And acceptance that each of our paths is different.

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Angie Webster
Angie Webster

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).

{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Elise Brenner August 30, 2013, 10:43 am

    I agree with your approach, Angie. It is important to know to whom you are speaking, as well as the nature of their interest in Reiki. Like you, I also use Benson’s “relaxation response” when I answer people’s inquiries. Thank you for raising this important topic.

    • Angie Webster August 30, 2013, 3:46 pm

      Thanks, Elise! I am glad to share both my struggles and the insights that help me cope with them.

  • Neelam August 30, 2013, 11:01 am

    Dear Angie…I love REIKI and I have a wish that each and every soul must know this technique so that..they will be able to heal themselves..REIKI principals by Dr. Uusi help to achieve the results faster if we practice that on daily basis. While explainig REIKI..to somebody I mentally clean their aura and flow REIKI for acceptance and understanding to other person and myself…rest I leave on REIKI without getting attached to the result…and I would say almost 95% people get attracted to Energy both for healing and learning..Thanks for the article..you have touched a topic on which I always wished to share my views and reikirays is the best platform

    • Angie Webster August 30, 2013, 3:49 pm

      Thank you, Neelam! I agree that it would be great if everyone were to learn Reiki for their own self healing and to help heal others and the world. Thank you for sharing your technique for increasing understanding and acceptance!

      • Jill Munro August 31, 2013, 9:41 am

        Hi Angie. I agree wholeheartedly with your wishes that everyone would learn Reiki for their own self healing and to help others and the world. Nowadays it is hard for people to accept that something so simple has such amazing healing power; an energy that cannot be seen by most people but can be felt by everyone.

    • Maureen Rivelle July 28, 2014, 3:06 pm

      I love the idea of sending Reiki to the person who is asking about it, to help open them and clear their understanding. And I love the in attachment to outcome. You are very wise. Thank you!

    • ivy May 28, 2015, 4:25 pm

      I need help explaining reiki

  • Jon Coleman August 30, 2013, 2:04 pm

    I love your approach Angie. More people than you might think have been exposed to the concept of Ki or Chi via martial arts modalities. Talking about the practice of transferring energy for healing purposes, along with a brief demo or treatment usually opens the door.

    • Angie Webster August 30, 2013, 3:54 pm

      Jon, thank you! You are right that many people understand at least some aspect of energy, Qi, Chi, Ki, or Prana. It can greatly increase the understanding of Reiki when the person you are speaking to has a basic understanding of these terms and concepts.

  • Daniel August 30, 2013, 10:24 pm

    Love the article Angie, some thoughtful advice, thank you! When I am introducing Reiki to someone and am met with a puzzled look, I usually explain that Einstein found that everything is energy (E=MC2), and that Reiki (also known as Chi and Prana among other names) is the energy that powers “living” – the living of plants, animals, humans etc., also that it is the energy used when your body heals itself, and the energy your body draws upon when you sleep. This usually goes down well! The harder part is explaining that I have learnt how to consciously draw upon this energy and channel it down my arms for others to draw upon. If the person is science-y, I’ll talk about our bodies water content and conductivity, and about electrical impulses in our nervous system, etc. After this, and for those who are not science-y, I just show them by putting my hands 10 inches or so apart (as if holding a ball) and ask them to put their hand in the space between mine. 100% of the time they can feel it. I find this way works better than hands-on, where sometimes their rational mind will write the experience off as heat or pressure, etc. Hope this helps someone! Much love and light to all 🙂

    • Angie Webster August 30, 2013, 10:57 pm

      Thank you , Daniel! That is a very clear and helpful way to explain Reiki that most people would understand.

  • Nadejda (@nadejda_reiki) August 31, 2013, 7:41 am

    It’s not hard to explain how Reiki works from scientific point of view – see more here http://nadejda-healingjourney.blogspot.com/2011/02/reiki-scientific-point-of-view.html

    • Angie Webster August 31, 2013, 2:20 pm

      Nadejda, that is such an interesting and helpful article. I love reading research on Reiki and energy healing methods. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Len September 1, 2013, 3:10 am

    Sounds real good but non of the comments really explain the phenomon that is Reiki so what is it really.
    4 symbols, each with their own vibrations (try them) applied as a formula to selected spiritual centres which increases the vibrations of those energy centres, dont belive me then try it.

  • len Thomas October 4, 2013, 2:55 am

    One of these days we will all be aware of the enormity of what REIKI really is, Simply it is the ability thorough the process of an attunement, the placing of a formula constructed from the 4 recognised REIKI symbols through the physical into the psychic/emotional. When sealed, the vibrations of those Spiritual Centers are increased. That is all that REIKI is. The effects lead us down the pathway of healing by removing blockages from the psychic/emotional body that allows the physical to self-heal.
    When we understand the simplicity of the what it is then we will accept the enormity of it.

  • Dee June 24, 2014, 7:21 pm

    I love your page I have found it so helpful and everyone explains the topics really simply , it’s so nice to read about all the different approaches and methods . X

  • Jatinder Singh June 24, 2014, 7:57 pm

    Reiki is an universal energy or force which is omnipresent. Each and every one of us has that energy in us else we won’t be alive. As Sun, Moon, Air etc. is available for everyone irrespective of caste, colour, creed similarly reiki energy is for everyone. if you are a meditator or spiritual person you will feel this energy in you and with practice you can guide this energy with hands or intention to heal others. You can find most of the information about reiki on internet.
    There is a catch, you may read and take courses all you want but you may not really feel the energy. There are few prerequisites and big and only one is LOVE. All other come under it. If you have unconditional love for one and all, means no hatred, anger, greed and ego then just pray to Reiki and it will come to you. Trust yourself and Reiki.
    Lots of Love and Peace

    • Anne Hogger May 7, 2015, 5:21 am

      If someone ask where Reiki come from, I explain it is like sun and air. Reiki surround us even we can not “see” it (like air) and we Reiki Practicioner are the channel for this healing energy. It also helps to support our own self healing.

    • Elizabeth Percy April 30, 2016, 8:55 pm

      I love your explanation beautiful.

  • Rickie Freedman July 19, 2014, 11:59 am

    Thank you. I am teaching Reiki lllA Master/Practitioner today. We spend quite a bit of time practicing how to share Reiki with words. Your philosophy matches mine well. Namaste ‘

  • soo September 22, 2014, 12:55 am

    Wow grt comments n ideas of sharing Reiki
    Ms Neelam how do u mentally clear the other person aura pls. Appreciate yr guidance

  • Sandra October 5, 2014, 8:26 pm

    I try to keep it simple by telling my audience that Reiki is an ancient modality that helps to bring an individual to a more balanced state through a non-invasive technique of deep relaxation. It’s important that they know that we are all energy and that when we are healthy our vibration is high as it supports our immune system. When we are not in balance there may be symptoms of illness that result. The beauty of Reiki is that it works on all levels, mind, body and spirit, and requires no doctrine of religious beliefs; it is simply energy. The demonstration is the best way for an individual to experience what it feels like. I have been a Reiki Master for many years and I am continually in awe of how wonderful it is.

  • Neetha yadu Devadiga December 5, 2014, 2:36 am

    Madam I am from Karnataka (Mangalore) I am under gone Reiki training from past one and half year and was practicing daily. Mine third level is also done. But no concentration. Actually mainly I wanted concentration and I have lot of fear I am not able to sit alone at home in the night I am scared. Nothing change has happened to me. Even no vibration sense.

    • Angie Webster December 5, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Continue to practice daily with self Reiki. You may also want to send Reiki to the situation or situations that you are fearful of, and also to improving your concentration. Allow Reiki to work in whatever way it will. That may not look the way you think it will and it may require patience. Consider developing a meditation practice as well, if you don’t already have one. Even spending 5 minutes a day returning the attention to the breath can strengthen the concentration and your peace of mind.

  • Pat January 22, 2015, 4:02 pm

    I am a Reiki master and I want to thank you for your wonderful explanation of what is Reiki. It is easy to understand for anyone.


  • m March 25, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I was attuned this past weekend and finding the experience difficult to put into words. This helped a bunch!

  • Sudha August 26, 2015, 11:09 am

    Angie good yo hear from u . it gives me positive approach towards life . But I have a question for u that can we reiki during mensuration time also ???? (I have just started practicing Reiki )

    • Angie Webster August 26, 2015, 2:52 pm

      Sudha, Yes you can do Reiki during menstruation. There is no problem with that at all.

  • Ingrid Nelson October 27, 2015, 9:26 pm

    Your articles are beautifully written, I am at Kripalu just finished Reiki 1&2. I live in Illinois. Where are you located in Illinois
    Do you have a website and schedule of your classes…
    Ingrid Nelson????

    • Angie Webster October 28, 2015, 5:28 pm

      Hi Ingrid,
      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoy my articles. I practice in Bloomington, Illinois. I generally teach small classes of one or two students at a time. I don’t have a specific schedule and teach by arrangement. My website is: http://www.serenityenergyhealing.com/

  • Daphne Struve November 2, 2015, 9:24 pm

    I usually don’t “try” to explain. I say to the person: have a healing session and you’ll see how it goes for you and how you FEEL.

    • Angie Webster December 8, 2015, 3:22 pm

      That’s often a good approach. The experience of Reiki says more than words!

  • Jade December 7, 2015, 10:46 pm

    Thank you so much for this article! It has given me some wonderful phrases to use when sharing this practice with others. And good point on being at peace with however the other person receives it. Blessings!

    • Angie Webster December 8, 2015, 3:21 pm

      Jade, I’m happy the article helped! Blessings to you as well!

  • Sudha patel January 12, 2016, 6:27 am

    Sudha patel I am Reiki Master. Practicing since twenty years. Thanks for the article and practioners comment. Very useful to explain different people different ways. It’s amazing power and works emotionally, physical, and mentally. Thanks

  • Rimma April 1, 2016, 7:42 pm

    Hi Angie!Thank you for posting this articles. Reading all this info is extremely interesting and helpful to understand Reiki and how it help me and how I can help others. It would be extremely helpful you can post a video of Reiki session.
    Thank you,
    Light and blessings!

  • Chantelle July 8, 2016, 8:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing, I’ve just done my level one, you mention about using the word spirit as it could put some people of, what about when your about to give reiki would you still ask your patient to call upon their guids for healing??

    • Angie Webster July 8, 2016, 9:14 pm

      I wouldn’t personally do this, unless I knew the person was definitely in a place where they were connected to their guides or ready to be. Reiki should be relaxing. It is this deeply relaxing state that allows the self healing to begin. The idea of guides can be intimidating or even threatening to many people, so that can cause upset or fear. Those who are already in touch with their guides are likely to already have connected with them within, even without prompting. In the end, go with your gut. But having them call in their guides is not necessary for a Reiki session to work or be enjoyable.

  • Atul Sharma,the Reiki master and teacher July 27, 2016, 6:41 pm

    Thanks a lot.Realy your article flew me to unique and unquestioned path.

  • Leonard January 18, 2017, 3:28 am

    When I roll through the replies. it is a long way to find answeres

  • Swarna June 6, 2017, 1:30 am

    Hi Angie, your articles are very interesting & informative to those who practice Reiki. I completed my Reiki Master/ Teacher certification 2 months back. I really love Reiki . Wanted to know more about Reiki from other practicioners . I eagerly await for your mail to know more about the subject. Thank you so much . After my Attunement I practice Reiki on me everyday. Now I am trying on my family members. One time , my sister in law was suffering from severe sciatica pain for 6 months and she was unable to walk straight. I explained to her what is Reiki and if she is positive abt it I can do the healing to her.she accepted and I gave her 5 sessions of Reiki healing and amazingly she got healed out of it. AfIts very clear that the good intentions of the healer and the positive attitude of the receiver work hand in hand thereby resulting Good Reiki Energy. After this my self confidence also increased that still more want to learn & practice to the needy. I once again thank you so much for sharing the concept of the Reiki . I live in Sandiego. Hope, I can share with you if I have any questions relating Reiki. With Regards.

  • Gale September 4, 2017, 5:31 pm

    I have been a Tibetan and Usui Reiki master for almost 10 years. I explain reiki as energy. And I use energy I pull from earth to identify and push out bad energy that causes pain. As I push in energy, I pull out the bad energy and get rid of it. I then add more and pull out more.
    I also do animals and am very effective at scanning people and distance healing. The scanning ability is very effective and boggles any doubters minds.

  • Donna January 5, 2018, 7:10 pm

    Thank you for this article.
    I would love to see a future article on Reiki for animals ( I see the author specializes in that). There seems to be a parsity of information on that aspect of Reiki.

    • Angie Webster Healing January 5, 2018, 8:41 pm

      Hi Donna,
      I have written a couple of articles about Animal Reiki for Reiki Rays and you can find them by clicking on my picture and viewing the list of my articles, or doing a site search for my name. I also teach an online class for Animal Reiki specialization at my online classroom. The website is https://angie-webster-healing.thinkific.com/

  • Valerie Anckorn April 24, 2020, 11:51 am

    I am enjoying your e mails. Thank you. May I tell you how I became involved in Reiki? I owned a candle shop, where I made the candles at the back of the shop, but during winter months not much trade happened, so I would merrily make candles undisturbed. One day, I was amazed when I found myself talking to the ceiling. I heard myself say, “I’m ready to do healing now, what’s the next step? Healing wasn’t on my agenda at all, so I was puzzled by rather weird experience but thought my guides would give me a clue soon enough. The next day, a man came into the shop and noted the meditation cds on the counter. Talking to himself, he said, “Oh, just what I want for the next healing workshop.” I interrupted him to ask about the workshop. It turned out to be Reiki (which I had never heard of) and he told me he was a vet, who used it on his animal patients…Long and short, I went to the workshop, not really interested, but because, clearly, my guides wanted me to. I have to say, I have found that Reiki is wonderful and never fail to be astonished by results.

  • Parwinder Chahal June 3, 2020, 6:09 am

    Thankyou! This is a great article, its helpful and easy to understand. Thankyou for sharing. x

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