Article by Dr Karen Janes
I received my first Reiki attunement over fifteen years ago. Since then I have no idea how many hundreds, or possibly thousands, of hours I have spent with my hands cupped over mine or someone else’s body letting that wonderful healing energy flow through them. Even with all that experience, there are still moments, from time to time, where I don’t feel a huge amount happening in my hands. In this article, I am going to talk a little about the reasons why this might be and also why it doesn’t matter. I will explain what can be more useful to focus on instead, to help you develop and deepen your Reiki practice.
Why don’t we always feel Reiki in our hands?
It is very common when we are new to Reiki to either not feel much happening in our hands or to feel very uncertain about sensations that we think could be Reiki but might be something else such as body warmth. Whilst this is probably unsurprising for new practitioners it may appear a little more confusing if a more seasoned practitioner experiences it. Here are some of the reasons why this might be:
- As students develop their practice, and get to the point where they have been using Reiki regularly for a while, some of the sensations and feelings of the Reiki flowing through their hands becomes a ‘new normal’; a sort of re-setting of the default for how their hands feel. In a sense, they ‘get used to’ how Reiki feels. Whilst this isn’t a problem at all, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the Reiki isn’t working, it can lead to people’s confidence wavering. They may feel confused that, having built up a regular practice, they no longer feel so certain as to whether the Reiki is flowing.
- There can be a natural variation in what we might call the rate of flow of Reiki. At different times, depending on factors such as how much Reiki we’ve been doing, how tense we’ve been feeling or how hectic our week has been, our bodies may absorb Reiki at different rates. Therefore, if the flow isn’t quite as strong we might feel less or find it harder to be aware of those sensations.
- Most Reiki practitioners accept the premise that, theoretically at least, we could place our Reiki hands in just one place on ours or others bodies and, if we stay there long enough, the Reiki will eventually spread throughout the whole body. Whilst I think this is essentially true, my observations of my own practice and that of my students is that there are differences in experiences of Reiki in different areas of the body. Some of these areas might change over time, for example if you temporarily injured your wrist, that area of your body might seem to ‘appreciate’ the Reiki more than other areas whilst it is healing. However, people do seem to have certain areas of their body where the flow usually feels strong and there is a sense that the body particularly ‘likes it’ in that place. Other areas may seem to optimise the experience of becoming more deeply relaxed or relaxing more quickly. Getting to know these areas can be really useful when time is short.
- Warmth in the hands is a common sensation that people feel when doing Reiki and they can come to rely on it as a guide for how well the Reiki is flowing. If our hands happen to be cold this, again, can be unreliable and knock our confidence.
- Finally, when we are unwell it can feel harder to do Reiki on ourselves. We may generally feel a lot less going on at these times. This can be true at times of more significant emotional stress as well as when we are physically ill. We may question whether we’re capable of doing Reiki at these times. If you are unwell and you have someone who is able to give you some Reiki I would always recommend taking advantage of that. Whilst the Reiki energy is the same, I do think there are additional benefits from simply receiving Reiki compared to doing Reiki on yourself. However, I would always encourage you to do as much Reiki as you can on yourself at times of illness or stress, when you’re likely to most need it, between treatments from others or when you don’t have another Reiki practitioner handy. Even if you don’t feel a lot happening it will be your ill health that is making it harder to feel rather than that it isn’t working.
So what can we look for instead?
Now we understand a little more about some of the reasons why we might not always feel a lot happening in our Reiki hands, is there anything we can do to help, or do instead, that can guide us and help us to continue to build our confidence in our Reiki?
There absolutely is! In fact, I consider that there are things that we can look for that are, perhaps, even more important and helpful in guiding us in our Reiki practice than the sensations in our hands. The answer here lies within how Reiki makes our bodies feel rather than any particular sensations in our hands.
As soon as we receive our first attunement we can begin taking the opportunity to become observers of how our bodies and our minds feel when we practice Reiki; a sort of mindfulness. We can also notice things about our general health and wellbeing that result from regular Reiki practice but may not be immediately apparent or be confined to the treatment session itself.
There may be sensations that we begin to discover we always, or nearly always feel, when we practice Reiki on ourselves. Common examples of this are feeling calmer and more relaxed, feeling less tension in our muscles and feeling our minds become quieter. Over time we may begin to notice all sorts of things that begin to change the more Reiki we do. These can include things like sleeping better, fewer headaches, improved digestion, more energy, less anxiety and a sense of feeling more in control of things. We may also notice particular symptoms either improve or disappear completely. If we practice Reiki regularly enough the return of certain feelings, such as anxiety or headaches, might even serve to remind us that we haven’t spent as much time doing Reiki on ourselves as usual and prompt us to get back to it.
Keep it simple
I always encourage my students to look out for what can be at times very small and subtle changes. A really good example of this was one of my Reiki students, from when I first began teaching in 2006. I shall call her Dominic. She had been having quite a few challenges in her life in the few years before she came to see me as a client. She had a job where she was on her feet a lot and had to do a lot of public speaking throughout the day. She found some Reiki sessions very beneficial and decided to do her first attunement.
With my Reiki lineage, students are taught to practice some Reiki on themselves every day for the first twenty one days following an attunement. This is, in part, to help build experience and confidence and to establish a regular habit of using Reiki. I spoke to Dominic a little over a week after the class and she told me that after leaving the class she had begun her daily practice but for the whole first week she hadn’t felt a thing in her hands. She said she had persevered, as I had told her in class that this was important and she felt that that she wanted to give it a good chance having invested the time and money. She said she was feeling very doubtful as to whether it was going to work for her but when she had got to the end of her working week she had noticed something unusual. She described how usually on a Friday she would feel exhausted and have a very croaky voice and a strained feeling in her throat from so much talking. She had suddenly realised that she didn’t have those feelings in the week following her attunement. She was certain that nothing else had changed so it could only be the Reiki.
As a result of noticing this Dominic became very enthusiastic and excited about her Reiki practice and spent more and more time practicing Reiki and reaping the benefits. She later came and did her second attunement with me and Reiki had a firm place in her life even during treatment for a later recurrence of cancer.
As a teacher I have felt grateful for that experience many times over as it is a story I am able to relate to my new students in every level one class. I know that many have taken comfort from it during inevitable moments of doubt as they begin using Reiki.
A very common question that a Reiki practitioner gets asked is what they feel when doing Reiki. Clearly this might be quite different depending on whether one is practicing on oneself or another. As self-practice is the fundamental cornerstone of Reiki I hope this article offers something to the novice by providing inspiration where doubt might occur as they develop this new skill. I also hope it provides some explanations for the more experienced practitioner as to how things can vary over time. By shifting the attention from the hands to the body in self-practice we can begin to refine and deepen our understanding of how Reiki works and what it does. With time this learning can be brought to work with others if we wish.
In the meantime, if you have a spare hand, do some Reiki!
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Dr Karen Janes followed a traditional career in the UK National Health Service as a Clinical Psychologist before discovering Reiki. Fascinated, she went on to study other energy healing techniques and twelve years ago set up her private practice, Natural Healing Energy, in London. Now living in rural England she specialises in how energy healing can work alongside more traditional talking therapies to help with conditions such as depression and anxiety. She feels there is a gap in conventional treatments for some clients and that Reiki and energy healing can meet that need. She also loves helping those she works with develop skills that they can use to help themselves. Her primary focus with this has developed into teaching Reiki in as pure and simple a way as possible and encourages her students to find as many ways as possible to incorporate it into their daily lives. You can follow Dr Karen’s work here: www.naturalhealingenergy.com and on Facebook www.facebook.com/NaturalHealingEnergy