Reiki is a spiritual healing practice that promotes physical and mental wellbeing. The person receiving a Reiki treatment lays down comfortably, fully clothed, while a Reiki practitioner lays their hands on specific positions of the body. No pressure is applied, and usually the hands remain in each position for a few minutes before they move to the next position. A treatment usually lasts between half an hour to an hour.
The person receiving Reiki usually reports feeling a deep sense of relaxation. They may sense heat, tingling or other sensations in the area where the practitioner’s hands are. They may also feel emotions such as peace, sadness, lightness or joy as part of the healing process.
Reiki promotes balance to the individual both emotionally and physically. As their system becomes better balanced, it’s able to heal itself more effectively. There are likely several factors that contribute to this balancing effect, including the calming effect of human touch when given in a safe, therapeutic environment. As Reiki is a spiritual healing practice, many Reiki practitioners also understand that there is a spiritual dimension to the healing, which is often described as coming from an unlimited source of spiritual energy.
Reiki doesn’t involve physical manipulation of the body, or taking any substances, and so it’s safe to use for any kind of physical condition.
As Reiki is a practice that promotes balance, it doesn’t treat the disease or symptom directly. Instead it helps support a person’s healing as well as deal with the side effects of any medical treatment. This supports the body’s natural process of self-healing, which makes Reiki safe to use as part of the treatment of any kind of condition.
This part of the guide will tell you how to find a good Reiki practitioner and prepare for your first session.
To find out what Reiki services are available locally, you can do a Google search for 'Reiki' and the place where you live. You could also ask friends, family, or colleagues for recommendations. If there are local healing centres near you, these will often be able to tell you about local Reiki practitioners.
Once you’ve found a practitioner who might be suitable, get some questions ready to ask them. You can ask these questions by email, but it will give you a much clearer impression of the practitioner and whether you'll get on well together if you can ask these questions over a phone or video call, or in-person.
Understanding what the session will be like will help you feel more comfortable during the session. This includes the session's length, and whether they will lay their hands directly on your body or will instead hover their hands over your body during the session.
Knowing this avoids a surprise when it's time to pay or if you need to cancel.
They might suggest a certain amount of sessions based on your goals and needs, which can help you plan your schedule and budget.
Reiki practitioners have a wide range of personal philosophies and approaches, including integrating other healing modalities into their practice. Understanding their approach can help you decide if it resonates with you.
The quality of Reiki practitioners varies a lot. If you haven't found a practitioner who you feel safe with and can communicate comfortably with, go back to look for someone else. If you can’t find anyone in your local area who you feel is a good fit, you can get access to a much wider range of practitioners if you’re willing to receive an online Reiki session.
Ask to book an initial session so that you can see how well it goes. You may want to book more - this is something that you’d discuss with the practitioner after the session.
You’ll most likely be lying down for most of the session, so choose comfortable clothing to wear. Also, avoid having a very large meal or taking stimulants like caffeine before the session, as these could make it harder for you to relax.
If you have any specific things that you’d like to focus on, or you have any concerns about the session, get these ready to tell the practitioner at the start.
If you’ve never had a Reiki session before, you worry that you won’t know what to do. This is normal, and most people’s anxiety dissolves away quickly after a few minutes of receiving Reiki. If you're finding it hard to relax, you could try to focus on your breathing as a way to calm down. But do bear in mind that the beneficial effects of Reiki can still happen even if you can’t relax well.
If you feel uncomfortable during the session, it’s okay to adjust your body position to get comfortable again. If an important thought or memory arises during the session, you can share these with the practitioner, or you may prefer to reflect on them in silence and discuss them at the end of the session.
If you feel unsafe or would like to stop the session, you can just get up and don’t need to ask for their permission first.
After the session, you might feel deeply relaxed or even slightly disoriented. Take a few moments to ground yourself by sitting or lying down quietly, drinking water, and maybe eating a small snack. It’s often recommended to drink plenty of water to help you stay hydrated as the healing process initiated by the Reiki session continues.
Consider keeping a journal to note any thoughts, feelings, or sensations you experienced during and after the session. Reflection can help you process your Reiki experience more deeply.
It’s simple to learn Reiki, and once you’ve done so you give Reiki treatment to yourself as well offer it to other people such as friends or family. A Reiki course is also an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and become part of a community that can provide emotional support, encouragement, and the opportunity to practice Reiki with others.
While it’s easier to find an online or self-taught Reiki course, and it will likely be cheaper and more flexible, we recommend choosing in-person courses. This is because of the hands-on nature of Reiki practice, and also the greater potential for progressing on your own healing and spiritual journey.
With an in-person teacher, you’ll receive immediate feedback on your technique, which can help you learn much faster and feel more confident to actually use Reiki when the course is over. During the attunement ritual, a teacher who is physically present with you can be more responsive to the way you react. This ritual can be a powerful and transformative healing experience, which for some people involves releasing emotions, crying or even feeling dizzy. With a teacher who is physically present throughout the ceremony they can observe subtle physical cues like your facial expression and even slight colour changes in your skin tone due to changes in blood flow, which can help them respond to you and guide you through the experience.
Any in-person Reiki course will give you the chance to practice giving and receiving hands-on Reiki with other students (or the teacher) during practice sessions. These are a valuable opportunity to go deeper in your own healing journey, and again are often profound healing experiences. During an in-person course the teacher will be in the same room as the students during these practice sessions, and can give immediate advice and feedback.
Whilst online courses technically make all of these things possible, even with a high-quality video connection it will still be much harder for students and teacher to respond to each other during the rituals and practice healing sessions.
This doesn’t mean that there’s no reason to ever do online or self-taught courses, but we would always consider them a second choice. For example, if you can’t find any Reiki teachers who you feel are a good fit for you within travelling distance, then doing an online Reiki online course is likely to be better than doing no Reiki course at all.
To find out what courses are available locally, you can try doing a Google search for 'Reiki course' and the place where you live. You could asking friends, family, or colleagues for recommendations. If there are local healing centres near you, these will often be able to tell you about local Reiki courses.
When you’ve found some courses that might suit you, find out the following details:
The important thing to look out for is how much time you’ll get actually practicing Reiki techniques. The ability to practice Reiki under the supervision of an experienced practitioner is vital for building your skill and confidence.
Consider the course's cost, ensuring it fits within your budget, and assess the location's convenience.
It’s common for Reiki courses to have between 2-6 people per teacher. While a 1-1 course sounds ideal, actually having at least one other student can help, as it means you can practice Reiki from both giver and receiver perspectives with the student, while the teacher observes and offers guidance.
On the other extreme, if there are too many students on a course, it’s harder for the teacher to offer individual guidance.
Ongoing support, such as practice sessions, follow-up classes, or availability to answer questions, can be valuable as you begin to practice on your own.
If you're happy with those core details, then it’s worth speaking to the teacher over the phone, on a video call, or in-person, to find out whether you feel comfortable with them, and feel that you connect well. Here are some questions you can ask:
The attunements is a fundamental part of Reiki training, but they're also the most mysterious part of it. Hearing how your teacher explains this process should give you a good understand of how they approach Reiki, as well as helping you feel more comfortable with the process itself.
Each teacher has their unique approach. Understanding their philosophy and teaching style can help you decide if they're the right fit for you.
An even more thorough way of getting to know the teacher is to book a Reiki session with them before making this decision.
Reiki is best experienced in-person. Just as with online counselling, it can succeed, but there are significant drawbacks, including broken communication during connection dropouts, and the loss of subtle messages communicated by body language even when the connection is good. What's more, Reiki is usually practiced with hands-on physical contact, and this can't be replicated through an online experience.
This doesn't mean that distance Reiki sessions are worthless, just that they are the second choice in almost all situations.
As different styles of Reiki have emerged over the years, people began to give names to these styles that have passed from teacher to student. These styles are called ‘lineages’. Lineages may use different hand positions, techniques, or different symbols. If you’re interested in this then it’ll be worth reading about the differences, but in our experience the personality and emotional maturity of the individual teacher is a much more significant factor than lineage when choosing who to study with. In fact, one way to gauge the maturity of a teacher is whether they boast that their lineage is the best, ‘most authentic’ kind of Reiki, and so disparage other lineages as inauthentic. This attitude suggests a lack of maturity and would be a sign to look elsewhere.
A Reiki master is someone who has completed the highest level of training in Reiki, which means they are qualified to teach other teachers. But as Reiki is a spiritual practice, the word ‘master’ has a deeper significance, that someone has a comprehensive understanding of Reiki, and that they embody the principles of Reiki in their daily life.
Reiki symbols are visual patterns that Reiki practitioners use to bring a specific intention to healing. These intentions include power and connection (symbol 1), harmony and balance (symbol 2), healing at a distance (symbol 3), and mastery (the master symbol). These symbols are usually learned on Reiki level 2 and 3 courses.
Our sister site, the International School of Reiki, provides Reiki manuals for students and teachers.