What Is Reiki?

Reiki is an energy healing technique in which a Reiki master (who has undergone formal training in this healing art) uses gentle hand movements with the intention to guide the flow of healthy energy (what’s known in Reiki as “life force energy”) through the client’s body to reduce stress and promote healing. Reiki is a form of complementary and alternative medicine; there’s evidence it can reduce daily stress and help with management of some chronic diseases.

What are the potential health benefits of Reiki?

Reiki is linked to a range of physical and emotional health benefits, including better sleep, improved mood, and pain relief in published studies. Research suggests Reiki helps the body return to a state of relaxation, which allows it to potentially better heal from damage brought on by stress, injury, or disease. There’s evidence that Reiki, used as a complementary therapy with conventional or mainstream medical care, can help people recover after surgery and manage symptoms of cancer and AIDS.

Is there scientific evidence that Reiki has benefits?

There is little scientific evidence that explains exactly how Reiki works, but studies have found that Reiki can have measurable benefits when it comes to lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, lessening anxiety, and reducing pain. (Some of those studies have been done in specific groups, like people recovering from surgery, and others have been done in healthy individuals.) Keep in mind, however, that Reiki is mostly seen as a complementary therapy by mainstream medicine and is intended to be used alongside standard medical care — not in place of it.

What happens during a Reiki session?

During a session, a Reiki practitioner will gently move their hands above or close to the body in a series of positions. Each hand position focuses on a different part of the body — including the head, shoulders, stomach, and feet — and is held for roughly 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the person’s needs. There is very little to no talking during sessions, which typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. An essential piece is the presence and state of being of the Reiki practitioner, whose training also includes ways to support their own “grounding.”