According to the World Health Organization, depression affects approximately 400 million people around the world. When it isn’t properly treated, this condition reduces quality of life for sufferers and can lead to a number of serious consequences. Many different treatments exist for depression.

However, regardless of the treatment methods chosen, patients dealing with the symptoms of depression may experience benefit from participating in Reiki sessions in conjunction with their professional treatment programs and methods.

The Dangers of Depression

Depression is a common condition that causes affected individuals to experience feelings of sadness, guilt, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, appetite disturbances, low self-esteem and sleep issues. It can affect people regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, occupation or any other characteristic. Although depression may occur after someone experiences a trauma, such as a death in the family, loss of a job or a serious illness, it can also appear to occur without an apparent cause.

If left untreated, depression can affect the sufferer’s quality of life, as well as his or her personal relationships. Depression can also affect the individual’s professional life by impairing his or her ability to function while at work. In the worst cases, depression may even result in total disability or death by suicide.

Because it can be so serious, finding effective treatment for depression is essential. So, seeking a qualified professional skilled in therapy, treatment programs, and talking with your physician is the first course of action. Then, in conjunction with working with a professional team and or program, Reiki can help as an adjunct therapy.

Benefits of Reiki for Depressed Clients

Reiki can be beneficial to clients with depression in multiple ways. Some of the benefits of Reiki sessions for depressed clients include:

  • Better sense of mental and physical balance. – Reiki may help restore a person’s overall sense of balance, both in the mind and the body. This may help to improve the person’s mood and help him or her to overcome feelings of guilt and/or sadness.
  • Reiki is relaxing. – Depression is often accompanied by anxiety. However, Reiki can be relaxing, which may help to combat this anxiety. As the individual’s anxiety is relieved, his or her depression may improve as well.
  • Reiki puts the client back in control. – Many people who are depressed feel like they are not in control of their own lives. When a client participates in a Reiki session, he or she is doing something proactive, thus restoring some of the feelings of control.
  • Reiki allows the client to connect with another person. – One of the most common symptoms of depression involves withdrawing from friends and family or feeling disconnected from others. Reiki provides depressed clients with the opportunity to connect with a caring, compassionate practitioner, which may improve symptoms.
  • Reiki relieves stress. – Stress can contribute to the development of depression, and ongoing stress can also worsen a depressed person’s symptoms. Reiki may help to relieve some of a client’s stress, which may in turn reduce the symptoms of depression.

Relevant Research

Several research studies support the use of Reiki for people with depression. Some of these studies are listed below.

  1. Reiki aids in relaxation. – Center for Reiki Research According to the Center for Reiki Research, Reiki has been shown to reduce sympathetic autonomic stimulation and produce a significant relaxation response among people who had been diagnosed with Burnout Syndrome, a disorder characterized by exhaustion and emotional issues. It is likely that the same relaxation response would be produced among clients with depression.
  2. Reiki reduces the symptoms of depression. – Alternate Therapies in Health and Medicine In addition, according to a study published in Alternate Therapies in Health and Medicine, patients who received regular Reiki treatments demonstrated a significant reduction in the symptoms of psychological distress and depression. The symptom reduction experienced by these patients continued for one year after the treatment regimen was complete.
  3. Reiki may reduce postoperative depression. – Anecdotal Evidence Furthermore, anecdotal reports by trained Reiki healer Julie Motz indicate that Reiki can effectively reduce postoperative depression among heart transplant patients. These reports were generated as a result of Ms. Motz’s involvement in multiple heart transplant surgeries with television Dr. Mehmet Oz. Ms. Motz performed Reiki during the transplant procedures and the patients were evaluated for symptoms of postoperative depression during their recovery periods.

Reiki for Depression

Implications for Patients

Based on the research studies detailed above, as well as reports from patients who have experienced benefits from Reiki sessions, it seems that Reiki may be a valuable addition to treatment regimens for patients suffering from depression. However, although Reiki may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, it will be more effective when used in conjunction with traditional therapies. Other treatments that may be beneficial to people who are suffering from depression include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and certain medications. Patients with depression may also experience a reduction in symptoms with regular physical activity.

For best results, people experiencing depression should participate in multiple Reiki treatments over an extended period of time. A single treatment may be helpful, but multiple treatments are more likely to result in long-term symptom improvement. If you are experiencing depression be sure to also see a qualified counselor, therapist and/or medical professional to assist with your road to recovery. Reiki can also help on this road.

Finding a Practitioner

If you are suffering from depression, you may benefit from Reiki sessions. If you are interested in beginning Reiki treatments, you can search for a practitioner in your area right here on our website.

For Therapy Professionals and Counselors please see our article on Therapeutic Reiki here. Reiki may prove to be a useful tool for your practice.

**This article appeared in The Reiki Times, the official magazine of the International Association of Reiki Professionals.


Does Reiki heal depression?

Hello Aniket.

As I have been writing in all my reiki related answers, reiki is divine energy and it does have the power to heal everything. However, there are certain things to be kept in mind. Destiny, karma, the willingness to get cured, patience and such other factors play a major role in healing anyone and anything.

Usually, depressed people are so comfortable in being depressed that they do not desire to take the pains to come out of the situation.

If the depression is there for a long time, the willingness to be healed is even lesser. They might say they want to be better but, they themselves don’t want to do anything to get cured. If someone else heals them, they usually don’t mind that as they don’t have to do anything themselves.

Reiki heals at physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic and even at karmic level. Healing is faster if the healer is powerful. And, it’s very important to remember no healing can be permanent unless reiki or other healing therapies is practiced regularly, even after being healed.

This is because divine energy will take the negative energy out and replace it with positive energy, but our lives, our environment, stress levels are such that it doesn’t take time for negative energy to come back. So regular practice is essential for everyone.

If, besides reiki, positive affirmations, meditation and similar things are practiced simultaneously, healing is faster. I have seen lunar meditation works very effectively for any problem related to the mind.

Please remember one more thing. Healing patients suffering from depression is not easy as they have a lot negative energy and blockages. Hence, patience is a must.

Everything you need to know about reiki

While Reiki grows in popularity, questions remain.

Reiki claims to enable relaxation, reduce pain, speed healing, and improve some symptoms, but few research findings support any specific health benefits. It has been criticized for claiming to heal diseases without scientific evidence. Some have described its claims as fraudulent.

Critics say that it flies in the face of our current understanding of the laws of nature. Advocates respond that the benefits of wellbeing and reduced stress are real but hard to measure with a scientific study.

Scientists note that high-quality research into its effectiveness is lacking. No study has yet shown that it is any more effective than a placebo, they say.

A literature review published in 2008 concluded that there was not enough evidence to support Reiki as an effective treatment for any condition, and that its value remained unproven.

In 2015, a review of studies on Reiki and the treatment of anxiety and depression was published by Cochrane. The investigators concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to say whether or not Reiki is useful for people over 16 years of age with anxiety or depression or both.” Of the few studies that had been done, most were of a low quality, with small sample sizes, no peer review, or no control group.

Meanwhile, research published in BMC Nephrology has suggested that allowing dialysis patients, for example, to benefit from the “healing touch” may be worthwhile, especially if it offered for free by volunteers. Pain reduction may be only slight, but it is non-traumatic, does no harm, and allows patients to feel they are “doing something” themselves to ease their pain.

More recently, Annie Harrington told MNT that the U.K. Reiki Federation currently has a “large document cataloging many research trials.” Maybe these findings, which are being studied by the Federation and the U.K.’s Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), will help bring Reiki further into the mainstream.

Regulatory issues: Time for a change?

Regulatory authorities sometimes ask Reiki websites to change their information to conform with legal standards. Sites selling Reiki products may carry a legal disclaimer, stating that the products are not a medical device, and not intended for use in diagnosing, healing, or preventing disease.

In the U.K., the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has rejected claims that Reiki can heal a range of diseases on a number of occasions.

Judy Kosovich, in a study published by Physics Procedia, calls for a “fresh look” at the regulation of energy medicine. While accepting that regulatory bodies exist to protect the public, she argues that there is still much about how the body works that is not understood or described by science.

Is Reiki harmful?

The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) state that Reiki “has not been clearly shown to be useful for any health-related purpose.” However, they add that it does not appear to have any harmful effects.

The main concern appears to be that people with serious health issues may opt for Reiki and other complementary therapies instead of rigorously tested modern medicine. However, using it alongside other treatments is unlikely to be hazardous.

Indeed, touch alone, whether with or without “universal energy,” appears to have a range of benefits, from building trust to enhancing overall wellbeing.

Kosovich points out that expensive conventional treatments that are currently available often have serious adverse effects, and may or may not work. Many people, therefore, would like the freedom to choose an alternative.

Reduce anxiety with reiki

A few years ago, Dr. Mehmet Oz introduced millions of his viewers to Reiki, saying it was the number one integrative therapy to try. But if you haven’t heard of it, here’s a brief overview. Reiki is a hands-on healing technique from Japan and means “transcendent life force” or “spiritual energy.” The practice of Reiki guides this “Ki,” or energy, that surrounds and permeates every living thing. Reiki enhances wellness by helping your body balance itself, and it enables you to take an active role in your health.

In Chinese, this energy is referred to as “Chi” or “Qi”—acupuncture and martial arts are other disciplines that work with this life-force energy that resides within each of us.

In my private practice at Center for True Health, as well as in my work with patients at the Initiative for Women with Disabilities, part of NYU’s Langone Medical Center, I see so many individuals dealing with severe anxiety. In fact, it’s probably one of the top reasons clients come to me. One thing I love about working with people with anxiety is that they are sensitive to and aware of energy. I prefer to work with clients suffering from anxiety because they are often much easier to help than my clients who aren’t as in touch with their emotions and the feelings in their bodies. I give them this example: maybe they know someone who lives life from the neck up—their feelings reside several blocks away!

What Should I Expect from a Reiki Session?

During a Reiki session, I spend a few minutes asking clients how the session can best support them. Although I see many clients for anxiety, each person experiences it differently; thus, an important aspect of treatment is to better understand personal triggers and areas of the body that are of concern to the client. After we talk, clients lie on a massage table, fully clothed. I place my hands in various positions on or above them, acting as a channel for the Reiki (or Ki) to move through, clearing and enhancing the energy throughout the body, according to the client’s needs.

Although responses to Reiki vary from person to person and session to session, common responses include a deep feeling of relaxation and peace. Sometimes clients feel warmth or tingling, or notice visual imagery. During a Reiki session, the body shifts from sympathetic (fight-or-flight) mode into parasympathetic (rest and digest) mode. Parasympathetic mode is often referred to as the Relaxation Response; this is the state that your body needs to cultivate to heal. The session jumpstarts your body’s own self-healing response—assisting the body in releasing deep-seated tensions, aiding in detoxification, and balancing mental and emotional states.
The Reiki session also allows you to bring about a beneficial shift in your attention. When we’re feeling anxious, it’s usually all we can focus on. The act of moving out of narrow, stressed attention is like relaxing a fist that’s been clenched for years. In fact, we hold tension, emotions, and chronic anxiety in the body’s muscles, and these are released during a Reiki session. After the session, I ask clients to notice any changes as their mind and body continue to rebalance over the next few days or even weeks. Changes might include physical shifts, such as more restful sleep or a more relaxed feeling in the body; mental/emotional shifts, such as feeling calmer in stressful situations or feeling more focused; and spiritual shifts, such as feeling more grounded or intuitive.

Discomfort later that day or the next few days is also good because it can mean the session is starting to help your body rebalance itself. Negative emotions that we’ve repressed and held in the body are sometimes able to come to the surface and release.

Setting aside time in your life for a session to relax and let go in this way allows you to recover from the accumulated physiological and psychological stresses of daily living. Reiki can give you the balance you need to put the anxiety in perspective, and thereby let it go. Many clients report that meditating is difficult because their minds remain active; they say that Reiki is an easier way for them to get into this meditative mindset, allowing the thoughts to slow and relax, along with the body.

How Many Sessions will I Need to Notice Benefits?

Receiving sessions regularly provides deeper balancing and longer-lasting benefits (many clients book a session once a month). But this varies, so I always give my clients a personalized treatment plan. If you’ve been experiencing anxiety for a long time, consider booking three sessions as a starting point. As a rule, acute conditions tend to balance faster than chronic ones, so if anxiety is something you’ve had for a while, it will take a little more time to release it than if you’ve only had the anxiety for a couple of weeks, for example.

Can I do Reiki at Home?

In addition, one of the great things about the system of Reiki is that you can learn to use it on yourself. It’s simple to learn and practice, and daily self-care is an empowering component.

Hands-on-healing is our natural ability; just think about how you often feel better after someone gives you a hug. Reiki classes give you a foundation to work with to expand your innate capacity. Once you’ve learned some basic techniques in a Reiki I class, you’ll have the ability to give yourself a mini-Reiki session every day, contributing to your own healing. You can practice Reiki self-treatment in bed as you’re falling asleep or waking up (basically anywhere) and any time (24/7). This is especially helpful for people who experience anxiety; you can self-soothe anytime you need.

It’s easier to understand Reiki by experiencing it than by reading about it. So if you are looking to try non-pharmacological treatment options or to complement an existing treatment plan, it’s worth discovering whether it could help alleviate your anxiety—either by receiving a session or finding a Reiki class offered in your area.

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Date of original publication: December 04, 2014

Reiki Healing and Mental Health: What the Research Shows

Healing touch therapies, the best known being Reiki (pronounced RAY-key), are ancient practices in increasingly wide use today.

According to the International Association of Reiki Professionals (IARP), “Reiki is subtle and effective form of energy healing using spiritually guided life force energy… racticed in every country of the world.” While often considered to be spiritual in nature, Reiki is not “ffiliated with any particular religion or religious practice.”

Reiki is increasingly offered in hospital, hospice, and private practice settings, applied to a variety of illnesses and conditions. Those who receive such treatments report relief of symptoms from numerous health challenges, including mental health issues. Research shows that reiki primarily helps in the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as relief of chronic pain — the last of which can bring on anxiety and depression, or make episodes worse.

Many Studies, Varying Quality

There are now sufficient peer-reviewed, published research results available to begin to sort out Reiki’s effectiveness in various areas. The Center for Reiki Research has intensively examined a group of them through their “Touchstone Process,” “…a uniquely rigorous peer review method for analyzing a group of scientific studies” . Its end product is a set of critical summaries derived from an impartial and consistent process…. he process incorporates existing best practices for scientific review…” (CRR)

This process looks at all aspects of the study design and how each investigation was actually carried out. Results are analyzed, and study strengths and weaknesses are determined. The Touchstone Process has produced a group of nearly three dozen carefully analyzed studies. The CRR draws some conclusions about Reiki’s effectiveness from only the studies they have examined that they judge to be of at least satisfactory or better quality. (CRR)

In addition to the CRR/Touchstone studies, a varied body of research on Reiki demonstrates its effect on mental health. For example, Joe Potter, a Reiki Master in the United Kingdom, has been conducting an ongoing investigation into Reiki’s effectiveness. An online search in PubMed lists dozens of studies involving Reiki or other healing touch methods, investigating a broad range of conditions in many different populations.

Some investigations were conducted on animals, which helps eliminate some questions of bias and design control among Reiki recipients. Some studies used “sham” Reiki as a form of control (nonpractitioners administered a “Reiki-like” treatment), and others involved distance Reiki (Reiki delivered from too far away to permit touch). Each of these variables lends something importing to understanding the efficacy of the treatment itself.

Demonstrated Effects on Stress, Depression, Anxiety and Pain

Potter reports that “tress was the most common word written by clients as a description or part description of their condition during their first session. Here 20.27% of the total client group treated used this word on their initial visit for Reiki treatment….” In animal studies, Reiki treatment produced clear signs of reduced stress as indicated by changes in autonomic, biological measurements such as heart rate (Baldwin, Wagers and Schwartz, 2008) and certain cellular signs of stress-related damage (Baldwin and Schwartz, 2006). In a study of nurses with “burn out syndrome,” biological indicators of a significant relaxation response were found as a result of Reiki treatment (Diaz-Rodriguez et al., 2011). When nurses administered Reiki to a group of patients with acute coronary syndrome, physiologic indicators of a significant relaxation effect were recorded. (Friedman et al., 2011)

Shore (2004) followed patients being treated for mild depression and stress. After six weeks of treatment and for up to a year afterward, those who had received Reiki showed both immediate and long-term improvements in depression, stress and hopelessness. In a small study, complete elimination of typical postoperative depression was seen in heart surgery patients given Reiki during surgery (Motz, 1998).

Pain often causes depression and anxiety. Reducing difficult-to-treat chronic pain can have a substantial effect on psychological well-being. Some studies have found Reiki to be effective for pain, anxiety and depression relief. However, their design or conclusions are unclear as to whether Reiki’s emotional benefits were a result of pain reduction or a separate phenomenon. Nonetheless, research demonstrated Reiki’s positive results for both pain and anxiety or depression.

Dressing and Sing (1998) found that among cancer patients, Reiki brought about significant levels of pain relief, anxiety and depression reduction, improvements in sleep quality, relaxation and general well-being. This effect was stronger in men than women. These benefits remained when checked after three months. Among abdominal hysterectomy patients, Reiki helped reduce pain and anxiety, particularly in a preoperative setting (Vitale and O’Conner, 1998).

Investigating Effects of Gentle Touch, Distance

Research shows that gentle touch in a safe environment aids stress reduction and pain relief (for example, Weze et al., 2005). Since Reiki generally involves a similar type of touch, the results of Reiki studies often can be confounded by the known impact of gentle touch vs. the effects of Reiki itself. Studies that include sham Reiki treatment groups, as well as those that involve a distance Reiki group, have been important to help sort out the relative effects of Reiki versus gentle touch – or even the effects of the presence of a “therapist,” real or sham.

Reiki is becoming an increasingly accepted presence in hospitals and clinics. (The Center for Reiki Research website lists 70 institutions at the time of this article that include Reiki in their offerings.) It is seen as an effective and cost-reducing method to improve health outcomes and quality of care. Hospital staff, such as physicians and nurses, are adding Reiki treatments to their work. Scientific validation of Reiki’s effectiveness have helped bring this method to the mainstream, where it is able to aid patients in all realms, including those with mental health challenges.

Baldwin, A. L.. Reiki, the Scientific Evidence. (Fall, 2011). pp. 29-31.

Center for Reiki Research (CRR). Retrieved June 23, 2012, from

Motz, J. (1998). Hands of Life. New York: Bantam Books.

Potter, Joe, Research Report, Introduction and General Findings. Retrieved July 21, 2012 from

PubMed. Retrieved July 24, 2012 from

Shore, A.G. (2004). Long term effects of energetic healing on symptoms of psychological depression and self-perceived stress. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 10(3):42-48.

Weze C, Leathard H.L., Grange J, Tiplady P, Stevens G. (January, 2005). Evaluation of healing by gentle touch. Public Health. 119(1):3-10.

Reiki Healing and Mental Health: What the Research Shows

5 Ways Reiki Can Help Heal Anxiety

by Krystle Ash, RMT
(Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

You’ve probably heard that Reiki, a Japanese relaxation and healing technique, can be very helpful for people who suffer from anxiety.
Reiki can balance, calm and quiet the mind, if we are willing to work with it.
So how can Reiki help heal anxiety? Let’s look deeper and shed some light on the ways this Japanese technique is helping people heal their anxiety all over the world.
1) Reiki reconnects you to your True Self.
Being bathed in the gentle, soothing radiance of a Reiki treatment is an experience like no other.
In the safe, protected space created by the Reiki Practitioner, we are invited to experience one of life’s little miracles. Feeling the gentle radiance flow from their hands and through your system, feeling your mind become quiet and your worries dissolve in that space is truly special.
When we feel anxious or depressed, we feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of our problems and responsibilities. They loom larger and larger in our minds until the fear, unchecked, completely overwhelms us and we lose the ability to function normally until we are able to regain our center and healthy perspective.
Feeling yourself cradled and nourished by Spiritual Energy is a powerful yet subtle reminder that there is a life-giving Healing force that is always present for us, if we are willing to open to it.
No matter how overwhelming our issues seem, in that moment we are reassured and comforted by the most powerful force in the universe, Love.
In this space of peace, healing, and love we are reconnected with the light of our own spirit, our True Self.
2) Reiki allows you to slow down, breathe, and enter rest and digest mode.
Most of us are leading incredibly busy lives. Many people are juggling full time careers, families and relationships with little time left in the day for themselves. Our need for rest and relaxation goes unheeded until the mind and body throw up their arms in frustration and cry “NO MORE!” Often this manifests in the form of an acute anxiety attack, mental or emotional breakdown, or physical illness.
Human beings are not robots. Today, many of us are forced to exist in corporate environments that value profits over people without regard for the long-term effects on our physical and mental health. The result is that we are sicker, more tired, and more exhausted than ever before. Many people exist in a near constant state of fight or flight mode, which greatly contributes to anxiety.
Reiki helps because it is an effective and very relaxing form of self care. The benefits of clearing your mind and relaxing cannot be overstated. The body and mind have many sophisticated methods to heal and balance themselves, but they cannot function while we are in fight or flight mode. Receiving a reiki treatment signals to the brain that is is safe to shift into rest and digest mode, and recovery can begin.
3) Reiki releases blocked or pent up emotional energy that is contributing to our anxiety.
One of the surprising truths I have uncovered during my practice is centered around the true cause of anxiety attacks. Before I could effectively hold space for others as a Reiki Healer, I needed to work on balancing my own energy and resolving my own issues with anxiety. I discovered that for me, the source of uncontrollable anxiety was nearly always some emotional truth that I was refusing to accept or acknowledge.
When we ignore our emotions they don’t go away. We might stuff that emotional energy deep within our body or aura, but it remains there until we deal with it. The painful message that emotional energy contains for us might be triggered by situations or people that remind us of the initial event that created the emotional reaction. If we are still unable to acknowledge or accept that emotional energy and the message it holds for us, we will shove it down further and it will begin crying louder and louder for our attention. I have come to understand that the sensation of repressed emotional truth screaming to be heard was nearly always what I was labeling “anxiety”.
As I began to grow my practice and work with more people, I discovered that this truth was not limited to only me. Sometimes it was a job that was killing a person’s spirit and sucking all of their energy that triggered the anxiety, sometimes it was an unhealthy relationship that the person did not want to let go of. Perhaps it was a fear of not being a good parent, or not being able to support one’s self financially. Usually it was a combination of many different things, for human beings are complex by nature. For whatever reason, these fears and the emotional messages they carried were being suppressed until the momentum behind them became great enough that they could no longer be ignored, and a massive release of fear, stress and overwhelm manifested – an anxiety attack.
Practicing Reiki is an invaluable tool during this process, as the healing energy lifts these suppressed emotions to the light of our consciousness to be acknowledged, accepted and healed. We are held, comforted, nurtured during the session, and the emotional release that often follows the energetic release of a blockage is made much easier to navigate by the gentle Reiki energy.
4) Reiki provides gentle insight to the cause of our stress and triggers.
When we experience a Reiki healing session, we get to experience a small miracle. Many of us are unaware of the subtle energy that surrounds us and all things, and the way that energy can nourish or slowly destroy us, depending on it’s qualities. There are places and people in our lives where we have sensed a deep and inexplicable sense of peace and comfort, like beautiful churches, old growth forests, the mountains or lakes. When we are in these places, surrounded by the beautiful, nurturing and pure energy they exude, we feel alive and reborn. Our cares drop away from us and we remember what and who we are, what we love and appreciate about our lives, and the simple things that fill our hearts with peace and tranquility.
Conversely there are places like crowded Hospital Emergency Rooms, office buildings with no fresh air or natural light, or dark, cramped basements that make us feel terrible. There are some people that drain our energy, or things we assume we “have” to do that leave us feeling confused and depleted as they may go against our true nature or cause us to compromise our morals or what we feel is truly right.
When we understand what balance feels like, we become much more adept at identifying imbalance. Armed with this new insight, we can make better, more loving choices about what we will do and who we will surround ourselves with. Situations, people and ways of behaving that no longer serve us can be recognized and steps can be taken to minimize their influence.
The healing received from a reiki treatment is not only limited to the time that you share with your practitioner. The divine energy will continue to work on your subconscious mind and your emotional and physical body for days afterwards, slowly and gently working to help provide clarity and shifts in perspective that can help you regain your peace of mind and personal power. This can help us to see our anxiety and our triggers in a new light, from a place of empowerment as opposed to feeling powerless.
5) Reiki provides the warmth and comfort of being held in a safe, non-sexual space.
Now more than ever, many of us are starving for human touch. In our increasingly tech-centric world, we conduct most of our conversations through text message, and our visits through video calls or skype. Our bodies are more sexualized than perhaps at any other point in history, and there is an epidemic of loneliness.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness only serve to increase the grip that anxiety can have on our minds and lives. If you feel like no one cares, it is incredibly hard to find the emotional strength and support needed to begin unraveling your triggers and the root causes of your emotional issues. Having a safe, non-sexual space to be held and to experience the warmth and compassion of another human being is a powerful healing balm to the spirit.
A Final Note on Anxiety, Acceptance and Peace.
One of the greatest lies we will ever buy is that life is supposed to feel good all of the time.
Sometimes there will be situations in our lives that make us feel uncomfortable or trigger our anxiety that we cannot avoid. If we can accept this, we can begin to understand that happiness is dependent on things going the way we want them to, while peace comes from within and can exist regardless of the external situation.
When we can acknowledge that a situation is not ideal, breathe through it, take necessary and appropriate action to return to a place of balance, and be honest with ourselves about the feelings that situation is causing to stir within us, we can begin to take control of our emotional state, regardless of what life is throwing at us.
Sometimes you will not feel okay. There are real experiences in life that cause painful or unpleasant feelings, and that will never change as long as we are alive. What we do have the power to change is the way we deal with these emotions. Instead of stuffing them inside of ourselves and refusing to acknowledge them until they threaten to break us down, we can look for the lesson. We can try to understand what within ourselves is reacting so strongly to the external situation, and what truth about our own selves and needs this holds for us.
The system of Reiki provides us as practitioners with tools to help ourselves and others to navigate these difficult emotions and shine the light of awareness and compassion onto them in a way that is truly unique and highly effective.

Reiki for the treatment of anxiety and depression

Review Question

This review summarises the evidence from randomised controlled trials that test whether Reiki if beneficial for people with anxiety or depression.


Reiki is a non-drug treatment that is used on people with anxiety, depression or both. Reiki is a 2500 year old treatment, described as a vibrational or subtle energy therapy and is most commonly facilitated by light touch on or above the body. But there is no systematic review of randomised trials evaluating whether it works in this group of people.

Study characteristics

We found three studies for inclusion in the review. One recruited males with a biopsy-proven diagnosis of prostate cancer who were not receiving chemotherapy and had elected to receive external-beam radiation therapy; the second study recruited community-living participants who were aged 55 years and older; the third study recruited university students.These studies included people with anxiety or depression or both, and reported their results separately. This included only 25 people with anxiety, 17 with depression and 20 more with either anxiety or depression but which was not specified. The search is up to date as of 4 November 2014.

Key results

Very few people with anxiety or depression or both have been included in randomised studies. This means there is insufficient evidence to make any comment about the usefulness of Reiki for the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Quality of the evidence

At best, the quality of the evidence is moderate which, on top of a dearth of evidence, weakens the findings further.

Photo-Illustration: Photos: Getty Images

If you know what I’m talking about when I talk about reiki, you likely feel strongly about it. Maybe you describe it as the life-changing saving grace to your chronic back pain, or maybe you’re certain it’s quackery capitalizing on people at their weakest. At least for those moved to write about it on the internet, there’s little middle ground.

For everyone else, a brief explainer: Reiki is a spiritual healing practice which originated in Japan in the early 20th century, and is built on the belief that the body is innately able to heal itself. The word “reiki” loosely translates to “universal life energy” — an energy which practitioners believe exists within, and surrounds, each body — and the practice involves transmitting or balancing that energy, through the specific placement of hands on or above a recipient’s (fully clothed) body. Most commonly, reiki is used to ease pain, anxiety, fatigue, and depression, but since at its core is the conviction that the body in its natural state can heal any ailment, the applications, theoretically, are endless. However, the few, small studies on the practice have yet to yield much evidence of its efficacy (though the research has also found that it doesn’t appear to be harmful).

Six months ago, when I walked into my first reiki appointment at a Santa Fe oxygen spa, I had only ever heard the word in passing, and I didn’t really know what to expect. The spa’s description spoke vaguely about healing and relaxation; I thought I’d paid for a massage. What I got was one of the strangest experiences of my life: an hour in which my practitioner waved his hands over me and blew smoke across my body, to which my body responded with warm tingling in my arms and hands, mysterious pressure on my chest, and uncontrollable tremors in my legs. It was unexpected, a little scary, and definitely not relaxing.

According to my practitioner, these sensations indicated an energy blockage being released; they were merely signs that the session was working. He told me my body was returning to its natural state, i.e. “nearly orgasmic” energy. But it didn’t feel orgasmic. It felt crazy. I tend to be a cautious believer, but even I couldn’t accept this as the cause and effect. I needed to know: what had happened to my body?

What complicates discussion of reiki is that, unlike alternative medicines which have become more integrated into Western medicine such as acupuncture and chiropractic, reiki is unregulated. The result of this is a proliferation of many and varied manifestations of the practice, influenced by different historical traditions and lineages, and often linked by little other than the practitioner’s calling it reiki. This dispersal of technique can be a source of frustration to those who’ve trained in the specific method as developed by the man generally accepted as the founder of modern reiki, Mikao Usui.

So far, the research cautions that reiki should be used in conjunction with, and never instead of, conventional treatments for conditions like pain, anxiety, or depression. But if reiki is to be used with conventional medicine, then there first needs to be clarity around what, precisely, reiki even is. Practitioners going rogue, blending multiple spiritual practices into something new and naming it reiki, muddies the already sparse data. One person who is working toward a singular definition of the practice for patients, practitioners, and medical professionals is Pamela Miles.

Miles, author of Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide, is the unofficial leader of the movement to legitimize reiki in the mainstream. Having practiced and researched reiki for over 31 years, Miles has published in multiple peer-reviewed medical journals, collaborated on NIH-funded medical research, taught reiki at medical schools, and spoken about reiki in the media. Though she doesn’t necessarily advocate for uniform regulation of the practice, she does emphasize the importance of continued research on its effectiveness, and for the education of those receiving it. When I described my experience to Miles over the phone, she wasn’t entirely convinced she’d call what happened “reiki” at all.

“I cannot speak to any particular experience, but the kinds of things you described sound more like an energy medicine, a shamanic approach, where the practitioner was moving the energy, clearing the obstacles.” I was confused. Isn’t that exactly what reiki is?

Ideally not, according to Miles. When practiced according to its origins, she explained, reiki was less about intervention, and more about reestablishing the power already within the recipient to heal oneself. (How you feel about that description depends largely on your tolerance for all things woo.) The practitioner should only be facilitating that power, resulting, most immediately, in a sense of relaxation and stress relief. Regardless, my reaction was hardly unique. When I took to Google shortly after my session — looking up phrases like “shaking during reiki,” “body moving during reiki,” “can I die from reiki,” etc. — I found pages upon pages of testimonials echoing my experience, both from practitioners witnessing those reactions in the recipients, and from the recipients themselves. The explanations, usually provided by other members within the forums, were along the lines of what the practitioner had told me: it was an “energy shift,” or “fluctuations of ki.” But what did that actually mean? For those seeking scientific explanations, unfortunately, the answer is … well, there is no answer.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) lumps reiki, along with similar but distinct practices like therapeutic touch and Chinese qigong, within the category of “biofield therapy,” but any definition of “biofield” is maddeningly vague. The clearest description we have is from a 1992 conference, when the NIH defined it as “a massless field, not necessarily electromagnetic, that surrounds and permeates living bodies and affects the body”; however, the NIH has since backed away from that description. In an emailed statement, the NCCIH told me, “to our knowledge there is no current definition of biofield that has been determined by the NIH.” When I asked Miles for more clarity, she explained the NIH’s proposed term describes “the purported subtle vibrational field that surrounds and penetrates the human body,” adding that it’s still a working definition. To my understanding, reiki practice holds that it is the manipulation of this field which causes either physiological distress or allows self-healing. No scientific proof of the biofield exists.

According to Miles, this mystery around the biofield and, in turn, the underlying mechanism of reiki itself doesn’t negate the power of the practice. Indeed, medical professionals have a long history of using medicine before understanding its mechanism of action. Bayer released aspirin in 1897 and it became the most widely used drug in the world; we didn’t know how it worked until 1971. Scientists are still theorizing how anesthesia works. Ditto antidepressants. What’s more, Miles emphasizes, reiki, like meditation, is at its core a spiritual practice being used in medical intervention, and the mechanism of spiritual practice isn’t necessarily provable by scientific technique. But that shouldn’t have any bearing on reiki’s effectiveness, Miles argues.

Unfortunately, clinical research doesn’t tell us much about that effectiveness, either. A 2009 review of clinical trials found only 12 out of the 76 available which met methodological standards. Most of those 12 trials (which tested effects of reiki on depression, anxiety, stress, memory, and mental function in Alzheimer patients) reported positive outcomes, but conclusions drawn from them are less compelling for the small population size and the lack of consistency among the measures of those outcomes — some results were drawn from heart rate, others from mental-state examinations, others from self-reported questionnaires. It seems too, that, as with the practice of certain types of meditation, some reiki practice might aggravate anxiety in those prone to it. While the NIH reports no harmful side effects of reiki, some practitioners acknowledge the possibility of patients experiencing not only anxiety, but also short-term upset stomach, light-headedness, and fatigue. The danger arises when patients trade conventional care for only reiki.

But this is a service, often a pricey one (insurance rarely covers it, and treatment can cost up to $400 per session), and customers wouldn’t be paying and returning if they weren’t benefiting from it. That evidence is mostly anecdotal, seen in gushing testimonials by patients — like Anne in Rochester, New York, who said reiki gave her the “gift of freedom,” attributing a “release of depression, anxiety and feelings of abandonment” to the sessions. And there’s no denying that medical professionals are recommending reiki to patients or training as masters themselves. About 60 U.S. hospitals offer reiki sessions, including New York-Presbyterian, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and UCLA Medical Center; as of 2014, over 800 hospitals offer reiki training.

Dr. Ann Berger, chief of pain and palliative care at the NIH Clinical Center, explained via email exchange that the benefits they observe in patients “relate to helping with psychosocial spiritual distress which is part of the total pain picture.” Though she didn’t confirm an increase in physicians using reiki, she acknowledged that if there were one, it might have to do with an industry-wide interest in finding alternatives to opiates. In an online testimonial, Danica Fiaschetti from UCLA’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy writes about practicing reiki on a patient who could no longer receive pain medication: “The amazing thing was that the heart rate of the patient went down as the patient began to relax Wonderful experience, and the patient felt better.” Others describe first-hand experience of patients reporting relief from pain, stress, fear, and insomnia.

One possible explanation of reiki’s observed benefits might have to do with recent findings on placebos — that is, that the “placebo effect” might offer more opportunities for symptom management than previously thought. This research is led by Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard Medical School’s Program in Placebo Studies & Therapeutic Encounter. Kaptchuk’s past research has demonstrated what is now commonly known about placebos (that when delivered with a suggestion of possible side effects, trial participants will often self-report those side effects) but a recent discovery is more surprising. It turns out sugar pills can ease symptoms in patients even if those patients know they’re receiving sugar pills, and even if those pills are given without any suggestion about the results the patients might see. It suggests a holistic look at the experience of healing, a therapeutic element to the doctor-patient interaction in full.

“What’s going on in the patient’s is that the rituals of medicine, the symbols of medicine, and a warm, empathetic doctor (in the context of a clinical encounter) activate neurotransmitters in the brain, activates specific quantifiable and relevant brain regions that release these neurotransmitters,” Kaptchuk told Vox. It’s these neurotransmitters which can intensify or abate certain symptoms.

So the placebo effect isn’t about trickery or deceit; it might just be a different option for care. And yet the “benefits of therapies such as reiki and acupuncture go beyond what we normally think of as placebo effects,” writes Jo Marchant, author of the 2016 book Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body. It isn’t about fooling patients; instead, she argues, many aspects of the care that alternative medicine practitioners “provide — from talking to touch — seem to have the power to relieve symptoms and even influence physical outcomes. … Conventional medicine, with its squeezed appointment times and overworked staff, often struggles to provide such human aspects of care.”

The psychological power of reiki (or placebo) certainly has its limits. It can’t cure cancer or stabilize an arrhythmia, but what it can do is ease pain, stress, and fatigue — which, perhaps not so coincidentally, is exactly where patients have benefited from reiki.


So where does my reaction — echoed by many other personal accounts — fit in? I didn’t walk in with a specific ailment, but something physical happened, irrefutably. Did I just have to accept it as a result of a shift in energy I couldn’t possibly understand? Maybe.

But maybe, too, it had more to do with the practitioner than with me. After all, before the session began, my practitioner had warned me (somewhat ominously) that “physical sensations would come up,” and along the way he explained my body’s need to release energy. And according to Miles, the manifestation of our reactions to reiki can be shaped by the practitioner’s influence.“In my more than three decades of professional practice,” she said, “I’ve often wondered if the reason I don’t see that kind of screaming or drama is because I have never felt a need for my clients to have that kind of experience.”

What’s clearest to me now is that to obsess over why and how reiki may help is to distract others from the fact that, often, it does. “There is consensus in the medical community that Reiki practice is non-invasive and low-risk,” Miles wrote in a follow-up email. “What is needed is to document benefits.”

Research on reiki right now is scarce; that which exists shows little proof of effectiveness, but also little danger when used in tandem with conventional treatment. In other words, if it makes you feel good, godspeed.

How Does Reiki Heal?

by Laurelle Gaia

Many people are practicing techniques to improve their health such as meditation, exercise and improved diet. As this is done, a deeper awareness often develops concerning the flow of subtle energies in and around the body and the connection between these subtle energies and one’s health. This developing awareness validates the ancient idea of ‘life force energy’ as the cause of health and its lack as the cause of illness. The existence of ‘life force energy’ and the necessity for it to flow freely in and around one’s body to maintain health has been studied and acknowledged by health care practitioners as well as scientists.

Our body is composed not only of physical elements such as muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, organs, glands, etc.; it also has a subtle energy system through which ‘life force energy’ flows. This subtle energy system is composed of energy ‘bodies’ which surround our physical body and assist us in processing our thoughts and emotions. The energy bodies have energy centers called chakras, which work somewhat like valves that allow life force to circulate through the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. We also have energy meridians and nadas. These are like rivers, or streams which carry our life force energy throughout our physical body, to nourish us and assist in balancing our body’s systems and functions.

Our physical body is alive because of the ‘life force energy’ that is flowing though it. If our ‘life force’ is low or blocked, we are more likely to get sick, but if it is high and free flowing, we more easily maintain health and a feeling of well-being. One thing that disrupts and weakens the flow of ‘life force energy’ is stress. Stress is often caused by conflicting thoughts and feelings that get lodged in one’s subtle energy system. These include fear, worry, doubt, anger, anxiety, etc. Medical research has determined that continual stress can block the body’s natural ability to repair, regenerate and protect itself. The American Institute of Stress estimates that 75%-95% of all visits to doctors are the results of reaction to stress. The effects of unreleased stress range from minor aches to major health concerns, such as heart disease, digestive disorders, respiratory and skin problems.

Reiki (ray-key) is a technique that aids the body in releasing stress and tension by creating deep relaxation. Because of this, Reiki promotes healing and health. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “the Wisdom of God or the Higher Power” and Ki which is means ‘life force energy.’ So Reiki means ‘spiritually guided life force energy.’ The Reiki system of healing is a technique for transmitting this subtle energy to yourself and others through the hands into the human energy system. Reiki restores energy balance and vitality by relieving the physical and emotional effects of unreleased stress. It gently and effectively opens blocked meridians, nadas and chakras, and clears the energy bodies, leaving one feeling relaxed and at peace.

Reiki can:

  • Accelerate healing
  • Assist the body in cleansing toxins
  • Balance the flow of subtle energy by releasing blockages
  • Help the client contact the ‘healer within.’

A treatment feels like warm, gentle sunshine which flows through you, surrounds you and comforts you. Reiki treats the person’s body, emotions, mind and spirit as a whole. Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use.

Reiki is powerful, yet wonderfully gentle and nurturing. During a treatment, the clients remain fully clothed. Reiki is an effective alternative, or complement to massage therapy. Reiki supports any medical, or supplemental healing methods a client may be using and is of growing interest to chiropractors, medical doctors, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, psychologists and hypnotherapists.

Anyone can learn to tap into an unlimited supply of ‘life force energy’ to improve health and enhance the quality of life by learning Reiki, or by receiving treatments from a Reiki Practitioner or Master.

In the Light of the Creator…We See Only Love

A Skeptic Walks into a Reiki Session… and Comes Out Transformed

In my frustrated search for the tools that would help me heal whatever was at the heart of my anxiety, I came across an article about reiki on a super new-agey health and wellness site. The article talked about how reiki could help heal your bodily and spiritual wounds from miles away.

I was having none of it. My real-life therapist barely did anything for me — how could I possibly be healed over the phone?

According to The International Center for Reiki Training, reiki is a Japanese form of spiritual healing. Reiki, which means “spiritually guided life force energy,” is where a reiki teacher transfers that energy to you, helping to replenish and restore you — mind, body, and spirit.

Basically, you lie on a table and they hover their hands over you, shooting this universal energy into you.

Sound the skeptic alarm, folks, because I couldn’t fathom how reiki could possibly help me. I continued my search for my anxiety miracle-worker (something more logical, surely), kept struggling to commit to daily meditation, and kept paying an arm and a leg to see a therapist who just seemed to want to make me angry at my parents.

Months later, a swirl of family drama and an unexpected, radical career shift left me acutely aware of the deep anxiety-healing work I still had left to do.

I thought my somewhat regular Headspace sessions and yoga classes had eased my mind, but here I was, cuticles bloodier than ever — and desperate to do whatever work would actually work.

A day later, a gym friend told me about a reiki practitioner they’d recently started seeing. He called it life-changing, and said he’d even unexpectedly cried during the session.

“Try it, just trust me,” he said, totally serious, seeming sold. And, suddenly, I was intrigued.

So I made an appointment… What did I have to lose?

Later that week, I walked into my first reiki session. In a warm, comfortable, plant-filled room, I brought the practitioner up to speed. I was nervous as hell about the unknowns of the future, on-edge, vulnerable — and completely exhausting myself.

She talked, listened, gently asked questions to learn more. Like talk therapy, but with more feeling, and less analyzing. Like she was just absorbing my words, letting them settle.

Then, I lied down on a bodywork table, basically in Shavasana pose, while the practitioner guided me through about 20 minutes of “cleansing” circular breathing. With my eyes closed, I inhaled actively, exhaling gently at the top of the inhale, and inhaling again at the bottom of the exhale. All through my mouth.

The purpose: To cleanse my energy, so I’d be ready to receive all that life force energy.

At first, I felt slightly silly. But then, just a few minutes in (I think? The more I felt my breath, the more time seemed to unravel), a tingling sensation spread across my face and down my arms.

Here are my top 10 ways  Reiki can heal our life:

We speak with reiki master Torsten Alexander Lange about this spiritual practice and how to harness it’s majestic benefits…

My most important discovery with Reiki was that it actually worked. It was tangible (I could feel a sensation in my palms) and I got results (often an incredible before-and-after effect). No special abilities are required to learn it, and after an attunement (the initiation ceremony offered in a Reiki course) everyone will develop the trademark feature of Reiki, healing hands.

Using it on a daily basis, though, my surprise got even bigger: Reiki worked on every aspect of my life, from the physical to the psychological, from changing life circumstances to a deeper spiritual understanding.

Reiki goes well beyond what I expected when it was introduced as an ‘energy healing practice’. Or, maybe, my understanding was simply too limited – after all, energy really means that everything is interconnected and can move and transform. Healing doesn’t just apply to the physical, but includes a complete holistic view. And Reiki is not just a therapy but indeed a personal spiritual practice. In fact, this is how it all started: a connection to higher levels of consciousness, discovered in the early 20th century by Japanese scholar Mikao Usui as the result of a deep meditation practice.

1 Physical Healing

Reiki promotes physical healing and overall well being and can be used for any illness. Pain is often significantly reduced and the healing process accelerated. It is completely safe and there are no cautions or contraindications, no matter if you use it on a little cut from a kitchen knife or to treat a cancer patient.

2 Complimenting allopathic medicine

There is no need to use Reiki instead of conventional therapies. It perfectly complements them and even reduces side effects of medication. Did I mention the NHS now accepts Reiki in hospitals?

3 Pets, plants, food

My dog loves Reiki. One of my students treated a bumble bee until she could fly again, and my near-dead chilli plant turned out an almost industrial production of hot peppers. You can also use it while cooking or charge a ready-made meal.

4 Inanimate Objects

Whether it is a dishwasher, power drill, computer, printer or car – nothing is immune to Reiki. Even the ticket machine at Richmond Station finally accepted my coins after some Reiki!

5 Difficult situations

Just think of a situation, and intend to send Reiki to it. Or connect to the energy before you go into a meeting. I am sure it will run more smoothly.

6 Harmony and balance

Reiki helps to relax and allows us to deal with anxiety, depression, and emotional problems. We feel more balanced and calm – and it can do wonders if we have a problem in our relationship!

7 Courage and Strength

“I left my old job!”, “I finally had a word with my boss”, “I now have the energy to follow my dream”. These are some of the many stories I hear from students after learning Reiki.

8 Heightening intuition

“Where did this mart idea suddenly come from?” Reiki opens us to the realm of intuition, guidance and creativity. Not just a few Reiki students were able to develop amazing psychic abilities.

9 Understanding the Universe

Using Reiki (which can be translated as universal or spiritual life force energy) we connect to something beyond what we can grasp with our five senses. You may call it the universe, God, love, or just energy. In Reiki it is often felt as the light.

10 Helping others

Is there anything more fulfilling than being able to help others? With Reiki we can! Rather than leaving it to the ‘professionals’, everyone attuned to Reiki can give treatments. You can treat your colleague’s headaches, help a chronically ill relative, or give Reiki to your neighbour’s cat. Reiki turns empathy into practice.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, I thought so, too. Until I started to witness it on a daily basis in my own life. If you practice Reiki already, I am certain you agree. If you are new to Reiki and intrigued, why not have a treatment – or even learn it for yourself…

About the author

Torsten A. Lange is founder and director of the Reiki Academy London where he teaches Reiki students from all over the world. His book Reiki – Heal Your Body and Your Life with the Power of Universal Energy will be published by Hay House on 7 September 2015.


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