Reiki Myths and Misconceptions

In my more than 20 years of practicing and teaching Reiki, I have come across many myths and misconceptions about Reiki. With this blog post I would like to clear these up. Whether you are a Reiki practitioner unsure about some aspects of your work, a healthcare professional sceptical when it comes to the benefits of Reiki, or a person thinking about getting Reiki treatments to increase and maintain health and wellness but are unsure about whether in your situation it would be right, this blog post is for you.

Introduction to Reiki

Reiki can be used for any health issue or condition. There are no contradictions. Reiki  always  works  for good  and  will  only  balance  what  is needed. Any response is simply moving back towards wholeness or balance.  Reiki IS AN EFFECTIVE METHOD for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. While most experienced teachers know that Reiki can be used to help any condition or situation, some insist that Reiki should not be used in certain situations. These “should not’s” are invariably based on inaccurate information.  Reiki practitioners and teachers hear a Reiki “should not” and simply pass it on without checking to see if it is true. At times, these mis-conceptions have prevented people who really would have needed Reiki to receive it. To  explore  the  myths  and  misconceptions about  Reiki  and  its  uses,  it  is  important  to  first  understand  the body’s natural ability to heal.

The nature of healing

We  know  that  repeated  exposure  to  stress  or  stress  sustained over  a  long  period  of  time  can  have  damaging  effects on  oneself and lead to dis-ease (a body not at ease). When a person is stressed – whether physically, emotionally or mentally – the body’s natural protective stress response releases various chemicals into the blood stream to activate the fight or flight response. These chemicals are designed for a short-term response to help a person “survive” a perceived danger or threat.  If  stress  continues  over  a long period of time and the chemicals continue to be released into our blood stream, these same chemicals can create an unhealthy environment for the cells to live in and can influence their  growth  or  repair  in  a negative  manner,  moving  them towards disease. Reiki induces the relaxation response and puts the body in the best condition possible so it can do what it is designed to do—heal itself. Relaxation through Reiki promotes the release of health-affirming chemicals which bathe the cells in a sea of life force energy, promoting normal growth and development.  It  is  interesting  to note  that  the  traditional  Reiki  hand  positions  are  located  over the  major  glands  and  organs  of  the  body in order to influence them directly.  These major glands secrete the hormones that regulate all of our bodily functions. By placing our hands in these positions, we automatically nourish and help to balance the glands and hormonal system.

The practitioner’s role

I sometimes hear Reiki practitioners say that they “healed this person” or “improved that person’s medical condition”. In reality, it is always the client’s body that does the healing. We practitioners are simply the channel through which life force energy flows. We simply facilitate the process. Reiki strengthens and enhances the body’s natural ability to heal. By guiding us in the placement of our hands, the energy goes where it is needed most. It moves blocked energies, cleanses the body of toxins, and works to create a state of balance on all levels: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Health is the free and balanced flow of ki (chi), of life force energy. Disease or illness is the result of the interruption or disturbance of this flow. I make sure that all my clients and all my students understand this.

Where it hurts

When  a  person  tells  the  practitioner  that  he  or  she  has  a problem  in  a  specific  body  part  or  that  this  or  that  hurts,  it  is important to realise this may not be the area in need of balancing.  The  location  of  a  pain,  symptom,  or  difficulty  is  often  the end result of an imbalance elsewhere. Focusing on that physical part  of  the  body  does  not  necessarily  address  the  origin  of  the problem.  Many  healing modalities  are  based  on  the  belief  that dis-ease  actually  begins  in  the  body’s  energy  field  (spirit, mind and emotions) and I have found this to be true with many of my clients. If not balanced or healed, the imbalance manifests  over  time  in  our  physical  body  as  illness  or  discomfort  of some kind. The body often compensates for an area of injury by having the opposite or a nearby part (e.g., muscle, organ) take over for the impaired part, thus doing the work of both parts. The injured area is then protected while the other part attempts to compensate by working harder. The compensating part may be the area that  is  stressed  and  hurts  the  most,  rather  than  the  location  of the initial injury. That is why it is important that the Reiki practitioner follows the energy and place the hands where Reiki is needed at that time.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Reiki practitioners do not diagnose or treat symptoms or conditions of illness. Reiki always works for good and will only balance what is needed. Any response is simply moving back towards wholeness or balance. If you as a Reiki practitioner are ever unsure whether you can give Reiki, simply get quiet and ask for guidance. The energy will always guide you! As Reiki practitioners, we focus on restoration, rebalancing, and harmonising the energy flow.  We follow the energy to find the area of imbalance and bring it back into balance so healing can occur and balance can be restored.

Too much Reiki

Some Reiki practitioners have reported that people on occasion have felt “bad” after a Reiki session. This often leads to the misconception that the person received too much Reiki. In reality, the body is like a sponge; once saturated, it cannot take more. Reiki flows according to the need of the person receiving it and will give them the amount that they need.  The wisdom of the body knows how much it needs, and when it has had enough, it simply stops receiving and Reiki stops flowing. Reiki induces the relaxation response and all its benefits. Because  it  balances  one’s  energy,  some  people  may  experience  temporary  increase in  their  symptoms  and  feel  worse  before  they feel better. When this happens, the person usually feels better with-in 24 hours.  In fact, the person often reports that they feel more than 100 percent better than before the session. The “feeling bad” can be considered a release of toxins or rebalancing, not too much Reiki. This reaction is sometimes referred to as a “healing reaction,” a “healing catharsis,” or a “healing crisis.”  It is simply the body working itself back to balance physically, emotionally and mentally.

Emotional release

Emotions that have been buried or hidden may surface immediately or some hours after the Reiki healing.  A person may feel uncomfortable when emotions such as grief, sadness, anger or fear arise. This may frighten them away from Reiki. It is important to understand that feelings are energy and need to be felt; our emotions are trying to tell us something. Feelings/emotions come from our beliefs and thoughts about someone or something. If we can change the way we think about a person or situation, then we can change the feeling.  I always encourage my clients to feel their feelings. I explain that feelings have a cycle of their own and will pass in time. If a client is having difficulty with their emotions, it is often wise to recommend that they speak with a counsellor or someone trained to help them work through their issues. I have often found that a combination of Reiki treatments and some counselling is beneficial because whatever is stirred up in the Reiki session (being brought into awareness or consciousness) can then be worked on with the counsellor and a real process of healing on an emotional level becomes possible.

Broken bones

A common misconception is that one should not give Reiki to a broken bone before it is set. It is believed that Reiki will speedup the healing process and the bone will not set correctly. To dispel  this  myth  it  is  first of all important  to  understand  that  there  are  many different  types  of  fractures  or  breaks.  They  range  from  a  simple” greenstick” fracture where there is a crack in only one side of the bone to an open fracture where the bone breaks through the skin. All bones have a natural healing mechanism built in. Depending  on  the  nature  of  the  break  and  the  circumstances surrounding  the  event.  A broken bone can be  a physiological(vital process of the body) as well as a psychological shock to the body. In reality, there is so much going on when a bone is broken  that  the  body  perceives  it  as  a  “threat,” and  the  stress response is initiated. The body has to adjust to all the signals it is getting from the injury and can at times even over respond. Reiki calms the person and facilitates the body’s own natural ability to respond appropriately. Reiki can reduce pain and trauma, help decrease bleeding, spasm, and /or swelling, and put the person in the best condition for healing. By enhancing  the  body’s  natural  ability  to  heal  itself,  one  can  see how the healing process may be “speeded up,” but in an appropriate manner.


Because Reiki promotes the relaxation response and serves to balance  body,  mind  and  spirit,  it  may  help  reduce  the  need  for medication or help reduce side effects of medications. If a person receives Reiki on a regular basis whether from a practitioner or daily self-treatments, they may find their medication requirements decrease and a dose adjustment may be in order. Regular use of Reiki  can  also  be  a  self-empowerment  tool; when the clients believe that they are more in control of their lives, they often feel more positive and encouraged to  take  better  care  of  themselves,  make  lifestyle  changes, and  have  a  more  positive  outlook  on  life in general; Reiki gives them a sense  of  peace,  increased  self-awareness,  and decreased  stress; and all of that may lead to the need of an adjustment of their medications. It is important to point out that Reiki is never a substitute for medical care, and it is important that a person consults with their treating doctor to determine if an adjustment in medication is possible or necessary.

Pacemakers and Defibrillators

Some Reiki practitioners will not give Reiki to a person with a  pacemaker  or internal  defibrillator,  fearing  that  Reiki  may interfere  with  the  device  or  act  as an  electrical  current.  This is not true. Many practitioners give Reiki frequently to clients with pacemakers  or  defibrillators  who  experience  the  positive  results expected of Reiki. If you have a concern, simply place your hands further away from the area.


Some  Reiki  practitioners  believe  that  it  is  not  safe  to  give  pregnant women Reiki because it may be too much energy and/or affect the unborn child in a negative way. The most important thing to remember when working with a pregnant woman is that Reiki is LIFE AFFIRMING!  Any-thing that affirms life cannot hurt it. Reiki is safe for all stages of pregnancy, from conception to birth. Reiki has many benefits for the unborn child as well as the mother.  Taking care of the mother takes care of the child.  Reiki bathes the pregnant woman and her unborn child in a sea of peace, love, and deep relaxation. It can help with the discomforts of pregnancy. It minimises the effects of stress and provides a supportive environment for the unborn child to grow and flourish. A pregnant Reiki practitioner can give herself Reiki every day, connecting with her unborn child at a soul level, and providing life-affirming and enhancing surroundings for the child to grow in. Reiki is also wonderful for the mother and newborn child as they both adjust to this new life. Reiki helps a new mother relax, especially when breast feeding, enhancing the experience for both mother and child and strengthening the very special and sacred bond.

 Surgery and Anesthesia

Another misconception is that Reiki cannot be given during surgery because it might lessen the effects of the anaesthesia and the person may wake up during surgery. Surgery is a stressful event. The anticipation can trigger a tremendous amount of anxiety and accompanying stress.  Because of its relaxation-inducing effects, Reiki is very beneficial in preparing a person for surgery and can be given or sent during surgery. This is what Reiki practitioners learn to do during their medical Reiki training, if they feel so inclined. I know and have trained nurse anaesthetists and anesthesiologists who give Reiki as they give anaesthesia. They have told me it is easier for the person to “go under,” and they often require less anaesthetic. Having received fewer anesthetics, they wake up easier and have a better postoperative experience—less pain, less nausea and vomiting. Some nurses who work in the Recovery Room have also told me people who receive Reiki before and/or during surgery have an easier time releasing the anesthetic and less postoperative pain. This can be easily explained because Reiki induces the relaxation response. As a person relaxes, their muscles relax and their breathing improves. This makes it easier for them to receive the anesthetic, and they require less of it in many cases.


Some  practitioners  believe  that  one  should  never  give  Reiki to a  person  with  cancer  because  the  energy  will  feed  the  tumour and make it grow! This belief goes against everything that Reiki is.  Reiki  is  about  balance  and  it  supports  the  normal  system  of checks and balances in the body. It enhances the body’s natural ability to heal. It does not support the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that are cancerous. Reiki provides calm and relaxation, restoration and support. Reiki can help reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and minimize the side effects of cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. It can help manage stress which in turn helps keep the immune system healthy; some-thing all people need going through cancer therapy. I have worked with many cancer patients before, during and after their treatments and can say that Reiki has really helped them to cope with every aspect of this difficult and often heart-breaking journey.

Chronic pain and chronic illness

When  people  live  with  chronic  pain and/or  chronic  illness, they  are  often  in  “survival”  mode and most  of  their  energy  goes  to just  getting  through  the  day.  Day-to-day  living  can  be  a  challenge,  and  a person’s  mental,  emotional  and  physical  resources are often drained. Reiki can help maintain balance. It can calm anxieties.  It can help manage the daily stressors of their lives. Learning Reiki and doing daily self-treatments can  empower  a person to take charge of their lives and their health.

There is only one way to do Reiki

Reiki is the way of the compassionate heart. The basic principles of Reiki are the same no matter what school you studied with or form you practice: Love, care, compassion, mindfulness, respect and life force energy. Reiki is life force energy being expressed through each individual and their personal vibration.  Each person is a channel for the energy to flow through. Each individual’s expression of Reiki can feel different and be expressed differently.

Final remarks

Reiki can be used for any health issue and condition.

Reiki is a natural, holistic, simple and safe technique.

Reiki can be used in many different settings, including hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and other care facilities.

Reiki does not require any equipment.

Reiki can be given with the client sitting or lying down.

There are no contradictions.

Reiki will only balance what is needed any response is simply moving back to wholeness or balance.


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