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Is Reiki Really an Energy?

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It’s likely that you were taught that “Reiki is universal life-force energy” and that“Reiki moves through the practitioner to the receiver”. I once read that life-force energy enters through the crown of the practitioner and moves down to the heart and then along each arm and out the hands to the receiver.

When I first started practicing Reiki I took these explanations for granted. There hasn’t been much concrete scientific research into Reiki, but from an Eastern perspective on healing these descriptions made some sort of sense to me. Over years of daily practice, however, I started to question these theories and have enjoyed entertaining other possibilities of what is actually happening when we practice Reiki.

Instead of thinking of Reiki as an energy, I became more comfortable thinking of it simply as a practice that reconnects a person with their natural intelligence. I imagined that during a Reiki attunement a special piece of information is passed on from teacher to student. This piece of information may be a powerful reminder of the incredible inner wisdom we all have. It’s that same intelligence that heals our wounds without our effort, that tells seeds to grow into trees, that creates galaxies and all of life! It’s always there and it’s everywhere. When a practitioner places their hands on or near someone that person is given an opportunity to respond to this information.

Each person will respond uniquely depending on what is possible at the time. Most practitioners feel twitches, tingling, heat and other interesting sensations in their hands while practicing Reiki. Is this the feeling of life force energy moving through the hands? It feels to me more like the receiver’s etheric body or bio-energy rearranging in response to the reminder of our natural capacity for self healing. It’s like the practitioner establishes the connection to this information and then rebalancing begins to happen naturally.

I’ve found that many more people who’ve asked me about Reiki feel more comfortable with this explanation than the theory of some sort of energy moving through me. Some people told me they worried that the practitioner could be channeling something that wasn’t pure Reiki. Others just can’t believe that anyone can become such a channel in a matter of days. A reminder of the natural ability to heal is an easier description to accept and it also makes more sense to a lot of people.

Getting the ego out of the way is also much easier for the practitioner when you think of the receiver driving the experience instead of the practitioner trying to become an empty channel for life-force energy. When you imagine that the receiver is automatically responding to that reminder of their innate intelligence your job becomes to simply establish the connection and let the receiver respond as they will. This is also very empowering for a person who wants healing and offers them an important lesson in taking responsibility for their healing process.

I think the translation of Reiki as universal life-force energy refers to this very subtle universal intelligence that is found everywhere and is always available. I now teach my students different possible explanations and ask them to decide which feels more true in their hearts. Are you channeling life force energy through you to the receiver? Are you connecting the receiver to the subtle universal wisdom and holding space as they respond? The more I practice the more inclined I am towards the second explanation.

Our ability to self heal is always present and all we need is a little prompt or suggestion to activate the healing response. I think this is why distant Reiki works and why it doesn’t seem to matter how you practice Reiki. Traditional and new age styles all produce great results and I believe it’s because of the simplicity of this reminder of our incredible capacity to move towards balance and wholeness when given the chance to relax enough to reconnect to this wisdom.


Taryn Walker

Taryn Walker
Taryn Walker is a travelling Reiki Master Teacher who wishes to inspire people to realise that they are miraculous! She believes that Reiki can reveal our natural ability to heal ourselves and this empowers us to take responsibility for our lives. She works a lot with distant Reiki and loves the way it allows people to experience the illusion of separation. Taryn is grateful for being able to connect with her Reiki clients even while travelling. She usually lives on a little island in Thailand, where she practices and teaches Reiki, but finds ‘home’ wherever she is. Taryn enjoys yoga, nature, creating art, cooking and finding magic in “ordinary” places. 
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