The Reiki Treatment

Written by Jacqui Bushell on 24 July 2011.

reiki-hands-on-healingWhen you are giving a Reiki treatment expect nothing and anything. Be open to results rather than attached to them. As the practitioner the sensations you experience can vary greatly from client to client. The client may feel nothing or it may be a most profound experience; or the practitioner may feel nothing but the client has strong sensations. Most commonly the energy is perceived as tingling, warmth, cool, tremors, pulsing, vibrating, calmness, heavy or light hands. There may also be visual images, colours, lights. Hands may feel ‘glued’ to an area or repelled, or feel like they are inside the body. Trust the energy. The healing is happening whether you perceive it or not. The client may feel relaxed, feel nauseous, cry and have an emotional release. For you the practitioner, as the energy flows through you there can be a great feeling of love and calm. Often the client experiences this also, along with deep relaxation. For me the clearest sensation, when working with Reiki is the feeling of deep love and tranquility.

 It is for you as a practitioner to expect any of these reactions and be comfortable in dealing with them and explaining it to the client. Reactions can be incredibly varied from ‘nothing’, to pains, to emotional shifts, to sensory perceptions, to falling asleep….. You can explain that the energy is moving something deep and that it is a safe place for them to cry if they wish or to express what it is they are feeling. Remember if you are not a trained counsellor then your responsibility to your client is to allow them to feel safe and not delve deeply into exploring personal issues but be aware of what your limits and boundaries are and suggest referrals where necessary.

Occasionally there may be an increase in the pain, due to the warmth of the hands and the sensory focus on the painful area. This only ever lasts a short time, tell the client to concentrate on their breathing until the sensation passes, which generally only takes several breaths to settle. Another odd sensation you may experience when working with others is that your hands may seem to be inside the body. With your eyes closed it may feel like your hands are lopsided, tilted or uneven, but when you look at them they are obviously not. This is just the way your body perceives the energy flow and can be a little disconcerting at first!

Reiki is an automatic process. All it takes to activate this energy is to place your hands on the body (note that hands may also be placed above the skin).  Actually ‘hands on’ the body is not essential. We radiate energy through all our chakras (of which there are thousands, not just the main 7. Some are more developed than others though. ) Wherever we place our focus and have a clear and loving intent, there is a flow of energy, whether touching someone or not. Energy flows to the area requiring healing, the cause of an imbalance. Any attempt to force the process will result in a general lessening of the energy flow. Remember that the practitioner is a channel for the energy and NOT the source of the healing. This energy has its’ own intelligence and knows automatically what is required for balance in any circumstance. This means that the practitioner can relax and allow the energy to flow without trying to direct it in anyway. Know that there is very little that you can do ‘wrong’.  The one essential for the practitioner before commencing a treatment is to take time to quiet themselves first, ‘center and ground’ and consciously connect to Source / Universal energy. We must allow ourselves to become clear of any disturbing emotions and to enter a space of unconditional love. If this is not possible then you have no right to treat anyone. A practitioner must be free of all judgement and able to see their client as a radiant being, no matter what is going on. This does not mean we need to condone behaviour, but being aware that their ‘self’ is much bigger than anything they are doing, feeling or suffering from.

Treatments never drain the giver but replenish the Reiki practitioner. The energy flows through you, effectively ‘topping’ you up before overflowing to the client. Trust that the recipient is receiving the amount of energy that is right for them. Your ego, mind, emotions and feelings will not disrupt the flow, however the best results are when the practitioner is calm and relaxed and not thinking any thoughts of conflict. It is fine to allow gentle, daydream like thoughts to float through your mind, at other times we are focussed solely on the sensations under our hands. When doing Reiki we are in high Alpha brain wave. This is equivalent to a deep meditation state. When talking we are in Beta, when hypnotised, Theta, when asleep, Delta brain wave. It is best to keep conversation to a minimum; although conversing quietly will not break the flow. Treatments should be conducted in a quiet, relaxing area where both practitioner and client feel comfortable and have minimal outside noise and distractions.

Never do Reiki when angry, resentful, anxious, tired, sad or ill, as the client may be inadvertently be affected, and become aware of your feelings, due to your overlapping auric fields. This will not be of benefit to their healing. Always take time to settle and still self before beginning work with another.

Much of Reiki is intuitive and students can modify the hand positions or amount of time spent on one position, as they feel comfortable. If it feels right, do it! If in doubt, ask your client. Students will find that the ability to seek within and trust their own feelings will heighten their awareness of the energy and its applications. Usui would place his hands intuitively on the body. It was Mrs Takata and Chujiro Hayashi who devised the system of hand placements for those who were not able to connect with their intuition. These hands positions are very useful as they cover all the major organs as well as chakras. They are a useful guide and not a ‘rule book’ though.

How do you know when to move your hands? This varies greatly. Some feel like their hands are ‘glued’ to one spot and suddenly they may release minutes later, or your hands may move on their own accord with no conscious awareness, you may just find yourself at another position, other people say they are ‘told’ when to move,  or they just ‘know’, the client may have a deep sigh or release or you may have a deep sigh, the energy stops flowing, it may suddenly feel very ‘hot’ or suddenly very ‘cold’,etc. Do not be stressed that you will ‘get it wrong’. Ultimately Reiki flows to the area in need, no matter where your hands are situated. If in doubt you could leave your hands in the one position for 3-5 mintues. (Reiki music is available now that rings a bell every few minutes, as a reminder)

 Everyone is in a different place emotionally, mentally, physically and Spiritually.  You cannot assume how they will respond to the treatment or the attunement process. Remember, Reiki always supports the vital force and the body’s inherent balance, allowing healing on any level and dimension, and often in ways we could not predict. Let go of your expectations and assumptions about the direction of healing and what you think may be best…………..


When giving Reiki ALWAYS get permission first. This includes working with people, animals, children, babies.  If possible ask the client verbally. With small children and animals I always introduce myself slowly and put out my hands to notice how they respond, before putting them on their body. Running screaming away from you is probably a no…… If it is not possible to ask someone for example in a ‘distant’ healing then offer the energy as an ‘invitation’ to them, like a prayer. It should always be offered unconditionally, without any expectations of results or what you might like the energy to ‘do’, or eeven if they will receive it. Otherwise it becomes a manipulation. It will be either received or rejected by the person’s higher self. Always allow people choice about whether to receive or not, and how they might like to receive this energy.

If a person is unconscious I still introduce myself verbally as the sense of hearing may not be lost. Then explain what I’m doing and that they can receive this in any way that may be best for them and gently put out my hands, noticing any response. If their vital signs get agitated then I would stop immediately.

Working with clients

After greeting your client it is important to ask them what their intention and expectations are for the session. Have they ever had a Reiki treatment before? (Check that they don’t mean a ‘hands-on’ massage) How did they feel and react? If no, then give a brief explanation of Reiki and ask what has drawn them to this modality? What is their emotional, mental, physical, spiritual state? Ask them also about medications, past medical treatments, sensitivities and allergies, and current conditions. Ask them about their understanding of their current issue. As they tell their story you will be listening for ‘patterns’ that emerge, for example they may not correlate the fact that every sign and symptom commenced within a week of their being retrenched. Also observe their body language, which may or may not be congruent with what they are saying. Explain to the client what to expect from the session; that you will place your hands on their body for several minutes at a time or perhaps above the body, in different areas. Describe what sensations they may feel, such as warmth, tingles, coolness, ‘buzzing’, or they may sense colours. I usually let them know that sometimes they might feel some ‘odd’ sensations and to check in with me if they wish. Tell them this is a ‘quiet’ time for them but that it need not be silent. It is important that they feel able to make any comments or ask any questions, especially if something isn’t comfortable or if they feel emotional.

Do not make wild claims about the efficacy of Reiki. Yes, ‘miracle’ healings do occur but not on demand. The healing is entirely up to the person’s body and being. We can never override their particular appropriate timing.

                Give from the heart, with love and Reiki does the rest.

Start the treatment by grounding and centering yourself. It is important that you are 100% present and listening to your client’s words and body. Clear yourself of any of your own troubles and concerns. One technique may be connecting with the ‘Three Diamonds’ (see notes at end of Reiki I); place hands face down to the earth and connect to the energies there, perhaps feeling it as tingling awareness in your hands. Let the energy of the earth flow up through your body and out your crown, spilling out the hands and fingers. Then palms up and connect to the energies of the sky. Let it flow over you, washing away any concerns, covering you with light and energy. Then bring your hands to your heart visualising yourself as an unconditional vessel of this loving universal energy. Ask for the energy to guide your hands to where they should be placed and that the session be for the benefit of all beings. Your focus should be 100% with the client and unconditionally loving towards them, and centering/ grounding in yourself – so you are fully present. You should not be distracted by personal issues. I imagine the centering process as one of putting aside my ego or day-to-day busy self, and stepping into my ‘wise’ or ‘higher’ self which is part of the flow of Universal compassionate and loving consciousness.

Gently step into the person’s aura. Hold your hands palms down over or on the body. The Ki flows through the chakras in the palms, the tips of each finger, and above the hand also. Both hands must be on or above the body for the energy to flow and come through. The intention for healing activates the energy flow, as does the process of you settling self and becoming more still, centered in the heart.. If you wish to use other parts of your body then the energy can flow through there as well eg. through feet, elbow, forearms. You may notice the energy flowing at other times such as when being creative eg. painting or making something, playing music or making love. If you are near someone who could do with some healing then your hands may heat up. Ask them if they’d like some healing energy! (If appropriate).

The positions of the hands are given over page to use on people and self. They are a good reference guide, but feel free to follow your intuition for where to start and where to proceed. Please adapt them as needed to the size of the person whether 6 foot or 6 inches tall. Also be careful of not being invasive of personal body space and check that your hand pressure is comfortable. You do not need to press firmly when touching a body, be light and gentle.  Be careful especially around the throat area, check for the client’s comfort and personal body space. Some people may prefer you to have your hands off the body in some places. Use a tissue for hygiene when covering eyes or mouth. Place the tissue on gently. Press gently over the eyes, or have your hands above them.  Ensure that you, as practitioner are comfortably seated. If you are in pain then energy will keep flowing to you to address your concerns. It is only when you are physically comfortable that the energy will proceed to the other person. Make sure the client is not paying for you to receive a treatment!

All positions on the front of the body, the head and back cover the internal organs and all chakras.  The timing is usually 3-5 minutes on each position, but remember it can be more or less. Sometimes I’ve spent 20 minutes in one position or half an hour on the head or back alone. Use your intuition. Some notice that the energy seems to stop flowing when one position is finished and it is time to move to the next.  After you have completed a few Reiki healings the practitioner develops a sense of when it is time to move hand position. After you have finished the head and front positions quietly ask your client to turn over so you can do the back positions.

The three sets of positions – head, front and back generally take 1-1 ½ hours but this is a guide only.

Always finish with a verbal or non-verbal blessing and thank the energy Source and the client. As the client will be very relaxed, perhaps even asleep. ‘Bring them back’ by gently but firmly brushing up each arm and leg 3 times and then up the spine (x 3 also). You may like to do a ‘sweep’ with your hands down the body. They may require assistance to sit up. A short discussion of the treatment follows and client feedback.  Offer them a glass of water and ensure they are grounded and not dissociated when leaving the clinic. As the Reiki treatment may trigger off a period of detoxification then ask them to drink 2 litres of water or herbal tea daily to ensure adequate hydration.

It’s not what you look at that matters,

it’s what you see……