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Everything You Need to Know About Reiki: How it Works and the Health Benefits

Through gentle (or no) contact, the approach may assist enhance sleep, minimizing tension and anxiety, and relieving discomfort.

Early in the 20th century, energy healing known as reiki was developed in Japan. Every one of us has an underlying "life force energy" that flows through our bodies. Reiki works by facilitating a healthy flow of energy through your body, chakras, and meridians. This consequently, promotes your body's natural ability to self-repair and heal.

Learn More: What are Chakras?

In the United States, 1.2 million adults and 161,000 children got energy healing treatments like Reiki in the preceding year, according to a National Institutes of Health survey. An increasing number of Americans are now turning to reiki for relief from stress, anxiety, pain, and despair.

What Are the Benefits of Reiki?

Physical and mental healing; issues such as sleeplessness, stress, depression, anxiety, and pain may all benefit from regular Reiki sessions.

For surgical patients, for instance, Reiki has been linked to reduced tension, anxiety, and discomfort. Patients receiving knee replacement surgery were divided into three groups in a 2017 study published in the journal Surgery. Patients in one group were given three or four 30-minute Reiki treatments throughout the course of their hospital stay, whereas those in another group were given the same number of sessions of placebo (fake) Reiki.

Both groups also had access to the same level of general medical care. Before and after surgery, individuals who got Reiki reported much less pain, lower blood pressure, slower breathing rates, and less anxiety than those in the control groups.

A better mood and better rest might be another benefit of Reiki: Six 30-minute Reiki treatments were more effective than a placebo for improving stress, mood, and sleep in a study of college students (particularly those with higher anxiety and depression).

Cancer Research UK says that past studies have found that Reiki and other kinds of energy treatment may benefit cancer patients with pain management and anxiety. According to Miles, decreased stress is one of the primary benefits of Reiki. Constant stress prevents the body from healing itself. Reiki is all about creating the optimal setting for you body to heal on its own.

With Reiki, you may take a respite from the worries of life and find peace again. Once there, your body has a higher chance of recovering from the effects of stress, injury, or illness.

"Because the body is able to stop being agitated and focus on healing itself, the natural healing process is enhanced and accelerated by Reiki," explains Gabriel.

Previous research suggests that a single Reiki session can help shift your autonomic nervous system from a sympathetic-dominant, or "fight-or-flight" state, to a parasympathetic-dominant, or "rest-and-digest" state (the autonomic nervous system is the primitive part of your nervous system that you don't fully, consciously control; it's responsible for things like heartbeat and breathing).

In order to regulate automatic bodily processes like heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and digestion in a healthy way, your brain's hypothalamus needs to be functioning optimally.

However, in reaction to stressful stimuli like lack of sleep, an argument with a friend, or even physical activity, the sympathetic nervous system activates, causing the release of hormones like adrenaline and other stress hormones and an increase in heart rate and blood pressure (the fight-or-flight response that gets the body ready to deal with potential dangers). These stressors cause your body to function sub-optimally.

This reaction may go into overdrive and cause issues like an increased risk of heart disease when the body is consistently under stress (or is activated by earlier more extreme stressful experiences, such as trauma and resulting PTSD).

"We are not designed to exist in a parasympathetically dominated condition," explains AURA GODS In addition, the calming effects of Reiki aid the body's autonomic nervous system in attaining a place of calm, recuperation, and security.

Twenty-one healthcare workers suffering from burnout (a work-related mental health condition characterized by mental exhaustion, emotional distancing, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment) were given either a 30-minute Reiki session with an experienced therapist or a 30-minute placebo treatment with an inexperienced therapist who mimicked the Reiki treatment. Participants' treatment orders were given at random, and they were not informed which therapy they would get at each session. The one-week break between treatments was also a blind procedure. Researchers monitored patients' heart rate variability, or the pauses between cardiac contractions, to evaluate the treatment's effect on the neurological system.

If your score is low, it means that there is little variation in the length of time between heartbeats, which may suggest that the sympathetic nervous system (the "fight or flight" part of your nervous system) is overworking and your stress level is high. While a high score indicates more parasympathetic activity (the "rest and digest" part of your nervous system), a low score indicates increased sympathetic activity.

Heart rate variability was shown to be higher after the Reiki treatment, suggesting (with a very quantitative physiological study) that Reiki may aid in the relaxation of a stressed nervous system.

Keep in mind that the National Center for Supplementary and Integrative Health classifies Reiki as a complementary treatment, meaning that it should be used in addition to conventional medical care rather than as a replacement for it.

Reiki, AURA GODS explains, "may possibly improve any scenario" because of its systemic balancing effects, but it shouldn't be utilized in place of conventional medical care.

The Origin of Reiki?

The International Association of Reiki Professionals attributes the origins of Reiki to Buddhist priest Mikao Usui (also known as Usui-Sensei) in the 1920s, when the discipline first emerged in the West (IARP). Although Usui Reiki is generally accepted as the original form of Reiki used in Japan, the International Center for Reiki Training adds that there is evidence that other forms of Reiki were being practiced in Japan prior to Usui's creation of his style.

Usui claimed he first felt Reiki energy after fasting and meditating for three weeks on Mount Kurama, a holy mountain to the north of Kyoto, Japan.

Though he was weak from fasting and close to death, the sudden influx of powerful healing energy restored his strength and alertness. In the wake of his epiphany, Usui set up shop in Tokyo to provide his healing services to the local community.

In the 1930s, a Japanese-Hawaiian named Hawayo Takata began teaching Usui's technique in Hawaii, and by the 1970s, it had spread across the rest of the United States.

In the mid-1990s, Reiki practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel began implementing the practice in hospitals across the United States, and its popularity has only grown since then as more and more individuals have discovered its positive effects.

Today, Reiki is a popular supplemental treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer, AIDS, and surgical procedures.

Who Could Benefit from Reiki Treatment? Is There Risk Involved?

There are no [notable] risks associated with receiving Reiki. Reiki is safe and has no negative consequences.

Only if the practitioner is untrained or not sincerely practicing Reiki can there be any harm from Reiki. Reiki is not meant to be a painful or intrusive therapy. Anyone thinking about beginning Reiki should be aware of the potential financial burden that comes from the fact that it is typically not covered by medical insurance.

Some patients may experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms or an unexpected increase in nervous system activation; if you have a history of mental health issues, such as a severe anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, it may be helpful to discuss this with your primary care physician first. You may lessen the likelihood of this happening by opening up to your Reiki practitioner and being honest about any health issues you're dealing with.

What to anticipate during your initial Reiki session?

The length of a Reiki treatment session might range from 60 to 90 minutes.

In a session, you will remain completely clothed while you lie on a treatment table (which resembles a conventional massage table), however, if you are pregnant or otherwise unable to rest flat, your practitioner may have you sit in a chair.

We suggest you dress loosely and comfortably during your appointment. Don't squish yourself into clothes that are too snug. If you need to, you can probably change clothes at the doctor's office, but it's best to call ahead and make sure. Wear layers in case you warm up or cool down quickly during the session, and keep in mind that the therapist may have you turn onto your stomach at some point, so take off any thick belts or other accessories.

The practitioner will lay their hands on or near your body in a variety of places throughout the session, some of which may include the client's head and shoulders, stomach, and feet.

You may anticipate experiencing profound calmness and relaxation during the treatment. You'll probably start daydreaming and might even nod off for a little while. People will often say things like "Oh, I fell asleep," but Miles doubts that this is really sleep. She contends that, instead, people reach a profound contemplative state that aids in nervous system restoration. Be open to whatever emerges for you and discuss it with the practitioner after the session; however, keep in mind that individual experiences vary significantly and can be connected to many circumstances, including the practitioner's qualities.


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