The Healing Power of Touch Through Reiki

Today it seems that in the Western world we are more and more insulated from one another. Typically we ride around in air-conditioned cars (often too immense), with windows rolled up and the outside environment virtually blocked out. When I was younger we actually enjoyed driving to the beach with our windows down, experiencing the wind whipping through the car. I remember the salty smell and the humidity in the air as we approached the shore after a few hours ride in the car. At stop lights we would talk to the people next to us and have a good laugh before pulling away as the light changed. But today most people would prefer to forego any interaction with strangers in public, instead choosing to chat on cell phones in mysterious, private conversations. In LA, even when the weather is beautiful but not too hot, people prefer to use air-conditioning in their cars, rather than allowing the warm air to flow in and around us. The other day I was surprised when a woman actually spoke to me while I was buying peaches at the grocery store. Her comments lulled me out of my own inner world, and as we discussed how the quality of peaches was much better at the farmers’ market, I started thinking about how rare this banal but important communication with strangers is. In addition, I thought, if we rarely even speak to one another, what about touch? Is touch becoming extinct as we immerse ourselves in the world of computers, email, and giant air-conditioned suvs?

You could say that I work in a world of touch, for I teach and practice Reiki, an ancient healing artform that uses touch to transmit energy. Reiki involves a light, laying-on of hands system in order to conduct “universal life-force energy” to facilitate healing. Without touch, I could still transmit the energy, but touching the client is preferable in most cases, as it provides a more nurturing and effective process. There are some instances in which a Reiki practitioner might choose not to touch someone–perhaps if the energy is being sent over a distance, if the recipient is not comfortable being touched, or even with an animal who is reticent about direct touch. But in most cases, the practitioner will lightly place her hands on the body in a sequence of hand positions in order to send or transmit the energy.

Sometimes people ask me how Reiki works. I would say that Reiki combines both the power of life-force energy (called prana in India, chi in China, and ki in Japan) and the power of touch, with perhaps a little bit of mystery thrown in for good measure. Reiki will flow when the practitioner sits and lays her hands on the recipient of healing; however many other factors influence the quality of the healing session as well, such as how peaceful is the space where the Reiki is done, how calm and centered is the practitioner doing the Reiki, and how well the recipient is able to relax. A healing session begins when the person commits to the session, lies on the table and closes the eyes. I know this to be true because often a person lies down in the dimly-lit healing room, with peaceful music playing in the background, and before the practitioner has touched the body, the recipient exclaims how good he/ she feels! Therefore, we could say that healing begins when we choose to shut out the outer chaos, relax, and go within.

Interestingly I have found that animals, children, and the elderly make for some of the easiest recipients of healing because they seem to forego thoughtforms and just “be.” When someone’s energy is compromised due to illness, that person is also highly receptive to healing and the Reiki seems to flow into the energy field in a most immediate manner. For the practitioner, it is always interesting and educational to work on different types of people and animals, for each experience allows the practitioner the chance to stretch her intuitive skills and convey the healing energy in just the way it is needed in that moment.

The other day I watched a cat wash her face after eating. Each stroke of her paw was gentle, beautiful, and yet deliberate too, as she licked the paw first and then rubbed it over her face. There were no cares about anything else in those moments as all attention focused on the washing process. I imagine Reiki healing to be a similar dance of movement and energy. As the practitioner’s hands touch someone during a healing session, energy is focused but calm, and all thoughts are on the here and now. For both client and practitioner there is no worry about the past or anticipation of the future, just a quiet awareness of the present. This time of healing represents an opportunity for the recipient to become enveloped in touch, nurtured by the flow of Reiki, as the breath comes in and the breath goes out. Reiki allows people to slow down, reconnect with the beautiful power of touch, and commune with their inner spirits. As more people on the planet tap into Reiki and other healing modalities, a more peaceful wave will move through our communities, allowing all of us a more loving way of being.

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