What Is Reiki?

Reiki (Ray-Kee) What Is It?

For starters, Reiki is pronounced Reiki- RAY-KEE.  Translated into English from Japanese it literally means ‘Universal Light’. So now you are one step ahead of the rest of the population, Ray-Kee, good job!

Reiki in its simplest form is a laying of hands technique for stress relief and relaxation that can be done with or without touch. The practice of Reiki originated in Japan with Dr. Misao Usui in the late 1800s. Dr. Usui began ‘ officially’ spreading Reiki in 1923 throughout Japan. Although, Dr.Usui was the driver behind bringing Reiki to the people of Japan, many believe that Reiki has been around thousands of years prior, just not necessarily by an official name or title.

The general population often confuse Reiki with massage as many massage therapist have incorporated Reiki (Ray-Kee) into their massages. To clarify, Reiki is not a form of massage. There is no kneading, pressing, pushing, or manipulation of muscles of the client in a Reiki session whatsoever.  Instead, Reiki is what I would dub an “experiential” service. At first, most people aren't really even sure how to describe what it is into words, and instead can generally only verbalize how they felt before, during, and after their Reiki session.

Many experience Reiki similarly. Clients often report during their session that they experience Reiki as bright colors even though their eyes are closed. Many report feeling calm, relaxed, and at peace.  And others just fall asleep, and arise with feeling of the weight of world being lifted from their shoulders. Generally the overall feedback is the same: I feel better and/or I’m thinking much more clearly.

The profound benefits of Reiki are experienced by the client through the gentle and light touch of the practitioner’s hands, and in many cases with no touching of the person at all. Yes, you read that correctly. Reiki healing can be done WITHOUT touch. Reiki can be practiced over the phone, video chat, or with no communication link at all. As a result, this has allowed the Art of Reiki to evolve into a more flexible option than say massage, which requires in person contact. I've done Reiki on clients as far as California and Ohio, with the same result as someone who would be laying on the table in my office in Alexandria, Virginia. Reiki has also become a viable option for those who are not comfortable with physical touch.

Okay, Meredith, what is the catch? And what do you mean I can feel stuff without being touched?

Reiki is simply the movement of universal life energy from the practitioner's hands to the client. After receiving their Reiki attunements the practitioner has the ability to flow the Reiki from their hands to the client’s body. It is not something that can be seen necessarily by the client but can be felt.Together, the client’s energy and the Reiki energy work to achieve balance in a client’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies.  Also, Reiki does not require any religious belief, no dogma, nor does Reiki worship any guru, yogi, or leader. Dr. Usui is recognized and honored as the Founder, but that’s it. All Reiki (Ray-Kee) requires is a client's willingness to heal.

Do I have to undress for Reiki? Will it still reach areas that are clothed?

No, Reiki can be performed fully clothed.  To illustrate, I used to practice on soldiers at Ft. Belvoir. Often times there was no times to remove boots. Yes, if a soldier can still feel Reiki through a military issued boot, you will certainly feel it through your clothes. Also, Reiki has now become a viable option in helping soldiers and veterans work through TBI and PTSD. 

Finding A Reiki Practitioner And What You Can Expect To Happen In A Reiki Session

The Reiki community has grown extensively in the past few years since I began back in 2011. As Reiki can only be passed from a Certified Reiki teacher to student, one cannot just pick up a book at the bookstore and begin Reiki.

If seeking Reiki, one should look for the following:

1.      A Certified Reiki Practitioner.

2.      Commonly the practitioner will state their level on their website or business card. If not, ask.  There are 3 levels to Reiki:

Reiki Level 1- Have received their Reiki Level 1 Attunement. They can practice on self and close family and friends. Generally, practitioners should not be charging for Reiki at the Reiki 1 level.

Reiki Level 2- The practitioner has received the Reiki Level 2 attunement, assumed to be properly trained in client ethics, practiced a certain amount of hours on others (hours are at discretion of instructor). Practitioners may begin their practice and charging for their services.

Reiki Level 3: Has received all of the above including their Reiki Master-Teacher Attunement. They are certified to pass the Reiki attunement to students, perform distance Reiki, and eloquently educate others what Reiki is and is not.

*Important to note that age and level play no role of importance in how well a Reiki session will be. Intent matters, Level does not.

Price Points

Reiki Master-Teachers will generally charge significantly more than Reiki Level 2 students. Reiki Level 1 students are not encouraged to charge for their services. You can expect to pay $80-$250 for Reiki depending on your geographic location and years of experience of the practitioner. Unfortunately, Reiki is not covered by insurance at this point in time. Although clients are welcome to submit receipts of their Reiki session for FSA, practitioners make no guarantees it will be reimbursed by your employer.  More importantly, Reiki is it not a substitute for professional medical care, although it can be a beneficial supplement.

What to Expect At Your First Reiki (Ray-Kee) Session

1.      You can expect your practitioner to greet you and show you the bathroom and offer you water. Many Reiki practitioners are good folks who are pretty friendly and understanding. Also, your first session may be significantly longer than your first. For example, all of my First-time Reiki sessions are 2 hours.

2.      Generally, you will fill out an intake form, then usually chat.

3.      Your practitioner will either a) explain what Reiki is to you first THEN ask what your needs are or b) ask what your needs are and then explain Reiki.

4.      You can expect to lay down face up on a massage table or lounger, or upright in a chair. I prefer Reiki laying down, but whatever you prefer. If you have issues laying flat let your practitioner know beforehand so they can accommodate you in advance.

5.      They will generally dim the lights depending on the venue.

6.      Where you practitioner begins on clients varies. I was trained to begin from head down to toes and back up to the head. Others work from toes to head. Others go right to where they sense energy blockages first. It just depends on the practitioner.

7.      Many practitioners will incorporate essential oils, pendulum, aromatherapy, singing bowls, and crystals into their sessions. This is totally normal and assist the practitioner in opening your energy centers. If you do not prefer any of these items in your session let your practitioner know beforehand during your intake.

8.      Most likely you will fall asleep, or feel calm and relaxed. How you experience Reiki is completely unique to you!

Side Note: Although rare and uncommon, Purposeful Physical Touching of ANY intimate areas during Reiki is illegal and falls under sexual harassment. Reiki practitioners engaging in such behavior can reported to Law Enforcement and their governing Reiki body.  

To Schedule A Reiki Session with Meredith

Meredith McDonough: Reiki Master-Teacher

Higher Vibrations LLC


Kingstowne- Alexandria, Virginia 

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