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Reiki: What is the alternative therapy and does it work?

Reiki was established in Japan in the early 20th century

Kate Ng
Friday 28 May 2021 09:02
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Reiki is a Japanese form of alternative medicine, also called “energy healing”.

It is used as a complementary therapy to help with relaxation and healing.

It involves a Reiki therapist or master placing their hands on a recipient to channel “Reiki energy” to encourage natural healing.

But where did the healing technique come from and how does it work?

What is Reiki?

The technique was established by Mikao Usui in the 1920s. He was believed to have developed it during a 21-day prayer and fasting practice on Mount Kurama, north of Kyoto.

According to an inscription on his memorial stone, Usui taught Reiki to over 2,000 people during his lifetime.

According to the Jikiden Reiki UK Institution, the practitioner “acts as a conduit for Reiki energy to pass through him or her in greater abundance, assisting and boosting the natural healing ability of the recipient’s body”.

It adds that the therapy can improve both physical and mental health issues, and is becoming recognised as an “effective and important holistic treatment”.

How does it help?

The UK Reiki Federation lists the benefits of Reiki as “encouraging relaxation and bringing balance to both mind and emotions”.

It adds that Reiki can help recipients achieve “greater inner harmony and balance” and that regular treatment can “promote a calmer response to life’s challenges”.

When used on children, the practice can teach them to be “more focused and self-accepting”, according to Kathy Yvanovich, a Reiki master teacher based in south London.

Yvanovich told The Telegraph that using Reiki on children can also help them go to sleep.

Ok, but does it really work?

There is no scientific evidence that Reiki can prevent or cure health problems, but recipients have reported that it helps to reduce stress and increase feelings of positive wellbeing.

According to Cancer Research UK, which lists Reiki as a “complementary therapy” alongside cancer treatment, the therapy can help patients relax and aims to “ease stress and tension”.

“Some people with cancer say they feel better after using therapies such as Reiki,” says the website. “Studies show that this is often because a therapist spends time with the person, and touches them.

“After the rush and stress of hospitals and treatment, it can be very relaxing when someone gives you attention for an hour or more, in a calm setting.”

Reiki is also sometimes used in palliative care, and research shows there are “some positive effects of Reiki therapy for the end-of-life population”.

Can you use it on animals?

Animal Reiki is also a practice offered by some therapists.

According to the UK Reiki Federation, Reiki “may benefit animals with physical, mental or emotional issues”.

“Reiki is not a magical cure and is not an alternative to conventional veterinary care, but it is a natural, calm therapy that promotes the body’s natural process of self-healing and is enjoyed by many animals,” it says.

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