Reiki is a Japanese stress reduction technique based on the idea that life force energy runs through all living beings. When we encounter threats in our environment however, our nervous system reacts to protect us and that energy can become blocked, stagnant or overloaded in certain channels. According to Polyvagal Theory these reactions are generated by the autonomic nervous system and are not within our conscious awareness. As stated on Deb Dana’s Rhythm of Regulation website, “This is not the brain making a cognitive choice, these are autonomic energies moving in patterns of protection.” Reiki practitioners use gentle touch to deliver needed energy and remove blockages so that equilibrium can be restored to the whole system.
A Reiki experience usually involves the individual lying fully clothed on a table or reclining in a chair. Typically there is soft lighting and music playing in the background. While channeling energy, the practitioner may direct the individual to focus on their breath and any sensations they may experience. At times the session can be focused, ie: invitations to visualize the energy as it shifts throughout the body and/or letting unnecessary energy go. Other times the individual may fall asleep or go into a trance state while the practitioner follows their intuition for hand placements. Ultimately we trust in the wisdom of the Reiki energy to do what it needs for ultimate healing and the greater good of all.
This process is both an opportunity and practice for an individual to drop into their body and notice sensations without judgements or attachments, giving themselves permission to let go of what is no longer serving them. Reiki energy is kind and loving, thus creating a safe container for the nervous system to express itself. During and after a Reiki session individuals may be able to access parts of themselves that were previously exiled due to shame, fear and pain.
Because Reiki energy restores equilibrium, individuals are able to find their state of safety and connection. From this perspective they can access self compassion and psychological flexibility that may have previously been blocked. This allows for new ways of approaching problems, the ability to identify and use “glimmers” as a way to come back to safety and to open pathways of connection.
Lastly, Reiki energy works directly with the subconscious and unconscious mind. For those individuals who ask for, and are willing to accept healing on a deeper level, Reiki can assist with identifying unhelpful beliefs that lie in the subconscious and unconscious and are causing behaviors and attitudes that are not aligned with the individual’s conscious values.
As a holistic energy healing technique, Reiki as an enhancement to psychotherapy can assist with nervous system regulation allowing for the individual to access states of safety and connection thus creating opportunities for self compassion and psychological flexibility when working with both conscious and unconscious states.
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Jodi K. Silverman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Reiki Master whose mission is to support and guide human beings in their journey for meaning, purpose and connection.