To explain Reiki we need to begin by
explaining energy. 

Since 1925 physicists have understood that everything that exists in the whole universe is energy. Before that discovery, Newtonian physics had accepted that the atom was as small as matter got, but then quantum physicists looked inside the atom and discovered that at the quantum level (between 10,000 and 100,000 times smaller than an atom) everything is made of energy. 


This energy vibrates and oscillates at different rates, but the sun and moon, a London bus, the device you are reading this on, water, air, plants and the tiniest of insects are all made of energy - and so are we!

Our energies all affect each other as they intermingle. To quote Bruce Lipton, Cellular Biologist, "everything is an energy field with no borders to it... everything is interconnected". He explains this very well, and the way our feelings and intuition work with the energy in this video: click here. Our bodies (and animals, birds, fish, insects...)  are made of electromagnetic energy which reacts to everything we eat, everything we do and every thought and emotion we have - our thoughts and feelings have a huge impact on the way our bodies feel, and vice versa. 

The energy that makes up our physical bodies is vibrating at a slow enough rate for us to be able to see and touch it. However, what we call our energy system - our chakras (centres of energy in our bodies), meridians (energy channels running through our bodies) and aura (the energy field around our bodies) vibrate at a much higher rate - this energy is called Ki (or Chi or Prana in other modalities). Even though we cannot see it, this energy can be easily damaged and can have a knock-on effect on other parts of us. For example, sadness or stress can manifest itself as a physical symptom and vice-versa. This Ki, essential but vulnerable, fragile yet also strong, is the energy that a Reiki healer works with and that is what makes this gentle therapy so powerful as it is treating the essential, most fundamental energetic part of us. Also, because it is treating us on this level the effects ripple out positively on our whole life.

The energy that a Reiki healer uses to treat the client is pure, universal energy - the energy that makes up our world, straight from the source. Reiki healers are specially attuned to be able to act as a 'conduit' for this energy which clears blocked chakras and energy paths in the body, enabling the client's energy to flow smoothly and treating body, mind and spirit so that they are all working together harmoniously. This enables the system to work in harmony and stimulates the immune system, providing a foundation for well-being on every level. Emotional and psychological blockages can be cleared, which in turn help the physical body to function properly and aid healing. Reiki is also an 'intelligent energy' which will go to the area that it is needed most.


If you find this concept difficult to swallow as people sometimes do as we can't physically see the energy and how it works, just think of how we listen to the radio, or how we use mobile phones - we can't see the radio waves that make these work either and to our ancestors they would appear magical, but we just accept them as everyday tools.

As many of us are turning more and more to natural and holistic medicine, the popularity of Reiki is growing and therefore the awareness of the good it can do. Reiki is now used in many hospitals and cancer hospices, particularly in America, but also in the UK and to quantify what they are offering patients they carry out tests that are set in control groups. One group offers Reiki, one group offers ‘sham’ Reiki (a ‘healer’ acting a Reiki treatment) and one group has no treatment at all. The ‘sham’ Reiki group is to make sure that the response from the patient isn’t just down to the comfort of having one-to-one attention. These tests measure its effectiveness in medical, biological terms and how it helps patients with stress and pain relief. Some of the tests and results are documented on the Center for Reiki Research website (click here).

There has also been an increasing amount of scientific research into Reiki in the last few decades, due to the invention of equipment sensitive enough to record the bio-magnetic energy around the body. The article below (written and researched by Tamisha Sabrina of the UK Reiki Federation and published in March 2000) explains the scientific findings of Reiki in layman’s terms:

"Independent research by Dr. Robert Becker and Dr. John Zimmerman during the 1980's investigated what happens whilst people practice therapies like Reiki.  They found that not only do the brain wave patterns of practitioner and receiver become synchronised in the alpha state, characteristic of deep relaxation and meditation, but they pulse in unison with the earth's magnetic field, known as the Schuman Resonance.  During these moments, the biomagnetic field of the practitioners' hands is at least 1000 times greater than normal, and not as a result of internal body current.  Toni Bunnell (1997) suggests that the linking of energy fields between practitioner and earth allows the practitioner to draw on the 'infinite energy source' or 'universal energy field' via the Schuman Resonance.  Prof. Paul Davies and Dr. John Gribben in The Matter Myth (1991), discuss the quantum physics view of a 'living universe' in which everything is connected in a 'living web of interdependence'.  All of this supports the subjective experience of 'oneness' and 'expanded consciousness' related by those who regularly receive or self-treat with Reiki.

Zimmerman (1990) in the USA and Seto (1992) in Japan further investigated the large pulsating biomagnetic field that is emitted from the hands of energy practitioners whilst they work.  They discovered that the pulses are in the same frequencies as brain waves, and sweep up and down from 0.3 - 30 Hz, focusing mostly in 7 - 8 Hz, alpha state.  Independent medical research has shown that this range of frequencies will stimulate healing in the body, with specific frequencies being suitable for different tissues.  For example, 2 Hz encourages nerve regeneration, 7Hz bone growth, 10Hz ligament mending, and 15 Hz capillary formation.  Physiotherapy equipment based on these principles has been designed to aid soft tissue regeneration, and ultra sound technology is commonly used to clear clogged arteries and disintegrate kidney stones.  Also, it has been known for many years that placing an electrical coil around a fracture that refuses to mend will stimulate bone growth and repair. 

Becker explains that 'brain waves' are not confined to the brain but travel throughout the body via the perineural system, the sheaths of connective tissue surrounding all nerves.  During treatment, these waves begin as relatively weak pulses in the thalamus of the practitioner's brain, and gather cumulative strength as they flow to the peripheral nerves of the body including the hands.  The same effect is mirrored in the person receiving treatment, and Becker suggests that it is this system more than any other, that regulates injury repair and system rebalance.  This highlights one of the special features of Reiki (and similar therapies) - that both practitioner and client receive the benefits of a treatment, which makes it very efficient. 

It is interesting to note that Dr. Becker carried out his study on world-wide array of cross-cultural subjects, and no matter what their belief systems or customs, or how opposed to each other their customs were, all tested the same.  Part of Reiki's growing popularity is that it does not impose a set of beliefs, and can therefore be used by people of any background and faith, or none at all.  This neutrality makes it particularly appropriate to a medical or prison setting."


Further reading:
There is also a whole series of research reports on the efficacy of Reiki on patients with cancer, HIV, MS, Depression and on the elderly among others here:

Please note that Reiki is a complementary therapy and not intended to replace veterinary treatment or advice.