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Reiki Basics - What is Reiki?

September 30, 2017


What is Reiki? That’s such a simple question, but my usual answer is to stand for a moment with my mouth gaping open as my brain tries to find a way to put the miracle of Reiki into words.


The first words out of my mouth come by rote “It’s a Japanese relaxation technique that promotes healing,” I say, “Let me show you!” In no time at all, I’m standing behind the person with my hands on or hoovering over their shoulders, letting the flow of Reiki energy answer the question for itself.


This exact scenario played out earlier this week when my husband and I were out having dinner with a long-time friend. You know, the kind of friend you used to see every day in high school or college, then kind of let slide for a few decades, knowing you would pick up right where you left off the next time you got together.


He’d heard about my interest in Reiki from my facebook posts and wanted to know more. After my rote explanation, I let the energy flow to his shoulders for just a minute or two so my enchilada wouldn’t get cold. Next thing I knew, he and my husband were searching to find the right words to describe the energy.


“Even if I’m just imagining things, I could feel the warm relaxation float down my muscles, like it was coating my insides” said our scientist friend, “I didn’t feel any electrical shocks or pin pricks or anything like that.”


My husband, also a science guy, assured him that the sensations are real, “For me it feels like – what’s that word they use for chocolates? Enrobing. It feels like I’m being enrobed in relaxation.”


I had to chime in with my own interpretation, “It’s like warm honey flowing down my spine.”


So that took care of the sensations we each experience through Reiki, but it never really quite explained what Reiki is.

At the most basic level, Reiki is a Japanese word that means “Universal Life Energy”. You’re familiar with ki or qi or chi from martial arts like qi gong or tai chi. Or maybe you know it as prana, biofield energy, or rauch. Life Energy is the ki part of Reiki. Rei means Universal or Spiritually Guided, so in Reiki you aren’t using your own life energy, you are drawing it from the limitless universe.


But no verbal explanation can take the place of the sensation of sending or receiving Reiki. It’s simply something you have to experience. Look for a local Reiki Circle to get a taste of Reiki, ask a friend who does Reiki to give you a sample, or schedule an appointment with a Reiki Practitioner. Or walk around with an obvious injury and see who the Universe brings to you.


Earlier today, as I was heading to the car with my groceries, I saw a young woman hurry out of the local Dairy Queen with her hand in a cup of ice.


“Are you hurt?” I blurted out


“Yes.” She said, “I burned my finger.”


I stepped towards her and held out my hands, “Can I Reiki it?”


She had no idea what Reiki was, but there was no hesitation as she took her hand out of the ice and held it towards me. The energy was already flowing before I remembered my explanatory spiel, “Reiki is a Japanese technique that helps with healing.” I didn’t bother to mention relaxation. The burn needed to heal and it needed to heal now.


She had burned her finger on the oven at work. The oven they keep at 800 degrees. When it happened, she heard her finger sizzle.


As we stood there with my hands held in the energy field around her finger, she observed, “This is the first time it hasn’t hurt when it’s out of the ice.”


That’s what Reiki is.


Kay Adkins is an Usui/Holy Fire II and Kaurna Reiki Master. She is also the author of Community Reiki, available on Amazon. She can be contacted through her website at



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