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Reiki Basics - Is Reiki Medical or Spiritual?

November 14, 2017



Sometimes people wonder, is Reiki medical or spiritual? The answer is simple. Reiki is BOTH medical and spiritual. In fact, Reiki heals at all levels - medical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, so it’s less of an “or” thing and more of an “and” thing.


But as a practice, is Reiki about medical healing or spiritual development? Again, the answer is both, though some people have a preference for one over the other. 


Depending on where and how you’re using Reiki, typically one or the other aspect will be emphasized. Doing Reiki at a Cancer Center? You’ll focus on the medical aspects of healing and keep quiet on the spiritual for the most part, unless the client brings it up.


Doing Reiki at the local Crystal Shop? Then you’re less likely to be asked to heal a physical pain and more likely to focus on an existential pain, so the spiritual development aspect of Reiki comes to the fore while the medical aspect takes a back seat.


Of course, during a healing session the Reiki energy will work on the whole person at all levels, no matter what. It goes where the need is greatest, no matter where your conversation with the client focuses.


It’s the same in teaching Reiki. In a Reiki class for nurses, you’re more likely to focus on anatomy than chakras, while the opposite is true in a class for a meditation group.


Just as Reiki energy goes where it is needed most during a treatment session, the aspect of Reiki that is needed for the class will arise naturally, be it spiritual development, a medical focus or a blend of both.


More and more the full spectrum of Reiki's aspects are embraced, showcasing the full truth and value of Reiki. Nothing is hidden or shunted aside to try to make Reiki more accessible. 


Reiki's past was highly influenced by World War II, a time when anything Japanese was suspicious in the West. In order to survive, the spiritual Buddhist aspects of Reiki were kept quiet and the Christian hands-on healing aspects were emphasized. It is only recently that this history has seen it's own healing.


Just as things are changing the world over, things are changing in the world of Reiki and energy medicine. “Ands” are taking over while the concept of “or” is becoming obsolete. Your nurses and meditators are one and the same people. 


In the past, the medical aspects of Reiki were also emphasized in the Western world so it could gain greater acceptance without being tossed aside as being too odd or “woo woo”. Place your hands on someone, feel the energy flow, and there you are! Their headache is gone! The burn doesn’t hurt anymore! The bug bite doesn’t itch! Who doesn’t want that?


But once you get to Reiki II, the spiritual aspects of Reiki can’t be ignored. In Reiki II you get introduced to some powerful symbols. Invoke them and the energy gets stronger and more focused. Yes, there’s definitely something deeper going on. Something that can’t be explained medically. There is more to this world than what you can see and touch.


With one symbol you ramp up the mental and emotional healing. While mental and emotional health and healing have a definite medical aspect, it can rock your world to witness Reiki as it stops babies from crying in a crowded waiting room or alleviates someone’s Alzheimer’s symptoms long enough for them to decide what they want. Or helps someone break free of the traumatic fear and hurt that’s held them back for years.


Invoke another symbol and you can send Reiki across time and space. Want to send Reiki to someone on another continent? In 1943? Or the year 2168? You can. To wrap your head around that you have to be willing to play in the deep end of the spiritual pool. 


Then again, there are Reiki Practitioners who don’t have any interest in using Reiki on others at all. They just want to use Reiki for themselves. Is that selfish? Actually, no. Not at all.


When you heal yourself or work on advancing your personal spritual development, you are improving health for everyone. It’s part of the interconnectedness of All.


Many devoted Reiki Practitioners truly feel that this is the only way to effectively use Reiki. They strongly believe that Reiki should ONLY be used for one’s own spiritual development, so the medical aspects of Reiki don’t interest them at all. For them, Reiki exists to help them progress on their spiritual path to Enlightenment.


Of course, spiritual injuries ultimately express themselves as medical ailments and long-term medical pain often drives people to be spiritual seekers, so in my view there is no separation. It's all just part of one long-ranging continuum, with room for all views and practices.


So in the end, It's up to you.  Choose the aspect of Reiki that is right for you right now, and as you grow and change, Reiki will be right there with you, growing and changing to fill your needs.


Reiki is all about the “AND”.

Kay Adkins is the author of Community Reiki: The Reiki Practitioner's Guide to Healing the World, available at . Kay is an Usui/Holy Fire II and Karuna(R) Reiki Master. She also has a Master of Public Health from UCLA. Check out her webpage, or contact her through

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