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Is Reiki Real, or a BS Scam?

Anyone who’s been around the energy work field or seen Reiki images has heard many versions of these same question: “Is Reiki real?”

“Is Reiki a scam? Isn’t it just someone lightly putting their hands on you? What could it even do, anyway?”

“Isn’t energy work and chakra balancing real, or just fake BS? Seems like a waste of time.”

Me doing Reiki on a client in Boston.
Me doing Reiki on a client in Boston.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and of course, no one should EVER be forced to do a type of healing modality that doesn’t resonate with them, I’d like to offer some perspective on these questions in a way that may be helpful in bringing clarity.

As background, my name is Lillie, and I’ve been a certified and practicing Reiki practitioner in Boston since 2018. I’ve worked with over a hundred clients, so these reflections are from hands-on experience, paired with much research. (Curious how to pronounce Reiki? It’s: RAY-key.)

A Response to: “Is Reiki Real?”

I’m going to start by addressing the question, “Is Reiki real?” with a logical answer. We will then move to the scientific (citing several studies from prominent academic hospitals), then dive into the more theoretical realm.

A Logical Response

Here’s the thing: at its very simplest, Reiki is caring, safe touch — like a mother putting her hand on her beloved child’s head to comfort them. Think back: Have there been times in your life when a friend saw you were having a rough day, and (with consent) put a hand on your shoulder? Did it make you feel a little better? In my life, it certainly has.

Kindly human touch has great power to calm the body’s nervous system, promote happiness, and provide grief relief. Few people would say, “I don’t believe in hugs making someone feel better,” or, “Is it fake that holding a baby calms them?” And yet, there is still great skepticism that the gentle hand placements of Reiki could do anything.

When you think of Reiki simply as kind, safe, and gentle human contact, it’s a whole lot easier to understand why this modality can be so effective in making us feel better: our bodies are designed to be soothed by trusted touch!

A Research-Based, Scientific Response

Now let’s take this logical, experience-based analysis to a more scientific level, supported by research from hospitals and health organizations. In studies and programs cited by the esteemed Cleveland Clinic, NIH, and Boston’s Brigham and Women’s, what is shown is that the gentle touch (or even proximity of intentional hands, without touch) of a focused, caring person can help bring the recipient’s body into a calmer, more meditative state. When the body is calmer, this allows it to process and heal — emotionally, mentally, and to some extend physically.

Is Reiki a Miracle Cure?

Now here is where we have to get very clear about the limitations of Reiki’s powers. Though I love energy work, please understand that it is no replacement for modern medicine or the healing powers of time. Reiki’s gentle placement of hands cannot instantly heal a broken bone, nor fix liver failure.

However, Reiki CAN assist the recipient in supporting the body’s natural healing capacity. Conceptualize it this way: When you have a bad cold, you usually get better faster if you get lots of good rest. Taking time and space to rest helps healing — however for many of us, we find it difficult to make that time for self-care. Reiki helps because there is a caring practitioner there to help guide you through getting into that restful meditative state.

A Theoretical Response

There we have the logical and research-based, scientific reasons why Reiki can help, so that leaves us with the theoretical, spiritual, or “Woo-Woo” aspect — which is the one that I think makes people feel a little nervous or confused. I’ll write more about this in other dedicated articles (such as “Visions during Reiki“), but for the purpose of this post, I’ll leave it at this: Yes, Reiki can have wonderful spiritual aspects — but it is very important to state that you can still experience fabulous benefits simply from the scientifically-documented soothing powers of kindly human touch.

Don’t worry about “believing in Reiki” — it is not religious, and there is nothing you need to believe. You just need to lay back, relax, and enjoy the meditative state that safe human contact can bring.

So, is Reiki Real or Fake?

I hope that this article has helped explain that the answer to, “Is Reiki real?” is: YES, its gentle hand placements are scientifically documented by research to help calm the body in order to support natural self-healing — but it is NOT an instant miracle cure for everything!

As a Reiki Master, I’m clearly biased, but over the years, I’ve been so moved to see, firsthand, how these gentle hand placements can help. If you still remember that caring hand on your shoulder from a friend or family member that made you feel just a little happier, stronger, and more centered, Reiki could be a match for you.

Want more? Check out: “How Much Does Reiki Cost?”

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