the nature of reiki “healing”

Healing is something which interest me, not so much in the medicalized sense (which is of course an entire scientific discipline of verifiable treatments and outcomes), but in the colloquial sense of how we gain wholeness in our lives, reconnect with our vitality and inner resources, heal psychological wounds and oppressions, gain inner strength, coherence, integrity, and come to flourish as the people we really are.

This of course does have a bearing on physical health as well, as everything from stress and worry, to feeling loved and like we belong and have value, all can affect us, including the working of our bodies. That’s before we get onto the consequences of our coping behaviours, like smoking, drug and alcohol consumption, or poor diet.

I’m not much interested in model, “healthy” people, but I am interested in people coming into their own and finding their own choices again. Living their own lives as they would feel they are really meant to.

If you have any contact with alternative spiritual or “new age” scenes, you will probably come across people using the term “energy”. Their energy is “blocked” or “clear”, or they will talk about “negative” or “positive” energy, or sensing the energy of a time or place maybe. This use of the term “energy” is very subjective, and is not the same as the scientific use of the word, but it is a useful and adaptable code for a range of experienceable things.

In essence, when people talk about “energy” in this way they are talking about a sense of vitality or its lack, and the colouration of their awareness with tones of emotion and psychological association, or the sensing of a subtle presence which feels like it is a force, even though it is not physically measurable. So energy in this sense is a subjective phenomenon which spans the psychological and emotional, through to an area of sensing which can seem almost physical to the perceiver.

Of course it is important to acknowledge that there is nothing scientific about this use of the term “energy”, and that it can be used as a vague and empty “buzz word”, but at the same time, with the application of descriptive rigour and some intellectual honesty, it can have real poetic utility.

What energy here also refers to (and involves) is relationship, either to a part of oneself (my energy, my vitality), or the world (the energy of a house, the energy of the forest, another person etc). Relationship is actually quite key to this subtle sense of healing and energy, because everything we are is actualized at some stage in relationship. Everything in a sense is empty and non-existent in itself¹. It’s our relationships which make our qualities manifest. All one has to do is remember the healing breakthroughs that occur when someone is able to spend time in the right environment, or when they have found the right relationship with the right significant others (even one other). Of course sometimes a relationship needs to be undone for healing to occur, and change to take place, but it is using the same principle in a different way.

We even find this principle used in talking therapy, where a therapeutic relationship helps to bring about self-healing in techniques such as counselling and psychotherapy.

What Reiki does, is bring this kind of energy to the recipient. It is like the energy of relationship, but in a very plainly tapped and neutrally bestowed form.

It is in this sense that Reiki can be talked of as healing, not in the medicalized sense, but in the subtle sense of beneficial relationship and its subjective energy, which is also the experience of our own unfolding selfhood.

Corso Umberto — stone pavement on the main road in Taormina (Italy) by Giovanni Dall’Orto. (Own work) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons
¹ this non-existence and negation is itself a powerful force for self-actualization at the right time, but it is in a sense the more exceptional flip side of the same coin.

12th May 2016: post edited to clarify.





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