What to expect

What should one expect from a Reiki treatment? It’s difficult to say with any certainty, but let’s look at a ‘perfect’ treatment.


Reiki practitioners use lots of locations to treat clients. Some work from their homes, others of us rent space in beauty salons or gyms or holistic centres, others still work in medical contexts. Wherever it is, the space should be comfortable. If it’s your first time, then there’ll be time to check in and fill in an information card. Your practitioner will explain what’s going to happen and that the treatment is for your highest good.

You will likely be asked to remove your shoes and outerwear, although you need not remove any clothing. A massage table will be set up, although Reiki can be performed in any position, so if you’d prefer to sit in a chair, that’s fine too. The table allows the practitioner to move around your body with greater ease and is probably more relaxing for you. There’ll be a cushion for your head and another one (or maybe a rolled up yoga mat) to go under your knees. You’ll be asked whether you want a blanket.

Another question you’ll be asked is whether you want a ‘hands-on’ or ‘hands-off’ treatment. Your practitioner doesn’t have to touch you. I quite like hands-on treatments, except I hate having my feet touched, so little quirks like that are fine. In any event, the practitioner should never touch your private areas, which includes the chest area on female clients. Instead, we will touch the hips or just hover instead.


I like to ask clients, after they’re lying back on the table, to take a deep breath. And then another. And probably another. And then to count down from 10 – not to fall asleep, but just to relax their bodies. They can keep their eyes open or closed but during these couple of minutes, I’m performing kenyuko ho and breathing mindfully to bring myself into a meditative mind.

Depending on what the client has said are areas of concern, I will adjust my practice accordingly. Some people have specific physical problems that want attention, others just want stress relief. I might start at the head and work down through the chakras or at the hara (belly button sort of area), which is the centre of the body and the main energy store. Either way, for the client, it doesn’t matter.

The question is, what does the client feel? That depends. Some people feel nothing until the treatment is over. I’ve done taster sessions where, straight afterwards, the person has reported feeling nothing and then, as we went up the stairs, said how much more relaxed and relieved he felt than earlier. Other people will feel warmth, tingling, pulsing. Some see flashing lights or colours. Others will have a spiritual experience. Some people laugh or cry (or cough!). Other just fall asleep. It really depends on the individual. Like I’ve said before, the practitioner can’t control it, nor can the client. Reiki just works its course.

You might be asked to turn over at some point in the treatment. Some practitioners always work the back, others only do on request. I love having my back done, so I always ask. If you’ve fallen asleep, unless you’ve asked, it probably won’t happen.

At the end of the treatment, you’ll be brought gently back to the present. You’ll have felt the practitioner sweeping their hands over your to smooth down your energy field before this and probably the swoosh of them doing kenyuko ho again. You’ll probably be offered a glass of water and the chance to finish coming back to the room. It can take a few minutes to reorientate yourself. You’ll also probably be asked for feedback. Be honest! It really helps the practitioner to know what you felt and experienced.

If it’s your first treatment, you might be warned about the ‘healing crisis’ that can hit you a few days afterwards. This is an odd term because it sounds bad but it’s not really. The Reiki is cleaning through your system. It can make you very thirsty, or just pee a lot, or sometimes ill for a few days. Before I was attuned, my teacher gave me a wonderful treatment and then I got a cold. It was probably because for the first time in over a year, my body really relaxed. After my first set of attunements, I was constantly thirsty for a few weeks and then I went back to normal. However it goes, don’t worry about it – Reiki cannot harm you. It doesn’t always work in the way we expect it to but it doesn’t harm.

I really encourage everyone to try Reiki. I admit that I too was very sceptical at first, especially with ‘distance’ treatments. Now, I swear by it. I practice daily, even if I only have a few minutes. It makes all the difference.

P.S. If you’re looking for more detail, may I recommend Frans and Bronwen Stiene’s book Your Reiki Treatment? It’s the only Reiki book written for clients.

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