20 sessions of reiki improved my ability to handle stress, and had other interesting effects as well.
(Last updated in April 2023.)
More and more health writers and bloggers, including the Low-Histamine Chef and Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of The Last Best Cure, have found stress reduction to play a big part in their health recovery.
For a long time my stress tolerance was pretty much in the toilet and getting worse, so I decided to go get me some.
Even meditation was too much for me
I needed something really, really passive. Meditation, yoga, and nature walks were too much for me. So were about half the service offerings at my local spa. Infrared sauna, various types of massage, and the flotation tank all required removing my contacts without a sink or mirror, or doffing and donning winter clothes in a tiny space, or showering in a tiny shower. I couldn’t deal with any of that.
20-odd reiki sessions in several months
I decided on reiki, which in theory moves and rebalances energy in the body. Sometimes the reiki practitioner’s hands are touching the body, sometimes not. You keep your clothes on, by the way. I had two sessions a week for two months, then switched to once a week. It’s a lot of money, and as far as I know no health insurance company covers it. But I do believe it got me through the winter without killing anyone.
Here’s what I’ve noticed.
Better on a non-busy day
I always look forward to it, but more so if I have nothing else scheduled for the day.
No help with insomnia, but relaxing nonetheless
At the time I had almost total insomnia, and that did not improve, but I did almost fall asleep on the table. I couldn’t nap, either, so that’s saying something. What happens is a lot like the sensation you get on a plane where you’re about to fall asleep and there’s a WHOOSH-CLICK and your body wakes you up again, presumably to spare you the humiliation of drooling in front of strangers. I found that I nodded off only when Reiki Lady was holding her hands above a particular foot-long strip of my torso, which I would discover when I opened my eyes.
Ability to relax body increased
I developed the ability to completely relax my body much more quickly than before. If you’re into meditation you might be familiar with the concept of relaxing to the point where you go numb. Now I can do it in about 10 minutes, where before it would take 40.
Clearer perception of my head, neck, and shoulder system
Ms. Reiki Lady occasionally incorporated craniosacral therapy into the session. I learned to feel how the muscles in my shoulders, neck, and jaw were connected, pulling, and relaxing, and to sense pressure and tension patterns throughout my skull. Imagine a May pole, where all the streamers are muscles or tension patterns that have gotten wound up and distorted and twisted, due in part to the stupid way I sat at my desk. During the reiki sessions I became more and more aware of the presence, movement, and release of each streamer. This took a lot of sessions, however.
Sensation of energy movement
A subtle and fleeting sensation occurred at each session starting with the fifth one, then changed a bit after four more sessions. I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe it. Somewhere in and across my upper body, a pulse or wave changed position, angle, and amplitude. How’s that? It could be that you could get this experience just from meditating regularly. I don’t know.
I don’t think reiki practitioners believe you have to feel it in order for reiki to do whatever reiki does.
Rallying faster from the usual setbacks of life
Over the previous winter, I had overextended myself in terms of physical, emotional, and cognitive energy, and I was still angry and stressed well into summer. I swore I would not go through that again. I had once again overbooked myself the year I started this therapy, mostly with home repair projects that couldn’t be put off, but found that I rallied much more quickly after each annoying task.
The content on this page was first posted in February 2015 and updated in April 2023.
Image: Still from The Phantom of the Opera (1925) by Universal Pictures. Film is in the public domain.