What to Expect From Your First Reiki Session

Quite frequently clients who schedule a Reiki session may have never experienced a treatment before and are curious as to what to expect. Will it assist in alleviating stress and anxiety, reduce insomnia or relieve chronic migraines? The answer always lies within the clients themselves as they are in charge of their own healing process. The Reiki practitioner simply acts as the vessel for the energy, allowing it to go where it is needed most. Since Reiki is a holistic energy healing modality that helps to create balance in mind, body, and spirit, it could be that while the client is seeking relief from knee pain, a deep emotional release might occur instead. What is important to remember is that each Reiki session is unique.

Finding a Reiki practitioner for your first session may be as easy as doing an internet search of Reiki practitioners in your area, getting a referral from a friend or attending a community Reiki clinic. You should seek out a practitioner who feels right for you and do not hesitate to call or e-mail them with any questions you might have prior to the session. Prices may range from a donation to one hundred dollars or more, depending upon length of the session and the experience of the practitioner. A typical session lasts forty-five minutes to an hour. Most professional practitioners belong to an organization that is connected with their Reiki lineage and will display their Reiki certificates. The practitioner may have you fill out an information form, sign a consent and keep confidential notes related to your session.

The Reiki practitioner should always spend time with the client before the session confidently explaining what it is, how it works and how the treatment will proceed. It is imperative that the client feels safe and is well informed. Additionally, there should be an adequate amount of time given to discuss the client’s needs, intentions and expectations. While Reiki can be used for anyone regardless of age or medical diagnosis, it is important to emphasize that Reiki is not a replacement for traditional medical care. However, it can be used as a safe complementary therapy and there are no medical conditions it cannot be used for.

The Reiki treatment is typically done on a massage table, the lights are lowered and quiet, gentle and calming relaxation music is played. The client remains fully clothed and shoes, glasses and any bulky jewelry are removed. Sheets, blankets and a bolster under the knees are provided for the utmost in comfort. The client is always in charge of the session and a strong rapport should be encouraged between the practitioner and client. The client’s comfort is the first priority and any need to reposition or add or remove blankets during the session should be clearly communicated. Some people feel as though they must lie absolutely still for an hour (which is extremely difficult!). However, it is not unusual for the client to fall asleep or go into a meditative state during the Reiki session. Snoring is always welcomed because when the body is in this relaxed state, it is better able to work on repairing itself. If the client is comfortable with closing their eyes during the session, it is strongly encouraged so that a deeper relaxation may occur. Throughout the session, the practitioner typically remains silent, allowing the client to deeply relax into the treatment.

Reiki is frequently done with a gentle touch; however, it can be done completely hands-off for those clients who might not like touch. Sometimes people who have experienced physical or emotional abuse, severe burns or sometimes even chemotherapy prefer that the treatment be done completely hands-off. This does not make it any less effective for enhancing over-all well-being and the self-healing process. The Reiki practitioner should always inform clients exactly where they might be touching. Traditional hand placements that are frequently used include areas on and around the head, neck, upper chest, abdomen, knees and feet, as well as the shoulders, elbows and hands. Some practitioners may ask the client to turn over during the session and hand placements on the back will also be used. Whether hands-on or hands-off, the Reiki practitioner is trained to allow the energy to flow to the client, who receives it as needed. There is no attempt to manipulate the energy in any way, as the practitioner is trained to release all ego and be in a space of non-judgment and compassion.

It is important to remember that you, as the client, are very much a part of the Reiki session and your healing process. Many people ask if there is anything that they need to say or do during the treatment. It is always helpful to set a clear intention to be open to the energy going where it is needed most. The energy of Reiki has its own intelligence and intuitively knows where to go on its own. Although this might be an abstract concept for many people, those who experience a session often understand it more thoroughly after the session is completed.

Occasionally a client might ask if any areas were “blocked” in their energy field. The role of the Reiki practitioner is to facilitate the healing process, not to diagnose or determine where there might be energetic blocks. Speaking in these terms can bring fear into the Reiki session and also make the client feel less empowered. As an example, if I said to my client, “I feel a block in the area around your heart” they may feel as though there is a serious physical issue and begin to worry. Fear and worry are not part of the system of Reiki; there is only loving kindness and compassion. The beauty of Reiki is in its simplicity – just allow the energy to flow. There is no need for interpretation, as that only allows the ego to be involved and will not serve the client’s best needs. Our bodies have the innate ability to bring about balance and the body knows exactly where to accept the energy as it is needed. This does not mean that the practitioner does not feel energy movement; they frequently do, and as such may spend more time in one place until this feeling of energy movement passes.

During the Reiki session clients may feel waves of subtle energy gently moving through their body. Others may experience heat or coolness from the practitioner’s hands and perhaps even see comforting colors or visions. While these are normal responses, it is also completely common to “feel” nothing during the session, but still be left with a sense of deep relaxation, overall wellbeing and inner peace. What is important to remember is that Reiki works on all levels, so even though there might not be a physical sensation, the energy could be working on a deep emotional or spiritual level.

Reiki is very experiential and because each one of us is very unique, it is quite difficult to explain what might occur during your session. However, the following two examples may give you some idea of what a session might be like. “Patricia,” is someone who many would term a Type A personality. Always on the go until her head hits the pillow, she was initially wary of trying a Reiki session. She anxiously stated, “How am I going to lie still for an hour when I can’t even sit still for a minute – and my mind is always racing!” When the session was started she was encouraged to take a few slow deep breaths and have the intention that the energy will go to where she needs it most. She smiled, closed her eyes and after several minutes had a deep exhalation and then, in a matter of minutes, was gently snoring. After the session was completed she stated, “Wow, that was so relaxing and I think I may have even fallen asleep for awhile!”

Another client, “Beth” who is in her early fifties and had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer was having significant pain issues. Towards the end of her session, tears were streaming down her cheeks and although she reported a lessening of her pain, what impacted her most about the treatment was “an overwhelming sense of pure love.”

Because Reiki is so relaxing and clients frequently fall asleep or go into a meditation state, after the session is completed the client is gently awakened and given a few moments to sit up slowly. The client is then given the opportunity to discuss the session and the practitioner should be prepared to answer any questions they might have. Drinking water is always encouraged after a session as it helps to facilitate the cleansing process. This sometimes takes the form of tears or even a runny nose and is always a good sign as the body is finding its way back to balance and ridding itself of things that are no longer needed. Many clients choose to have follow-up sessions on a weekly or monthly basis to help them maintain a sense of wholeness and wellbeing. Additionally, as the client becomes more familiar with what to expect during a Reiki session, they become more open and receptive to receiving the energy.

Your first Reiki session can bring about personal change, inner balance, clarity and a spark in your intuitive guidance. Although many people are content with receiving routine Reiki sessions, many are so impressed with the results that they want to learn the practice for themselves. Taking a Reiki class gives the student the ability to begin a daily self-Reiki practice. This may open the door to a journey of deep personal healing and self-discovery that is often life changing.

Originally published in Therapeutic Thymes Magazine