One of the many healing methods practiced in Auroville, Reiki is a technique based on traditional principles which works by channeling energy from the universe into the body. Illness is understood here as a blockage of energy – and the therapist’s work is to recognize the problem and restore a healthy flow. “A river of life is at the disposal of mankind”, says Pierre, an Auroville therapist who has been practicing Reiki for 26 years, “ – and anyone can bathe in it.”
Consider any aspect of the body – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies – and a Reiki therapist can work with the invisible energy, using it to encourage the natural healing process in the client’s body. Many different conditions can then go away by themselves.
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Pierre: “It is like when you are sick and your mother places her palm on your head – it eases the pain you feel. That’s the same feeling you get with Reiki. It is all about accepting healing energy above us – it helps one to bring peace and stability within.”
Rediscovered in Japan a century ago by Mikao Usui, the term Reiki roughly translates to “omnipresent life force”. However, its roots actually go back to antiquity, and the healing power of hands was known in many ancient cultures, such as in the Bible where it is known as laying on of hands: “they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”. Niyati, a Reiki therapist for 2 years, says: “When you see Buddha, he has a few hand postures he makes. Those are also healing mudras.”
In developing the modern system of Reiki, Usui defined some symbols to be written or drawn on the client’s body. These are written in the Japanese script Kanji, but are said to ultimately be derived from Sanskrit. One can draw the symbol on the entire body, or give concentrated Reiki to particular points or chakras where it is needed on the front and back of the body, to clear specific blockages.
What Happens in a Session
A typical Reiki session requires 60 to 90 minutes. The person receiving has comfortable clothes on, and lies on a treatment table or sits in a chair. If he or she wishes, they may briefly discuss their situation with the therapist.
The session begins with a brief meditation, during which the therapist attunes and activates the energy within oneself, becoming the channel. Focusing with a healing intention, the therapist then gently moves both palms over the client’s body, either directly or just above it, to guide the flow of energy. They can use touch or not, depending on that person’s comfort. This technique helps to find areas of energy imbalance that need particular attention.
Sessions vary depending on the needs of the person receiving. Even a short, 15 minute session can help someone re-energize. Some practitioners keep crystals on or around the receiver’s body. This can help for a stronger effect, especially if the client has a specific long-term illness.
In Reiki, the therapist is not the doer, but a channel for the energy coming from the universe. “You don’t put your effort, or what you think, into the healing”, says Niyati, “you are just guiding the energy where it needs to go.”
After the session, the receiver is asked to have a restful evening and a good sleep for a positive integration. Clients often report a sense of calm afterwards.
A Myriad of Benefits
Niyati sees her work as an alternative healing method: “We Indians say, if the medicines are not working, let’s go to a person who can pray better.” She has given Reiki for many different conditions, such as knee injuries, cancer and Covid.
For clients with early-stage cancer, she says it can help them to respond better to medicines, and to be mentally and emotionally strong. In the case of Covid, she uses a 21 day routine for purifying all blocks, and has seen many people get better, return home from the hospital and go back to work.
Niyati has also had success in treating anxiety and depression by sending energy to the heart chakra and solar plexus. “It can help you fight against something that is not needed. My uncle was going through family stress. I just kept my hand on his back. Internally I could see some congestion happening. I just kept my hand there, and he cried for 15 minutes straight. The release happened, and what he said was: If you hadn’t done that, I would have killed myself today.”
Niyati concludes: “What Reiki can give in abundance is awareness: Awareness of your body, of your mental health, of your emotional health. When you have some mental and emotional issues you’re fighting, it’s like your companion, bringing back your natural flow. I got more aware once I started giving and receiving Reiki, and I would like to share that. When you give Reiki, you are not just healing the person, you are also healing yourself. You are getting purified.”.
“Awareness is the almighty power within us,” says Pierre. “It is a safe way to catch the new vibrations of the change of consciousness that is coming from the universe. It can get you attuned and aligned. There is no need to expect big powers – they’re all contained in the simple daily awareness of each action.”
And while Reiki is a Japanese word, invisible healing energy is also known in India, usually by the term Prana. In Sri Aurobindo’s words:
It is the Prana or Life-force of the Indian system. But nerve-energy is only the form it takes in the animal being;
The same Pranic energy is present in all forms down to the atom, since everywhere it is the same in essence and everywhere it is the same operation of Conscious-Force…Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine
On a final note, Reiki is not a medical treatment for any illness. It is a complementary therapy that works alongside other medical and therapeutic techniques. If you are on regular medication, you should not discontinue it without consulting your doctor.