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Energetic healing has been around for centuries in various forms, but certain methods of alternative therapy, such as Reiki, have gained a recent resurgence in popularity. Reiki originates from the Japanese words “rei” (universal) and “ki” (life energy), and is based on the idea that all things consist of energy that can move freely between people, objects, time, and space. Reiki practitioners serve as a streamlined vessel through which this energy can pass in order to heal, relax, and strengthen another person’s physical and mental wellbeing. 

There is controversy surrounding Reiki as it is difficult to “prove” scientifically, but I will share a personal story that changed my perception of it as a healing art. A few years ago, my mum and I were zipping down the motorway with the car windows cracked open. I stuck my fingers out to feel the breeze just as she rolled up my window from the driver’s seat and smashed my fingers in the tiny gap. It was the type of pain that takes your breath away for several seconds before your body can even process a reaction. Immediately, my fingers turned a sickly green-blue-purple as a deep divot  formed across the top of my hand. Without hesitation, my mum, who is a certified Reiki practitioner, kept one hand on the wheel and placed the other on my hand to send Reiki to my trembling fingers. The heat radiating from her palm felt so intense that it took every ounce of strength not to rip my hand away. After several minutes, when the burning and aching in my fingers began to subside, my mum removed her hand from mine. We both stared in shock at my fingers– all that remained was some red irritation where there was deep bruising just moments before, and the aching and throbbing had completely disappeared. I was overcome with the feeling that I had been healed in a very deep, immediate, intentional way, and I was hooked. 

The Reiki that is most commonly practiced today originated in Japan in the early 20th century from the practices of Mikao Usui, a spiritual teacher and lay monk. A Reiki treatment usually involves the practitioner lightly placing their hands onto or above different areas of the body (most often on a person, but animals, plants, food, and other objects can receive Reiki too). The idea is that the parts of the body which need the most healing will receive the most energy, for example at the site of an injury. These areas often feel especially warm and tingly on both the patient’s body and the practitioner’s hands. 

Another fundamental aspect of the practice is that anyone can receive Reiki or become certified to give it to others or themselves. Just like any spiritual practice, Reiki involves a certain degree of concentration and meditation, but there are no spiritual, mental, or physical requirements in order to be able to practice or receive it.

Complementary medicine and energetic healing can sometimes be difficult concepts to wrap your head around, especially when there is not traditional scientific data to explain how or why they work. Personally, I like to think of Reiki as simply refreshing the energy in a certain place, in order to strengthen or heal it. I have noticed an unbelievable improvement in my mental and physical health after incorporating the practice into my daily routine, which is why I hope to bring awareness to the incredible benefits it can have for anyone. Whatever your attitudes towards traditional or complementary medicine, I encourage you to consider Reiki as a gentle yet effective form of powerful and unique healing.

Peyton is a fourth-year Psychology and Art History student at the University of St Andrews. She grew up between London and San Francisco, and speaks like Peppa Pig despite being 100% American. As a proud foodie, she loves creating recipes out of ingredients that really shouldn't go together, and will never be caught dead without a tasty snack in hand.
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