What is Reiki and how does it help?
Reiki is a method of relaxation and stress reduction that comes from the Japanese and was introduced to the West in 1937. The concept is that all living things contain a life force and that with the guided help of a Reiki practitioner, you can heal the disrupted parts of your life force.
The life force is responsive to thoughts and feelings. It becomes disrupted when we accept, either consciously or unconsciously, negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves. These negative thoughts and feelings attach themselves to the energy field and cause a disruption in the flow of life force. This diminishes the vital function of the organs and cells of the physical body. From Reiki.org
What did I feel/benefit from my Reiki session?
I went into my first Reiki session with no expectations. I had read up on the practice before hand, just to get a sense of what was involved. I've mentioned before that I don't have any religious beliefs, so when I read that Rei means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power", I was slightly skeptical that this was going to be for me. I wasn't looking to have a spiritual or religious moment. Further reading however clarified that Reiki is not based on religion, but deals with the energy flowing through us. Since I was also doing this to help out a friend who is studying to be a Reiki practitioner I decided to just go in with an open mind and see what might happen.
Unlike massage, you remain fully clothed for Reiki. I laid on my back in a comfortable position, with my eyes closed (though I did peek every now and then), in a slightly darkened room with a lit candle and some quiet music playing.
For most of the session Sandy stood over me holding her hands 4-6 inches over various parts of my body. Sometimes she would place her hands on my joints, like my shoulders, elbows and hands. I honestly wasn't expecting to feel anything other than relaxed - after all I was lying down in the dark with my eyes closed after a long day at work. What I didn't expect was that I would feel something when her hands were 4-6 inches above me. What I did feel was concentrated areas of heat. This is where the peeking came in. I would feel the heat and wonder if it was just a random feeling or if it lined up with where Sandy was holding her hands at the time. It really did line up!
The only other physical reaction that I had during the session was 2 periods of extreme chills and feeling cold. The room we were in was not cold, nor was there any breeze that could account for the change in temperature. It was not an uncomfortable feeling, just unusual feeling, sort of like the chill that people claim to get when someone "walks over their grave".
I found that being alone in my head for an hour left me with my thoughts flitting from idea to idea, with a few periods of blissful nothingness in between. A lot of my thoughts were about running and images of me running in races. After the session when Sandy and I were chatting, she let me know that she had also had many thoughts and images of me running. A Reiki practitioner often feels similar sensations and reactions to the recipient, so its not the unusual that both of our thoughts were focused on the same subject.
After the session I continued to feel relaxed. When I went for my run the following day, I had one of my best runs in a long time! I can't say that it's directly related to the Reiki session, or simply a coincidence, but either way it felt great to have a run where I felt not only good physically, but also mentally - I was able to overcome my thoughts of stopping and walking and was able to push through the normal mental stuff that clouds my mind during a run.
Overall, it was a positive experience and I'm glad I had that chance to try it out. I'm sure Sandy is going to make a great Reiki Master as she continues her journey.
Some links for further reading
Taking Charge - How an Reiki help me?
Reiki.org - What is Reiki?
IARP.org - Sensations during Reiki