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“I Tried Reiki for My Anxiety, Here’s What Happened”

Writing by Rachel Baillie

Ever since I learned about quicksand as a child, I’ve been prone to anxiety. Cars are death traps. That headache I’m feeling is definitely a tumour. What if a giant piano falls from the sky and crushes me? These are the types of thoughts I could have in the span of an hour.

I’ve tried everything to make it go away. Therapy, lavender oil, deep breathing to the count of eight, you name it. And yet the beast remains, with its unhelpful suggestions that I’m in perpetual danger.

I have found psychology helpful in the past when dealing with a big life change, but not so much in coping with my everyday, existential dread. However, something I do find helpful in calming me down is ASMR, especially ASMR reiki videos. From watching these videos, I had a rough understanding that reiki involved channeling energy into another person’s body, and removing bad energy in favour of the good stuff.

I enjoy the tingling sensation that accompanies watching these videos, and the personal attention involved; someone is sending healing energy my way, especially to me.

So, why not try something completely different? Why not try some in-person reiki?

Before the session

I met Laura Jean, a local reiki healer, on Facebook, who kindly booked me in for a reiki session and an interview afterwards.

On the day of my healing session, I arrive at the massage studio, which looks like your regular studio, just with more crystals. After our introductions, Laura asks me my intentions for today’s healing session. I tell Laura about my struggles with overthinking and anxiety, and hope that an energetic healing session could put my mind at ease.

During the session

I lie down on the massage bed, close my eyes, and the healing begins.

Laura’s reiki process involves going from the crown of the head downwards across my body, focusing on the chakras. I get chest pains when I’m really stressed, and like all hot girls, I have stress-related tummy issues, so I was thinking I would feel some sort of sensation there.

The reiki itself involved Laura holding her hands either over me or lightly on my skin, using her hands as a conduit for the healing energy.

I must admit I’m somewhat of a spiritual skeptic – I’ve never believed in forces beyond our realm. However, I undeniably felt things and experienced emotions connected to the reiki healing. The soles of my feet were tingling like mad when Laura was holding her hands near them. Accompanying this tingling sensation was a desire to run away. The thought suddenly popped up in my mind, like a website ad offering 20% off. I didn’t want to run away from the room, but I felt this desire to run away from something, somewhere.

The other memorable sensation was in my stomach. It would make weird gurgling noises whenever Laura held her hands above my torso. You know how some people have noisy stomachs? Yeah, that’s not me. Freaky, right? My stomach just rumbled away.

The whole process was an emotional rollercoaster. Throughout the hour, I felt peace and clarity. I thought about my childhood. I thought about the state of the world. No emotion stuck around for long, but the tingles in the soles of my feet remained the entire time.

After the session

I felt lighter and clearer. The tingling sensation during the session left me feeling pleasantly calm, much like watching an ASMR video. But the session also led to a lot of emotional processing as I mentioned, which I didn’t expect.

Before our interview, Laura debriefed me on what happened on her side during the reiki session. This is because Laura, as the reiki healer, is the channel for energy to flow out of me, in a sense. Therefore, the energetic experience happened both within her as the healer and me as the recipient of healing.

Laura tells me how some reiki healers have clairvoyant tendencies while healing. While she was channeling the energy above my crown chakra (top of the head), she said she had a vision of blue and purple butterflies. She tells me about the symbolism of butterflies, but what stands out most to me are two things: blue and purple are my favourite colours, and when I was younger, I used to draw butterflies to calm me down. Is this coincidence, or a grand connection with the universe?

According to Laura, butterflies also symbolise change and rebirth, so perhaps a change is in my future. I’ll keep you posted. We talk about how the butterfly image might be a sign for me to reconnect with my younger self, and perhaps get back into drawing as a self-soothing tool. Laura also said she felt drawn to energy at my feet, which was amazing to me because it’s where I felt the tingles the most. Apparently, we release a lot of emotion through our feet, so it’s no surprise mine were vibrating.

The debrief is helpful in processing my thoughts, and it feels very intimate, especially when we talk about the butterfly vision. It’s a reminder about the importance of debriefing and verbalising thoughts and feelings.

Curious to learn more about reiki, I had organised to interviewed Laura about her practise after my healing session:

So how did you get into reiki?

I’ve always had an interest in spirituality and healing. I started learning in 2018 after I felt I’d lost my sense of self and was experiencing a lot of anxiety after a break up. I wanted to follow things that lit me up. I found a reiki teacher who was teaching Level 1 and booked in! I’d had a few reiki healings in the past and was always curious. After my Level 1 training, I could start to feel the energy through me. I was practicing on others and could feel more energy and thought, “Woah, what is this?”

I studied my reiki mastership, which was a 7 month program. Mastership is also a healing for yourself – while you are learning, it’s also about your own healing and passing that onto others.

How does reiki work?

Well, to break it down, reiki is a Japanese word. “Rei” means a universal consciousness, and “ki” is like “chi”, which means energy. Together, this means universal life force energy. The world is made up of reiki.

Reiki practitioners go through an attunement process, which is a sacred ritual. The process turns on a switch within you so you can channel reiki. Every human already has reiki in them, but as a practitioner, you have the ability to channel that energy on a higher frequency.

I then channel that energy into a receiver, and you can heal yourself, because you already have the ability to channel that energy.

Reiki is a high frequency energy, and our (challenging) emotions and thoughts are on a lower frequency. When the high frequency meets the lower frequency energy, they can be released. That’s why during a healing, you might have thoughts or feelings or triggers come up, because they want to be released from the body.

Do you find you have a lot of clients who have anxiety?

Definitely. People come in when they are going through big life changes, or if they’re just feeling off. Reiki is complementary with other types of healing, like therapy. It’s a great way for people to recalibrate their mind, body and spirit.

If someone can’t access an in-person reiki healing, what are some similar alternatives?

I’m really passionate about mindfulness meditation. This practice helps to strengthen the muscle in your brain of mindful awareness. Both reiki and meditation are about observing the emotions and feelings that come up in your mind, and not judging them. It’s a great way to rebuild the neural pathways in your mind and focus your attention on accepting your thoughts and emotions, rather than stressing and trying to change it all. With practice of acceptance, we can learn to let go.

You also offer distance reiki, how does this work? 

Because reiki energy is everywhere in the world, it doesn’t matter if you and your practitioner are in the same room or not. Reiki connects us through time and space, so it doesn’t matter how far away you are – the energy will still be transported to you. I can offer distance healing through Zoom by leading a guided meditation, but reiki can also work through a text message or phone call in the same way.

So, did reiki fix my worries? No, of course not. It’s human nature to deal with stress and anxiety from time to time. But I agree with Laura’s description of reiki being part of an individual’s healing toolkit. I may not be a full convert to the power of “ki”, but I had a good time, and is joy not the antidote to anxiety?

Interested in trying out reiki? Get in touch with Laura through her Instagram or Linktree page.

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