How does Reiki work?

There are different forms of energy in the universe, Reiki being one of them.

One way to categorize energy is by its frequency, and generally speaking, energies that are in a more physical form (like the energy forming your body) are considered to be vibrating at a lower frequency.

Lower is sometimes confused with “bad,” but this isn’t the case. When energy is vibrating at a lower frequency, the energetic particles are simply moving at a slower rate. This slowness allows these particles to get cozy with their neighbors, forming more solid-seeming structures.

You’re already well familiar with this concept. When you boil water, the water molecules move faster and faster as the temperature increases, eventually moving so fast that they travel away from their molecular neighbors in a cloud of steam. In contrast, water molecules sloooow down as they form ice, which allows the molecules to get up close and personal with each other, giving ice its solidity.

Good Vibrations

Reiki is said to vibrate at a very high frequency, and I believe this allows Reiki to enter our personal energy field and break up pockets of stagnant energy, along with causing other shifts (more on those in a minute).

One of my teachers uses this analogy: Picture a glass of water with some mud on the bottom. The water is your energy field, and the mud is the inevitable bits of ick we all pick up here and there as we’re going about our lives.

Now, imagine someone pouring a stream of clear, pure water into the glass from a pitcher. This is Reiki. As Reiki pours into the glass, it might stir up some mud, causing the water to become cloudy, but after a certain point all of the mud is flushed out and we’re left with a clean glass  of water.

In a similar fashion, a Reiki treatment can temporarily stir up a little energetic “mud” during the cleansing process, causing us to become more aware after our session of issues in need of TLC, but as the mud washes away, we find ourselves feeling clear and on track, something I talk about below under Reiki’s ability to heighten awareness.

What happens as Reiki enters our energy field?

Here are a few possible mechanisms that make sense to me:

1. Changing the location of energy.

Using the above analogy, while we don’t want mud in our water glass, that very same mud would be quite welcome on the forest floor, where it acts as a fertile substrate for life. It’s all about context. Energy that doesn’t serve in one location might be just what the doctor ordered when moved to another area, and Reiki seems to have the ability to shift our energy in this way.

For example, do you ever get that nervous, butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation? For me, if I’m able to take some deep breaths and gently move that energy a little lower, into what’s known as the tanden or hara, it no longer feels anxiety producing and instead feels energizing and motivating.

2. Reintroducing movement. 

Movement is a crucial ingredient for life. On a physical level, research has shown that our individual cells need to be moved, squished, stretched, and otherwise deformed on a regular basis in order to maintain health, and a lack of movement is being implicated in numerous health issues, including cancer. We’ve evolved to move, down to the smallest structures of our biology, so it would make sense that our energy, which is the very stuff that makes up our biology, follows similar principles.

Not all movement is created equal, either. If you routinely use your shoulder in a dysfunctional way, you can stress the joint and generate wear and tear on the tissues, so it’s not enough to simply move–we must move functionally. I believe that Reiki can a) reintroduce movement to stagnant areas and b) redirect current movement into more functional patterns.

3. Heightening awareness. 

Reiki also has the ability to draw our awareness to certain aspects of our energy field (and to parts of our life), and quantum physics shows us that by observing, or becoming aware of, particles, we change them. Why would this not be the case with our personal quantum particles?

This ties into something I’ve experienced in my own life and have witnessed with clients again and again: Over leaving a Reiki treatment 100% “cured,” we often find ourselves drawn to the next step that needs to be taken in our healing journey. You might find yourself repeatedly hearing about a particular supplement or “just happen” to meet an integrative physician who specializes in the condition you’re struggling with. In my own life, regularly using Reiki seems to increase these “chance” encounters and keep me in a state of flow.

I have no doubt that the full picture of Reiki’s underlying mechanisms is much richer than this tiny sliver, but hopefully these ideas give you a little Reiki food for thought!

Want to experience Reiki for yourself?

Could Structural Bodywork help you?

Do you suffer from chronic tension, aches or pains?

Do you wish you had better posture but maintaining it feels uncomfortable or exhausting?

Do you want to be more active but stiffness or pain is taking the fun out of moving?

Structural Integration is a form of advanced bodywork designed to help with these and other issues, and during my certification training (September 2018 to June 2019), I will be offering sessions at a discounted price. 

Is Structural Integration right for me?

Structural Integration is designed to give you a holistic view of your body’s postural and movement patterns rather than looking at your achy low back or “wonky” shoulder in isolation.

While standard massage often directs the work at the area(s) where you feel pain or discomfort, SI zooms out to see, for example, how your feet are creating an imbalance in your hips, which is creating pain in your low back.

Then, throughout a series of sessions, the larger pattern is addressed and unraveled.

This unraveling creates a window of opportunity where it will be easier for you to move into a new pattern, and you will be given tools to do precisely that. Long term results come from the one-two punch of the hands-on work and your efforts following the session.

Here’s an example:

Many of us go around wearing our shoulders as earrings. We might know that we need to drop our shoulders, but doing so takes constant mental and muscular effort, and we eventually give up.

Over time, having our shoulders in this elevated position leads to any number of issues, from rotator cuff tears, tension headaches, decreased shoulder mobility, impaired gait, etc.

SI could help release tension in the muscles and fascia that are holding your shoulders up, while also sending feedback to your nervous system to cue the shoulders to drop.

After the session, your efforts at shoulder dropping will be easier, because you won’t be fighting against so many signals to the contrary.

If you’re tired of battling symptoms without addressing the root cause, and you’re prepared to be an active participant in shifting the underlying patterns causing your aches and pains, Structural Integration can help.

How is Structural Integration different from regular massage?

Intake Process

Before we do the hands-on work, we need to come up with a strategy that is tailor made to your unique body. Prior to getting on the table, we’ll take some time talking about your health history and how you feel in your body.

We’ll also do some visual assessments, both in static positions and with simple movements. This process is as much for me–so I know how to direct the treatment–as it is for you–to increase your awareness of your body’s unique patterns, because this self-awareness is, in and of itself, transformative.

What to Wear

Unlike a regular massage, where you undress and are under a drape, you’ll be asked to wear specific clothing for your SI session. This is largely because you’ll be moving around a bit more–either making small movements on the table as I do hands-on work, occasionally getting off the table to move around and see how something feels, or sitting on a bench for certain techniques.

A two-piece bathing suit, opaque undergarments, athletic shorts, or full-coverage boxers are all great options. The idea is for you to be comfortable while also allowing me to make skin contact for the hands-on techniques. Please avoid wearing really bulky clothing, like cargo shorts with tons of pockets, as it’s difficult to work through heavy fabric.

Depending on the session, we may be more focused on one area of the body, in which case you’re more than welcome to layer on more clothing in other areas. I’ll also have sheets and blankets available.

For the visual assessment, this is best done while wearing one of the clothing options listed above (sports bra and underwear, for example) so we can get a clear sense of your body’s unique patterns. All of this will be done in the privacy of the treatment room.

Some examples of what to wear (minus the shoes):

Where the Work is Done

I’ve already touched on this above, but unlike a regular massage that is entirely done on the massage table, SI work moves around a bit more.

The majority of the work will happen on the table, but you will be asked to change positions (face up, face down, side lying), and for most techniques you will be given a small movement to do, such as reaching down with your hand while I work on your arm or flexing/pointing the toes while I work the lower leg.

Sometimes you might be asked to stand up and move around to see how something feels, and a few techniques are done while you’re sitting on a bench.


SI is done without the use of oils or creams, and it’s important that you not apply lotions, oils, creams, etc. right before your session. The techniques require that I maintain contact with a precise layer of tissue, and oils and lotions make this trickier.

Your Experience

While SI work can certainly be relaxing, sometimes profoundly so, because you are being asked to create small movements through much of the session, it has a different feel than a regular massage.

SI sessions require that sufficient energy be available for us to do the work, because we’re shifting patterns that are often decades in the making, so if you’re feeling completely drained, it’s often best to practice some self-care, book a regular massage, or visit your healthcare provider first.

You don’t have to be bouncing off the walls to be ready, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re dragging yourself into my office with your last ounce of energy.


SI is typically done in a series of 90-minute sessions. Currently, I am offering what’s known as a three series, and pending my certification in June, I’ll be offering a full twelve series.

The three series focuses on hips and lower body in session one, shoulders and rib cage in session two, and the spine in session three.

In between series, you can also come in for standalone “tune up” sessions from time to time, and you’re welcome to book regular massages for relaxation and tension relief, but it’s best not to overload your system by doing back-to-back SI series.

Ready to sign up?

As I’m working toward my Structural Integration certification (September 2018 to June 2019), I’ll be offering sessions at a discounted $90 for 90-minutes, so be sure to take advantage of this deal while it lasts.

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