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?

Life Lessons From My Sewing Machine

I try to stay open to wisdom from a variety of sources, but it isn’t often that I receive it from inanimate objects. Last weekend, I was working on a sewing project when–bingo! Lightning bolt of clarity.

In machine sewing, you use your hands to guide the fabric through the machine, and when I first started sewing I was what I would call an “overly agro sewer” (if your bro-speak is rusty, agro=aggressive). With my leading hand, I would actively tug the fabric forward, and with my guiding hand, I would push the fabric toward the needle. (Accomplished sewers are probably shaking their heads as they read this.)

What’s the big deal? Well, my stitches looked like crap, because most fabrics will feed into the machine just fine by themselves, thank you very much; they just need a little guidance to ensure that they don’t go veering off to the left or right.

In a similar fashion, when we’re overly pushy or pull-y in life, the seams and stitches of our days start to feel (and possibly look) like crap. For me, this manifests most often in one of two ways:

  1. “Pulling on the fabric” equates to trying to drag other people along on my plans, overriding their natural direction and rhythm. I can also drag myself along, overriding my natural direction and rhythm. (If you hear yourself using the word “should” a lot, pause and check for fabric pulling.)
  2. “Pushing on the fabric” happens when I’m trying to force situations to unfold in a way or at a pace that doesn’t feel natural.

Does this mean I need to just sit back and do nothing? Not at all, but my role is more about guiding the fabric of my life than it is about pulling or pushing it through. If I completely removed my hands from the fabric, the seam would likely start swerving and eventually get completely off track, but through the choices I make, I can guide the fabric along.

When I’m trying to decide the next step, I can be wary of options characterized by “pulling on the fabric:” trying to bring people along who either don’t want to come or who wish to travel at their own pace, as well as subjecting myself to rigid timetables or to-dos that trigger procrastination or resentment.

I can also be on the lookout for options characterized by “pushing on the fabric”: forcing events in non-organic ways. Pushing is sometimes more tricky to detect than pulling, so what do I mean by “non-organic ways”? If you’ve taken action and it’s met with continual resistance, a slow-as-molasses pace, or a rising tension in your body-mind-soul, that’s often a red flag that fabric-pushing territory is up ahead. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to throw in the towel (fabric pun!), but it could mean that:

  1. The timing is off. This could refer to “not right now–try again later” or that the pace is going to move slower than you anticipated and trying to speed things up will only create bunched seams, aka suffering.
  2. The method is off. Maybe you’ve got the right idea but you’re approaching it in a way that isn’t working. Experiment; try a different angle. Still meeting resistance? Refer back to Point 1.

Of course, there is the third possibility: This just ain’t the way to go. Not now, maybe not ever, and pushing the fabric through will only leave you with a bunched up seam (can we draw a parallel with bunched up, tense muscles?).

Guiding, as opposed to pulling or pushing, requires a flexible, responsive approach. We might set out with an idea, but as the fabric of our days moves along and we meet resistance, we have the choice to start yanking, start pushing…or adjust.

Resistance can be a very helpful reminder to pause, check in, and see if we’re forcing things, people, or ourselves to do things that don’t feel organic. When we notice this, we always have the option to return to guiding the fabric through and allowing the natural flow of life to provide the momentum, a momentum that we can then shape with our choices.

When we try to create the force of Universal Momentum on our own, it’s no wonder we feel overwhelmed and exhausted. And more to the point, it isn’t necessary, nor does it help. It just leaves us with bunched seams.

So, leave the generation of Universal Momentum to, well, the Universe, and focus your precious energy on guiding that momentum with empowered choices–choices that don’t come from a place of pushing or pulling.