How I learned to love reiki

Once a clueless novice, a writer shares how she learned to stop worrying — and was inspired to become certified as a Reiki master. If you have ever had children . . .


BY MARLENE SATTER — Anyone who’s ever sat in a doctor’s office and steamed, waiting sometimes for hours to be seen — only to be given the bum’s rush once inside the doctor’s office — ought to consider Reiki as a self-help technique for your mind-body toolkit.

Also, if you have ever had children or animals, and have ever felt helpless when they were ill or hurt, think of Reiki as something you can add to your home’s First Aid kit, while you wait for medical help (or simply lessen the side-effects of allopathic treatments). Sometimes you might find that Reiki is all that was needed!

In 2002, I discovered the power of Reiki first-hand (pun unavoidable :)


It started with an ad in our local paper in Monmouth County that offered a one-day workshop on Reiki for animals. I had no idea what that meant, but I had a very dear elderly little dog with a heart murmur.

While I had an excellent alternative-medicine vet who did everything from chiropractic to homeopathic treatment, I wanted to do something more for my little companion, who had given me so much in love and devotion throughout her life.

So I signed up. It turned out that this innocent little course would take me into areas of self-contemplation and healing that I’d never dreamed of. That very first day of training I knew that I wanted to become a Reiki Master – although I’d never even heard of such a thing ’til the class began.

What is Reiki? (pronounced ray-key) It’s an ancient healing art that re-aligns an individual’s lifeforce, or ki the Japanese equivalent of Chinese chi as in, Tai Chi or ch’i kung (known in five-star American spas as qigong ) Rei is the word for spirit in Japanese.

So Reiki, using therapeutic touch (or not), focuses energy for healing purposes. What energy? Well, if the physical plant of our consciousness is the electromagnetic circuitry of our synapses, call it the energy that animates these minds and bodies we inhabit. Call it a Higher Power, or the “force” . . . Call it whatever you want. The point is, it works!

The “Reiki state” moves that energy through the practitioner (not from the practitioner — an important distinction) and into the person seeking healing. That’s you. Or me. Or anyone.

The dirty little secret is that we, the recipients, do the actual healing. The person seeking healing is the one who unlocks the flood of dammed-up energy to mend what’s wrong.

Yet you don’t have to do all of that work when you’re on the Reiki table. Most people experience the “Reiki state” as an induction that ranges between borderline sleep to a deep trance in which they may see colors or visions, be aware of other presences, or gain insights into their lives and problems.

The other beauty of Reiki is that there’s no manipulation. Practitioners do lay their hands on the body in various places, but straight Reiki has no talk, does not involve massage or any other kind of turning of mind-body screws.

In fact, the practitioner doesn’t have to touch you at all if you’re not comfortable with it. The recipient is fully clothed and can totally relax.

When I start a session, I might cue the patient with suggestions for healing a specific issue — a body part, like a pulled muscle or a lingering cough, or a more mental or spiritual problem like an ongoing dispute with a family member or doubts over one’s path in life. But then I make a shift, and go to a place of acting as a channel for the energy to flow where it’s needed.

I’ve done Reiki on a cancer patient who’d felt residual burning from radiation treatment, and the Reiki brought soothing coolness rather than heat. If you go to a Reiki practitioner, it’s important to drink lots of water in the 24-48 hours after a treatment, as it will help clear out all the toxins that Reiki will trigger your body to release. You may not notice any change immediately. But the next day, or the day after, you can suddenly be aware that something profound has shifted in your energy anatomy and well-being.

Once you’ve experienced Reiki for yourself, you may want to study it long enough to become attuned to administer Reiki to yourself and others. This will allow you to maintain your own healing, as well as to give your mate, your children, or your pets some comfort and healing during illness or while recovering from injury. It can be an extraordinary healing tool, and can lead you to learn about additional alternatives to the “accepted” way of doing things that may fit much better with your needs and life.

Personally, I’ve used Reiki on myself to: pass kidney stones and prevent a recurrence; get rid of migraines; heal a broken toe; relieve the pain of a tension-racked neck; and even make colds go away faster or head them off altogether.

It’s opened up a lot of other doors: I’ve found myself pursuing new career paths, studying more advanced alternative treatment methods (Imagine if Tony Soprano had the benefit of harp music at his bedside while in his Season Six coma in the hospital), and achieving goals that had languished for years (among them, the publication of two books.)

As for my beloved little dog? Reiki helped her through several geriatric problems, and she went peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge at home, at the remarkable age of 17.

Marlene Satter is a certified Reiki Master. She also writes about personal finance, the environment and animals.

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4 Responses to “How I learned to love reiki”

  1. I’ve had Reiki, but never understood its origins. Thank you for this granular insight into energetic healing and transference. Paul

  2. It is amazing how energy work is proven to actually “work.” While it is said that everyone has the power to do it, there are a few gifted people that work as Reiki practitioners and get consistent results. My hat really goes off to them.

  3. namaste; a great overveiw, i practice also and wonder what i would do with out it well,love and hugz.m.

  4. When I was introduced to Reiki I had little to no knowledge of alternative medicine or holistic healing.

    My introduction to Reiki as I remember it. I first stumbled upon Reiki back in the fall of 1996 at my chiropractors office. There were some pamphlets on display explaining Reiki on the counter. Then over Christmas while visiting family in another province discovered my niece had Level I Usui Traditional Reiki Attunement. Curious as I (always) am I asked her if she could give me a Reiki treatment session to see what is was like. It was an interesting first experience, releasing some emotions and causing some tearing of my eyes, which she said was normal.

    Well, the following spring 1997 I found a Reiki Master Essential Usui Trad. (working at me Chiropractors office) and signed up for Level I Reiki Attunement. And after a couple years of practicing returned for Level II Reiki Attunement from the same teacher.

    I found after the second level attunement the intensity was considerably stronger. It’s is a delightful and subtle way to help people feel and get better.