Do-It-Yourself Ritual Can Reduce Stress & Improve Health
Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) is a system of natural healing that can be used for stress reduction and relaxation. It’s an old laying-on of hands technique that claims to use life force energy to heal and balance the body’s subtle energies that affect each of us physically, mentally and spiritually. Receiving Reiki can be a richly relaxing and balancing experience — but not everyone has time or money to get the treatments regularly. In a recent conversation, Reiki practitioner Phylameana Iila Désy, author of The Everything Reiki Book, told me about exercises she has adapted for people to do themselves that may help them experience some of the calming, centering benefits of Reiki. This is unlikely to deliver the same level of energetic balance a trained Reiki master can, but doing this self-treatment ritual regularly may help you maintain equanimity on a day-to-day basis. Désy describes it as a way of loving yourself each day.
There are 12 basic Reiki hand placements, but Désy says it is fine to use your hands in whatever placements you find most relaxing and comfortable. It’s recommended that each hand placement be held for five minutes, especially in the beginning — Désy recommends one-hour daily sessions for 30 consecutive days in order to get your energy flowing, after which you may find that once or twice weekly is enough. However, if you don’t have an entire hour, remember that some time is better than none. You can also use one or two particular positions if you feel tension in one part of your body. “There’s no right or wrong way to invite Reiki energies into your life,” says Désy. “Just do it.”
Sit comfortably. You may place your hands directly on your body or an inch or two above — it’s a matter of individual preference. You may or may not feel a tingling or heat sensation in your hands as you go through the Reiki-derived hand positions — if you do, then this is an indication of the Reiki energy flow. Some people are more sensitive to energy than others — not everyone feels the sensation but everyone should feel some degree of relaxation, stress reduction and greater mental clarity.
First Position: Hands over Eyes
This position is good for reducing stress and for increasing clarity of thought and concentration. Hold arms parallel to the floor, bending your elbows so that your palms go toward your face, covering your eyes. Direct the energy toward your eyes. This position assists in activating the “third eye,” which can help you to see the divine within everything.
Second Position: Temples
This position can be restorative to the brain and helpful for relieving worry and depression. It’s also good for headaches. Place your hands, palms facing inward, on the sides of your head (temples) and focus the energy in this same direction. This position is helpful in integrating the left (analytical) and right (creative) sides of the brain.
Third Position: Base of the Skull
This position enhances relaxation, calms thoughts and relieves pain. Slide or place your hands behind your head at the base of the skull, elbows out. The third finger of each hand may be slightly touching the other. You may feel heat in your hands in this position.
Fourth Position: Throat and Jaw
This position improves self-confidence and relieves anger and hostility. Slide (or place) your hands over the sides of your face, fingers pointing up, from about the ear down to the throat, covering the jaw as though you are supporting it. Practitioners believe we hold many intense emotions in the jaw, including anger and helplessness. As you focus your healing energy in this area, you may find it easier to “speak your truth,” saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
Fifth Position: The Heart
This position improves the capacity both to love and be loved. Slide (or place) hands over the chest, palms facing the body, third fingers touching, elbows relaxed. Focus the energy on your heart. Some people report a sensation that is like breaking down a protective wall, which can lead to an increased willingness to be vulnerable.
Sixth Position: Solar Plexus
This position helps to center yourself and also to release fears. Slide (or place) hands over the solar plexus, underneath the chest and on the rib cage. This is the power center of the body. Focus your energy there and you may experience a feeling of increased confidence, security and strength.
Seventh Position: Abdomen
This position helps you to release the past, including negative feelings of frustration and bitterness. Slide (or place) your hands at your waistline. The hands can point slightly downward. Bringing energy to this area can help release negative thoughts, since such feelings are so often “stuffed” down inside of us. This position is very calming and may also assist in digestion.
Eight Position: Pelvis
This position enhances feelings of well-being. Slide (or place) your hands over the pelvis and hip area, slightly angled down. The area is the center from which we express ecstasy and creativity… as well as resentments toward the opposite sex. Sending positive Reiki energy to this area may also sooth some digestive problems.
Ninth Position: Shoulder Blades
This position facilitates the release of burdens. Slide (or place) your hands on your shoulders, right hand to left shoulder and vice versa, as if you are patting yourself on the back, fingers aimed down. Most of us experience tension in this area — it’s the reason for the expression “carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.” At stressful times, placing your hands in this position while you focus on sending energy to the area may help release the burdensome feeling and make it easier to relax.
It may be difficult to achieve the hand placements for the 10th, 11th and 12th positions due to the logistics of reaching the proper areas of your back, as they are typically done when receiving a Reiki session from a professional practitioner. However you can modify them by placing your hands along your sides, elbows out, then reaching behind your back in the following three positions at rib level, mid-back and lower back.
Tenth Position: Upper Back
This position helps increase the capacity to give and receive love. Slide (or place) the right hand comfortably over the heart, fingers pointing slightly up, then place your left hand at your waist, on the right side, fingers pointing slightly down. After 2½ minutes, reverse positions so that the left hand moves up toward the heart area and the right hand goes to the left side of your waist. Since many of us feel tension in our backs, focusing the energy in this area helps bring a soothing sense of peace to the body.
Eleventh Position: Lower Back
This position helps to release self-criticism. Slide (or place) your hands in the small of your back. The palms can be facing either forward or backward, whichever is more comfortable for you. The lower back is another area where many people feel tension — focusing positive energy here helps to release negative feelings, particularly self-blame. You may feel lighter and clearer after doing this position.
Twelfth Position: Coccyx
The coccyx is the “seat of power” and the center of creativity. Slide (or place) your hands down to cover your tailbone. When focusing your energy here, envision all that you want to experience in your life and imagine reaching your full potential.
Though many advanced Reiki practitioners speak about how each position relates to specific organs and/or physical symptoms, the truth is that Reiki energy is systemic — positive energy flow throughout the body, no matter where the hands are placed. You can use any of these positions to focus positive energy that can help melt away the physical tensions and negative emotions you are holding throughout your body. It’s not magical or mysterious — these positions are merely tools to help in focusing energy to flow freely through every part of our bodies. Try it. There’s nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.
Those wishing to learn how to practice Reiki on others and on themselves should take a Level One training. You can find out more at The International Center for Reiki Training (www.reiki.org). If you wish to experience a Reiki session, you can locate a certified practitioner through the International Association of Reiki Professionals (www.iarp.org). There are some excellent short videos on YouTube showing exactly what a Reiki session looks like (put Reiki into the search engine at www.youtube.com). Désy’s book, The Everything Reiki Book, serves as a wonderful introduction as well.