Healing Hands: Discovering the Practice of Reiki

What it is, how it works, and why you might want to give it a try.
Published April 24, 2017

We all know the healing power of a massage, and how good we feel after a pedicure, meditation session, or a good ole soak in the tub. But what if we could be healed – or at the very least, made to feel good – through something unseen?

Enter Reiki, defined by the International Center for Reiki Training as, “a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.” Reiki “is based on the idea that an unseen ‘life force energy’ flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's ‘life force energy’ is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei, which means ‘God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power’ and Ki, which is ‘life force energy’.”

Taline Bedakelian, an accountant in Vancouver, is a Reiki master and Reiki teacher.

She expands on that definition, saying “Reiki is the universal life force energy that flows through each and every living thing in this universe. This energy is what gives us life.  Without this, nothing can exist.”

Can anyone do Reiki?

Absolutely, yes, Bedakelian says. “Since we are all alive, we all have this energy already in us.”

Those who practise it become “attuned” by other practitioners.

“In order to activate it or access it to the highest degree, we need to be attuned by a Reiki Master. The Reiki Master will not give you the power of Reiki. The Reiki Master will simply unlock the power that you already have within you and help you to connect more fully to the universal life force,” she says.

Bedakelian, a lifetime Weight Watchers member herself, was attuned to Reiki in 2009 and became a master and teacher in 2011.

Bedakelian had never heard of Reiki, but had always felt heat coming out of her hands – something both Reiki practitioners and receivers often say they feel.

“When I was younger and my mother's back hurt, I would just place my hands wherever the pain was and after a while the pain would leave,” Bedakelian recalls.

One day she went to a clinic with many alternative healers and therapists and got to talking to a nurse about Reiki. She signed up for her first Reiki class and the rest is history.

Is Reiki really a thing?

Many may wonder if Reiki really exists, and ultimately, only your personal experience with it can prove or disprove it to you.

Bedakelian doesn’t attempt to convince anyone. “[Reiki] is the channeling of the universal energy. I leave it up to the universal energy to convince or prove itself to others. Chances are that if they are interested in Reiki, they have already heard the call from within by themselves.”

How does it work?

Reiki works on all issues – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

“Whenever we have unresolved issues in our lives, we create energetic blockages in our bodies and minds. Reiki removes these blockages, thereby helping us to heal and go back into a state of balance,” Bedakelian says.

“The Reiki practitioner is the vessel through which the healing energies flow through with the ultimate destination as the one who is receiving the Reiki session.”

What to expect in your first session

First of all, go in with zero expectations. “Expectations are usually unrealistic and they blind us to what is happening because we are too busy focusing on what we think is not happening,” Bedakelian explains. “Reiki always works. Just because we don't think we feel anything, that doesn't mean that nothing is happening. Energy work is very subtle but very powerful as well.”

As for the session itself, it will have some similarities to a massage.

You’ll likely lie down on a massage table in a calm room. Wear loose, comfy clothing – no need to disrobe as you do for a massage. Though every practitioner has their own style, yours will likely position their hands above your body over different areas, but usually will not touch you. Some practitioners may prefer to lightly lay the hands on the person receiving the treatment, and in which case will ask permission to touch you.

Despite all the benefits of Reiki, Bedakelian wants to make it clear that a Reiki practitioner does not heal people.

“Most people ask if, as a Reiki Master, I can heal them,” she says. The answer is no, and Bedakelian explains why.

“The Reiki practitioner is only the facilitator to the person healing themselves. We must all take responsibility for our own healing. Many times, people choose to hold onto their emotional pain or their physical ailments because they either have not learned the lesson behind their condition, or more likely, because it serves a subconscious purpose for them.”

Lastly, Bedakelian wants to emphasize that Reiki is not a religion.

“Anyone can practice it while they are practising their own religious or spiritual beliefs. You do NOT need to believe in it for it to work,” she says. “It will work just as well on a devout Christian, Jew, or Buddhist as it will on an Atheist.”