When you start learning Reiki, the first thing you do is to practise on a few people, probably a couple of family members or some friends. And while they can often give you interesting and useful feedback, feedback that helps to build your confidence that this Reiki “thing” really is doing something, because they can feel it and notice the effects, this doesn’t always happen: sometimes you can practise on some people who don’t seem to notice anything happening when you treat them, and this is of course quite disheartening.
You might feel a raging furnace going on on your hands as you treat them but they just shrug and say, “no, didn’t feel anything really, just a bit relaxed, or “a bit or warmth from your hands but that’s just what you’d expect from anyone”.
So what’s going on here? Why can’t they feel anything? Why isn’t Reiki working for them… or is it?
Rejecting any Reiki sensations
It is true to say that there are some grumpy partners of newly-fledged Reiki people who think Reiki is nonsense and do not want to admit that they are feeling anything, even if they are. I am sad to say that these people are often men.
If they have a belief that Reiki is rubbish then it would create too much congnitive dissonance to admit that they were experiencing something that goes counter to their belief, so any sensations or experiences are given a ‘rational’ explanation that excludes the possibility of Reiki being a real thing.
Sometimes this can happen subconsciously, where the recipient just ‘discounts’ or rationalises their experience as having nothing to do with Reiki, and sometimes people just won’t admit that they felt something special or surprising.
But one of the most encouraging or belief-inducing things for beginners is when a cynical partner is amazed by the feelings that they experience, and stunned by the fact that their back pain, or sore knee, or headache has just melted away, and then that person starts to ask for regular Reiki treatments. There is no better convincer for a new Reiki person than a cynic who just cannot explain the clear benefits they are experiencing! Or when the powerful sensations they noticed just can’t be explained away.
Because sometimes, say when your hands are hovering over someone’s forehead or the front of their face, they can feel heat so intense that it seems like there has been an electric bar heater installed just inches away from their face, and they grab hold of your hands to feel the heat and find that your hands are quite cool, actually, so there is intense ‘heat’ coming from hands that are cool. That can’t be explained away!
Or when you feel that there is loads of heat flowing through your hands into, say, someone’s left shoulder, and they had hurt that shoulder playing sports but had not mentioned that to you, so there was no way you would have known about it!
Such things are greatly reassuring, but don’t always happen.[See also: Reiki sensations when you attune or treat people for further insights]
The luck of the draw
Grumpy Reiki-sceptical partners aside, it is true that people vary in their sensitivity to the flow of Reiki. This applies to Reiki practitioners, too, and in my blog I can’t feel anything happening I talk about this in more detail.
So (1) Most people will feel something happening when they are treated, with your experience as a practitioner generally tying in with what they experienced (you feel a lot of energy in one area and they felt a lot of heat when you were treating that place, for example), (2) Some people will be just ridiculously sensitive to the energy (and maybe are far more sensitive than you ever will be as a practitioner!), and (3) Some people will feel nothing at all.
Now, we need to detach someone’s experience of the energy from the issue of whether the Reiki treatment has ‘worked’, because a person’s experience of a treatment in terms of visual images (usually coloured lights) or physical sensations is not a reliable guide as to how effective or powerful the treatment was.
It’s nice when people have a powerful experience when they are treated, it reassures tham that something was definitely going on, but “bells and whistles” on their part does not mean that they received a better treatment than someone who just felt a bit relaxed.
It’s a natural response to think that a “bells and whistles” treatment was more effective than the “I just felt a bit relaxed, thanks” treatment, but Reiki doesn’t work by those rules.
So, some people don’t really feel anything. And if you only treat one person, and that person is one of those people, you won’t get any positive feedback, and you’ll feel disheartened.
What can be done about that?
How to increase your chances
The solution is to treat lots of people. Get your hands on friends, family and acquaintances. Grab hold of complete strangers! (I don’t mean that). Do short blasts on someone’s painful back, or achey shoulder, or headache. Treat someone for 10 minutes in a lunchbreak. Do head and shoulder treatments, and some full treatments when the opportunity arises.
Because the more people you treat, the more you are stacking your cards in your favour: the more people you treat, the more likely you are to find people who are sitting in the middle of the ‘Bell curve’: the ones who feel things happening when they are treated and can give you useful, interesting and encouraging feedback.
It’s a numbers game.
Treat one person and they may not feel anything: you pulled the short straw. Treat 10 or 20 and you will have treated loads of people who can feel something happening.[For more info about the meaning of the different sensations you might experience, go here: What does it all mean?]
Most people get a benefit from Reiki
Let’s get back to those people who receive a Reiki treatment and don’t really feel anything happening.
That may just be the way they are, but it could be that this is just a one-off thing and on another occasion they may well notice some more things happening during their treatment. Or you might find that their sensitivity to the energy develops over a course of treatments, because that’s similar to what happens to Reiki people too, isn’t it?… while most people can feel something happening as the energy flows, they also find that with repeated exposure to the energy, they become better able to sense it.
And we need to always remind ourselves that the “bells and whistles” treatment wasn’t a better treatment than the apparently nondescript one.
A treatment where the recipient did not feel anything happening at all can produce as powerul a response in terms of improving a physical condition, easing stress and tension long-term, elevating mood or shifting an emotional block or mental challenge… as can the apparently more powerful session.
Reiki can suprise you, and no more so than when the treatment ‘that didn’t work’ makes a profound difference to the life of the person you shared Reiki with.
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