When Nobody Feels Anything

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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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13 thoughts on “When Nobody Feels Anything

  1. Very true. At the hospice where I volunteer I have had many patients being referred and being sceptical at first , and then they experience something they cannot logically explain and after a few treatments they are addicted !

  2. This lets me know I am on the right track which gives me confidence with my treatments. Thanks Taggart

  3. Thank you so much, Taggart. So pleased its not just me that has totally mixed responses. These range from ‘Thank you, that was lovely’ to ‘So much heat was flowing to the area I injured when I fell off my bike as a teenager. That’s amazing!’. Sometimes I have thought ‘am I having an off day?’ if there is not much of a response, so pleased to know the Reiki is working just as strongly.

  4. Sorry i’ve only just discovered your site!! I agree – I get a lot of clients who feel loads of things going on and some who feel nothing – I always find however that the ones that don’t feel anything are the ones that I get the most sensation from when I do the treatment! Strange!

  5. it happens in every therapy – this nothing is happening/has happened feeling we got or the client tells us.

    One client of mine for homeopathy was adamant that the remedy I gave her did nothing when after taking the remedy she phoned to say she had been angry all weekend and she didn’t get angry ever. Over the next month she ditched her going nowhere affair, gave up her hated job, moved to America, met a new partner and later on got married!

  6. Always good to re-read info on this subject. As someone who feels nothing when receiving a treatment. AND precious little when giving a treatment. (I was attuned by three different masters.) Usually was the only one in the group who didn’t feel anything. However I do see colours, so usually work with my eyes closed. Also when giving a treatment I ASK- silently- for a sign that – something is happening, and am usually rewarded with various random noises or movement from the receiver. Clients keep coming back and when giving myself reiki. My ‘proof’ is that if I stop for a month or so – all of my various issues come back. For this reason I keep trusting and working with Reiki as one of my tools.

    1. Hi Kay, you certainly have proof that something is definitely going on, don’t you, even though you aren’t feeling too much as it happens. It’s good that you persevered, even in the face of few sensations, because you now receive such a benefit from your Reiki practice.

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