What I learned from my first reiki session (also, WTF is reiki?)

Like every good millennial, I strive to have a meaningful life. As a generation, we are acutely aware of mindfulness and we’re exploring our inner selves with crystals, Tarot and full-moon rituals. In fact, we’ve kick-started an Occult revival and spiritual stuff is all over Instagram (see The Hood Witch and The Wild Unknown). Alternative therapies feel larger than life.

I was curious about reiki. A friend of mine said she heard voices and saw colours during her treatment and my yoga studio has a restorative reiki session that is always packed.

What is reiki?

In its original form, within Japanese Buddhist circles in the late 19th Century, reiki was a path to enlightenment—a system for feeling the benefits of knowing your true purpose in life. You are never meant to “finish” reiki treatment because the more often you feel the benefits, the closer you become to enlightenment.

In a reiki treatment, a therapist uses their hands to touch multiple points on your body that connect to your seven chakras. Technically, they’re not doing anything to you but channeling energy within your body using their hands. The therapist assists energy flow, so your body receives balance where it needs to heal the most. When your chakras are balanced, you feel the benefits of reiki and enlightenment.

What does a treatment feel like?

I booked an appointment with reiki master Leigh Bowen in Toronto to see what the healing-by-touch therapy would feel like. Leigh had me lay down on massage table, covered me in blankets, and instructed me to close my eyes. For an hour, she gently pressed her hands down on the center of my forehead, my shoulders and wrists, and my belly.

During the treatment, I was in an intensely relaxed state. It felt like sleep-paralysis but in a comfortable way. When Leigh was balancing my third-eye chakra, the spot on your forehead between your eyes, I saw an intense blue colour and felt an icy cool sensation.

My reiki experience was equally relaxing and trippy in a spiritual way.

What happens afterward?

Leigh said that for every physical ailment there is an emotional root; the butterflies you get in your stomach when you fall in love are a physical result of an emotional cause. reiki smoothes out emotional blockages by moving energy around. What you can expect (aside from feeling more enlightened) is to feel emotionally lighter, much like you would feel after talk therapy or a good cry.

With me, Leigh said she found and removed an energy blockage in my large intestine that indicated I absorbed energy just fine but was struggling to release it. IRL, my stomach had been bothering me for long enough that I was testing a vegan and no alcohol diet (ugh).

After my reiki treatment, I’ve been drinking red wine just fine.