What is Reiki Energy Healing, and How Does it Work?

A year ago, I’d never even heard of Reiki energy healing. Over the past six months, this ancient practice has made its way into my life through podcast mentions, friend’s testimonials, social media posts, magazine articles, and even a personal encounter.

After hearing how Reiki had changed the lives of a handful of my friends—two of whom are currently learning how to practice Reiki themselves—I gave it a shot. An open-minded skeptic, I didn’t really know what to expect (“Just be open to it,” a friend had told me beforehand).

A Google search led me to Julie Ann Dawson, Reiki Master and owner of Chakra To Ya, who gave me a thorough rundown of the practice and performed a healing session on me. She made me feel calm and comfortable during the entire experience, and I left relaxed, yet energized.

Recently, I caught up with Julie to clear up a few questions I had and to help others better understand what Reiki is.

Kaitlin Willow: How did you get introduced to Reiki, and why/how did you become a healer?

Julie Dawson: I first came across Reiki because I was dealing with depression and extreme stress due to a breakup, uncertainty in my career, and on top of it all, being in a new city (New York) all on my own. I was so stressed that I developed TMJ in my jaw and was in a lot of pain. I could barely open my mouth to even eat a banana. I didn’t like the idea of going to a shrink (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or getting a prescription for what I felt was situational depression, and had explored the idea of acupuncture, (except I don’t like needles), so upon a Google search for holistic healing in my neighborhood, I came across a woman who did Reiki.

I was open to the idea of Reiki since I was brought up Christian and believed in energy coming from the Universe and [was] open to miracles. Upon further research, I also saw that there was some scientific studies done on how Reiki can help from a wide array of health issues including depression, pain, and so on. After my first session, I saw a noticeable difference in how I felt. I went to the healer twice a week for about six weeks, then down to once a week, and eventually once a month…my TMJ and depression were gone!

KW: What is Reiki healing?

JD: First things first, the word “Reiki,” (ray-key), comes from two Japanese words. “Rei,” which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power,” and “Ki,” which is “Universal Life Energy.” Reiki is a non-denominational “spiritually guided life force energy.” It is this energy that a practitioner taps into in order to heal, using a gentle, hands-on approach or through distance healing. Both are equally as effective. Reiki is one of the oldest healing systems in the world as a way of healing our mind, body, and spirit. The practice of Reiki is a way of balancing the client’s own energy field (also known as “Chi” or “Aura”) that surrounds the body.

Reiki is one of the oldest healing systems in the world as a way of healing our mind, body, and spirit.

Reiki healing is a way to activate and restore a patient’s natural healing process for their physical and emotional well-being. A Reiki practitioner only acts as an open channel, or “medium,” to deliver the healing energy to the client. Reiki is an intelligent energy that clears the chakras, removes energy blockages, and is disbursed through the body, targeting the energy where healing is needed the most. Chakras are seven main points of energy sources in the body that form a vertically aligned pathway of energy through the body and auric field.

KW: What are some of the benefits of Reiki?

JD: Reiki is safe, relaxing, effective, and gentle—to be used on people of all ages and medical conditions. It has been known to an effective form of treatment for everything from the common cold to serious illnesses. The number of sessions required for healing also depends on the client, and rarely one session is enough for serious illness. Results vary from person to person, in addition to their efforts for continued self-improvement after a session. Regular treatments are best for overall continued optimal health.

KW: What are some of the most common reasons someone might seek out Reiki healing?

JD: Many of my clients come to me for the relief of anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression. Some of my clients are having trouble conceiving, while some want relief from pain with arthritis and/or serious illnesses. Other clients explain they’re having trouble moving forward and aren’t sure what comes next in their lives and which road to take. Some of my clients explain they feel “off,” more emotional than usual, not being present, experiencing lack of abundance, love, and prosperity in their lives. The list can go on and on, but those I would say are the most common reasons people seek me out for Reiki.

KW: What should someone expect during their first Reiki session?

JD: I always start the session by thoroughly going over what Reiki is (many of my clients have never had Reiki before, or have heard very little about it). I get to know their needs and goals for Reiki and proceed to do a chakra assessment, which means doing an energetic scan of the body and checking which chakras need clearing. At this time, I also do an aura clearing, which preps the space and energy fields of both the client and myself to do energy work.

Next, I walk the client through some deep breathing and place crystals on the chakra areas of the body, while aromatherapy (a scent of the client’s choice) fills the air from a diffuser. I can then begin to open the chakras, aura, and channel the energy with meditative music playing in the background.

During a session, some clients fall asleep being in this meditative/relaxed state, while some clients at the end of the session will feel energized and recharged. It is normal for a client to experience a warm cooling or tingling sensations over parts of the body where hands are placed, dreaming, or see bright colors while the client’s eyes are closed.

I incorporate sound healing as an additional layer of healing while simultaneously channeling Reiki for the last 10 minutes or so of the session. By incorporating crystals, aromatherapy, and sound healing with Reiki, I call it the trifecta of healing! Hands are placed gently over the chakra areas, but channeling from a distance (without hands-on) is just as effective too, especially for clients who are in pain, and/or sensitive to tough.


KW: How do you use crystals during a healing session? Is that a common practice with Reiki or something else entirely?

JD: Before the client arrives, I intuitively pick out which crystals I am sensing will be best for the client and their needs. I am such a nerd for crystals, I can talk about them all day! So I’m very well educated in which crystals work best for each of the chakras and the client’s needs. In traditional Usui Reiki, crystals are not used, but I incorporate them into my practice because I feel they add something extra special.

KW: Can you explain how distance healing works?

JD: Since I practice Usui and Tummo techniques, there is more than one way to send healing energy to someone who is not physically present with you. For example, I can send healing energy to someone who is in another country right now. Or, let’s say someone has an important meeting coming up and they’re terrified of public speaking and it literally makes them sick to think about presenting. I can send Reiki energy right now for that person to receive the energy at that specific time and place the next day (or any day in the future).

One way I do this is by using Reiki symbols (that is the traditional way with Usui), and writing the symbols down on paper, along with the time, address, and person’s name who is receiving the healing. I ground myself and open my channel for the healing. This same Reiki symbol can also be done with healing past lives and through all directions of time and space. There are many Reiki symbols to use, but this one, in particular, is called Ha Sha Ze Sho Nen, (HSZSN), for short.

When I am done channeling, I close the chakras and aura like I would for an in-person session and thank spirit for the healing to end the session. I can do distance healings over the phone, FaceTime, Skype, etc. Or if you’re too busy for a call, I can channel while you’re sleeping.

KW: What misconceptions do you think skeptics or those not familiar with Reiki might have? How would you address those?

I think the most common misconceptions about Reiki would be that negative spirits could come through and somehow harm them, which is completely false. At the beginning of the session, I always tell clients that Reiki comes from source energy, divine love and light only! Another common misconception about Reiki would be that people thinking it’s some form of witchery. Reiki is not witchcraft, nor does it conjure any negative spirits.

Reiki comes from divine love and light only.

Thankfully, there’s more and more science that is finally catching up proving how effective Reiki is (as well as other holistic healing modalities such as sound healing), for anything from a common cold to serious illnesses. Reiki has been a common practice in other parts of the world for centuries and now that it has finally come on people’s radar, Reiki is being used in hospitals all around the US, in addition to special college and research programs opening specifically for Reiki and holistic healing.

Learn more about Reiki or schedule a healing session at Chakra To Ya.

Kaitlin Willow

Kaitlin is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Vim. She works for Dermstore during the day and writes novels and short stories in the evenings. She lives in Los Angeles with the coolest dog in the world, Benny. (Find him on Instagram: @bennythejetsetter)

IG: @thevimmag

the vim magazine logo

A digital publication
for the ever-curious woman.

Stay in the loop: