An Evaluation of the Subjective Experience of Receiving Reiki: Qualitative Results from a Pragmatic Effectiveness Study

Author: Natalie L Dyer1,2, Akleema Ali2, Ann L Baldwin3,4, Sarah Kowalski5, William L Rand2
1 Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
2 The Center for Reiki Research, Southfield, MI, USA.
3 Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
4 Laboratory of Consciousness and Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
5 Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, USA.
Conference/Journal: J Integr Complement Med
Date published: 2022 May 25
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1089/jicm.2022.0477. , Word Count: 251

Objectives: The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the subjective experience of Reiki in a large sample. Design: The study design was a single-arm pragmatic effectiveness trial with qualitative questions completed post-Reiki session. Setting: The study took place at private Reiki practices across the United States. Subjects: A total of 99 Reiki practitioners met the inclusion criteria and participated in the study. Reiki practitioners invited each of their Reiki clients to complete a survey before and after the Reiki session. Of the N = 1575 Reiki sessions recorded, N = 1284 qualitative responses were completed (82% of total) and included in the analysis. Interventions: Trained and experienced Reiki masters conducted Reiki sessions in person, with each session lasting between 45 and 90 min. Outcome measures: Participants were asked to describe their experience during the Reiki session. Results: Qualitative analysis revealed eight major themes: (1) deep relaxation and calm (68%), (2) body sensations/somatic experiences (53%), (3) emotions (29%), (4) spiritual or symbolic significance (18%), (5) changes in symptoms (17%), (6) changes in perception (11%), (7) sleep and drowsiness (10%), and (8) changes to breathing (4%). Significantly more males reported feeling relaxed and experiencing time perception changes, whereas more females reported body sensations, emotions, visual perceptions, and spiritual significance. Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that Reiki can elicit the relaxation response and alter emotions and perception in such a way as to facilitate a transformative subjective healing experience. Future work will analyze these themes as they relate to changes in symptoms and compare the experience of Reiki with other biofield therapies.

Keywords: Reiki; biofield; qualitative; relaxation response; spiritual experience.

PMID: 35613402 DOI: 10.1089/jicm.2022.0477