Reiki – Mapping the Field of Subtle Energy Healing

July 1, 2015

Even though many varying schools of Reiki exist, they all ascribe to the idea that Reiki healing involves a transfer of a universal energy or life force mediated by one sentient being to another (Glesner, 2002). This ancient Tibetan practice (VanderVaart, Gijsen, de Wildt, & Koren, 2009; Vitale, 2007), reintroduced by Mikao Usui in the 20th century and first expanded to the Western World by Hawayo Takata by the 1970s (Glesner, 2002), is currently classified by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as an energy medicine, and explicitly as a biofield therapy (Lee, Pittler, & Ernst, 2008).

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This web resource serves as a selective literature review, highlighting the subtle energies and energy healing modalities that have been evaluated experimentally. This overview presents a brief description of a particular therapeutic modality, including background on the origins of the modality for readers completely unfamiliar with them. The overview also includes a summary of the theories that have been put forth to explain the mechanism of action underlying the purported efficacy of the modality. Additionally, a description of the procedures that healers undergo when administering the treatments are presented in layperson’s language. Finally, results of published scientific reports on the modality are summarized such that readers can get a sense of the current state of the research.

This paper is part of the Mapping the Field of Subtle Energy Healing project sponsored by IONS in 2015. It is intended that this resource will assist patients and health professionals to navigate the vast field of subtle energies and energy healing modalities for use in their personal and professional endeavors. Additionally, the hope is that the collection of overviews will stimulate organization and cooperation among investigators doing research in this field.

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