Depending on whom you trained with, you may have been given quite a long list of 'situations where you should not use Reiki'. It seems that the only restriction that Mrs Takata taught was that you should not treat a broken bone with Reiki, but many other restrictions have been added in later on in Reiki's Western history. I thought I would spend a little time talking about these 'Reiki contraindications'.

Firstly, I would like to talk about the 'broken bone' restriction. This is made on the basis that Reiki accelerates the healing process, so you do not want Reiki to set the bone before it has been put back in the right position. Now while Reiki is an amazing energy, and has done some wonderful and breathtaking things, I think most people's experience is that Reiki gently supports the body's natural healing ability, and that while it may accelerate the healing process, the effects of Reiki generally build up cumulatively. I do not believe that Reiki will set someone's bone like fast-acting Polyfilla, so that they will have to have the bone re-broken and re-set when they get to Casualty a few hours later. Breaking a bone is a shocking and painful experience (I know this from first hand experience!) and Reiki could make a real difference to someone, so I would not hold back from giving it, and I would not hold back from treating the area where the bone is broken. Suggesting that you could Reiki someone, but keep well away from the broken bone, does not stop Reiki from rushing to where it is needed (the bone), and why would we imagine that what many people see as a spiritually-guided life-force energy would mess things up for a person. Reiki is supposed to be intelligent.

Another situation where some people are taught that you 'should not treat' is when a client has a pacemaker. This restriction is made on the basis that Reiki energy is electromagnetic in nature, and will interfere with the proper functioning of the device. Confusingly, some say that this restriction only applies to analogue pacemakers, not the newer digital ones. There seems to be no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Reiki would cause a problem in this area, and I have not heard on a single anecdote where a Reiki practitioner treated someone with a pacemaker and the treatment caused problems. I am also not aware of any evidence to show that Reiki is electromagnetic in nature, either. If it was, you could measure Reiki easily: move your hand over a wire and you would induce an electric current, which you could pick up with a voltmeter. Some have suggested that you can solve this 'problem' by keeping away from the heart area, but we all know that Reiki rushes from where we put it to where it is needed. I would have thought that a person with a pacemaker needed more Reiki in the heart area, not less, and if Reiki is drawn to the areas of need then it is going to go where it wants anyway. The only solution would be not to treat someone with a pacemaker, which I think is ridiculous. Some have suggested that you should not attune someone with a pacemaker, and again I do not think that this is sensible. I am not going to restrict my practice of Reiki on the basis of unfounded supposition.

With nearly all the restrictions that are put on Reiki, there seems to be no evidence to back up any of them. I am not talking about double blind clinical trials here, but even simple anecdotes where a practitioner has treated someone and found that there is a problem that can be reasonably attributed to the treatment that has been given. I have heard that you should not treat insulin-dependent Diabetics, or people taking steroids for adrenal insufficiency. Those restrictions have been made on the basis that if Reiki produces an instant cure then the patient's next dose of insulin, or steroids, will kill them. Again, while Reiki is a wonderful healing force, it is not my belief that Reiki is likely to cure diabetes, for example, at the click of a finger. Most people's experience is that the effects of Reiki build up cumulatively and that if a condition has taken a long time to develop, then it is not so likely to disappear straight away. Yes, a diabetic patient's blood glucose levels may vary after a Reiki treatment, but diabetics' blood sugar levels vary a great deal anyway. That is why they have to keep on sticking themselves with a pin to monitor their levels, and you could only attribute this variation to Reiki if it happened consistently after treatments and their blood sugar levels were stable the rest of the time.

Having said that, there does seem to be some anecdotal evidence that Reiki treatments can sometimes cause the client’s blood sugar levels to alter after a treatment. This does not mean that you should not treat diabetics: it means that you need to keep this in mind and mention this possibility to the client, so that they can monitor their blood sugar levels accordingly.

I have heard that you should not send distant Reiki to someone who is driving a car, because they will fall asleep, and you should not send distant Reiki to someone who is under an anaesthetic, because it will make them wake up… well, which is it? This doesn't sound like an intelligent energy to me, and there seems to be a lot of fear, and a lack of trust in the energy, underlying all these restrictions. So where is the evidence that Reiki wakes people up during surgery? Where is even one anecdote where it was clear that Reiki, rather than any other cause, led to this happening? Look for the evidence, and you find that these scare stories have no foundation.

In fact, the restrictions do not stop there. There are many more taught in different lineages. For example, you should not treat people with cancer, you should not treat people who are pregnant, you should not treat people who are depressed or who have asthma, you should not treat people who are stressed, you should not treat young children, you should not treat animals, you should not treat people who are taking homoeopathic remedies, you should not treat people who are taking medicines, you should not treat people wearing green trousers (sorry, I made that one up!).

Let’s just examine two of these. It is said by some teachers that you should not treat people who have cancer because Reiki will “feed the cancer”; there is a variation on this myth, actually, where people are taught that they should not use one of the Reiki symbols because it will “put energy into the cancer”. Let’s think rationally about this for just a second: we have cancer cells inside us all of the time and as you sit reading this, there are cancer cells in you. Your cells go haywire all the time and your immune system detects the errors and kills the cells. But if you adhere to this Reiki contraindication then you should not treat anyone at all because Reiki feeds cancer cells, and everyone has cancer cells in them, so we can’t treat people, or animals, we can’t treat ourselves, and being attuned would be a death sentence!

And if we can’t treat pregnant women then we really need to refrain from treating any women of childbearing age because of course women can be in the early stages of pregnancy and not know about it, or be pregnant and not know about it. And then of course all women of childbearing age should refrain from self-treating, and should not go on Reiki courses.

People do not think things through

I believe that Reiki is a beautiful healing energy that supports the body's natural healing ability, and brings things into balance on all levels. It either has an innate intelligence, and knows where to go to an extent, or it is the body that is intelligent and draws the energy to where it is needed. In either case, Reiki is not going to mess up a person and leave them less well off than they were before they started, other than a temporary intensification of symptoms. Examples of these would be an emotional release or strong emotions felt for a few days after being treated, or joint pains getting worse during a treatment and then improving subsequently.

The last set of restrictions that I have heard about concern distant healing, where it is said in some quarters that you should not send Reiki to people who have not asked for or given their permission. Some people say that it is totally unethical to send distant Reiki to someone without obtaining their agreement and that it a gross intrusion. I do not agree with this, for a number of reasons:

1. Firstly, I see sending distant Reiki as rather like sending concentrated prayer. When you pray for someone you are asking for Divine intervention in another person's life, in whatever way is right for that person according to Divine will. You are asking for things to change for the better. When you send Reiki you are sending it with loving intent and for the person's highest good, so it is in line with that person's destiny or karma, and many people see Reiki energy as having Divine origins. You do not ring someone up to ask their permission to pray for them, so why should if be different with Reiki?

2. If someone were knocked over by a car a few yards away from you, would you really not send Reiki to them because you couldn't drag them into the seated position to sign a consent form? No. You would send Reiki to their highest good and let the energy do what is appropriate for them. You offer the energy: you do not force the recipient to receive it.

3. Reiki is a beautiful healing energy that brings things into balance on all levels and does not mess people up, leaving them worse off than they were to begin with. With distant healing your intent is that the energy works for the highest good of the recipient, so if it is not appropriate for that person to get the benefit of the energy then it simply will not work. You are not imposing your will and you are not imposing your preferred solution on the situation. You are simply sending love, offering the energy, making the energy available, not forcing it to be received.

For these reasons, I have no problem in sending Reiki to people who have not specifically requested it. I send the energy with the intention that it be received by the recipient at whatever time is appropriate for them. I do not see that there are any other restrictions that need to be applied to the energy, or the practice of Reiki. In the West we think too much, and come up with too many complications. Reiki is simple and does not need to be restricted. It knows what to do.

Author's Bio: 

Reiki Evolution is a Reiki training organisation in the UK that provides small scale Reiki training throughout the country. The Reiki Evolution web site is a very useful resource for people who wish to find out more about the Reiki system, and for Reiki practitioners and Master/Teachers who are interested in developing further with Reiki.

The web site offers free Reiki guides, a free ezine and loads of interesting and inspiring Reiki articles written by Taggart King. You can order professionally printed Reiki manuals and books, download ebooks and self-help guides, and order Reiki CDs or MP3s with commentary and guided meditations.

We teach a form of Reiki that is close to Mikao Usui’s original system, rather than the ‘Western-style’ Reiki that is found on most Reiki courses, and our approach is based on information coming from a group of Mikao Usui’s surviving students.

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