Is Reiki Really Fluffy?


In this month’s blog I want to explore a perception of Reiki that some people have who are looking at Reiki for the first time, in that Reiki is in some way ‘fluffy’, a bit ‘woo woo’ or ‘out there’. As such a perception can hold people back from trying Reiki and therefore benefiting of it in their lives, be that through receiving Reiki treatments, or learning Reiki for themselves. So today I wish to simply explore this perception of Reiki, where it might come from and my thoughts on it.

If we look at what Reiki is (quick summary) Reiki means soul energy, it is a path of personal growth and development in ourselves, a path that also uses the channelling of Reiki energy to support the body’s natural healing mechanisms, helping to clear congestion of flow energetically and restore balance in body and mind. As a practice it helps us heal, to be present, grateful, be kinder, build our resilience to stress and move us towards a place of greater peace and stillness in mind.

Much of peoples’ scepticism, or difficulty in getting their head around Reiki I find is related to Reiki being a natural energy, which does not fit the dominance of logical thinking and cultural conditioning in the west. Nor does it fit our conditioning that tangible, physically measurable things are valid and things that may be unmeasurable, or not as easily to define are less valid, or have no or less value. In the west we tend to struggle to comprehend things that don’t conform to our sense of logical order, or that don’t fit into a neat box. The practice we know as Reiki was developed in Japan in the 1920’s. A country in which awareness of energy and a respect for the power in nature and an understanding that we ourselves are part of that nature was known and culturally accepted for thousands of years prior to Reiki. So for a start such concepts can be a stretch for western minds.

A point to consider that doesn’t support the idea of Reiki as fluffy is the environment and culture Reiki was created in, At the time the practice of Reiki was created, Japan had left quite a long samurai period behind and entered a more Government and military dominant society and quite a closed country. It was a time of many martial arts. A society of discipline, focus, dedicated practice.  Many people are unaware of the fact that fact that many of the leading Reiki teachers and indeed the successor to Usui Sensei as the president of the Japanese Usui Reiki society in 1926 was an ex naval real admiral, as were a number of following presidents high ranking naval officers. Reiki was developed as a practice of body and mind and daily improvement in our thinking and actions. So this doesn’t suggest an environment of fluffy at its founding.

Another consideration in a person’s view of Reiki will be how it has been introduced to them as well as the judgements we form from the person, or people we come across who are practicing Reiki. For example in terms of the presentation of Reiki to those who learn Reiki in training courses; what exactly is taught to students and how to practice, influences how Reiki is presented to everyone they come across who asks about Reiki. As Reiki spread into the USA in the 1980’s it had already moved a good distance away from the original teachings of Reiki’s founder Usui Sensei, restrictions on what was included in training courses and any quality control of training courses was pretty non-existent, so peoples own interests and approaches to healing diluted, or changed what they were teaching under the banner of Reiki. Many had interests in new age thinking, chakras, crystals, different symbols, rituals and all manner of other things crept into what was presented as Reiki. Many of these additions only added fuel to a view of Reiki being more ‘out there’. 

In the UK, as I write this the number of Reiki teachers teach the authentic Japanese Reiki (Jikiden Reiki) is around 10-12 active Jikiden Shihan (full teachers) permitted to teach these original teachings. There are many more Reiki teachers out there, we don’t know exactly how many, but let’s say a thousand for the purpose of this topic. So the chances are you will come across more people practising and teaching healing approaches under the banner of Reiki that have moved away from the original teachings are higher than finding a teacher or person practising Reiki in its authentic form. So just the sheer numbers would suggest you would be more likely find more people out there doing more alternative approaches to Reiki again reinforcing a slightly skewed view of what Reiki is.  

Another observation (a generalisation) I find that many people who are drawn to learning Reiki and healing approaches in general tend to be more natural healers, many more softer natured, calmer personalities, many have interests in many areas of spiritual development and other approaches, be that angels, clairvoyance, auras, crystals. They are connected to nature, they may like hugging trees and walking around bare foot and other things that all tend, for people new to Reiki meeting them, reinforce a perception of fluffy or woo woo towards Reiki.

Another factor to consider is the presentation, or teaching style, the manner in which Reiki is presented by the people you know or see doing Reiki. So with me, my background includes: being an infantry solider in the British army, a martial arts instructor, a degree in sport & exercise science, time as a performance and well-being coaching prior to Reiki, so the flavour of my presentation of Reiki is more results based, practical. When I teach Reiki, its focus is more coaching, understanding it, gaining confidence in using it, it’s not a hug fest. Many I have delivered Reiki to or taught Reiki to (in addition to the many more softer intuitive types) include business owners, managers, science based people, health professionals, martial artists, body builders, so a real mix and not just something for those we might consider as overtly spiritually minded. 

In addition as legally we can only present Reiki in a certain light, relaxation, emotional well-being primarily, Reiki can sometimes appear more just a complement to a useful approach, than a powerful natural approach in its own right, so this can also hinder our understanding and peoples’ view of Reiki when looking at it. For me if Reiki was fluffy and didn’t do much, I wouldn’t have dedicated myself to its study, practice and teaching others it, period. I have seen enough powerful results with Reiki alone to know what it can and has done to help many people. For me what is tangible is the results people I have helped with Reiki experience. For example there is nothing fluffy about the experience of helping someone release and heal from an emotional trauma when they were a child, I assure you.

So to conclude in my opinion Reiki itself is not fluffy, or woo-woo. Yes there is the concept of energy to get your head around, but even that is getting increasingly recognised by science. But I accept for some that is still as stretch for where they may be at this time. The practice of Reiki is of personal growth and development, not that fluffy, as anyone who is seriously embarked on such a journey can testify. I would say if you come across people practising Reiki with other approaches mixed in, that could well give the appearance of Reiki being a less solid or tangible practice, but remember many of those things that make it seem fluffy are likely not to be anything to do with the original practice of Reiki anyway. So if you felt prior to this article that Reiki was a bit too fluffy for you and that perception has held you back from experiencing it, I would suggest finding a Reiki professional who is trained in authentic Japanese Reiki (Jikiden Reiki safest bet) who’s approach and style feels more a fit for you try a treatment and go from there.

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About the author, Shaun Mckeown: could be labeled as a performance strategist, coach, teacher, or a life balance specialist. In essence Shaun is a strategic, creative problem solver, with a holistic view. He has 20 years professional experience helping people with health, well-being, sport performance, reducing stress and life balance. He has a BSc.(Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Science, as well as experience coaching and teaching in exercise conditioning, holistic lifestyle and nutrition, sport performance and Reiki. So both science and holistic perspectives. 


The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Shaun Mckeown, disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.