Hand in hand with nursing

Reiki: Hand in hand with nursing

Caring for your patients and yourself with Reiki.


  • Reiki is grounded in the transmission of energy through a practitioners’ hands to restore the body’s homeostasis.
  • Nurses can learn to be Reiki practitioners by receiving training from Reiki masters.
  • The Reiki principles can be used by nurses as a framework for promoting self-care.

    reiki hand


REIKI(pronounced “ray-key” and defined as “spiritual energy” or “life-force energy”) is a complementary therapy (often partnered with other healing practices, such as massage, meditation, and yoga) that can include the soothing comfort of human touch—an important aspect of nursing. You can experience the benefits of Reiki as a recipient, suggest it to patients, or receive training to become a practitioner to promote patients’ physical, psychological, and spiritual healing.

Reiki is grounded in the transmission of energy though a practitioner’s hands. It’s based on five principles or universal truths: “Just for today: I release angry thoughts and feelings, I release thoughts of worry, I’m grateful for my many blessings, I practice expanding my consciousness, I’m gentle with all beings including myself.”

Reiki as energy medicine

Understanding how Reiki works begins by acknowledging that the human body is composed of energy. Remember Einstein’s equation (E = mc2)—all mass (or matter), including the human body, is equal to energy. Energies within the body make continual adjustments to maintain homeostasis.

Just as Western-trained healthcare professionals understand that the physical body contains blood vessels, lymph vessels, and organs, Reiki practitioners recognize the body’s pathways, meridians, and chakras. Energy medicine is based on the premise that disease is an imbalance occurring in the energy pathways. When a pathway is chronically out of balance, or when several systems aren’t in harmony, illness or disease may occur. Meridians serve as the body’s energy highway and chakras as its energy centers. Each chakra corresponds to a particular group of organs and the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects associated with them.

For example, if the heart chakra is out of balance, the patient’s heart rate may be rapid, he or she may express feelings of sadness or loneliness and may feel less able to give or receive compassion or love to or from others. The calming effects of Reiki may assist in decreasing the heart rate, and the patient may experience calmness and be more open to love and compassion.

Reiki works by restoring the body to homeostasis. While the patient is fully clothed, the practitioner places his or her hands on or near the patient’s body in a series of positions around the neck, abdomen, and feet (other positions can be used depending on patient needs). Energy then flows from the practitioner’s hands into the patient. Hand positions vary, depending on the area being treated. For example, when providing Reiki to the eyes, the practitioner’s hands are together with thumbs touching, while the palms hover over the top of the forehead. If the practitioner is providing Reiki to the abdominal area, the fingers of one hand are placed at the base of the other hand with either hand on top.

Reiki can help people manage illness and disease, reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and improve sleep. It goes hand-in-hand with nursing because it’s easy to learn, can be performed without touching patients who aren’t comfortable with physical contact, and can be readily implemented during regular patient care.

Reiki and nurse self-care

Nurses in U.S. hospitals report that their work is mentally and physically exhausting and that they suffer from burnout. Many nurses worry that their fatigue will affect patient care and consider resigning.

Once you are trained in Reiki, you can perform self- Reiki (conducting a series of hand placements on yourself) as a way to aid relaxation and improve resilience. Incorporating self-Reiki and adhering to the Reiki principles may help alleviate the stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and pain related to the physical demands of patient care. (See Reiki and self-care.)

Energy therapies:

In addition to Reiki, nurses can use these three other energy therapies as complementary patient treatment or as part of their own self-care.

Healing touch (or therapeutic touch) is a technique developed by a nurse to open the recipient’s energy blocks. It’s similar to Reiki, but no waiting period is needed between training levels. (See Reiki training.) Also, this is a hands-on technique; Reiki is most often performed without touching.

Emotional freedom technique is a meridian-based energy healing in which a person is taught to tap on body meridians to help clear energy blocks and restore the body to homeostasis.

Qigong and Tai chi (sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”) incorporates meditation, breathing awareness, and body movements to enhance energy flow in the body. For example, opening and closing posture helps balance energy pathways. To start, the hands are opened to shoulder width. The person then breathes out, pushing the hands towards each other as close as possible without touching, while gently bending the knees. He or she continues opening and closing the hands several times, and completes the exercise by stretching the hands forward, and then returning to the starting position and straightening the knees. Throughout, the person imagines a gentle magnetic force between the palms. He or she pulls against this resistance when breathing in and pushes against it when breathing out. The mouth is gently closed, and the tongue lightly touches the upper palate.

Attention and devotion

Reiki practice with patients can be a useful complement to Western medicine. With careful attention and devotion to each of the Reiki principles, you can provide adjunctive patient care and improve your own well-being.