As a Reiki Professional, I usually start at the client’s feet or knees, and I usually work a few inches to a foot or two above their physical body. Why?
My first experience with Reiki involved a person I had just met touching my face. I could smell her hands. It felt awkward to have someone I barely knew putting their hands on my face and hair. That kind of experience is going to be weird for many people, and as much as I gave Reiki the benefit of the doubt, the way the Reiki was delivered in that session did not help me feel relaxed.
Since one of the benefits of Reiki is natural relaxation, in my work as a Reiki Professional, at Healing for People in Marin County CA, I want everything about the Reiki experience to be as natural and relaxing as possible for the person receiving Reiki. I find that if I start at a person’s feet or knees, and work a few inches to a foot above the physical body so that I am not directly touching them, this distance often gives a person the mental and physical space to relax and let the Reiki do its job. Touch itself can be incredibly healing, and I will often incorporate a gentle resting touch on the person’s knees or shoulder, if it feels right. But I usually wait until the person has received a few minutes of Reiki before I will consider touching their physical body, because I want to give them the best chance to experience pure Reiki, without having the distraction, and for some, the discomfort, of being physically touched.
But why start at the feet or knees, when many Reiki Professionals start at the head? Deep down, humans have all of the natural reflexes and instincts of primates. We like to be able to see where other people are, especially if that other person is doing something to us. Starting at the feet or knees helps calm that primate instinct for self-protection, and allows the curious person a chance to see what it is the Reiki Professional is doing.
For similar reasons, I am careful not to put my hands too close to the heart, the genitals, and the face. Personally I find it uncomfortable to receive Reiki, even from a trusted colleague, when their hand is very close to a sensitive area like my heart. For many people, the only time they would be comfortable with another person’s hand close to their heart is with a lover, or a child, or perhaps with a medical professional performing an exam. I find I can maximize the effects of Reiki by respecting that many people are going to simply have an easier time receiving Reiki at their heart or other sensitive areas if my hand is a foot or two above their physical body. And they’ll have an easier time receiving Reiki at these sensitive areas if I’ve started somewhere less sensitive, allowing the Reiki to support them in achieving a relaxed state.
Reiki is absorbed whether the Reiki Practitioner is working directly on the body, or above the physical body. But if the person receiving Reiki is uncomfortable for any reason, their ability to receive Reiki can be diminished. Not because they don’t want Reiki, but because their body’s natural need for protection becomes more important than their need for Reiki, which is not a conscious choice but a natural human energy response. By starting from the feet or knees, working above the physical body as appropriate, and keeping a distance from sensitive areas of the anatomy, I feel Reiki Professionals can offer the best chance for clients to receive the benefits of Reiki.