Reiki & HIV Wellness

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Hands-On Approach
Reiki promotes emotional and physical wellness
by Rob Zukowski

In the past, I have discussed different forms of energy work. Shiatsu, for example, being one of them. There are many different kinds of energy-based modalities to choose from. What I find most interesting is that while they all work with energy, generally, in some capacity, each modality works with the energy differently. Energy healing is being woven into patient services and treatment programs for people with cancer, fibromyalgia, pain, and depression. Like many other forms of complementary and alternative medicine, Reiki is now viewed by many as an effective, accepted alternative practice in mainstream America, where at least 1.2 million adults have tried the energy healing therapy. More than sixty U.S. hospitals have adopted Reiki as part of patient services, according to a UCLA study, and Reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals.

Reiki, a form of energy work, was developed in Japan. The word itself is derived from rei, meaning “free passage” or “transcendental spirit,” and ki, meaning “vital life-force energy” or “universal life energy.” Reiki works on different energetic levels of the whole person; the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspect of your being. It is said to be one of the oldest forms of energy healing as well as one of the most versatile. The energy that Reiki practitioners work with is said to come from a higher power. Bear in mind though, while Reiki energy may be referred to as spiritual, it is not a religion. Reiki is said to bring about inner peace and can be helpful in the quest for spiritual growth, if in fact that is something you seek.

Reiki is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating the person’s own healing response. It involves the transfer of energy from practitioner to client to enhance the body’s natural ability to heal itself through the balancing of energy, using specific techniques for restoring and balancing the natural life-force energy within the body. Reiki is done with the client fully clothed. The client may be on a table or seated in a comfortable chair. The practitioner places their hands lightly on specific regions of the head, limbs, and torso using different hand shapes. Generally speaking, each hand position is held for several minutes, until the practitioner senses that the energy has stopped flowing. The work can be very general or focused. If the Reiki practitioner is working on a particular injury or area of concern, they may hold their hands just above the wound.

It is said that one of the most beneficial health benefits of Reiki is the reduction of stress and enhancement of relaxation, which triggers the body’s own natural healing processes and abilities, such as the immune system. This could most certainly be of interest to people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, Reiki is said to assist in better sleep, which is paramount to helping maintain health. Reiki is said to reduce stress, increase energy levels, and help improve chronic health problems. As is the case with many types of energy work, more research is needed. However, one double-blind study of twenty patients with advanced AIDS who received Reiki healing sessions found that patients who received the therapy experienced significantly fewer doctor visits, fewer hospitalizations, fewer days in the hospital, fewer new AIDS-defining illnesses ,and significantly lower severity of disease than those who did not. It is said that Reiki can help to relieve assorted aches and pains from a variety of sources and may help with symptoms of asthma, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. There are claims that Reiki may speed up recovery time from surgeries or even long-term illness.

Reiki is also said to help stabilize and balance one’s mind and emotions. Users of Reiki on a regular basis claim to experience a calmer and more peaceful state of being and mental clarity, which makes it possible to better cope with the trials and tribulations of everyday life and stress. Practitioners and clients of Reiki say that the energetic healing via Reiki helps heal mental and emotional wounds, assists in working through varied dysfunctions, helps alleviate mood swings, fear, frustration and even anger. Reiki energy healing has several basic benefits, including promoting deep relaxation, breaking up energy blockages, and detoxifying the system.

There is no evidence that suggests that Reiki has any harmful side effects, but it should not be used as a standalone healing method. Reiki may be helpful addition to your existing wellness routine.


After a lengthy career in the arts and LGBT activism, Robert Zukowski pursued his goal of a career in complementary and alternative healthcare. He is a New York State licensed Massage Therapist, a Certified Medical Massage Therapist and is certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. In addition to his hands-on work, he is a writer and lecturer in the field of therapeutic massage therapy.