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How to Talk About Reiki With Your Family Members

Many times over the years I've had students who admit during a class, "I like Reiki but I don't think my family will understand it." Sometimes it's because a family member is devoutly religious. Other times it's because they are science-minded and don't believe in energy. Either way, I LOVE these questions, because you do need to be able to discuss Reiki if you want people to feel comfortable with what you're doing. So it's important to know how to talk about it.

I like to look to our lineage whenever I have questions about how to do things. Reiki founder, Mikao Usui, was raised religiously in buddhism, but when he started teaching Reiki, it wasn't in a religious context. He truly wanted to create a "system for cultivating happiness." When he attuned other Reiki Masters, he gave them the blessing to explore what they personally felt called to do with Reiki. I think it's telling that Reiki is this beautiful energy we can all access, regardless of religious belief.

When extremely religious people ask me about Reiki, I point out that Reiki does not require belief to be effective. Regardless of my or anyone else's personal beliefs, Reiki works because it is a tangible subtle energy. Hospitals recognize Reiki as bio-energy.

Our bodies have natural magnetic polarity and electromagnetic frequencies that are a part of our functioning biological body and brain. We are powered like energy, just like batteries. Even though we may not understand the complete science behind how and why Reiki works, the reasoning is connected to the natural laws of cause and effect in the material world. With extremely religious relatives, removing the spiritual or religious element often makes it easier to understand why Reiki, as a healing modality, works, without posing a threat to religious beliefs. It does not go against God or any other belief to be a part of the flow of energy in the world around us.

That said, I've also had some students explain Reiki to loved ones as spiritual grace. Mikao Usui did not write a lot about his personal perspectives on Reiki as an energy. The word itself suggest that reiki is Universal Energy, and that can be interpreted a number of ways. I like to believe Usui wanted us each to understand it our own way, without involving religious debate; maybe that's why he founded a dojo for teaching energy, rather than a religious center.


  1. Keep it short. Students often feel a need to over-explain what Reiki is when they're uncertain of how it will be received. Remember, you want to create a dialogue, not just get your point across. Because of that, it's good to keep explanations short, so people have a chance to ask questions: "Reiki is a Japanese healing modality that helps relieve stress through working in the human bio-energy field." Or "Reiki is universal life force energy. It's the energy in the world around us. When we transmit Reiki, we're helping any imbalances in energy come back into balance."

  2. Show don't tell. I remember asking someone once about Reiki, and nothing they said really made much sense, so they just laid their hands on my back. Instantly I felt the concentrated warmth of the energy, and I understood on a primal level that Reiki was a safe, healing thing. If you're not sure how to explain it, you can always say, "Reiki is a Japanese healing modality, and we lay hands on like this!" And then simply lay hands for a minute or two. It's surprisingly effective.

  3. Be open & flexible. Sometimes we know our family members so well that we can imagine exactly what they will say when we bring home Reiki. If we're feeling insecure, it's easy to imagine the worst. Instead, be open. Imagine that your most challenging family member is capable of trusting and understanding what you have to offer. Be confident in how you express what you do, and allow people to have their opinions. There is no need to convince others to see or believe the world as you do. It's okay to have different opinions and still love each other.

  4. Use their language. Explain Reiki with words that your family will understand and find familiar. In my personal experience, I've found that explaining Reiki as energy prayer, gentle touch, and energy healing, are all words that make sense to my family members. Don't explain Reiki the way you want to hear it, explain it the way they would understand it!

The best way to get confident about talking about Reiki is to practice. If you're a Reiki student here at Healing Heart Reiki, join the monthly Reiki Share or Office Hours to practice your speaking skills with Reiki. You want to feel confident enough that if you're at work and someone is hurt, you know exactly how to offer Reiki to them. Let that confidence begin with practice, today!


DAILEY LITTLE is a healing practitioner, transformational life coach, ordained Priestess, and teacher who founded Healing Heart Reiki to help others navigate life with joy. She offers private sessions, and teaches classes in healing and mindset from a magical peaceful corner of the world in Northern California. For more info see:

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