Reiki is a complementary therapy that’s thought to aid ailments from depression to chronic pain. So what can you expect from a session? Happiful’s Kathryn Wheeler finds out what really goes on behind the therapy room doors

On a mid-week afternoon, the low winter sun was catching on the leaves of a long, tree-lined avenue leading to the Surrey and Hampshire Wellbeing Clinic, where I had come to try Reiki for the first time.

Reiki is a holistic therapeutic practice that is centred on the belief in a ‘life force energy’. This ‘energy’ is thought to flow through all of us, and the world around us, and followers of Reiki believe that the energies can be rebalanced by practitioners – the results being a calm, soothed, body and mind.

I arrived at the centre and was led into a low-lit treatment room by Reiki master Jenny Douglas. Sitting on deep, comfortable chairs, each holding a mug of herbal tea, I admitted that I didn’t have a clue what to expect from the session. Although, in part, this was a deliberate choice – I didn’t want to obsess over other people’s experiences to the point where I created a mental check-list for my own.

But what I did know before the session was that this was an unintrusive therapy, meaning that you remain fully clothed throughout, with little-to-no physical contact, depending on the therapist. And that over the course of the hour session, the therapist would move their hands over your body to rebalance and manipulate your energies.

In the centre of the room was a massage table. I lay down on a soft pillow and was covered with a heavy wool blanket. As I closed my eyes and settled down, low ambient music played in the background, and I instantly started to feel relaxed.

Jenny’s role in the Reiki session is to act as a mirror for my ‘energies’, able to pick up on the areas of my body where the energy is strongest, and where it needs to be rebalanced. Using her hands, she began by lightly touching my head.

What happened next was unexpected.

I felt as though my head was expanding, or perhaps more accurately, I suddenly couldn’t tell where my head stopped and Jenny’s hands began. It was unlike anything I had experienced before, and yet at no point did it feel alarming or uncomfortable. It was a kind of tingling, mixed with a sensation of heat, but all of it pleasant.

Jenny moved down to my ears and neck, and then my chest, before holding her hands over my legs and feet. At points, the sensations felt more intense than others – especially around my ears, and later my ankles. And throughout the process, I felt as though I had slipped into the state of mind similar to when you are on the edge of falling asleep, where you feel warm, relaxed, and slow.

I felt different. I felt lighter, as if my worries had melted away. I was refreshed and rejuvenated

As time went on, I was able to tune in to my body in an entirely new way. Feeling the sensations, whatever they may have been, moving down my body gave me the opportunity to check in with each part and realise where I was holding on to the most tension.

When the session finished, Jenny gently touched me on the shoulder. I opened my eyes, and stood up feeling soothed and slow, as if I had just woken up from a long, nourishing sleep.

Leaving the clinic, I went about the rest of my day. But I felt different. I felt lighter, as if my worries had melted away. I was refreshed and rejuvenated.

For those already some way into their own spiritual journey, Reiki is said to tune in to everything, from stress and anxiety, through to bodily pain. But for people like me, for whom this is a whole new world, it’s an opportunity to understand how your body holds on to tension. And at the end of the day, however you choose to do it, we all stand to benefit from taking time to slow down, catch a quiet moment, and listen to our bodies.

For more information on Reiki visit