Today, Reiki practice has come a long way since its humble 19thcentury beginnings in industrial Japan. It is fast expanding beyond traditional clinic rooms – from public hospitals, university healing-touch clinics, to aged care center’s; it is truly evolving into a new era.
Despite its expansion across the world, the core principles of Reiki remain the same and form an integral part of practitioner integrity. Among these core principles is that of honesty and consent.
This is reflected in the 4th Reiki principle of ‘Just for today, I will do my work honestly’whereby practitioners strive towards being true to their personal values, to act with integrity and for this to be reflected in their practice of Reiki.
Yet, as a practicing Reiki Master, I have seen a growing number of Reiki practitioners & teachers practicing outside this code of ethics and the issues it can create.
In this article I will explore Consent and Boundaries in the Reiki Community, why permission is important and scenarios of how boundaries can be transgressed.
Consent prior to giving Reiki touch
Right from the onset of Reiki training during Reiki Level 1, it is a basic teaching to obtain consent from clients and to communicate what a Reiki session will involve. This helps build trust and security for both parties and reduces risk.
It is good practice to find out if there are any areas that your client doesn’t want to be touched. This will often include both private areas or delicate areas of injury/past trauma that could be triggering for the client if touched. This process helps establish boundaries of where the session will treat and where it will not. This is reassuring for both parties and can also establish desired outcomes for the client and will help you determine where to focus applying Reiki during the treatment.
Yet unfortunately I have seen many practitioners overlook this area, especially for new and developing Reiki healers. Below is an example of how consent and boundaries may be overlooked when giving Reiki touch to someone:
“I know my partner could really benefit from Reiki. When I get home from work, I’ll just give her some Reiki whilst we hug each other to help her de-stress”
In this scenario, there has not been clear communication in Reiki being offered or given. This is an example, although it may seem minor, of Reiki misuse where consent, boundaries and permission have not been agreed or respected.
Consent for distance healing treatments
The same ethics apply for Reiki 2 practitioners giving distance healing too. Whether that be using a proxy, through a healing book, a photograph or alternative medium. Making sure both parties are on the same page is key.
Here is an example of how unsolicited distance healing can manifest:
“A good friend comes to you to ask to send their mother Reiki. She is unwell and needs help. They give you her photo and ask you to send a distance Reiki healing. You agree and conduct it without gaining informed consent from their mother first”
And, here is an example of consensual distance healing:
“During a Reiki session, you inform a client that it may take multiple treatments to help them heal their chronic fatigue. You offer to send them regular ongoing distance healings to support their recovery. You both agree to dates and times when this healing will be sent and document it in your treatment notes”
In this scenario, informed and extended consent has been agreed between client and practitioner for ongoing distant reiki sessions. The agreed dates/times forms a boundary for the length of treatment.
Consent from both Lower & Higher Self
Both within Reiki communities and for independent Reiki practitioners, one of the common viewpoints I have seen surrounds the issue of gaining consent and permission from a person’s ‘Higher Self’ instead of direct verbal and informed consent. Here are two scenarios of how this can happen:
“I know person X really needs Reiki right now, i have connected with their higher self and they agree. Im going to go ahead and send them distance healing without verbally asking them”
“A group of reiki practitioners gather for a weekly Reiki share/circle. At the end, they decide to send Reiki to people in their life who need help. Verbal/informed consent is not obtained from these people prior to this distance healing being sent. Reiki is directed to the person’s higher self to decide if it will benefit them”
Whilst to some practitioners these could seem like innocent and honest interactions, it can present some important ethical considerations.
In both these scenario’s, informed consent and permission has not been sought from the receivers’ ‘Lower Self’ or ‘conscious mind’ and they will likely be completely unaware of their involvement in receiving of Reiki (depending on their level of sensitivity to and familiarity with Reiki energy).
Both these scenario’s presents a potential boundary violation as the Reiki healing has not been offered, requested or solicited. For Reiki to be fully consensual, one of these must be sought directly from the persons Lower Self before it is given.
Gaining consent solely from a person’s higher self is circumstantial, unaccountable and can be subject to confirmation bias. Getting a clear answer can prove difficult and the ‘monkey mind’ can often interfere in receiving the clear ‘Yes’ that is needed for consent. If you are practicing professionally, this can be a risk to your business.
If someone does not give you informed consent and you give them Reiki treatment, then this can be both an offence and grounds for harassment. Even if your intention is for their highest good, the reality is that this is not enough or substantial if they take it the wrong way and seek to discredit you.
If you aspire to cultivate a successful and thriving Reiki business, it should be based on solid business foundations, bridging both the healing world and material world. Having a sound ethical compass in your Reiki practice will help you become a better practitioner and ultimately to better serve your clients.