The hands-on application of Reiki is an important and core part of its teachings. Although it’s but one part of a continuum of teachings, Reiki’s hands-on practice is remarkable and beautiful. It’s also an area where practitioners can trip themselves up for a variety of reasons. Here we’re going to look at hands-on Reiki, especially hands-on-self, from the viewpoint of it being a FORM (kata in Japanese) of mindful touch; a type of present and awake touch.

Some of the insights can be extrapolated to giving Reiki to others, but this is mainly about self-treatments.

The basic premise is quite simple: It’s about not making demands on experiences coming from spiritual and healing practices to be a certain way, to be this or that, to reveal the secrets of the universe, or have major metaphysical ‘fireworks’ occur. It’s about releasing all expectations every single time, and for the duration of self-treatments.

It’s about the very real value of WHAT IS.

Just let go of your demand on this moment. Any time you have a demand on the moment to give you something or remove something, there is suffering. Your demands keep you chained to the dream state of conditioned mind. The problem is that when there is a demand, you completely miss what is now.

— Adyashanti


Touch is perceived directly. It’s felt. It can be difficult to keep the mind out of the perception of touch since it’s a primary organ of perception, but we have to feel touch without added filters. If we analyze touch cognitively it loses all its power and beauty.

Touch is pre-verbal. Even after we learn speech, touch bypasses words and conceptual thinking.

Touch has a long, deep memory. For example, feeling supported—when learning to walk, a parent held our hand. Later in life, touch can evoke the same sense of support when we’re healing something.

Touch magnifies or creates focus on the area being touched. In other words, it’s a specialized form of awareness.

The hands too are a unique part of the body. The hands are what mold life according to what we generate in our heart and our mind, which is hopefully informed by our heart. Hands are the direct expression, or create the expression in form of all that’s formless within us; they carry our highest intentions and aspirations out into the world. We engage life and people with our hands.

Often there are expectations as to what Reiki is supposed to “feel” like. Expectations can get in the way of what is actually happening. It may take time for the five physical senses to be refined enough to actually feel subtle energy. Then there are the inner counterparts of the five senses that work at the level of intuitive perception. That may take longer to develop. If there are expectations to begin with, then none of this is important because anything other than the expectations will be disappointing.

Experiences specific to the flow of Reiki into the body and being of a person are going to show up. When they don’t show up, and as a general orientation, the following points are vital to remember. These will enhance your hands-on-self Reiki, as well as your life overall.


Apart from self-treatment being specifically Reiki touch (and all the qualities that go along with it), it’s also and always mindful touch, or awake touch. Having this orientation to your hands-on-self practice enables you to enter the state of WHAT IS, as opposed to what you want, or what you hope for.

‘What is’ can be many things. For example, it’s noticing the impatience under your hands (or the impatience of your hands), the impatience for some thing to happen, the impatience to feel differently, the impatience to have a mind-blowing experience, the impatience to move to the next hand position.

There’s much value in just being present with each position and if nothing else seems to happen, simply noting, and remembering that it’s the touch of coming home to yourself; a way of reminding yourself to trust, to love, to be there for you, to really have contact with yourself, have a solid connection.

Showing Up

Reiki as present, aware touch is really about showing up for yourself, even when nothing dramatic happens, when nothing particularly profound happens, no sparks fly.

The simple act of being present to yourself, showing up for yourself, listening to yourself and simply observing ‘what is’ in the moments of each hand position is an act of self-compassion, self-renewal, self-validation; it sends messages to parts of you below the conscious level that you are safe, you are loved, everything is fine, to feel secure and solid, and not fear.

Over time you build on this so you can have a much more easeful relationship with yourself, a much more continuous, more loving, firm and consistent relationship with yourself, so that your self-image improves and your insecurities diminish.

Beneath the noise

Reiki as awake touch is about getting underneath the noise. Sometimes all there is to do is observe ‘what is’, be with ‘what is’, go alongside it, just holding it in awareness because you can’t get past the noise to deeper experiences, or insight, or profound realizations that shift you.

Getting underneath the noise doesn’t always work if you’re striving to do that. It can simply be a matter of letting the noise run out and it does. That may not happen over the duration of a single session. It may happen over the duration of several sessions as practice, quiet and silence, and care for yourself, being present with yourself becomes a habit, a lifestyle.

Underneath the noise you have the ability to feel intuitively, and psychically, and with the inner counterparts of the outer senses; to feel spiritually which is different than feeling emotionally. Sometimes you have to wait out the noise, but still be in practice mode, be in application mode, applying Reiki and its various practices to quiet down the body, the mind, the psyche, to quiet your fears and expectations.

The body’s sensations

Just feeling your pulse, sensing your heartbeat, hearing your breath breathe is often enough, it’s all the healing you need. Noticing the various movements as the body functions under your hands, the various sounds, the various pulsations and vibrations are enough to tell you your state of balance, or send a message to the whole of you that all is well, love is available and there’s security. Often that is enough.

‘I love you’

Every hand placement on your own body during Reiki as mindful touch tells your whole body, your whole being, every part of you, every aspect of you that you are loved. It says directly, “I love you.” Every time the hands are placed on a new part of the body, this message of “I love you” goes through the body to every single aspect of your existence. Within the body too, the message of “I love you” is received by every single cell. Your heart, your feelings and emotions, your mind, your cognition and mental processes, your very own spirit is bathed in this message of  “I love you,” and also that love is available, a universal, divine kind of love. Within that love is care and acknowledgment.

The things the body has to do on a daily basis, all the tasks, all the chores, all the obligations, none of those things can give you this message, can respond in that way. Even meaningful work that inspires and thrills you, a lot of it is mechanical and whatever you have to do each day, the minutiae,  the details, just really don’t care about you. A piece of paperwork, something that needs to be filed, an email that needs to be written, a plan that has to be made has absolutely no investment in your well-being. These are inert.

You need time, special time, this mindful, awake, present touch type of Reiki time. You need time to actively vibrate, engage, and release the message of love, acknowledgment and care to the totality of your being, because you can’t get it from anywhere else.

Friends and loved ones can source love, but unless and until you’re the source of love for yourself and everyone else and life in general, you’re lost, you’re incomplete, you can’t become whole, and life becomes a drag.

Everything else drags along with it, your energy, your emotions, your mind becomes dull. Your spirit weakens and fades.

You can take a moment now and turn your attention to life. You don’t have to know anything else… Just stop for a moment and turn your attention to life — whether it’s a good life, a bad life, a successful life, or a failure of a life. Life! Just the wonder of that can obliterate all of the dishonoring of it in an instant. In this instant.

— Gangaji

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Reiki as Mindful, Awake Touch