Most of you probably know of Hawayo Takata. She was the woman who brought Reiki to the West from Japan. I had the good fortune to learn First and Second Degree Reiki from her in San Francisco in 1978 and 1979.  

In the fall of 1979, Mrs. Takata was coming to San Francisco to teach some First and Second Degree classes at our home. She stayed with us while she taught. Whenever she came, the routine was the same: we started the day by trading treatments.

I’d been feeling under-the-weather for about two weeks, not really sick, but on the verge. That morning after treating Mrs. Takata, she treated me. Before she’d even finished my abdomen, I jumped off the table and raced to the toilet, where I promptly vomited.

By the end of the treatment, I had a fever, chills, nausea, and diarrhea. Following another stop at the bathroom, I headed for bed. Mrs. Takata looked at my husband Paul, shaking her finger and saying, “Not sick. Reaction.” (You could have fooled me!)

Around noon, Paul came to the bedroom. Lunch was ready. Lunch? The thought of food made me feel green, but Mrs. Takata did not seem to me to be a person you said no to. I came to the table and was handed something I would not have eaten on the best of days—a mixture of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and leftover fish.

I choked it down and returned to bed—perhaps by way of the bathroom. By 5 p.m., I was up and ready for the evening class, feeling fine—in fact, feeling better than I’d felt in weeks.

Not sick. Reaction.

This “reaction” or healing crisis takes different forms, but the bottom line is that you feel worse before you feel better. It might be a sudden flu-like reaction, an increase in pain, or a powerful emotional release.

As the person giving Reiki, first encounters with healing crisis may leave you feeling a bit anxious, wondering what went wrong. If this has happened to you, I’m confident you saw that the reaction passed quickly, and the person felt much better than they had before. Most of the time, the crisis has passed by that evening or the following day.

Occasionally, recovery from a healing crisis is a bit more gradual.

I’ve been treating a client for several weeks. She came in with a dull aching in her neck and at the base of the skull, the result of a snowmobile accident in mid-December. When she came back after the first treatment, she said the pain had been worse over the preceding two days and was much more noticeable than before she’d had Reiki.

I explained that shifts, both pleasant and uncomfortable, were the kinds of things we see in Reiki. It indicates to me a need, movement, and the capacity for change. I wasn’t surprised to hear that after the second treatment, that pain was gone.

Of course, if you ever feel something is seriously wrong, you refer your client to a medical doctor. But ninety-nine percent of the time, the situation resolves itself. As Mrs. Takata so often said, “Trust Reiki.” That’s all you need to do.