“What should I be thinking?” is a universal question of first-time Reiki clients and First Degree students. “Do I have to hold a healing intention? Do I need to concentrate on anything in particular? Could I block the energy from having its healing effect?”

The answer to all of these is the same: you don’t need to think about anything in particular. In fact, holding a very concentrated thought could distract you from feeling or sensing what might be happening. How is it possible that something so effective can “work” without you having to think about it?

The truth is, every time someone lays her hands down to begin a Reiki treatment, intentionality is at work.

“Huh? I thought you said we didn’t have to think about anything.”

You don’t.

Think about it. Why did you offer the treatment in the first place? Maybe you saw someone suffering in some way, inspiring your compassion. Or maybe you just wanted to connect. The thought arose, “I would like to share Reiki with this person.” So you offer . . . and that’s your intention–to help, to heal (if you will), to connect with this being before you.

Same thing when you ask for a treatment. Usually people turn to Reiki when something is not comfortable, mentally, emotionally, or physically. You think, “I wonder if this could help me.” Once you agree to receive Reiki, intentionality is in motion.

From the giver’s point of view, the thought, “I’d like to offer this person some Reiki,” sets your intention. When you ask permission and the receiver assents, she joins you in the intention. When you begin the treatment–any type, any length–the intention becomes manifest action that both people are engaged in. From that moment, there’s nothing to do but allow Reiki–universal life energy–to fulfill its mission of bringing healing and wholeness to the recipient.

Can Reiki help even if the receiver doesn’t believe in it?

Yes, definitely. Many a skeptic has experienced remarkable results from Reiki treatment, and these people often become Reiki’s heartiest proponents. The catch is, they must be willing to receive the treatment, whether they “believe in it” or not. Once they agree, they have joined in the intention.

I once was having tea with a Buddhist nun who mentioned her sciatic pain. She was teaching that evening and would be sitting for a long time, so the pain was a cause for concern. I knew from previous conversations that this wonderful woman was extremely skeptical of Reiki, but I offered a treatment anyway. I knew it would help if she would let me treat her. This person didn’t believe for a second that Reiki would do anything for her, but she did know that it would be good for my mind to make an offering to her, so she accepted. “But only for ten minutes!” she almost grumbled. OK. I would take what I could get.

She lay on her stomach, and I placed my hands on the painful area to give a spot treatment. My hands were on fire. I could feel a specific line of pain cross her backside. It was also clear to my hands that her body was receptive to the Reiki. I pushed our agreement a little, treating for fifteen minutes. Then she had many things to do, so I left without asking after her condition.

Two hours later, I stood in the meditation hall with other Dharma students awaiting her arrival. She bustled in energetically, as is her nature. As she came down the aisle, her head turned side to side. As she got closer, I heard her saying, “Where’s Barbara?” I raised my hand and she flashed me the most gratifying smile. “It worked,” she said. I still don’t know if you could classify her as “a believer,” but she willingly receives and even asks for treatment when I see her.

Intentionality is only a part of the many factors at work in Reiki treatment, but it is significant.

Soon, perhaps, we’ll know more about the power of thoughts.

In a recent London experiment, 400 people focused their attention on a geranium leaf in an Arizona laboratory. They wanted to see if the leaf would respond to their strong intention to make it glow. Literally. Just from the strength of their thought.

There was plenty of expensive equipment to measure any subtle change in the leaf’s biophoton emission, but it was hardly necessary. Within minutes of the group sending their intention, the leaf began to glow so brightly, scientists could see it with the naked eye!

This experiment will have to be repeated many times to validate the results, but doesn’t it make you think? (You can learn more at the intentionexperiment.org.)

by Barbara McDaniel, founding partner in Reiki Healing Arts