In my recent blogs on body love and yoga I’ve talked a lot about body-based work as an integral part in recovery from addiction. One such physical practice that I’ve found useful is the ancient Japanese healing technique Reiki. It’s a very simple technique which is based on the scientific basis that the entire universe consists of vibrations and waves. Humans are surrounded by vibrations and are vibrations themselves. Reiki is just another vibration. Reiki is a hand healing technique that channels universal vibrations of love, harmony and peace. By enhancing our vibrations we’re less likely to resonate with lower vibrations of illness, worry, anger or anxiety.

According to Reiki practitioners, diseases usually start in the mind. People will go to doctors here and there for various diagnoses that really miss the point of where the root cause of the disease lies. According to Reiki, illness or pain is a message from one’s inner intelligence, a warning related to one’s lack of awareness of the effects of one’s thoughts and actions. That’s not to say that we wilfully create disease. Usually there are things at play which are not in our conscious awareness. But it does mean that the more we strive to familiarise ourselves with our internal world and listen to our bodies, the more resilient we’ll become.

Reiki healing releases emotional blocks and alleviates stress because it stimulates the inflow and outflow of vital energy and re-establishes the resonance with love, harmony and peace. Both the person giving and the person receiving Reiki strengthen their natural capacity for healing. The idea is that we are simply re-infusing ourselves with the life force energy which has created us healthy.

Why is it useful to do Reiki as part of addiction recovery? To me it was recommended to calm down my nervous system. My addictive mind is often racy and striving, seeking, moving, searching. It’s restless, irritable and discontent. Scientifically, that’s because my nervous system is constantly on overdrive and I’m seeking to numb out. The brain is driving me to seek dopamine spikes from ingesting substances or doing behaviours that bring me relief. My brain’s reward system is stuck on the MORE button. So, with a default brain of that nature, what we do in addiction recovery is to replace our unhealthy habits with healthy habits. Anything that calms the nervous system will be very beneficial because it arrests the mind racing to destination MORE.

I was recommended to do Reiki because it’s a win-win. To perform Reiki, either on yourself or someone else, you need to be in a state of calm and relaxation. You basically use different hand positions to let to the Reiki flow in cyclical fashion from the universe through you and to the other person (or yourself). The whole process has a calming effect on the person giving and the person receiving it.

What’s great about Reiki is that anyone can do it. It’s not rocket science. Once you’ve been attuned by a Reiki master you can start practicing straight away. A lovely way to practice is to not only to make use of the healing energy of Reiki on people. Consider giving Reiki to your pets, your plants, your food and drink, your office – anything!

Let me leave you with the five key principles of Reiki, also known as the Gokai: Just for today do not be angry, do not worry, be thankful, do what you are meant to do, be kind to others.

That in itself, I find, already calms my nervous system.