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How Reiki Differs From Massage from Mohammad Daniyal's blog

In states that do not explicitly exempt Reiki from jurisdiction by the Massage Board, Reiki sometimes raises the ire of people who would prefer to have it regulated. Reasons can range from conservative religious groups looking for ways to minimize the proliferation of alternative spirituality, to massage therapists wanting to eliminate competition from those with less formal training, to a misunderstanding of what Reiki actually is. I offer this article as a starting point for people trying to understand the differences between Reiki and Massage.

This list also serves as a starting point for anyone creating a petition targeted to a particular state's definition of massage. (Be sure to check your state's actual definition when writing such a petition.) In a world of increased regulation, it's important to practice Reiki both responsibly and freely.

The "Rei" in Reiki stands for "universal" or" spiritual," and the "ki" corresponds to the "life force energy" known as "Chi" or "prana" in other Eastern systems of healing and energy work such as feng shui, Tai Chi, Qigong, or yoga. Thus, Reiki refers to "universal life force energy," "divinely directed healing energy," or "life energy of a spiritual nature," with an emphasis on subtle energy fields rather than the physical body. For the following reasons, we do not believe Reiki fits the legal definition of massage:

1) Massage is primarily physical, but Reiki works with subtle energy fields surrounding the body. Although some massage therapists may draw upon Reiki energy while giving massages, a traditional Reiki treatment involves 11 to 14 stationary, non-pressured hand positions held for 3 to 5 minutes each. Whereas massage involves the manipulation of tissue, Reiki requires only a light, non-invasive touch or no touch at all. Reiki Level 2 students learn how to perform Reiki treatments at a distance without requiring someone's physical proximity, but it would be impossible to give a massage without a body in the same room. Reiki is akin to "the spiritual London tantric massage on of hands" or "healing prayer," rather than a massage modality or technique.

2) In order to provide effective massage, massage therapists need knowledge of anatomy and physiology, along with various massage strokes like "Effleurage," "Petrissage," "Tapotement," etc. By contrast, Reiki students learn that universal life force energy has innate intelligence and knows where it needs to go. Reiki practitioners do not manipulate the body or forcefully direct energy during a Reiki treatment. In order to practice Reiki, the practitioners must receive an attunement or initiation from a Certified Reiki Master Teacher. The attunement opens the students' own natural energy channels, allowing Reiki energy to flow through their hands. The traditional Reiki hand positions and any other Reiki process do not require massage education in order to be effective.

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