Reiki teachings state that there is a universal 'life force' energy, which can be accessed by practitioners to induce a healing effect.
Reiki is described by adherents as a holistic therapy which brings about healing on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. It is said that healing may occur in any or all of these domains in a single treatment.
In a typical whole-body Reiki treatment, the practitioner asks the recipient to lie down, usually on a massage table, and relax. Loose, comfortable clothing is typically worn during the treatment. The treatment proceeds with the practitioner placing hands on the recipient in various positions. The hands are usually kept still for 3 to 5 minutes before moving to the next position. Overall, the hand positions give a general coverage of the head, the front and back of the torso, the knees and feet.
Some practitioners use a fixed set of hand positions. Others use their intuition to guide them as to where treatment is needed, sometimes starting the treatment with a 'scan' of the recipient to find such areas. The intuitive approach might also lead to individual positions being treated for much shorter or longer periods of time.
Localized Reiki treatments involve the practitioner's hands being held on or near a specific part of the body. Recent injuries are usually treated in this way with the site of injury being targeted.
It is reported that the recipient often feels warmth or tingling in the area being treated, even when a non-touching approach is being used. A state of deep relaxation, combined with a general feeling of well-being, is usually the most noticeable immediate effect of the treatment, although emotional releases can also occur. As the Reiki treatment is said to be stimulating natural healing processes, instantaneous 'cures' of specific health problems are not usually observed. A series of three or more treatments, typically at intervals of 1 to 7 days, is usually recommended if a chronic condition is being addressed. Regular treatments, on an on-going basis, can be used with the aim of maintaining well-being.