Q-and-A with a Reiki Master

Michael W. Smith  discusses his healing methods with Vicus.com at the recent Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association symposium.

By John Russo Jr./Vicus.com

VICUS.COM (19 July 2000) — Michael W. Smith is a Reiki (pronounced “ray-key”) master. Vicus.com interviewed him during the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association symposium titled, “Nursing in the New Millennium: High Tech/High Touch” on June 9, 2000, in Baltimore, Md.

Smith practices Reiki at the Women’s Place at Carroll County General Hospital in Westminster, Md.

The essential Reiki

Vicus.com: What is Reiki?

Smith: Reiki is the practice of channeling energy from the practitioner’s hands to the recipient in order to increase the body’s ability to heal itself. Reiki is a Japanese word meaning “life-force energy.” “Rei” means universal or present everywhere. “Ki” is the life force, which is also known as the nonphysical energy that gives life to all living things and which can be used for the purpose of healing. When your life force is low, your body becomes stressed and creates an increased susceptibility to illness.

Vicus.com: What are the benefits of Reiki?

Smith: Practitioners and recipients of Reiki have experienced many benefits. In general, following Reiki treatment there is a sense of peace and calm. There may also be relief from pain, anxiety and shortness of breath. People have also reported a lessening in the build-up of fluid (edema) under the skin. For those in the final days of their lives, Reiki may provide time to relieve their fear and anxiety and permit them to more fully enjoy their final days.

Vicus.com: How does Reiki heal?

Smith: It is believed that Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the person’s energy field and charging it with positive energy. This increases the vibratory level of the energy field in and around the physical body where negative thoughts and feelings are stored.

Vicus.com: What is the value of Reiki in people who are physically healthy?

Smith: For those in good health, Reiki can balance their energy system to provide greater relaxation. People find that after a series of Reiki treatments, they are able to take greater responsibility for their lives. They are able to change their attitude and lifestyle and enjoy a happier and healthier life.

Vicus.com: Is it necessary to believe in Reiki for it to work?

Smith: No. Reiki supplies subtle energy to your system. The energy runs in all treatments, whether you are focused on energy or not.

Reiki levels and attunement

Vicus.com: What are the levels of Reiki?

Smith: There are three levels of Reiki. At Reiki level 1, the student learns the basics of channeling energy (e.g., pulling the energy through you) and the positions of touch. For those who wish to continue with their training, Reiki level 2 can take place about six months later. The student becomes more adept at sending energy through time and space. I mention sending energy through space because it is not necessary to actually be in the presence of the person being treated. Finally, in Reiki level 3, the practitioner becomes a “master” and learns to teach and give an attunement to others.

Vicus.com: What do you mean by “attunement?”

Smith: Attunement means coming into balance with your surroundings. It is the process of becoming attuned to the ability to channel energy for healing. Another word for attunement is “grounded.”

Vicus.com: How do we know that Reiki actually works?

Smith: To answer this question, you have to speak with those who give or receive Reiki treatment. There are few scientific studies, although one study of Reiki combined with opioid therapy to treat pain, including pain associated with cancer, reported a statistically significant reduction in pain following Reiki treatment (Olson and Hanson, 1997).

[The famous physician and theologian] Dr. Albert Schweitzer once said, “We physicians do nothing. We only help and encourage the physician within.” I would suggest that anyone interested in experiencing Reiki continue to see his or her physician in order to treat what is ailing you. Use Reiki to assist your body in self-healing.

A Reiki treatment session

Vicus.com: What can I expect when I visit a Reiki therapist?

Smith: Receiving Reiki treatment is very simple and nonintrusive. The treatment will last about an hour. The recipient lies down, fully clothed, on a massage table. The practitioner then gently channels the Reiki energy through the hands to the recipient’s head, front of the body, back, knees and feet. Reiki energy flows evenly through the body, even through bandages and casts.

Vicus.com: What does the recipient experience during treatment?

Smith: There will be a pleasant sensation of warmth or gentle tingling. As energy is balanced throughout the body, stress and tension [are] released, and there is a feeling of well-being.

Vicus.com: What can the recipient expect to achieve in terms of physical or psychological benefits?

Smith: Reiki enhances the response of medical treatment. It can reduce negative side effects and hasten healing and reduce pain.

Reiki’s role

Vicus.com: What is the appropriate role for Reiki treatment today?

Smith: The appropriate role for Reiki is as a complementary therapy with traditional [conventional Western] medicine. For example, treatment of a fracture will include repositioning of the fracture, with immobilization and analgesics for pain. Reiki would be used in conjunction with the pain medicine to provide greater comfort.

John Russo Jr., Pharm.D., is senior vice president of medical communications at Vicus.com. He is a pharmacist and medical writer with more than 20 years of experience in medical education.


Astin JA, Harkness E, Ernst E. The efficacy of “distant healing”: a systematic review of randomized trials. Ann Intern Med. 2000 Jun 6; 132(11):903-10.Bullock M. Reiki: a complementary therapy for life. Am J Hosp Palliat Care.  1997 Jan-Feb; 14(1):31-3.Mansour AA, Beuche M, Laing G, et al. A study to test the effectiveness of placebo Reiki standardization procedures developed for a planned Reiki efficacy study. J Altern Complement Med. 1999 Apr; 5(2):153-64.Olson K, Hanson J. Using Reiki to manage pain: a preliminary report. Cancer Prev Control. 1997 Jun; 1(2):108-13.