Reiki Massage: An Integrative Approach to Bodywork
Reiki practice teaches us that the body knows what it needs to heal, whether that be on a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual level. We send healing energy with the intention that it be used for the recipient’s greatest good, placing ourselves in the role of conduit, simply listening and responding. As we do so the potential for healing opens up because the body is respected.
I used to think that massage and Reiki sat on opposite ends of the bodywork spectrum; massage helped people to feel better on a superficial level, while Reiki provided the potential for deeper healing. I offered massage/Reiki “combo” sessions, but rather than being truly integrative, these sessions were more like massages that either began or ended with Reiki.
I have come to realize that the physical practice of massage, if approached with mindfulness and intention, can be as deeply sacred and powerful an approach as Reiki. And more powerful yet is a seamless integration of Reiki and massage.
My shift to a more integrative Reiki massage approach happened organically, as if I were being guided to do so. I recall one session when I was kneading a client’s lower back to break up adhesions in the soft tissue; suddenly a surge of heat ran through my body. My Reiki practice taught me that this heat surge is a signal to me that energy work is also needed in this area. Thus I proceeded with the massage using an appropriate combination of massage and energy work techniques to create more space and fluidity in the affected area, relieving my client’s low back pain much more effectively than if I would have ignored the telltale heat surge.
Over the coming months I continued to be guided to offer integrative Reiki massages, listening more carefully to my clients’ bodies and using all of the tools that I have available to me whenever they are called for.
This integrative approach has now become the norm for my Reiki massage sessions. A solid education in clinical massage grounds my work in anatomy, physiology, pathology kinesiology and a toolbox full of effective massage techniques. But when it comes to the human body, very few issues can be fully explained by a textbook, and many of them do not respond predictably to standard protocols. Reiki reminds me, on a visceral level, that the human body is a compilation and expression of our life experience, which directly influences the way each of us responds to bodywork. Reiki has taught me to trust what I sense and to allow it to guide my approach in each bodywork session.
I now understand that massage and Reiki do not live on opposite ends of the bodywork spectrum, and in fact they can be integrated quite seamlessly, even happening simultaneously. An integrative Reiki massage allows me to listen and respond with massage and Reiki techniques throughout the entire session. Each session is approached with intention and mindfulness to facilitate the client’s path toward healing.
Like all Reiki students I have been taught that the gift of Reiki is sacred. I have learned through experience that massage, rather than being “just physical” is also sacred. Each time a client entrusts me to work with them, I have the potential to impact them on every level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Thus it is vital to approach this work with an understanding that, when we truly listen, all of our work becomes sacred.