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Thursday, Aug. 23rd 2018

Transforming Emotions with Reiki

First published in the Reiki News Magazine Fall 2018

by Karen Harrison, LCPC, LCMFT, AASECT

Do your emotions feel painful and overwhelming at times? Perhaps you feel numb from trying to avoid your feelings. You might think that if you genuinely experienced your emotions that you would feel out of control. While difficult emotions are part of the human experience, Reiki can help!

What Are Emotions?

Emotions reflect what is happening in your life right now, as well as a buildup from events in the past. They are also judgments about whether your current situation meets your needs. Positive thoughts help us to feel good while negative thoughts make us feel bad. Emotions also arise as perceptions of what is happening in your body with your heart rate, breath rate, perspiration and hormones.1 For example, you are late for the plane and worried you might miss it. You start running, which makes your heart and breath rate increase. Your thoughts and body are telling you that you feel anxious.

Purpose of Emotions and Their Intensity

The purpose of emotions is to help us get our needs met. They communicate to us that something needs attention. We need to solve the problem, for example, by making the connection, grieving the loss, or making something right.2 Ideally, emotions can be expressed fully and help us resolve a painful situation.

When emotions are overwhelming, it is likely a sign that something from the past is triggered. When we don’t or can’t express the feeling when it arises, it circulates within us and will surface later. A similar event triggers the old emotion and things explode beyond what would make sense for the current situation. The other person responds to our intense emotion and this escalates the situation. For example, your mother complains about your parenting and it triggers within you all of her complaints about you from the past. You explode and tell her how critical she is and you feel like you can’t do anything right. She blames you in return and tells you that you are overly sensitive and that she was trying to help you.

Intense emotions cause us to feel out of sorts and emotionally unbalanced. As a result, we communicate poorly, causing more problems. Most importantly, the other person will not be able to meet our needs because all the past similar emotions overlay the current emotion. We want all the past issues to be taken care of at this moment. Continuing with our example, you want to feel accepted by your mother throughout your life, rather than your experience of not meeting her expectations ever since you were a child.

Reiki’s Perspective on Emotions

Emotions are energy and are meant to move and flow. The free and balanced flow of healthy Ki, or life energy, translates into well-being. A disruption in the flow of healthy Ki causes illness. Ki is responsive to thoughts and feelings. Positive thoughts and feelings increase the flow of Ki, while negative thoughts and feelings disrupt the flow of Ki. Over time, the disrupted Ki affects the health of the body.3

Resisting any feeling blocks the flow of energy, whether it be anger, sadness, or even excitement. There is a saying that “What you resist persists.” The process of resisting feelings is called “stuffing feelings” or “spiritual bypass.” When we stuff feelings, they get lodged in the body. Instead, we need to accept our negative feelings to move energy. We cannot change things which we cannot accept. I like the concept of spiritual bypass because it explains what I have seen with some spiritual people. They are trying hard to stay in a place of love and light but to do so, they avoid negative emotions, deny them, become numb, try to rise above them, or pretend love and light. However, when a stressful situation arises, you may be surprised to see this serene person explode with emotion beyond what you would expect for the situation.

“Fear of feeling and resistance to feeling causes more suffering than the original feeling itself.”4

We stunt our spiritual development until we deal with our emotions by facing them and bringing them to the light. This process is also called working with the shadow self. To advance spiritually, we must embrace the whole human experience, not rise above it or escape it.5

“As Reiki practitioners, we are bringing Heaven to Earth, rather than trying to escape the Earthly experience.” – Karen Harrison

How Reiki Heals Emotions

Here is what we know about how Reiki works with emotions from, Reiki, The Healing Touch, by William Lee Rand. Reiki works with negative thoughts and feelings by replacing them with healthy thoughts and feelings. It raises the vibratory level in and around the body so that negative energy breaks apart and falls away. Reiki heals the energy pathways, allowing healthy Ki to flow and it raises it up to a higher level of consciousness.

Transforming Emotions

Completely feeling our feelings makes them move. When doing so, it is essential to feel the feelings on our own without taking them out on someone else. Then listen for guidance about any action you need to take. Act on the guidance, not the feeling. For example, maybe you need to ask for what you want.

When you can flow any emotion, you can move energy quickly and you will feel good most of the time. Painful feelings will no longer hold you prisoner.6 When you can master one or two core emotions (fear, grief, trust), the remaining emotions will be easier to master. “As any vibration (feeling) is fully experienced and not run from, if we can let it be, it always dissolves into something higher and finer, leaving only our natural, unadulterated self, which is love.”7

Dive in and Be with It Exercise

Here is an exercise that I adapted from the Lola Jones book, Things Are Going Great in My Absence: How to Let Go & Let the Divine Do the Heavy Lifting.

  • Choose one event to transform that troubles you.
  • Identify the main feeling in the story.
  • Drop the story about the feeling.
  • Imagine a pond and surround it with Reiki.
  • Call on your Spiritual Source to be with you.
  • Power yourself up with Reiki—all the symbols that you know—Karuna symbols, too.
  • Intend to dump the emotion into the pond.
  • Send Reiki to the emotion.
  • Sit by the side of the pond and be with the emotion.
  • Better yet, dive into the pond and be with the emotion.
  • Swim around in it. Look at it.
  • Feel the emotion. Breathe deeply.
  • Do your best to love and accept the emotion.
  • Love and Reiki the emotion until it turns into love.
  • Come out of the pond and cleanse yourself in an imaginary Reiki shower.
  • Repeat over and over again until you feel some mastery with the emotion.

Mastery means that the emotion will no longer scare or control you. When it arises, you will be able to feel it and let it pass. I used this exercise extensively for myself after the unexpected death of my son at age 22 from epilepsy. I dove into the pond surrounded by Reiki over and over, feeling the grief and doing my best to love it. As I loved it, most times I was amazed to see that the ripples of love spread out and transformed the whole pond into love. Love replaced the painful grief emotions and it did so much more quickly than the times I tried to avoid my grief, which made the pain stay around longer. Grief no longer has a stronghold on me and I feel some mastery with it.

As a counselor, I have led several of my clients through this exercise with equivalent results. Clients are comforted when I can be there with them guiding them through the exercise and holding space for them to be with their emotions. I suggest you try this exercise on yourself and then lead your clients through it when appropriate. You are merely conducting a guided meditation, using the above format, and sending Reiki to the client while she is processing her emotion. After a few minutes in the pond, check in with her. See how she is doing and ask if she needs more time.

Here is another exercise called “Reiki the Event” that I have used since having Holy Fire Reiki and which has created amazing results for my clients.

  • Think of a painful experience.
  • Identify the emotions associated with the experience, i.e., hurt, betrayal.
  • Rate the emotional intensity of each emotion on a 0-10 scale with 10 being most intense.
  • Call on your Spiritual Source.
  • Power up with all the symbols you know—add in Karuna Reiki® symbols.
  • Holy Fire and the Distant Symbol are powerful.
  • Send Reiki to one of the emotions for a few minutes.
  • If the emotion hasn’t lightened, call on God, Holy Spirit, or Jesus to clear it.
  • Go on to the next emotion and repeat.
  • Rate the emotional intensity of each emotion now.

I most recently used this technique with a client I will call Sofia. Sofia’s father abandoned her at birth and failed to provide support to her mother. As a result, Sofia’s mother had to work many hours to earn money to provide for Sofia, leaving her in childcare for long hours. Sofia felt abandoned by both parents. To make matters worse, Sofia’s father married another woman and had several children, who he did parent, causing Sofia to resent him even more.

Sofia rated her emotional intensity regarding abandonment and resentment at an 8. We conducted two sessions, sending Holy Fire Reiki and all the symbols in Holy Fire Karuna Reiki® to the feelings of abandonment by both parents and the resentment towards her father. After the first session, both numbers dropped to a 4. By the end of the second session, both numbers were a 2.

I call that a Reiki miracle to have that much change in two sessions for something that had been a core issue and lasted her entire life. On the other hand, I see similar changes frequently in sessions. A week later, Sofia said, “I feel like a huge weight has lifted off my shoulders.” Holy Fire Reiki is transformative and quick for many emotional wounds, much quicker than counseling, and yet, counseling still has its place for many things.

Timeline Technique

This technique helps to clear a problem starting with the present and working all the way back to when it first occurred. I often add it on after the “Reiki the Event” exercise. I haven’t used it by itself but one could certainly try that. For example, earlier on I mentioned a woman feeling criticized by her mother. I would work with the feelings of being criticized by her mother in the present as described above. Then I would do the following:

  • Imagine a timeline of the problem—starting from the present, back to when it originated.
  • Send Reiki for a few minutes along the timeline—starting with present time and going back to the start of the problem.

Continuing the above example, I would send Reiki all along the timeline of the criticism by the mother all the way back to childhood. Then for good measure, I would send Reiki for a few minutes back through ancestral patterns of criticism and then back through past life patterns of criticism. I do that all through intention and it is quick. Afterward, have your client rate her emotional intensity regarding the issue.


Transforming emotions is rewarding because, with Reiki, it is so quick and much easier than without Reiki. You won’t be held hostage by painful emotions and you will feel greater confidence in your ability to deal with the challenges of life. Your body will be healthier because you will be able to release a trapped emotion and let it flow through you. With these new skills and a clearer emotional, mental, physical and spiritual body, you will feel happier. William Lee Rand says in the Usui/Holy Fire II Reiki Master Manual, “Life is one flow of which we are all a part. Trust in the flow of life. Completely accept life. Allow life to flow through you to others. This is the way of Reiki. It will heal you in every way, bringing deeply felt happiness, peace and real freedom.”8


Karuna Reiki® is the registered trademark of the International Center for Reiki Training.

Karen Harrison is a Co-Director of the Licensed Teacher Training Program for the ICRT and practices and teaches Reiki as a Holy Fire II Licensed Reiki Master Teacher for the ICRT in Leawood, Kansas. She is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor. Karen can be contacted by email at Karen@karenharrison.net or through her website at www.karenharrison.net.


1           https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hot-thought/201004/what-are-emotions.

2           Dr. Benjamin Perkus, The Aroma Freedom Technique (New York: Aroma Freedom International, 2016), 31.

3           William Lee Rand, Reiki, The Healing Touch First and Second Degree Manual (Southfield, MI: Vision Publications, February 2016), 3-4.

4           Lola Jones, Things Are Going Great in My Absence: How to Let Go & Let the Divine Do the Heavy Lifting (Austin: Lola Jones, Inc., 2009), 35.

5           Ibid.

6           Ibid., 32.

7           Ibid., 34.

8           William Lee Rand, Usui/Holy Fire II Reiki Master Manual, Including Advanced Reiki Training (Southfield, MI: Vision Publications, June 2016), 130.

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