The Subjectivity ─ and Intersubjectivity ─ of Care within Reiki Practice

 ‘I didn’t want to take any medication, because I knew that it was something wrong inside of me, something inside me that could be put right without medication. I think that the Reiki has helped me find myself, a big factor in that… and I feel more balanced now.’ Statements such as these are not uncommon when speaking to Reiki ‘patients’ in Britain.  A spiritually grounded hands-on-healing practice which originated in Japan in 1922, Reiki can be categorized as a contemporary complementary and alternative healing practice in the Western world that is not taken very seriously by a societal majority. However, due to globalization, it has become increasingly popular and can therefore be argued to be a part of mainstream culture. In Britain, Reiki practice is an under-studied example of the ‘patients,’ commonly referred to as clients, involved and their ideas on healing and the themes consistent with their healing experiences.

Based on ethnographic research these ideas and themes are indicative of both subjective and intersubjective client experiences. In foregrounding the nuances of client participation we are given a purchase on the subtle ways in which care is perceived by those undergoing Reiki ‘treatment’. Incidentally, this examination of intersubjectivity will also illuminate practitioner experiences of the healing process. I draw especially on Alfred Schutz’s concept of ‘tuning in’ wherein both practitioner and client share a ‘vivid present together’. The healing experience, I suggest, situates Reiki as a relational practice that has shared meaning for both carer and sufferer. For both the Reiki practitioner and the client the vivid present together creates a subjective ‘safe’ space where care is both given and received. Furthermore, the process of healing and care characterise social and cultural values of well-being, where a sense of balance is emergent in the sense of relaxation and being ‘at peace.’