Why I was Wrong about Reiki and Western Medicine

When I first started practicing Reiki I was full of enthusiasm and confidence in its power to bring physical healing. This kind of passion is common when people start something new. It can be over-the-top, even unrealistic, but it also helps give us the momentum we need to build new habits.

Unfortunately I went too far in my swing towards complementary therapy, and I swung completely away from western medicine. I decided we didn’t need western medicine anymore, believing that Reiki was enough for any physical complaint, from the common cold to cancer.

There’s nothing wrong with faith that leads to positive action, but the rejection of the whole of western medicine was ridiculous, and here’s why. The efficacy of Reiki in physical healing is no reason to reject mainstream interventions, such as drugs. While there are serious issues related to the use of drugs, they can also help a lot. That’s obvious, but I had lost sight of this fact. Every day drugs save lives and every day drugs improve lives.

Three weeks ago my wife contracted shingles. In the initial stage of her illness she was in intense pain, and the rash seemed to be worsening each day. You can be sure that we were both very grateful for the anti-viral and pain-killing medication that she was given by a doctor. We were also grateful for the gift of Reiki, which we did twice each day.

I avoid taking drugs when, to the best of my knowledge, they are unnecessary. Like a few years ago, when I woke up during a tropical storm and went out onto the balcony to gather the clothes that were hanging out there. The floor was slick, my weight flew off my feet, and I landed heavily on my side. I realised I had cut my toe on some metal, so cleaned it off with water and then went back to sleep. The next day I went to the hospital to get a tetanus vaccination, but I ended up with a lot more than that: a surprising amount of bandaging for my little toe and an even more surprising amount of drugs: pain killers (despite no pain), muscle relaxants (this actually makes me laugh), and a full course of oral antibiotics. This is the medical system in Thailand. Despite its flaws, it’s a system I’m deeply grateful for. (In case you were wondering, no I didn’t take any of those drugs.)

When a loved one is ill, it’s important that we feel we’re doing everything we can to support their recovery. The decision about how we do that is not always easy, but as citizens of the twenty-first century, we benefit from centuries of research and practice in both mainstream and non-mainstream approaches to healing. So instead of being dismissive of different approaches, let us practise the third Reiki principle: just for today, be grateful for my many blessings. One such blessing is western medicine.


I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Have you ever had the feeling of being over-stretched—of having too many commitments and not enough time for them all?

Reiki is my passion. It has been at the heart of many of the most pivotal transformations in my life. I know deep-down that I want to teach Reiki, to share the gift, to pass on the torch that burns in daylight1. The question, though, is when.

Currently my wife and I are planning on building a house for ourselves outside of Bangkok. Part of that house will be a retreat, a sacred space where I will give Reiki treatments and teach Reiki courses. You can be sure that I’m excited about this, but equally sure that the process of turning dreams into bricks and mortar takes a lot of time and dedication. Since we both hold full-time jobs, we need to be practical about how much we can achieve with the limited time that we have.

For now, I’m putting my Reiki teaching practice into hibernation. This gives me the space I need to rest. Cutting back is always a difficult decision, but this time it’s the one that brings peace. Saying no is often the best thing we can do for ourselves and for others.


  1. A parable tells that the founder of Reiki, Mikao Usui, walked around town with a burning torch in the middle of the day. Most people laughed, but some realised that he was bearing something precious, and chose to follow him.

Reiki One—Windy

Congratulations to Windy, from the Philippines, for completing her level one course! She’s now actively practicing on herself and others, and is pleased with the difference Reiki is making in her life.

Reiki Course Bangkok 2015 - Windy and Kit

We both really enjoyed this course, and for me it was the first time teaching in a great healing center in Bangkok called Concordia.

What is a Reiki initiation/attunement?

The question looks simple. The answer, I can tell you, is not. And I’ve been receiving and giving them since my first, in New Zealand, nine years ago.

But we can see that the question of the initiation is actually a fundamental one. Every Reiki teacher will tell you that it’s an essential part of the system. And we need to know what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.

So I’m happy to tell you that after much time spent thinking and researching, after many drafts and re-drafts, and of course after many times actually doing initiations, I’ve got something new for you. It’s the answer, as best I can tell it.

This answer is a core part of every course I teach. It’s literally right there in the middle: Initiations is module two, and it sits after theory (module one) and before practice (module three). I’ve made this part of the course freely available to anyone that registers for this site, which will take just a moment of your time.

So don’t hang around: go and read my answer now.

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