Which is Better, Reiki or Massage?

I get this question a lot from new clients. Is Reiki or massage better? It’s common knowledge that both are helpful for reducing stress and pain, so how does one choose which treatment will provide the most relief?

First of all, neither is better. They’re both fabulous. Just different.

For people who don’t wish to get undressed, don’t want their hair to get mucked up, or don’t like to be touched, Reiki is the perfect solution. Clients remain fully clothed, no oil or lotion is used, and healing energy can be transferred either with or without touch. For those who enjoy the gliding or kneading of bodywork or the moisturizing benefit of being coated in massage cream, well that’s an obvious choice as well.

For the rest of us, it all depends on the goals for the session and the origin of the stressors. Massage is extremely helpful for correcting postural imbalances from sitting too long at a desk and for muscle aches from repetitive movements. It’s my go-to technique for issues that are firmly rooted in the physical body.

For concerns that arise primarily from the mental/emotional realm, I find Reiki to be more helpful. For example, the type of stress that is unleashed from having too much to do and too little time. Reiki is brilliant. It excels at resetting the inner alarm system that keeps us on edge when we’re trying to unplug for a rest. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia all respond particularly well, as does old trauma that was hasn’t yet been released fully.

Yet it really isn’t as black or white as that. The physical, mental and emotional bodies are all interwoven and constantly impact one another. If I’m worried about meeting a deadline, the concern begins in my mind but it triggers physiological affect as well. If I spend 12 hours in front of my computer, it’s my body that is slumped over and achy, but my mood also pays a price.

If we bring in spiritual aspirations such as reclaiming worthiness or embodying the divine, the waters get even murkier. Releasing tension from the muscles allows us greater freedom to pursue a meditation practice or creative projects. And using Reiki to bring the chakras into alignment or balancing the flow of energy top to toe can give us the fuel we need to really dig into the necessary action steps.

The good news is, you don’t have to choose. This needn’t be an either/or situation. It can be a both/and scenario. It’s possible to blend energywork and bodywork together in a treatment. I really enjoy offering combination sessions as I can pull what’s most useful from each system for the immediate circumstances. Or it’s possible to alternate modalities depending on what your unique needs are on that particular day. This might require some advanced planning if you’re seeing two different practitioners. However, there are quite a lot of us hybrids out there who can adapt relatively easily.

I don’t think I’ve done a very good job answering the question! I guess my short answer is, it depends. In the care of a skilled and caring practitioner, you really can’t go wrong though. Either modality can be an effective tool for most complaints. Rather than trying to analyze the benefits intellectually, I think you’ll get a lot more information from experiencing a session. When in doubt, place a hand over your heart and inquire within. You have a great well of wisdom inside and who knows better than you what is in your best interest?

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