Reiki Sessions – Should Clients Have Their Arms and Legs Uncrossed?

by Anne Reith, Ph.D.
Photo of a sleeping newborn baby with arms crossed over chest
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Photo of a sleeping newborn baby with arms crossed over chest

Should clients be required to uncross their arms and legs?

During traditional Usui Reiki sessions, clients are told to lie flat with their arms and legs uncrossed. If they cross them during the session, the Practitioner instructs them to uncross them.

This is based on our understanding that the life force energy flows through the meridians within the body. There are meridians located throughout the body, including in the arms and legs.

If limbs are crossed in some way (e.g., hands clasped and placed on belly or chest), then it is believed that the meridians are crossed. Traditional Reiki Practitioners and Masters believe that crossing meridians can restrict or block the flow of life force energy (i.e., Reiki energy) during a healing. Hence, the requirement that all limbs be uncrossed.

Although I always do my very best to honor traditional Reiki practices, this is one of the times when I strongly disagree. In the next sections of this article, I will explain the following:

  • My experience during healing sessions when it comes to clients crossing their arms or legs.
  • What my “Reiki logic” tells me regarding why requiring arms and legs to be uncrossed doesn’t make sense.


My experience during treatment sessions

After conducting thousands of healing sessions, here are just a few things I’ve observed:

  • When clients are nervous or afraid, they often place their hands over the 3rd chakra (solar plexus). 
  • If clients are emotionally upset, then they often want to put their hands over their 4th chakra (heart). 
  • If clients are larger-bodied, then a standard massage table isn’t wide enough to allow their arms to lie next to their body on the table. In this situation, they either:
    • Grasp their hands across the front of their body.
    • Tuck their hands under each hip in order to keep their arms from falling off the side of the table.

Research studies have shown that people are usually uncomfortable when they are told to stay in a specific body position. Feeling uncomfortable is the antithesis of Reiki healing work. It may cause the client to unconsciously block the Reiki energy. The client’s comfort is especially important with clients who have never received a Reiki healing before or they have never received a healing from me.

Assuming there is no physical reason for my client’s limbs to remain in a certain position (see next section), this is what I do:

  • At the beginning of a healing, I don’t say anything to the client about their body position. If they ask about this, I encourage them to take any position that is comfortable for them.
  • When I begin working on an area of the body that might be covered up (e.g., hands over solar plexus or heart chakra) or hard to access (e.g., hands underneath body), I will ask the client if they would feel comfortable changing their position so I can gain better access to an area. I don’t do this because the energy needs to go to that specific area; the Reiki energy will go where God knows it is needed. But clients often enjoy feeling the sensations when my hands are directly over areas of their body. It helps them build trust in my ability to assist them, which often means they are more receptive to the energy.
  • Once I’m done, I will let the client know I have finished treating that area. That way they know that they can resume the original position, if they want to.  The client’s physical and emotional comfort is always my first priority. 

My “Reiki logic” about this topic

I strongly believe in diversity in all areas of life. This includes encouraging everyone to keep searching until they find information that feels “right” for them about any subject.

However, my long-term students know that there are a few topics within the field of Reiki (and metaphysics) that cause me to “get up on a soapbox.” The traditional belief regarding uncrossed limbs is one of those times.

Whenever something doesn’t seem to make sense, I use something I refer to as my “Reiki logic.” This involves going back to my foundational understanding of Reiki. I then “carry it forward” to see if this piece of information “fits” the basic tenants of Reiki beliefs.

When it comes to crossed or uncrossed limbs, here is my “Reiki logic” and my conclusion:

  • Basic Understanding of Reiki:
    • Reiki is energy that is flowing through me but comes from God/Source/Spirit.
    • God is ONLY love, God directs the Reiki energy to where it is needed, and God is all-powerful.
  • My Background: I have a background in psychology and disability services. I know for a fact that there are people who (a) physically can’t uncross their arms or legs or control their muscle movements or (b) would become distressed if they were required to lie in a specific position for any length of time. Typically, this is due to one or more of the following:
    • Neurological conditions (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease, conditions where the muscles are contracted such as cerebral palsy)
    • Anxiety or nervousness
    • Mental health condition (e.g., trauma or abuse background)
    • Being “on the spectrum” (e.g., autistic)
    • The mental capacity of the client to understand the directions
    • The age of a client (i.e., infant or child)
  • Why I Struggle With This Belief: If we follow the traditional belief that Reiki is ineffective if limbs/meridians are crossed, then this would mean that anyone falling into the categories listed above would not be able to benefit from Reiki because they either can’t or shouldn’t be required to uncross their limbs.
  • My “Reiki Logic”/Conclusion: That doesn’t make sense. It would be saying that God/Source/Spirit is not powerful or compassionate enough to work around this situation and would deny them the benefits of Reiki based on whether or not they can uncross their arms or legs. In my world, God is loving, compassionate, and powerful. Also, this goes against the basic tenant of Reiki that says God will guide the energy to where it is needed and I am simply a conduit for the energy. Therefore, I simply cannot believe this is true.
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  • Portions of this Blog post include excerpts from Anne’s Reiki I manual.



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By Anne Reith, Ph.D.

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