Should clients be required to have their eyes closed during sessions?
During traditional Usui Reiki sessions, clients are told to close their eyes and keep them closed during healing sessions. This is because it is believed that the life force energy (i.e., Reiki energy) will “escape” through the eyes if they are open.
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 Blog post, I will explain the following:
- My experience during healing sessions when it comes to clients keeping their eyes open or closed.
- What my “Reiki logic” tells me regarding why requiring eyes to remain shut doesn’t make sense.
- A final note about whether Reiki Practitioners should or shouldn’t close their eyes when performing healings.
- Traditional and Non-Traditional Reiki – Compare and Contrast
- Reiki Sessions – Should Clients Have Their Arms and Legs Uncrossed?
My experience during healing sessions
I am very blessed to say that I have performed thousands of healing sessions. I have found the following:
- When someone asks me if they should close their eyes, often it’s because they are nervous and would, therefore, prefer to keep them open. If I were to insist they close their eyes, this would cause increased anxiety, which is not helpful to the healing session (e.g., they could unconsciously block the Reiki energy).
- Regarding outcome, I have observed that sessions are just as effective if the client has their eyes open or closed during their healing session.
When someone asks me if they should close their eyes, I always reply, “You can leave your eyes open or you can close them, whichever is most comfortable.”
Assuming there is no physical reason for their eyes to remain open (see next section), then clients I have worked with often keep their eyes open only for a little while. Once they feel more comfortable with me and what I’m doing, then their eyes naturally close as they begin to relax.
My “Reiki logic” about this topic
Because I am a life-long supporter of diversity in all areas of life, I tend to be very open minded about most subjects. As my students know, I will freely share my knowledge but then I encourage everyone to find “their truth” about any subject.
However, there are a few topics within the field of Reiki (and metaphysics overall) that cause me to “get up on a soapbox.” The traditional Reiki belief that a client’s eyes must be closed 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.
Here is my “Reiki logic” regarding this topic, including 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 cannot close their eyes or (b) would become distressed if they were required to close their eyes. Typically, this is due one or more of the following:
- Neurological conditions (e.g., strokes)
- A bad face lift
- 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 Reiki belief that the life force energy will “escape” through the eyes, then anyone falling into the categories listed above would not be able to benefit from Reiki because closing their eyes is either impossible or would be detrimental.
- My “Reiki Logic”/Conclusion: That doesn’t make sense. It would be saying that God/Source/Spirit is not powerful or compassionate enough to working around this situation and would deny them the benefits of Reiki solely based on whether or not they can close their eyes. 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.
FINAL NOTE: Can Reiki Practitioners close their eyes during sessions?
Traditional and non-traditional Reiki Practitioners are encouraged to keep their eyes open the majority of time. However, almost everyone usually does close their eyes briefly at certain points during a healing, especially when concentrating.
Even when eyes are closed, I encouraged my students to open their eyes at regular intervals. This is because there are a variety of reasons why visual input can be important during a healing session:
- Visual Monitoring: We need to monitor our clients for things like:
- Behavioral changes (e.g., changes in breathing, agitated movements)
- Emotional changes (e.g., tears).
- Location of Hands: If using a “hands off” technique, then the eyes provides feedback about how far away from the body your hands are located. This is important because:
- If you are using a hands off technique, then your client is not expecting to be touched. However, if your hands lower inadvertently and touch the client, then the client will likely be startled. This can negate the ultimate goal of Reiki, which is relaxation.
- Of course, there are certain areas of the body that should never be touched, so it’s especially important to keep eyes open when over a client’s “private areas.”
- Balance: There are certain cells in your brain that help you control your balance. If you keep your eyes closed for too long, you may not be aware that you have lost your balance. If you are using a hands off technique, this could again cause you to touch your client when they are not expecting it (see last bullet for why this would be detrimental).
- Portions of this Blog post include excerpts from Anne’s Reiki I manual.
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By Anne Reith, Ph.D.