Reiki 101


Reiki 101

Is energy healing a thing? This week, Master Reiki Practitioner and founder of Modern Ritual NYC, Valerie Oula breaks down reiki, a Japanese form of energy healing. I was skeptical at first, but blown away after experiencing it myself. 

Valerie Oula

Valerie Oula

Master Reiki practitioner

Valerie Oula (Saranjeet Kaur) is the founder of Modern Ritual NYC, a holistic lifestyle offering for mind, body, and soul. As a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga Instructor and Reiki Master Teacher, she shares her passion for vibrational medicine through healing sessions, classes, workshops, events, and training. She is the author of A Little Bit of Reiki from Sterling Publishing and the director of vibrational energy healing at The Well in NYC.


Maria Marlowe: [00:00:34] Welcome back to the Happier and Healthier podcast. Today’s guest is Valerie Oula, the founder of Modern Ritual NYC. She’s a Reiki master teacher and a certified kundalini yoga instructor. I recently met Valerie and it was very serendipitous because for some reason I have gotten recently interested in Reiki and I really wanted to learn more. And then she told me she had written a book on Reiki called A Little Bit of Reiki, and that she also performs Reiki for a wide number of clients at her studio in Midtown called Modern Ritual. So I, of course, dove into her book and then invited her on the show to share about this very interesting healing modality. So she’ll explain a little bit about the history of it and how and why it works. But essentially, it is a form of energy, medicine or energy healing. Now, this can definitely sound a bit woo-woo. It sounds like something you’d read on goop and then people are gonna make fun of. But having experienced it, I can say that it is quite a powerful modality. It’s something that I’ve known about for years but have never really done just because I was like, I don’t really know if it’s going to work. It does seem a bit woo woo. I don’t know if I want to waste my money on that. But now, having experienced it, I would say this is definitely something that I would spend my time and money on because I did experience a very big shift. I definitely felt something during the session. So we’ll talk about that more fully in the interview. I’ll share what I experienced during the sessions and after. And she’ll also talk about what she experienced as the practitioner. So whether you’ve never heard of Reiki before or you simply want to learn more, you’ll find this to be a very interesting conversation.

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Maria Marlowe: [00:04:46] Valerie, thanks so much for being here. Thanks so much for having me. I’m so excited to have met you, actually, because I don’t know why, but recently I’ve gotten interested in Reiki. And it’s something that I’ve known about for a really long time. But I just never really experienced or I didn’t know too much about. But I was just very interested and curious about it. And then, serendipitously, I met you. Yeah. I was just really excited to meet you to read your book and then to experience Reiki with you. So for everyone who’s listening and is like, what the heck is Reiki? Can you just explain what it is?

Valerie Oula: [00:05:24] So Reiki very simply is an energy balancing technique. It’s a Japanese modality and it’s really great for anything from physical aches and pains to, emotional, upset, to stressed or anxiety or even to support any goals or projects that you have going on. I mean, it’s a very gentle modality. It’s very, very simple and very, very gentle.

Maria Marlowe: [00:05:51] Yeah, well, it’s probably the least invasive sort of treatment that you could possibly do, right. There is a lot you’re not even touching. You don’t even have to be in the same country. It’s through. You can do New York Dubai connection easily.

Valerie Oula: [00:06:06] No problem. Yes. So if you’re having a session in person, it would be a very light. Hands on, touch on or off the body.

Maria Marlowe: [00:06:15] All right. So an energy healing. So this is something that people probably read about on goop. And, you know, they’re a little bit skeptical. right, The average person, I’m sure, is quite skeptical. So can you explain a little bit about the energy and why how this is possible that this could actually work and make a difference?

Valerie Oula: [00:06:34] Yeah. So the thing is, everything’s connected, right. And so when we look at quantum physics, there’s something called quantum entanglement. And basically, there’s so much that the science is, you know, just coming to surface. And I know people are still skeptical. So I always say the best thing to do is actually just experience it. And once you experience it, then you’re like, OK, I don’t know what happened, but something happened. So essentially, it’s energy. Everything’s energy, right. So if we think about everything, even if it’s solid, when we break it down to its smallest molecular particle, it’s vibrating. It’s moving its energy. So it’s tapping into this energy form, this frequency, which is how we can do distant sessions from New York to Dubai and actually feel a shift.

Maria Marlowe: [00:07:28] Right. Well, I just even think about sometimes you walk into a room and you can feel the energy of the room, whether it’s a negative energy or a positive energy. Right. Right. So we can definitely feel and I think I’m sure pretty much everyone has experienced that. And that’s just one example of how we can feel energy and how energy is actually there. It’s not just some mystical thing.

Valerie Oula: [00:07:53] Well, and here’s the thing we think about. Oh, the space around us is empty. It’s not empty. It’s filled with energy. It’s filled with Wi-Fi waves, Bluetooth waves, microwaves, radio waves, all different forms of energy. So when we do something like energy healing, we’re just tapping into a different frequency.

Maria Marlowe: [00:08:12] Yeah. And can you just share quickly a little bit about the history of Reiki. I know you said it started in Japan, but how exactly did it start?

Valerie Oula: [00:08:22] So the lineage that most people learn Reiki nowadays is from Mikao Usui, who was Japanese. He wasn’t a monk. He was a lay person – monk. So that means like, you know, on weekends he would go on retreats and he would serve at the temple. But he wasn’t a full time monk and he was just a regular guy in the early nineteen hundreds and just started going on a spiritual search, and he finally decided to go on this retreat up the mountain because he was looking for enlightenment after years of practicing Buddhism. So Reiki comes from this Japanese lineage, a mix of Buddhism. Shinto is it’s a light hands on healing. But that’s the basic, you’ll find, if you Google Reiki, people will say, oh, it came from Egypt or it came from Tibet. You know, all these other civilizations and countries have different forms of hands on healing. But Reiki, as we learn it and teach it and share it nowadays is Japanese. Reiki means universal life force energy. So Mikao Usui goes up a mountain looking for enlightenment. And, you know, does this fast for twenty one days meditates and on. The very last day, I think on the 21st day, basically he’s meditating and he gets struck by lightning or he feels like he’s struck by lightning and he passes out.

Valerie Oula: [00:09:56] And when he wakes up, he feels like he receives this answer to his seeking, that everything’s connected, that everything is one. And he’s so excited about this revelation of oneness that he starts he’s racing down a mountain because he wants to get back downstairs, downstairs, back down the mountain to tell everyone how, you know, everything is connected and everything is one. And as his running racing down the mountain, he trips and he hurts himself and automatically he puts his hands on his foot, to help himself. And that’s when he discovers that his hands are activated with healing energy. And so when he makes it off the mountain, he shares his good news with everyone, that the whole world is one and everything’s connected. And suddenly he has this Reiki energy in his hands to share. And he starts doing, these healings and he opens a clinic. And there’s actually a full on Reiki clinic in Tokyo in the early nineteen hundreds. And it becomes very, very popular.

Maria Marlowe: [00:11:09] Wow. That is so, so interesting. And when you were talking about the story and saying how he put his hand on his ankle and realized that there’s healing energy. I’m even thinking that sometimes, when you’re feeling down or sad or upset or whatever, you just want to hug. Right. Yeah. You know, you don’t really need anything but just a hug. Right. And so what is that? It’s an energy.

Valerie Oula: [00:11:32] It’s energy. But it’s also it’s human touch. Right. It just touch. Automatically, when we stub our foot or like bump into something, you naturally just put your hands on your body. To hold that part. And I think that’s what we’re already tapping into, is that everyone has this healing energy within themselves. But, you know, we need to be guided to open it up, to activate it and to connect with it. So we need to be able to basically open our awareness to it. And once your awareness is open, suddenly you’re gonna notice all kinds of things about energy.

Maria Marlowe: [00:12:12] Right. Well, I’m very excited to talk about my experience because Valerie did some Reiki for me for over three days. We did two days back to back 20 minutes. And then we just did another 20 minute session right before this podcast. I’m feeling super Zen at the moment after a hectic day.

Maria Marlowe: [00:12:32] You know, it’s just so interesting because here I am sitting and Dubai and I’m going to all actually we should probably explain the process a little bit. Yeah, just for anyone who’s really not clear. So basically what we did is we agreed on a date and a time and Valerie’s like, OK. Make sure you’re sitting somewhere comfortable. You’re not distracted and just close your eyes right there. There’s really not that much else to do?

Valerie Oula: [00:12:56] Yeah. So basically when we do distant sessions, you want to set yourself up in a relaxing space. You don’t want to be driving. If if you can avoid it. But of course, if you have to you can still receive the benefits. But it won’t be obviously, as relaxing as if you set yourself up and basically get into a meditative space just to receive whatever it is you need to receive. So the way I like to do distance sessions is three days, ideally three days in a row. But obviously our schedules weren’t lining up to the line it up completely. But we got two days and then we just did our third day today. And we start with an intention and believe your intention was to be more grounded.

Maria Marlowe: [00:13:45] Yes, to feel more grounded. Having recently moved from New York to Dubai and still looking for an apartment and still planning things and just feeling like I’m juggling 500 balls at one time. And yeah, I just really that’s what I told Valerie is like I really need to feel more grounded and calm, so that was the intention.

Valerie Oula: [00:14:07] And so then once I have the intention, you know, you on the other end, you’re just sitting, relaxing, receiving. And on my end I’m just sharing Reiki from where I am. And as you share Reiki, sometimes you receive messages or you see certain things and it’s up to the Reiki practitioner to discern what is meant to be shared and what can just be like passing stuff, you know. And I think the last session we just finished up with. Are we fully discussing your session?

Maria Marlowe: [00:14:45] Yeah. Yeah, I definitely want to discuss this last session, but let’s start with the first session.

Maria Marlowe: [00:14:52] So like I said, something I’m interested in reiki but didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve read a little bit about it. And so I have to say, when I was sitting there, I could really feel something, I felt my body and I was sitting up on my bed with my back on the headboard. And, I felt like my body was melting in a way like just kind of like, really calm and relaxed. And I enjoyed the second time also because I took notes. I felt like, I don’t know, certain organs. I just felt like at some point I felt my heart or some part I help my brain. And it was just so interesting to actually feel sensations. I know even this last time that we just did it now. I definitely felt like energy in my hands and I again felt like jelly. And even afterwards, when I got up to, I just had to go walk and get a plug and then come back. I felt like I was like walking through jelly a little bit, which is kind of though is just incredible that I could actually feel this from so far away.

Valerie Oula: [00:15:51] Yeah. For us, I think everything feels so linear. Right. Like consciously we’re like, well, if this then that this is logically how things work. Right. But when we get in to actually like quantum physics, you’ll see that there’s so much crazy stuff that we can’t even possibly imagine. And when I first learned distance healing, I was like, how is this possible? And then I just let it go because things started happening and people started feeling things. And I started when I was sharing, I would feel things. And then the other person you would share with the other person halfway around the world and they would say, oh, my God, I felt something similar, you know, and it’s just through these learned experiences because I’m a major skeptic. I’m the biggest skeptic. And it’s through these shared experiences that I know that this stuff works, you know, that something is happening, that energy is being opened up and shifting.

Maria Marlowe: [00:16:50] And like I can say, I definitely I mean, in the moment, obviously, I felt, you know, some sensations, some energy. But really the most profound thing is I did feel, first of all, calmer, more relaxed in general. And I felt like a definitely a shift in my attitude because my attitude was a big part of the problem. But it’s always us, right? It’s always us.

Maria Marlowe: [00:17:13] It’s like, you know, what’s that saying? If you have all these problems, what’s the common denominator? It’s you. So it was definitely I was making my life harder than it had to be. I feel like. And I don’t know whether it’s the Reiki or what you said to me, whatever it was. But, you know, everything’s really shifted because we did those two sessions two weeks ago, like a week and a half or something. Yeah. And I can say, I feel like a different person.

Valerie Oula: [00:17:41] Well, I mean, I believe it, you know, and I feel like the very first session that we did, I felt like something came through. I heard Bloom where you’re planted. And that just felt so right. Because, you know, when you think about Bloom where you’re planted, it’s like I saw like tree roots and like, you know, moving through this resistance to like settling in to where you really are. And even, you know, our last session just before felt a lot of resistance and any any residual doubt or fear, anxiety just being burned through like through the navel area, through your core. And it was just this burning. And it’s almost like I saw these little slips of paper. You know, I don’t know. I don’t know. This is you know, and sometimes, you know, not everything is something, but it’s it’s just how I see the energy. And it may or may not resonate for, you know, whomever I share it with. But I saw like little slips of paper, you know, when you write things and you want to burn them to like clear them out. That’s what I saw happening was like all these little slips of paper that felt like self-doubt or any anxiety or any residual resistance like burning, actually burning through from your core, like activating that fire and burning through it.

Maria Marlowe: [00:19:04] I love that image. Actually, that’s a really great image. So having experienced that, definitely feeling a shift in perspective, mood, my stress level has definitely went down a few notches for sure. And I just feel like I’m approaching situations differently because I think I was telling you two weeks ago when I was like so like anxious and stressed and everything sucks and everything’s going wrong. And the podcast doesn’t come on. The tech doesn’t work. Like, I was literally having every problem, you could imagine everything was going wrong and I was getting really frustrated. And you know what? After that, I’ve adopted the mantra, don’t worry, be happy or everything’s gonna be OK. Don’t stress. And so I’ve been really been living by that. And things have been going better. But there’s still a lot of things that keep going wrong. However, my reaction to how I’m dealing with them is very different. It’s making it a lot less stressful, actually.

Valerie Oula: [00:20:10] We cause our own stress. It’s really how we see things and when we can shift, how we look at things. You know, there’s that whole quote, like when you change, how you look at things, everything changes. Something like that. Right. But you know, the Reiki energy. It’s very gentle, but it’s also it’s very supportive. And the way I like to think about it is that it just brings you what you need. Right. So sometimes we think we need very specific things. But once you do a session, you just you trust that you get what you need anyway, you know? And when we have like technology issues or it feels like there are roadblocks going on in our life, you know, I know this probably isn’t popular, but it’s usually our energy. It’s usually our own resistance somewhere that is creating these roadblocks. And you can almost use it as a way to go, OK, what do I need to do for myself? What do I need to look at to reset because something’s off? Right. And so when we run into roadblocks, you know where such a do do do society, we want to just power through it. But, you know, there’s resistance in us for some reason. And it’s something that we need to look at. And it could be like some kind of old limiting belief that is starting to show up or it’s some kind of, you know, just anxiety that’s starting to show up. But all these things that show up just means they need attention and we need to pay attention to our like our inner awareness, what’s going on inside. And I love that that’s what Reiki brings to people, because suddenly you’re like, all right. You feel like you have a little more breathing room. Right. It doesn’t cure it. Right. It’s not like, oh, suddenly everything’s fine. It’s that it helps you look at things differently. It helps you reset in a way.

Maria Marlowe: [00:22:12] Yeah. That’s a great way to put it. It’s a great reset and reframe. And guess what? I don’t know what it was. Again, maybe it was what you said or now that I was just calmer. I’m looking at things differently. I’m thinking about things differently. And I think there’s many ways sometimes to get to your goal, your own path.

Maria Marlowe: [00:22:31] And so, if you have these fears and things like restrictions that you’re putting on yourself, whatever, there’s many ways that you could deal with them most people try to talk it out. But Reiki could be another avenue to just shift that and help you work through it. So yeah, I’m just blown away. Both thing. And one of the things I loved your book, A Little Bit of Reiki, which is that just this very quick, you can read it literally in a couple hours and it just gives you a great introduction to what Reiki is. And one thing that I love that you wrote about where the five principles of Reiki. So what are they?

Valerie Oula: [00:23:10] So the five principles of Reiki were actually, you know, the actual teaching that Macao Asui gave to students. And there’s many different variations of it. But it’s very simple for today. Don’t worry. Just for today, don’t anger. Please accept everything. Give thanks and strive to achieve the teachings in action and be kind. So for a long time, when I first learned Reiki just for today, don’t worry was the thing that stayed with me the most because I was literally the biggest worrier. As my guy used to say, I was the manager of the worry store. So the word store is always open and I was always managing it because I was super anxious. And what Reiki brought to my life was not just like this innate sense that we all are connected, but just that very first line just for today. Don’t worry. All I did was like, remember it? And it really helped me to shift.

Maria Marlowe: [00:24:23] Well, same thing. So I think that’s what really set me on my don’t worry, be happy path because I read this and I was like, just for today, don’t worry, OK? I could do that. I could try for today as long as you’re telling me not forever. One day I could do it right.

Valerie Oula: [00:24:37] It’s so much more manageable. And even if you don’t want to do just for today, you can say just for this hour, just for right now, just for this actual. In this moment, I can let that go.

Maria Marlowe: [00:24:48] Ok. And I think that’s one of the great things about Reiki is that it helps put you in the present moment and takes you out of the future and the past. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And so once we’re doing Reiki, so we know that I can reduce stress. It can help us feel better. But are there any side effects of Reiki like negative side effects of Reiki?

Valerie Oula: [00:25:10] Sure. So Reiki is energy bouncing, right. And I like to say it’s like acupuncture, but without the needles. So we’re just using what we call universal life force energy to basically open up any blockages in your system or clear out any stale old energy, things like that. And so when you think about doing any kind of clearing, any kind of detox, in a sense, you’re going to maybe not feel so great sometimes. You know, sometimes people get nauseated or sometimes people will break out into a full on like cold or something. And it’s a way of your body, like just clearing stuff out. Right. And I’d like to say that when you’re going through something uncomfortable, if you’re like full on sick after Reiki or something, it’s your body’s way of like physically clearing it, getting rid of what it needs to get rid of.

Maria Marlowe: [00:26:09] I actually had another guest on the podcast, Anela, from Human Garage and we were talking a lot about how negative emotions and traumas actually get trapped in your fascia.

Valerie Oula: [00:26:20] Oh, absolutely, absolutely. There’s a book called The Body Keeps the Score. And it’s we hold trauma in our body. Plenty of people have gone to yoga classes and come into a pigeon pose and then burst out into tears because things are getting opened up. Things are getting released from your body. And so it can absolutely happen that after Reiki, you might not feel so great.

Maria Marlowe: [00:26:47] Right. So you can move that trapped energy, whether it’s physical, someone else physically manipulating it, you manipulating it, yoga, doing something like Reiki. So there’s multiple ways that you can deal with it. Yeah. And what’s with the water? Because I know after each session you like drink a lot of water, drink lots of water. And I was actually really thirsty.

Valerie Oula: [00:27:09] So water helps the clearing process. As with anything. And when we think of our bodies, as these energetic systems, water is the thing that helps to move energy. It’s a conductor of energy. So when we are in a clearing process or whatever it is, our body needs water, that our system needs water. Our energetic system also needs water. So water is key. I used to do Reiki at the Wild Bird Fund, which is in New York City, and they rescue all kinds of if you find any wildlife like injured pigeon or squirrel, you can take it to the wild bird fun and they will help to rehab and save these animals. But I used to volunteer Reiki there. And inevitably, every time after I was done working with the birds, you know, we’re working with them through the cages. They would fall asleep in the middle of it. And then after I was done, they would go drink water. I didn’t have to tell them to drink water. They would just go drink water.

Maria Marlowe: [00:28:17] So interesting.

Valerie Oula: [00:28:19] Yeah. So innately they know.

Maria Marlowe: [00:28:23] Yeah. We can feel it in our bodies. Yeah. So for anyone who’s interested in finding a Reiki practitioner, what should they be looking for and what questions should they be asking.

Valerie Oula: [00:28:34] Sure. You know, Reiki is so popular nowadays because it’s super simple and I think that’s what makes it so accessible for people. I like to say that for myself at least, I would want to work with someone who has been practicing for some time. Because nowadays you can do Reiki one, two and three in one weekend, which is not how I teach Reiki. I like to teach Reiki in a more traditional way, which is, you know, at least 21 days between Reiki 1 and Reiki 2 and at least 21 days between Reiki 2 and Reiki 3, which is the master level. But different teachers teach it in different ways. But I think what’s important is you ask your practitioner how long they’ve been practicing versus looking at the level of, oh, well, they’re a Reiki master. Sometimes it’s just I’d rather go with the timing. Like how long they’ve been actually working with energy?

Maria Marlowe: [00:29:30] Yeah, I’m sure recommendations are a great way. And then also if you just vibe with the person.

Valerie Oula: [00:29:35] Because essentially, that’s what it really is. You need to make sure you don’t check out their Instagram, see if you like their vibe and then talk to them, have a conversation, check out their Website. That kind of thing.

Maria Marlowe: [00:29:45] Right. And so, yes, you could do it in person. So, Valerie, you have a studio in New York City, right, where people do. And then you can also do it over the phone. We just did it. You don’t even do it over Skype. We just connected. Talk for a second and then you’re like, OK. Hang up. Just sit there. That’s pretty cool. Yeah. And I’m curious. Most people who come in to see you for Reiki, what are they coming in like? What are their intentions or what are their issues?

Valerie Oula: [00:30:11] Sure. You know what? My clients run the gamut of like actual physical issues. I get a lot of clients with fibroid issues. And I also have clients who, you know, are looking for a partner. But then I have clients who are in between jobs and they don’t know what they’re doing. And they’re feeling like they need a career change. So it’s really. Or, you know, then you have clients who are super anxious all the time. It really, I mean, it’s New York City runs began.

Maria Marlowe: [00:30:40] Everyone is stressed and anxious. Exactly. So one last question that I’d love to ask everyone is if you have just one tip or piece of advice for listeners on how they can live a happier and healthier life. What would that be?

Valerie Oula: [00:30:56] Well, it’s going to sound really trite, but, meditation. Meditation is key because meditation is what brings you this space to begin to get some awareness around what’s going on in your life. And when you create that space for yourself, you can actually hear what’s going on.

Maria Marlowe: [00:31:16] Yeah, makes sense. I think meditation is great. And one a question that reminds me of: I felt so relaxed after these Reiki sessions. I’m talking like my body just felt at one point when I was sitting there, my head sort of just droop down a little bit, you know? But not like I was sleeping or anything like that. Just so calm and relaxed. That’s the closest most people will ever get to meditation, right. A sitting still quiet. So I wonder if that has something to do with that too.

Valerie Oula: [00:31:47] Absolutely. I mean, you have to you know, the Reiki helps you get into a more meditative space as well. You know, it’s Reiki energy. It’s the energy help. You know, essentially, the energy brings you what you need. So somebody else might have like a session where they feel super anxious. But at the end of it, it clears, you know, so everyone has all kinds of different experiences as well.

Maria Marlowe: [00:32:13] Right. I love that it brings you what you need. And I love that that you actually say that or think that like to be open to what you need.

Valerie Oula: [00:32:20] Yeah. Because we always think we know what we need. But it’s not actually what we need sometimes.

Maria Marlowe: [00:32:26] Right. Well, thank you so much for sharing about Reiki. Where can everyone find you? Your book is on Amazon, but tell everyone where they can find you.

Valerie Oula: [00:32:36] So my website is I teach at Mindful. I will be soon at the well when the world opens in New York City. I also hold small meditation classes in my space on Twenty Sixth and Broadway. I’m on Instagram @valerieoula. And the book is also in stores at Barnes and Nobles and everywhere else. It’s called A Little Bit of Reiki. Yes.

Maria Marlowe: [00:33:09] Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Valerie.

Valerie Oula: [00:33:12] Thanks so much.

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