Developed in 1922 by Japanese buddhist Mikao Usui, reiki—often referred to as energy healing, palm healing, or hands-on-healing—is a Japanese technique based on the Eastern belief that the body’s ability to heal itself is supported by an unseen energy that flows through the body. Low energy correlates to increased stress and likelihood of becoming ill; high amounts of energy can increase health and happiness.

During reiki sessions, the client remains fully clothed—except for removing his or her shoes and jewelry—while laying down on a table or bed. The practitioner places his or her hands either gently on or just above the client’s body, focusing on the areas that are most in need of healing, or following a set sequence of placements. Universal energy is then transferred from the palms of the practitioners hands to the client’s body to help facilitate the body’s healing response and restore physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance.

This alternative medicine is often used for stress relief and relaxation—and some people may find it beneficial for relief from pain or fatigue—but reiki should not be used in lieu of conventional treatment. While generally considered safe, it has not been proven effective in the treatment of any condition by the scientific community.