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Reiki in London: The Vibrant Individual

Jennings, Jessica Laura; (2019) Reiki in London: The Vibrant Individual. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Reiki healing has become increasingly popular in the UK since the 1980s. The ‘community’ of Reiki in London is unbounded, both geographically spread and demographically diverse. Some practitioners gather with others to perform Reiki in ‘shares’, but these shares are frequently attended by different people, who disperse afterwards and have little to no contact with each other. While Reiki healers might either place their hands on the client or keep them suspended just above the body, any intimacy is contained within the episode of healing. In the episodic engagement of self-practice, Reiki practitioners ‘check-in’ with themselves ‘in the moment’. Focusing on practitioners, this anthropological study explores the commitment to Reiki practice given its non-native, unfixed and fragmented identity in London. Noting that the incentive for practitioners to self-practice links well-being with being good, the principle exploration in this thesis is of the meaningfulness of Reiki as a practice of experience. // Analysing ethnographic data from two years of participant observation and semi-structured interviews amongst Reiki practitioners in London, this study presents vital materialism, in which there is a perceived kinship between human and non-human agent-objects. In Reiki distance healing, prophetic interpretation and regression healing, practitioners are presented as expanding the present-moment, in spatial and temporal play, to curate the ‘self’. While there is an aesthetic preoccupation in ‘cleansing’, the practice is also ethical. Individually stylised rituals of Reiki identify paradoxically arbitrary actions as arbiters of meaningfulness, orienting ‘authenticity’ around the individual. Individualistic authenticity revolutionises the social imagination, as practitioners transform the legitimising terms of the city, science and bureaucracy. Privileging the senses as ‘intuitive’ knowledge internalises the judgment of truth, exemplified by conspiracy theories. In the perception of ‘energy’, they seek to transform contemporary metropolitan life into an ascent of the individual.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Reiki in London: The Vibrant Individual
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081152
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