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How Reiki and Energy Healing Works – New Scientific Research

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Energy healing therapies come in many varieties such as reiki, biofield energy, spiritual, contact, distant and pranic (yoga) healing, as well as therapeutic touch and qigong. All these alternative therapies have become enormously popular in recent years. Many people attest to the power of these therapies to reduce stress, manage mental health issues and even bring physical healing – but is there any scientific evidence that they work, and if they do, what is the mechanism behind them?

Through extensive research over the last decade, we have been able to measure the energetic interaction between two people and been able to demonstrate the transfer of both mental and physical information that elegantly explains how energetic healing could take place. The key has been to study the heart, rather than the brain that is so often the focus in psychological and medical studies. Through our research we have made some astonishing discoveries that we believe will bring scientific credibility to energetic healing and make holistic therapies much more available to the public.

The changing heart rates of a married couple as they feel love for each other on a sofa.

Our research is really very simple — we simultaneously measure the changing heart rate patterns of two people as they feel love, appreciation, and gratitude for each other. What we observe is that in successful, well-bonded relationships, these patterns synchronise. This has been studied by several other scientists in universities and the majority of these researchers have come to the same conclusion — that the quality of the relationship is the key to the synchronisation (Helm et al. 2014). But they have also assumed that this synchronisation is caused by the sharing of physical sensory information. For instance, the two experimenters, who are sitting next to each other, maybe hear each other’s breathing and unconsciously adjust their heart rates so their heart rate patterns synchronise. While this is a perfectly reasonable mechanism to account for this effect, our research has shown that this is NOT the primary mechanism for synchronisation. Let me explain how we came to this conclusion.

We made one simple change to the experiments. All previous research into heart rate variability synchronisation had run experiments at close proximity, where participants were perhaps 1–2 metres apart, in the same room. We ran our experiments with the participants separated by a distance which made it impossible for the mechanism of synchronisation to be something to do with the ordinary physical senses. To our astonishment the same synchronisation was visible! Here is an example where my wife and I were separated by 318 miles. In this experiment, we were feeling love for each other for 20 minutes. Apart from a telephone call to start the experiment (they were switched off during the recording of data) there were no communication devices operating. Because I’ve been trained as a scientist I was very skeptical when I plotted out this data for the first time. Everything I’d been taught during my scientific training told me that what I was seeing was impossible. So, being somebody who is intrigued by a mystery, I set out to investigate this phenomenon further.

With my wife, I ran a number of other experiments at a range of distances of separation and saw similar synchronisation effects when we felt love for each other. We also noticed that the synchronisation fell away when we were feeling distracted or disconnected from each other and this gave me an idea. If the synchronisation really was something to do with the feelings of love and connection that my wife and I had for each other, it should be possible to monitor these things in real-time. I therefore set out to develop a smartphone app that would record our heart rate patterns simultaneously as we felt love for each other or distracted ourselves. After a great deal of effort teaching myself to code, I was able to develop the app and start experimenting. To test the app we ran experiments in the same room and these showed our heart synchronisation changing as we went in and out of connection, but then we made another astonishing discovery.

My love was being communicated

energetically to my wife

My wife was often very busy as a head teacher and was not always available to focus on me during the tests. She would be working on her laptop, distracted from me while I focused my love, appreciation, and gratitude on her. To our amazement, I was able to deliberately CHANGE her heart rate patterns. Significantly her patterns changed to become more associated with love and positive emotion. You can see a demonstration of this effect on this video —

Our research was showing that my love was being communicated to my wife energetically. The final piece of research was to run these ‘loving attention’ experiments at distances of separation that made it impossible for the normal physical senses to be involved in the synchronisation — and you’ve guessed it — I was able to influence my wife’s heart rate in exactly the same way. Here is an example of the results of one such experiment.

My heart rate variability in blue and the low-frequency heart rate variability power ( a measure of resonant breathing strength associated with the experience of love) of my wife in red as I felt love, appreciation and gratitude for her while separated by 8 miles. Yellow hearts show periods of focus. My wife was distracted, reading a book. No communication devices operational.

Given that we have ruled out the possibility that information from our physical senses was causing the synchronisation, we have been drawn to the conclusion that there must be some form of energetic communication going on when we feel love, appreciation, or gratitude for another person. It became clear that my love for my wife was changing her physiology. Interestingly, we always felt happier after an experiment where there was a high level of synchronisation so we believe that love and positive emotions are communicated mentally as well as physically. At HeartBond, we believe that the synchronisation occurs because, at the higher levels of consciousness, we are all spiritually connected. Love is the experience of that connectedness and feelings of love, compassion, and care are communicated to another person when we remove any psychological barriers to our true state of being. Healing is therefore the most natural of processes that occur in loving, bonded relationships. Science is now confirming what many of us have known intuitively for a long time!

The research has enormous implications

for the field of energy healing

So, I hope you can see that our research has enormous implications for the field of energy healing, both locally and at a distance. We have conducted our research from home with the help of a few family members and friends and found that the synchronisation effect is robust and common when two or more people are in a loving or caring relationship. Of course, this does not have to be a romantic relationship — it will happen whenever we open our hearts in family, friends, and work relationships. We have also found that the synchronisation effect is stronger in people who are experienced in meditation and resonant breathing practices. These things can be taught and practiced so that is where we are going to direct our research. We are also actively sharing our research and its discoveries, but we do need open-minded scientists who are willing to replicate our experiments and if the results are confirmed, bring this profound and far-reaching piece of knowledge into the mainstream. In the meantime, if you are an energy healing practitioner, rest assured that your skills are genuine and enormously powerful — just remember to keep your heart open, so you can give and receive love and care freely with your clients. The healing will then happen automatically.

Helm, J. L., Sbarra, D. A., & Ferrer, E. Coregulation of respiratory sinus arrhythmia in adult romantic partners. Emotion. 2014; 14(3), 522-531

If you would like to hear the full story of our heart-to-heart connection research, learn how to use your heart to form happier and more successful relationships, and appreciate the implications of our discoveries, you can read all about them in our recently published book – Connected Hearts.

Reiki image credit: Eros Silva,


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