Healing Manicures: This Is What Happens During One

Crossed hands wearing multiple rings


My interest in New Age-y healing treatments has increased exponentially in the past few years, mostly due to more exposure (perks of the job!) and my curiosity. My nightstand is adorned with crystals, I “smudged” (as in, used a bundle of sage to clear energy in) my new apartment this week, and have laid in a bed while a spiritual healer used micro-needling to help me get in touch with my inner self. This all goes to say that when I found out manicurist Tracylee Percival was offering reiki manicures to promote healing, I knew I had to get one myself. Percival counts celebs such as Danai Gurira, Olivia Munn, and Hailey Baldwin as clients, so I knew I was in good hands (literally). Read on to learn more about my experience.

What Is Reiki?

In case you’ve never heard of reiki, it’s actually not an onomatopoeia for a cricket’s chirping as one might assume, but instead an ancient Japanese energy healing technique that involves the transfer of qi (or chi) through a practitioner’s palms, either through touching directly or moving the hands right above the skin. It’s been around for centuries but is having a moment in the wellness world lately as more people (like yours truly) seek out less invasive ways to heal their body and mind. As with most alternative methods of healing, there are skeptics. But those who received reiki regularly report some amazing benefits, from the lessening of physical pain, anxiety, and even depression, to better and more restful sleep.

What is a Reiki Manicure?

“I’ve had many clients tell me they felt calmed after they received a manicure from me,” Percival explains. “Then, I met a healer who said she felt a lightning bolt go through her when we first hugged.” The healer told Percival that she thought this was an indicator that she had the gift of healing. Percival took this to heart and signed up for a reiki class at Brooklyn’s healing center Maja Rose, received the gift from a healer who had traveled from India, and started offering it as an add-on for her regular manicure clients. After all, what better way to administer healing than when you’re already up-close-and-personal in someone’s space? The story might elicit a slight eye roll to the dubious of heart, but having met with Percival a few times now, I can fully attest to her soothing presence—there’s something about her demeanor that feels especially calming.

What Does a Reiki Manicure Entail?

Hand wearing multiple rings

The manicure part of the reiki manicure was pretty standard. She asked me what color I was feeling the day before (I said blue…I should probably emotionally dissect that), and she brought a wide range of blues for me to choose from. I selected a bright cobalt shade, and she proceeded to give my digits a quick and efficient paint job. Then, the reiki. I’ve never received a reiki treatment before but imagined it would involve someone slowly moving their hands above my body, like a magician trying to get their assistant to levitate. This wasn’t too far from the truth. Because we were in my office and I wasn’t trying to have any coworkers walking in on me laying horizontal on a table, Percival performed her reiki on me while I sat in a chair. She asked me to close my eyes and set an intention. She placed a crystal on my head and asked me to hold another in my hand while she moved a small pendulum from the top of my head to my feet, stopping at all of my different chakras. Supposedly, if my qi was out of whack, the pendulum would start rotating in a different direction or a different rhythm. Sure enough, it started swinging wildly in the opposite direction when she got to my throat. The throat chakra is associated with communication and expression, and when it’s blocked, you’ll find yourself either over-expressing (i.e. gossiping, oversharing) or under-expressing (i.e. clamming up when it’s time to communicate). This resonated with me—communication usually came fairly easily to me, but lately, I had found myself faltering in speaking up when it came to certain work and personal situations.

Hands against white background

Because my throat chakra seemed blocked, Percival spent the most time there during the reiki treatment. She explained that some people feel extreme heat in the section that the reiki healer is working on, some feel more of a jolt of energy, and others feel nothing at all. For me, I felt a warmth spread from the back of my throat to the front. Because my eyes were closed, I couldn’t even tell if she was moving her hands in the front or back of my throat—the entire area just suddenly felt like there was a warm, light pressure around it. The whole reiki treatment took—well, actually I lost the concept of time, so I'm not sure how long the whole thing lasted. All I know is that when I finally opened my eyes, I felt like I had just taken the world’s longest, most relaxing nap, or emerged from a time warp—even though I was conscious the whole time.

The Final Takeaway

I don't know if I can attest to reiki being a magical cure-all—my slight hangover raged on the rest of the day, and though I felt calmer right after, my stress soon returned. I do, however, certainly believe in energies, and that the shifting of our energies is completely within our power. And when people like Percival share their gifts with the world and make the whole concept of healing just a little less "out there," only good things can happen. Also, this: when Percival moved the pendulum near my throat again at the end of my reiki treatment, there was no crazy movement like before—just a slow, steady swinging that matched my heartbeat.

To learn more, here's the full run-down on what reiki is and how it works.

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