What is Reiki, and Why Energy Healing is So Important

Reiki instructor, model, and entrepreneur Millana Snow gives us the lowdown on this mysterious form of energy healing.

Experience Reiki with Millana Snow at Wellspring this October. For tickets and more information, click here


When it comes to natural and homeopathic remedies, we here at Wanderlust are pretty confident we know our stuff. But some reason, Reiki has remained a total mystery. This could be possibly be due to its mysteriously simple setup—there’s no equipment involved in this attempt to restore energy.

By definition, Reiki is a Japanese technique used to relieve stress and promote relaxation and healing. It’s administered by “laying the hands” across the body in order to neutralize the body’s energy forces that may have been altered by stress, trauma, societal expectations, or other negative forces.

To learn more, we sat down to with Millana Snow, a Reiki healer and meditation teacher based in Venice Beach. (She’s also the founder of Rooftop Yoga Club (in SoHo, NYC), Serene Social, and model winner of Project Runway Season 8, NBD). She’s effortlessly kind, deeply spiritual, and passionate about helping others tune into their authentic and best selves. Here’s Millana.

WL: Can you tell me about your transition into Reiki and how you got started?

MS: It actually purely out of interest and out of experience. I was having all these amazing teachers come and teach at the rooftop yoga program I started and at our talks and our dinners… They would say, “Ket me give you Reiki, let me hypnotize you, let me do acupuncture!” And I was like “Hell yeah, let’s do it!” I’m always down. One of my friends came to my house and we did energy healing—it was the first time I ever formally received it and for that first hour, I thought it was complete bulls***.  And this is coming from a spiritual person! But I didn’t even believe in crystal healing at the time.

But then afterwards, I remember crying for three days straight. I could not stop crying and I called her on the third day and I’m like “What did you do, what is this, something must’ve happened that I’m not aware of and need to understand.” And she said, “Oh, you’re able to feel now. Your emotions and your energies are being felt and experienced and that’s what this work does.” This blew my mind. I thought, “I have to do this. I have to learn it, I have to share this.”

I realized I had blocked (especially living in New York, with all its stimulus) how I actually felt. I had been numb, and even though I’d been living a spiritual life and meditating and reading all these texts, I was not connected to the intersection of my body, my emotions, my thoughts, my spirit, I was separating those two. And that experience made me realize my holistic being was much bigger than I thought it was.

I called one of my friends and asked her to let me do Reiki with her and she brought me in the next week to start training. I started learning, and then volunteering at hospitals, and calling friends, asking if I could do it on them. I’d give Reiki to people at my own events and now I do it professionally. 

WL: How exactly does Reiki work, or what kind of things can it heal?

MS: Well to be fair, I think a lot of the work that I do now is my own style of energy healing, so anyone coming to my workshops should know that. It’s Reiki in origin, but I have approached it differently over the years. I think what’s important to know about Reiki is that it is a specific lineage that comes out of Japan and under the umbrella of energy healing. From my experience and from my learning, it’s about helping you to bring life flow into your body and to help you clear blockages where you haven’t allowed energy and life force to flow freely.

Our natural state is complete homeostasis. Peace, joy, love, that’s what oneness is, that’s what spirit is.

I find that day to day we have created blocks around the stories we have told ourselves, the things we have been taught to believe… Our natural state is complete homeostasis. Peace, joy, love, that’s what oneness is, that’s what spirit is. So when we start to layer on life, and society, and family, trauma, then we’re not in our natural state. Reiki and energy healing helps neutralize everything to bring you back into your place.

WL: How many appointments does it take or sessions does it take for somebody to start to feel a shift?

MS: I mean, in my sessions, one session. And we can have different layers of experience every single time. I’m thinking of one woman that I’ve worked with her whole family this year and we’ve done 3 sessions together now. The first time I did energy healing on her it was her first time ever. She had a pretty breakthrough experience and literally sent me to her entire family.

Everyone is different, every session is different, every time is different. But I would say with a well-practiced energy healer, an energy healer who has built up their experience and their energy and their ability to hold and flow energy, the first session you should experience something profound.

WL: That’s really exciting. I think many of our readers struggle with finding solid healing sessions. They say things like, “I do the talk therapy, I do the yoga, I do all that stuff, but I still feel like something is off.”

MS: I was just talking to a client about this two days ago. She was saying the same things to me: I eat healthy, I do all this, this and that, I’ve just never had energy healing. And I’m like “Well, all of those things are valuable but energy is equally if not more so because we’ve ignored that side of our being for so long!” And if we don’t have information about how to do that [energy healing] for ourselves and how to bring in facilitators to help us, we’re missing an entire aspect of our being. And then it’s like, “There’s something I can’t get to, I’m missing something because there’s another layer of experience.”

WL: Working as a Reiki healer, working as a model, having your own business… It all seems like a lot! How do you find balance in doing so many projects and then still having time for your friendships, relationships, and yourself?

MS: And my dog! Yeah, that’s a good question. I think the first thing I’ve really had to do is unlearn what work looks like and how work works. I think I was taught, I have a very hard-working mother who’s very successful in the corporate world, I was taught you work 60 hours a week, and you just run yourself into the ground. My mom, something I’m sure she’d be open to talk about now is that it has done very well for her, she’s succeeded in her domain, but is now in her fifties, realizing “Wait, this is not the life I want to live.”

Yes, we can work hard, but also let’s work smart and with energy behind us.

So I’ve had to unlearn that in myself too. I think for most people in America that’s the paradigm. Realizing that yeah I can work 60 hours a week but I can also sleep in until 9 or I can wake up at 5 because I go to sleep at like 11 or I go to sleep at 9. So looking at the way I break up my day differently is really really important. And I don’t have weekends. I work on the weekends. But I also take Mondays off if I want! I sometimes work for nine days straight and I’ll take four days off.

I turn my phone off when I need to. It’s really important to just feel into the moment and be present in yourself about where you’re at, how your body feels, and what energy you’re creating. Every day I sit with myself and I really feel into my body. It’s also important to understand that hard work doesn’t necessarily pay off in the way that we think it does. That’s an old paradigm. Because the old hard work mode of thinking, of living, also can cause all kinds of diseases, divorces, and delusions. So, yes we can work hard, but also let’s work smart and with energy behind us.

WL: Let’s talk more about you. Do you have non-negotiable routines for self-care?

MS: The breathwork that I’m gonna be teaching at Wellspring is my real-freaking-practice. I really do it. And it has been super transformational for me and that’s why I was like, “I have to start teaching!” Daily breathwork, or at least multiple times a week, is super important. And it’s times that I don’t feel like doing it that I have to do it, because usually there’s something present in me that wants to be expressed that I don’t want to look at. When I do breathwork everything comes up to the surface. And sitting with ourselves and being aware of what’s really going on is number one priority for power.

I would also say thinking about gratitude and constantly working on gratitude before I open my eyes in the morning.  I think about what I’m grateful before I go to bed at night so I can set that tone for my sleep and for my next day. And when I don’t do that, I notice a difference so I’m very very good about keeping that practice. I take a lot of time to really make the way I feel a priority, I don’t do it with disrespect to others, I don’t do it without acknowledgement of other people’s time. I create a schedule where I make that a priority so it brings more to my relationships, so it brings more to my work. If I have to get up at 5:30 so I can go take my dog to the beach, I do that. Because I know that is so integral to my personal power. So I guess I would say gratitude, breath work, also just really sitting with myself. To me that is the ultimate self-care, when you sit with yourself long enough to work things out.

WL: What should readers expect at your workshop at Wellspring? You mentioned that you’re going to be doing breathwork, some Reiki…

MS: There’s a lot! I think anybody who’s been to my events should know that I’m not playing around. I don’t take any of these sessions for granted. When I show up I’m expecting miracles and I mean that s***. Every single person in there, I am expecting transformation, so do not come if you don’t want that! I’m very loving and sweet in my facilitation holding space, but I’m very adamant about holding everyone accountable for really going deeper because ultimately my job is to guide you to your own inner guidance system, your own inner healing system so that you can experience it for yourself and then you can go and work in that on your own without me.

Creation isn’t just from the mind, it is also from a place of feeling and vibration.

I think the biggest thing that I can say is that when you come to my session, we’re going in. People scream and cry at my sessions, people laugh uncontrollably, people have muscle spasms that don’t make sense. Really woo-woo s*** happens and it’s the kind of space where I set the intention that we’re all here for a reason, and we’re all here because we want real transformations.

WL: You’ve sold us. Last question: What piece of advice would you give to someone trying to develop a richer connection with themselves?

MS: I would say, no matter where you are in your meditation practice, or your mindfulness practice or journey, that you’ve got to create spaces in your day where you can sit with yourself, no matter what that means. If that means you have to put a reminder on your phone, if that means you have to put signs in your house, there’s a deep necessity for all of us to create space, even if it’s for a minute, to really feel into how am I feeling.

One of the things that has happened to meditation in the Western culture right now is putting the focus on the mind—this is a very masculine approach to the New Age Movement, and I respect it and I think it’s a great start. But for further integration, we need to ask, “How am I feeling?” It cannot just be “What am I thinking?” 

To me, that’s the first layer. Yes, clear the mind, get quiet, but also clear your feelings. Create a minute to just sit with that… How are you feeling? It’s not just about having a clear mind, it’s about actually knowing how to be in one moment. And if we can start to shift and integrate that into our mindfulness practices, I believe that we’ll have a more compassionate planet, because we’ll know what we’re actually creating. Creation isn’t just from the mind, it is also from a place of feeling and vibration.

*Note: this interview has been pieced together with information from a larger conversation. For more information on Millana, click here. 

Amanda Kohr is the editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram