Golden butterfly cutouts cling to the wall in an upward arc and a dim, violet glow lights the background.
A soft-spoken voice greets the viewers with a warm “Welcome, welcome, welcome back family,” before making mouth clicking sounds. Over the course of 15 minutes, blue, manicured fingers reach out to the screen and dance in all directions, accompanying the narration.
Nearly all of Jet Lashea’s videos, on her channel Reiki Healing Hope ASMR (RHHA), follow this format. Viewers watch relaxing hand movements and listen while she offers advice, encouragement, or comfort.
Since joining YouTube in December 2018, Lashea, a 31-year-old Washington, D.C. native, has published 1000 videos, gained over 234,000 subscribers, and earned 26 million views. She posts every weekday and most of the uploads are between 15 and 20 minutes long. As the channel name reveals, her videos feature reiki movements.
“Reiki is a type of alternative medicine known as energy healing. Energy healing is simply the idea that we have certain mechanisms within our body. Let's say an electromagnetic response, or whatever these natural mechanisms that we have are. If we hone in on the skills to be able to utilize this, we can then initiate some type of change within another person's body,” Lashea said.
Her most popular videos involve removing anxiety, positive affirmations, and guided sleep sessions. Even with possible health benefits for viewers, Lashea says her mission is much simpler, “This is a space to build community.”
On a Monday morning Zoom call in February, she adorns a bright orange sweater and snacks in front of the same butterfly-decorated wall from her videos.
She shares the various turns her career trajectory has taken as a healer, teacher, and content creator. Her formal education includes a bachelor’s in religious studies, a master’s in public policy, and yoga and reiki master certification. She also draws on other cultural teachings and traditions.
She always dreamt of starting a wellness business, yet was unsure of which platform to use. The YouTube channel began while she worked in higher education operations, which she had been involved with for 10 years. Eventually, Lashea pursued content creation full time after quitting her job in early 2021.
The entire process was a period of personal and professional growth.
“In the past four years, I've learned how to grow a community, build a business. I learned really good work-life balance, as well as how to chase my passions. I also learned a lot about analytics. It helped me to be more aware as a woman of color about what the landscape looks like for us on social media and how to grow and expand,” she said.
Lashea combines these lessons in her most recent project. She launched an interactive, subscription-based social media platform, My People, where users share their journeys with spirituality.
On the website, people can post or comment on statuses, message one another, or attend virtual events. For February, Lashea offered the 52-week challenge meeting, tracking the progress of their 2023 goals on a Zoom session, or listened to the Love Attraction + Healing program focusing on “attracting Healthy Love dynamics in all relationships in your life,” as listed on the website.
Since the launch, she has enjoyed the personal engagement with and between her subscribers.
“It’s nice to know that the things that I think about, the things I want to be creative about, that when I put it out into the world, people are utilizing it in a positive way,” Lashea said.
Prabhat Signh, a My People member living in India, hopes to find more like minded individuals. He works at a tech start up and does not always feel comfortable discussing spirituality with others.
“When I see people around me, I feel like they are different than me. If I talk to someone at the office they think I'm speaking gibberish. Here on the website…I expect to find more connections with people like me and try to learn new things from each of them,” he said.
Other members are seeking the mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits from a more diverse content creator. Krissy T., a 32-year-old Black woman and third-grade teacher in Memphis, Tennessee uses Lashea’s videos for her self care routine.
“I take baths at least once a day for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Long, luxurious, ridiculous baths. I played [her videos] during a bath one time and it just was so soothing,” she said.
A large part of Krissy T.’s support also comes from seeing someone who looks like her.
“The resources I have access to here [in Memphis] that I can learn from are not minority people so I don't want to spend a lot of my time, energy, money into those places,” she said.
Since 2018, Lashea has addressed this lack of diversity as a Black creator for other people of color. Building this dedicated audience took effort and she remains motivated to expand her presence on YouTube and My People.
“I’m typically optimistic about most things, because I’m always challenged, especially being a Black woman in this space, it prepares me for bigger things. I could just give up, or I could keep going. I think my [social media] communities really enjoy that resiliency and I try to practice what I preach,” she said.
Lashea invites people of all religious and spiritual backgrounds to participate in the goal setting, love building, or astrology events and join the community. She also recommends acknowledging the previous disempowerment within these spaces.
“A lot of the disenfranchisement of people of color or traditions really stems from moments of history where the religion or religiosity shaped the perspective that if something does not fit within [a Western] religious context, then it is demonic,” she said.
For now, Lashea grows her website by offering more events, such as the Removing Blockages Healing session in March.
She also prepares for a new cohort of students for her energy healing practitioner apprenticeship. The year-long program, which begins in April, teaches the foundations of astrology, herbal knowledge, and intuitive and business training for those interested in growing a reiki business or using alternative medicine for physical and emotional healing.
With these upcoming endeavors, Lashea accomplishes one of her passions: guiding others.
“I feel like my experience is to truly [help people] find some freedom in their spiritual path,” she said.