Reiki (pronounced raykee) is Japanese for ‘universal life energy’. It is, essentially, a simple means of channeling energy for the purposes of healing on all levels—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Anyone can do it.
Origins of reiki
Reiki was rediscovered in 1914 by Dr Mikao Usui of Kyoto, Japan. Since this time, different versions of Usui’s life and the reiki story have developed. But it is agreed that he was a scholar and a spiritual man who became dedicated to the art of healing. He studied and translated obscure Sanskrit texts to determine how the ancients healed by channeling energy through their hands. After dedicated and intensive practice, Dr Usui discovered he was able to channel a form of energy he named ‘reiki’.
What is reiki?
Reiki is energy. ‘Rei’means spiritual or universal consciousness. ‘Ki’(‘Chi’in Chinese, ‘Prana’in Sanskrit) means life force. Many bands, or frequencies, of this life force or energy have been discovered and channelled. Reiki, then, is the particular band of energy channelled by Dr Usui.
This energy is very powerful yet gentle and completely benign. This means that reiki energy can only produce results for the highest good of all concerned. It can never work to the detriment of those who practise it or receive it. In other words, it is completely safe to use on anyone, for anything. It is also compatible with all other healing systems.
How does reiki work?
Most of us already know the healing power of touch or prayer. We all know the difference a hug, smile, or kind word can make. All of us are capable of using our own energy to heal. Reiki works in essentially the same way, only the energy comes from outside of us from an infinite universal supply, so it does not deplete our own energy resources. And reiki energy is so much more powerful than our own bio-energy that the effects are far more significant.
Reiki energy is channelled through the practitioner, usually through the hands. This energy is usually felt as a tingling or warm sensation. When the practitioner places his or her hands on or near a being or object, the reiki infuses the receiver’s energy field and heals it. The receiver usually experiences the reiki as a pleasant warm, cool or tingling sensation, accompanied by a general sense of well-being. Reiki can also be applied using thought (which is energy). In other words, reiki can be sent over distance. This means that healing can be sent to any being or object wherever it exists.
When applying or sending reiki, it is not necessary to know where to put your hands, where to direct your thoughts, or even what needs to be healed. The mingling energies ‘know’ this and will produce the highest good. No knowledge of anatomy, physiology, psychology, auras, energy fields or anything else is required. In fact, it is much better if you can keep yourself (your ego, your thoughts, your opinions, your desires) as much out of the way as possible. This is when reiki can do its best work.
What can reiki do?
Reiki can be used to treat everyday ailments such as headaches, colds, cuts and bruises. It can be used to encourage a healthy and peaceful pregnancy, ease labour pains and calm crying children. It has a wonderful rejuvenating effect; I know many people who look years younger than they did before they started using reiki. At any time, reiki generates a sense of well-being.
Reiki also has a therapeutic effect in the treatment of serious illnesses like heart disease, cancer and leukemia. And research shows that when reiki is applied brainwaves slow to about 8-10 hertz, allowing body functions to slow and relax considerably, similar to a meditative state. For this reason it is a particularly good treatment for stress and anxiety, and has even been used to relieve symptoms of more severe conditions such as heart attacks and asthma attacks.
Of course, commonsense should always prevail. Reiki should not replace medical treatment where it is required. It can, however, be used in conjunction with medical treatment to speed recovery and facilitate optimum healing. It is also an excellent first aid treatment, especially for stemming blood flow.
Reiki also has some more unusual applications. It can be used to add a burst of energy to the water in your bath or shower, to rejuvenate ailing plants, or to treat your pets. It has also been known, on odd occasions, to re-energise flat batteries and re-boot crashed computers!
There are literally thousands of people around the world with their own incredible reiki stories. (I have listed some websites where you can read about these at the end of the article.) In fact, the only limit to reiki’s use is your imagination.
How is reiki passed on?
The process of passing on the ability to channel reiki from one person to another is called ‘attunement’. The attunement process may sound a little esoteric and mysterious, involving special breathing techniques, gestures and sounds. A scientific explanation might be that a particular energy frequency is introduced to the receiver’s electromagnetic field in such a way that it is remembered at an energetic level, or that blockages in the receiver’s own energy field are cleared so that the reiki energy can be channelled. These are possible hypotheses for the attunement process. Further study will no doubt provide more insights. But even in the absence of a complete scientific explanation, there is no doubt that the attunement process works. I know of no one who has received an attunement who then has not been able to channel reiki as a result.
Attunements are permanent. Once you are able to channel reiki energy, you will always be able to do so. You do not need to practise or upkeep it in any way (although the more you use it, the more you will benefit). It is yours for the rest of your life, to use as you please.
Attunements are only necessary if you want to practise reiki yourself. If you simply want to receive a reiki treatment, you do not need attunements, in the same way that you do not have to be, say, a massage therapist to have a massage.
Who can practise reiki?
Anyone can practise reiki, even children. It is possibly the simplest healing modality. It is non-religious, requires no particular skill and no particular beliefs. You do not have to be ‘spiritual’to practise reiki. In the group I trained with were people from all walks of life: clergy, police officers, teachers, shopkeepers, painters, homemakers, actors and students, to name a few. One of the most colourful characters in my group was a gruff and sceptical truck driver who was amazed to find that reiki worked for him even though he didn’t really believe in it.
How to choose a practitioner or teacher
There are many practitioners offering reiki treatments and many places to find them. Many reiki practitioners advertise their services in health and lifestyle magazines. Some advertise in the Yellow Pages. Others can be found at alternative therapy festivals. A reiki treatment can cost up to $60 a session. Some practitioners charge less, and some don’t charge at all. A session lasts around an hour.
Some practitioners are also teachers who can provide reiki training. (Training is a misleading word as reiki requires no special skill on the part of the individual—the energy does everything. It is more accurate to say that the reiki is passed on via attunements, and the training generally consists of information about the history and nature of reiki, and some ideas for applying it. Be aware, though, that the theoretical content can vary from teacher to teacher, but the reiki energy is always the same. So please make up your own mind about what to believe.) Training is usually conducted over a few days, sometimes less.
Charges for reiki training range from as little as around $100 up to thousands of dollars. Reiki is not government regulated (which is good) so there are no laws relating to fees. There are different schools of thought on how much to charge for spiritual services or whether to charge at all. Teachers must decide for themselves how much to charge and students must decide for themselves how much to pay.
It can be confusing to know who to choose when you are starting out. Word of mouth is always good, so ask around. And if you like to pray, I can’t think of a better way to attract what is good for you. Listen to your heart on this one—take your time and choose a teacher that feels right to you and fits in with your budget.
Originally published as “Reiki: a simple way of healing” by Belinda Burman, Living Now magazine