What is Reiki?

If you have ever spent any time in a wellness center, yoga studio or massage clinic, you may have either heard the term “Reiki” or seen it included on a services menu. But… what is it, exactly?

Simply put, Reiki is Universal positive energy.

To expand upon that, we have to go to Japan in the late 1800’s. A spiritual seeker named Mikao Usui developed a healing practice after experiencing a profound meditation during a spiritual retreat. He believed that a power to heal had awakened in him, and that this ability could be passed to others. He passed this healing ability on to 2,000 other students, and conferred the title of Reiki Master on to twenty-one students; one of whom was Chujiro Hayashi. Hayashi – who was a medical doctor – simplified Usui’s practice but still followed his teacher’s precepts.

In the 1930’s, a young widowed mother of two named Hawayo Takata traveled to Japan from Hawaii in order to bring her family news of her sister’s recent death. Suffering from multiple ailments, while in Japan she sought treatment at the Hayashi’s Reiki Clinic. Within three weeks of receiving daily Reiki treatments, Takata had significant health improvements and within four months her health was restored.

Takata was so impressed with these healing techniques that she sold her house in Hawaii and petitioned to become one of Hayashi’s students. It was the first time a foreigner was allowed to learn the practice. Takata returned to Hawaii in 1937, and there, along with Hayashi and his daughter, introduced this healing practice to Hawaii. In 1938, he made Takata the first Reiki Master to live outside of Japan.

Takata continued to teach Reiki both on Hawaii and increasingly on the mainland, introducing it to the West. Today, the Reiki most Westerners are introduced to (specifically, Usui Reiki) is a direct result of her initial work. As more and more practitioners began to offer Reiki, the practice again simplified as it morphed to its new audience and their needs. Many practitioners incorporated their knowledge of other energetic practices (such as Chakras or Meridians).

Today, there are many different types of Reiki, including:

  • Usui
  • Karuna
  • Rainbow
  • Kundalini
  • Tibetan
  • Angelic

What each and every style of Reiki hopes to do is to bring about a profound energetic, emotional and/or physical shift through positively affecting your life force (chi, ki, or prana). For the scientifically minded, Reiki affects each person’s Biofield or electromagnetic matrix.

Energy Work ABMP pic

It can be a light touch or none at all. Many clients feel Reiki as a warm, gentle touch, although sometimes you don’t much feel anything aside from the gentle pressure of your therapist’s hand. Clients can remain fully clothed throughout the session, and often report a sense of deep calm, relaxation, grounding, and relief.

After a Reiki session, profound and subtle shifts are often experienced. Physical discomfort can lessen, problems suddenly have solutions, and old emotions that no longer serve are released. I often tell clients not to be alarmed if, after a session, they find themselves laughing, suddenly becoming angry or crying at seemingly inconsequential events, as this is the Reiki working to release things that no longer serve your higher good. Sometimes the shifts are more subtle; you feel a lightness or an ease where there wasn’t one before.

Reiki is completely non-invasive and there are no contraindications for its use. It can be used even when traditional massage and bodywork techniques are not recommended. While some practitioners feel a spiritual connection when providing Reiki, there are no Religious or theological attachments to this modality.

As with all modalities, it is always wise to explore theories, styles and practitioners on your own. Finding a practitioner with whom you feel comfortable is important for any style of body or energy work, and you may find that you respond better to one form of Reiki over another.

I hope this helps shed some light on Reiki, and as always if you ever have questions please feel free to comment below or drop me an email.

Eden, D.(2006). “Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide”. Penguin Group, NY. Click here to find this book on Amazon.

The International Center for Reiki Training: http://www.reiki.org/

One World Healing: Different Types of Reiki. http://www.oneworldhealing.net/reiki-healing-2/different-types-of-reiki/

Reality Sandwich: Scientific Support for Energy Medicine. http://realitysandwich.com/126926/scientific_support_energy_medicine/

Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine: Measurement of the Human Biofield and Other Energetic Instruments. Dr. Beverly Rubik. http://www.faim.org/measurement-of-the-human-biofield-and-other-energetic-instruments