What is Reiki

Reiki is a form of energy healing, or spiritual healing, founded by Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. Reiki practitioners claim to be able to channel life energy (“Ki”) through their hands, through the guidance of a “universal spirit” (“Rei”). Instead of relying solely on a healer’s energy, a Reiki practitioner channels Reiki energy through himself; thus it is “healing without energy depletion.” Reiki is used in treating physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological ailments. Reiki however, relies also on the faith and participation of a patient

A good translation of “Reiki” is “spiritually guided energy.” Reiki appears to have some similarities with the Chinese concept of Qi (universal life-force/spiritual energy).

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Mikao Usui, a Japanese Tendai Buddhist, discovered Reiki after three weeks of fasting, prayer, and mediation on Mount Kurama. Usui said that all persons have an innate but unrealized ability to connect with Reiki, and he claimed that he had gained the knowledge and ability to “activate” this in them.

Several students trained under Mikao Usui. Usui performed initiations on his students that enabled them to become effective channels of Reiki energy. One notable Reiki practitioner was Mrs. Hawayo Takata. She learned Reiki from Chujiro Hayashi, who in turn was a student of Mikao Usui himself. Takata brought Reiki to the United States. She claimed the title of Reiki Grandmaster, saying that she was Hayashi’s appointed successor to the title.

According to Takata, Usui attempted Reiki healing on beggars; however, their attitude towards the treatment supposedly prevented them from absorbing Reiki energy. Usui then resolved that there should be an exchange of “energies” of some form—this would mean that the potential recipient is acknowledging that he ascribes value to the treatment and is ready to welcome Reiki energy into himself.

Many hospitals worldwide now have Reiki treatments as part of their therapy programs.

Practice and Safety

Most schools of Reiki teach that this energy is “intelligent,” knowing where on a person’s body it is needed. It is a common belief that a recipient must participate and have faith, thus welcoming Reiki energy into himself. It is also commonly believed that Reiki energy will cease flowing if there is an intention to do harm.

A recipient of Reiki energy is typically asked to lie down and be at ease. The recipient will sometimes feel heat, cold, tingling, or some other sensation as the Reiki practitioner moves his hands over the recipient’s body. This is attributed to Reiki energy in the process of healing energy deficiencies of the recipient.

Reiki is said to enhance the effect of all other types of therapy. As with other forms of alternative healing, it can complement conventional medicinal practice. While Reiki can be applied to any illness, it is recommended that a person seeking treatment using this method consult with a qualified practitioner first, especially if one is suffering from a serious condition.

Scientific Research

There have been many instances of the reported positive effects of Reiki treatment. Some of the recognized beneficial effects of Reiki include relaxation, increased immunity, reduced heart rate, improved blood pressure, reduced pain, anxiety, and depression.

Some have contended that the benefits of Reiki are induced by a placebo effect. However, it is also contended by others that, whether it be a placebo effect or not, Reiki obviously has beneficial effects, and that the practice is actually rewarding for both practitioner and recipient.

A growing body of scientific research confirms the efficacy of Reiki. One particular study conducted by the Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, in Glasgow, United Kingdom reveals that it reduces the heart rate and diastolic blood pressure.


As the Reiki healing method gained popularity, other non-traditional modes of teaching, such as distance training classes over the Internet, have developed. These courses vary from teacher to teacher and the students decide up to what level they want to reach.

Three courses are necessary to be considered a master in the “Usui method of Reiki Healing”:

1) First Degree course, which initiates the practitioner to the fundamental concepts and theories, and where energy channels are widened for the practitioner to effectively facilitate healing;

2) Second Degree course, where energy channels are expanded even more and where students are taught how to heal those conditions that are rooted in the mind or psyche; and

3) Master Course, where the student would acquire the capacity for all levels of attunements.