History of Reiki
Reiki is a hands-on healing alternative spiritual practice. It may be a helpful complement to traditional therapies in assisting with relieving the symptoms of various conditions. Reiki has its roots in Japan, as it was developed by Mikao Usui, a Buddhist, in 1922. Some call it “palm healing” or “hands on healing” and consider both an alternative and an Oriental medicine. The idea behind reiki is that universal energy (“rei”) is transferred as “qi” (life force or vital energy) via the palms of the practitioner’s hands to their patient. Patients can then achieve, on levels such as physical, mental, and spiritual, balance and heal themselves. Interestingly, the literal translation of reiki is “mysterious atmosphere”.
There are two branches of Reiki: Western and Traditional Japanese. The Japanese tend to use a more “intuitive sense of hand positions”, whereas the Western method uses “systematized hand placements”. In terms of training for Reiki practitioners, both forms have “First, Second, and Master/Teacher” levels. Depending on the teacher, students might have to go through 3-4 levels of training to become a master themselves. There are also teachings “against killing, thievery, sexual misconduct, lying, and intemperance”.
Holistic Therapy, Healing on Every Level
The goal of this holistic therapy is to help clients heal on every level: spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental.1 In 1937, Hawayo Takata brought the practice to the US. As of 2007, “1.2 million adults and 161,000 children received one or more sessions of energy healing”.2 Reiki is not considered to be a religion or a religious practice. Anyone who has been trained by a master may perform Reiki. And the process can heal everyone, even those who do not believe in the practice. Those who are religious might find themselves more in touch with their beliefs. However, the practice of Reiki itself is, instead of religion, a promotion of living and acting in a way that promotes harmony in oneself and in others. It is not a practice that promotes harm in any way.3
About Reiki Training
Outside of Japan, there are three-four levels of training. Western Reiki treats the entire body. It focuses on “meridian energy lines and chakras” over the entire body. Students learn reiki through teachings and attunement from the master. Attunement from the master is a process through which the student and master forms a connection. The practice believes that attunement opens the student to the energies of Reiki for the remainder of their life.
When it comes to the physical teachings, the first course (first degree, Shoden) is to teach the basic procedures and theory. The history of the practice is taught to the new followers. Students learn where to place the hands. Masters encourage them to practice performing reiki on themselves and others. In general, this course lasts a few days.
The second degree (Okuden) focuses on the use of symbols to “to form a temporary connection between the practitioner and the recipient”. The student can then do the work from a remote location, not physically with the client, as a form of “distant healing”. Some teachers recommend that their students attempt this distance healing on friends or family. That’s because they are more easily able to focus on the person that they are sending positive vibrations to this way. In Japan, this can take decades of practice. Most students do not achieve third degree (Shinpiden) to become a Reiki Master/Teacher.
There is a lot of variation in the cost, duration, and methods of training. Although some countries are trying to standardize the practices. There is no certification or official recognition for Reiki. That’s because it is more difficult to study and regulate when compared to other complementary and alternative medicines.4
About Reiki Treatment
Typically, a Reiki practitioner will have the recipient relax on a table. The client remains clothed, in loose clothing. The practitioner puts their hands on the patient in various positions. Sometimes they even hover the hands over the body instead of making contact. The entire treatment can last about 45-90 minutes. Western Reiki generally has 12 hand positions over the entire body, but some use the intuitive, Japanese, approach. The Japanese approach also tends to be localized.
Clients report feeling “warmth or tingling” and relaxation, well-being, and some “emotional releases”. Practitioners believe that Reiki can help “stimulate the body’s natural healing processes”. The effects of Reiki are similar to those of placebo. This does not mean that they do not still benefit the patient. There is a Center for Reiki Research, which is meant to promote “scientific awareness of Reiki” and compiles current published research. Reiki is offered in some hospitals, hospice programs, and medical clinics.5 Some reports from patients, nurses, and doctors have noted that Reiki can reduce stress and the amount of pain medication needed, and it can help the healing process and improve appetite and sleep. It can also assist with the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.6
Reiki practitioners typically will not recommend reiki as a substitute for other traditional and complementary care. They will encourage clients to seek medical consultation for serious conditions. Practitioner, therefore, considers reiki more of an adjunct therapy.7