What is it?
The word Reiki (pronounced Ray-key) is a Japanese word which means Universal Life Force Energy - "Rei" = Universal/Unlimited and "ki" = the life force energy that flows through all living things. It understands each of us completely, knowing the cause of all problems and difficulties and it knows what we, as individuals, must do to heal ourselves. "Ki" is the same as "chi" in Chinese or "prana" in Sanskrit. It is the universal life force that emanates from every living thing. If the life force is low, or there is a blockage of life force within the body, then we are more prone to illness or lowered resistance.
How does it work?
Reiki is a natural and and simple system of healing and spiritual development. The difference between Reiki and other healing methods is that the ability to use Reiki is passed to the student via an attunement from the teacher. It's like being tuned to a radio station! When the practitioner lays hands on or above the client, the Reiki energy flows through the practitioners hands and into the client. The person giving the Reiki treatment acts as a channel for the Reiki energy which is spiritually guided by the person receiving the treatment, to wherever the healing is required. The healing is therefore not coming from the practitioner, but rather through them.
Benefits of Reiki
Reiki is both a healing system and a system for personal growth and spiritual enlightenment. The ability to heal is not new. It is found throughout history and in many cultures. It is known in Tibet, India, among the Celts, Native Americans and in all religions including Christianity.
As a healing system, Reiki can be used for self-healing and for helping others to heal. At the same time, with inner reflection and contemplation and working with this energy, over time is can be used as a pathway of enlightenment.
How exactly does Reiki release tension and help the body heal? That question has yet to be answered. Although there is increasing research evidence documenting the effects of Reiki (such as lowered heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones; increased immune strength), we have only broad theories as to what causes these effects or the pathways through which the healing occurs.
The multi-leveled, rapid response to Reiki suggests a complex process that engages many body systems, simultaneously or in quick succession, shifting the body from domination by the "fight or flight" (stress) response to the relaxation response, and supporting the body's own healing mechanisms.
Some researchers theorise that Reiki's physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing effect is triggered on a subphysical level, perhaps in what science refers to as the biofield.
The biofield is the term medical science has adopted for the intricately layered vibrational energy field that is said to surround and penetrate the physical body. The biofield is extremely subtle and there is as yet no conventional scientific technology that can document its existence or otherwise study it directly. However, for thousands of years, traditional, indigenous, pre-scientific medical systems have recognised a balanced, evenly pulsing biofield as the foundation of health and wellbeing, and seen any disruption of this balance as the beginning of illness.
History of Reiki
Reiki dates back to the teachings of Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 1920's. Usui was a lifelong spiritual aspirant, a lay monk with a wife and two children. In Usui's time, various lineages of Buddhist, Taoist, and Shinto practices coexisted as the dominant themes in Japanese spirituality and culture.
Usui's intense spiritual practices culminated in a profound revelation that led to the practice now commonly called Reiki. This realization most likely occurred in 1922. It is helpful to understand the history of Reiki as it has adapted to the needs of people of the years.
Dr Mikao Usui 1865 – 1926
Reiki was rediscovered in the mid 1800’s by a Japanese born Buddhist monk, Dr. Mikao Usui. While teaching in a college, Dr. Usui was asked by a student how Jesus facilitated the healing miracles that he performed. The question had planted a seed and set Dr. Usui out on the path to answer ‘that question’. Dr. Usui was determined to learn the secret healing so that he may help others and his journey took him to many countries.
During his journey Dr Usui travelled to the holy mountains of Kori Yama where he fasted and meditated for 21 days in order to attain a high altered state of consciousness which he believed would empower him with the healing energy. On the morning of the 21st day, Dr. Usui was beginning to become frustrated with his situation. As he was about to give up and leave, a great spiritual energy came down into the top of his head and he became enlightened. The energy also bought with it Reiki Ryoho, which is the ability to heal.
Dr. Usui returned to his monastery but decided after a few days to go to a beggar city, in the slums of Kyoto, to treat beggars and help them lead a better life. He spent 7 years in the slums, treating many illnesses. However, he noticed that the same individuals were returning. When he asked one of them why they had not started a new life he was told that it was much easier to go on begging than carry the responsibility of starting over.
For Usui, reiki was a spiritual practice – an opportunity for each person to awaken their true nature. He adjusted the teachings to each students. Some students would have received symbols to study and chant, others may have be given the task of contemplating a reiki principles etc.
Dr Chujiro Hayashi
One of Dr Usui’s pupils was Dr Chujiro Hayashi who continued in the steps of Dr Usui by opening a reiki clinic which remained opened until 1940. He became a student of Usui in May 1925 and is one of the twenty one teacher students of Usui. He was a retired Naval Officer and surgeon and he studied with Usui for 10 months before Usui died in March 1926.
Dr Hayashi developed a new style of Reiki, which has the same energy and lineage as Usui Reiki, and many of the original techniques but is also responsible for the formal aspects of reiki which are taught today – namely the hand positions, the science-based practises held within reiki and instead of Usui reju, he taught an ‘attunement’.
The fame and popularity of Dr Hayashi’s clinic spread throughout Japan, and it was quite successful at bringing healing energies to many people. It was here, the emphasis was on healing rather than personal development (Usui saw reiki as a path to your true self – a spiritual path)
Mrs Hayayo Takata
Mrs Hawayo Takata was a Hawaiian woman of Japanese descent born in 1900. After the death of her husband and sister, she became sick and decided to travel to Japan in search of a doctor who could perform an operation which was deemed necessary in order for her good health to return. While in Japan, she felt strongly that the operation (for tumour, gallstones and appendicitis) would be unnecessary, and she inquired if there was any alternative way for her to be healed. The doctor referred her to Dr Hayashi’s clinic.
Mrs Takata began receiving regular weekly treatments. Over a period of several weeks, her health improved drastically. She was amazed and asked Dr Hayashi to teach her how to transmit reiki energies to others. He agreed to teach her Reiki I and II and she studied with him from 1936-1938. She is one of the thirteen teacher students of Hayashi Chujiro.
She was the first to bring Hayashi’s teaching to the west when she returned to Hawaii where she began to practice reiki. Two years later, she convinced Dr Hayashi to come visit her in Hawaii so he could see her reiki clinic, where he decided to initiate Mrs Takata into the third degree of reiki.
Mrs Takata continued giving treatments and began teaching level 1 and level 2 reiki students. In the 1970’s, she began training other reiki masters. For over 40 years she used storytelling to teach people about the system she called Reiki and its history.
By the time of her transition on December 11th 1980, Mrs Takata had trained 22 reiki masters. It is from these teachers that reiki has mainly spread throughout the west.