What is Reiki

Reiki (pronounced Ray-Kee) originates from two Japanese words – Rei which means ‘spirit’ or ‘divine’ and Ki which is ‘life force energy’ – and is translated as ‘universal life force energy’. This universal energy is all around us and is empowered by intention.

Ki operates at high vibrations and frequencies which make it difficult to see without electromagnetic equipment. Reiki operates at even higher frequencies than the ki in the physical body and aura. This enables it to to move through the entire human energy field to clear any blockages and promote healing. The technique of Reiki is based on the principle that the therapist can become a channel for this universal energy and transmit it into the patient’s body by means of touch. This flow of energy then activates the natural healing processes and works to restore both physical and emotional well-being. If our life force energy is low, we are more prone to physical and mental illness, if our life force energy is high we are more able to maintain a healthy body and mind.

Reiki is a simple, natural and non-invasive healing technique which can bring help and comfort to people suffering from a multitude of conditions, both physical and emotional. Care should be taken never to regard it as as a cure as is not a substitute for modern medicine, however the two can work together in harmony to relieve side effects and promote recovery. It is often combined with other therapies such as crystal therapy for dual effect. Reiki is becoming more and more popular and as western medicine explores alternative methods of healing, Reiki has an important role to play in becoming an accepted and valued healing practice.

The extended applications of Reiki are limitless, Reiki can be given to people, pets, plants, food and even household objects. It can be used to cleanse and recharge crystals and can even be used for the purpose of manifestation, obviously all for the highest good though.


History of Reiki

It is believed that attunements very similar to Reiki possibly date back thousands of years, originating in Tibet. Reiki as we know it today originated in Japan in the 1920’s when a scholar named Dr Mikao Usui went in search of answers after being challenged by a student whether he could replicate the hands on healing performed by Jesus in the Bible. Unable to do this, Dr Usui dedicated the rest of his life to go in search of how Jesus and Buddha had been able to heal. After years of studying, travelling and learning different languages he found an explanation of the laying on of hands in a Sanskrit Sutra. This inspired him to Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Here he asked the senior monk how to activate the energy and was advised to meditate to find the answers.

He was guided to go to the Holy Mount Kurama where he went on a twenty-one day fasting retreat. He placed twenty-one stones in front of him and discarded one each morning before sunrise. When he discarded the last stone, a beam of light appeared which struck him on the forehead activating his third eye. He then saw beautiful bubbles containing Sanskrit characters and was in turn attuned to each symbol, receiving the accompanying knowledge.

The four miracles

Despite having fasted for all this time, he was able to rush down the mountain to relay the experience to the Zen monk. On the way down, he hurt his foot and instinctively bent down to hold his toe. His hands heated up and his toe healed. At the bottom of the mountain, he was able to eat a full meal. The woman who served him had bad toothache, and when he placed his hands on her the pain disappeared. When he found the Zen monk he lay bed-ridden with arthritis. After placing his hands on the monk and his pain went away.

Dr Usui then spent many years healing the poor, until he was enlightened by the realisation that that the person receiving the healing has a responsibility in the healing process, and that there was no exchange of energy for his services with these clients. This led to new teachings focussing on the spiritual and physical aspects of Reiki.

Before his death, Dr Usui passed on the responsibility of preserving Reiki to Dr Hayashi, a retired naval officer. Dr Hayashi opened a clinic in Tokyo where he initiated 13 masters before his death, the last being Mrs Hawayo Takata. Mrs Takata was the main influence in introducing Reiki to the West. By the end of the year 2000, it is thought there were half a million Reiki Masters and four million Reiki practitioners worldwide. This number has steadily risen since and brings us to today’s practitioners and masters, all who can be traced back on a lineage to Dr Usui.


5 Reiki principles

As mentioned above, Dr Usui’s teaching focused on the spiritual and physical aspects of Reiki and the principles for living a good life. This led to the five Reiki principles which are embedded in every practitioners and Masters practice.

Just for today I will let go of anger

Just for today I will let go of worry

Today I will count my many blessings

Today I will do my work honestly

Today I will be kind to every living creature

Reiki is not a religion

Although Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not, whatever your religion or belief system. Reiki is however based on the five basic principles listed above, which are the basis of a life that promotes harmony within oneself and with others.

How does Reiki work?

Life force energy or ki flows through the physical body via pathways called chakras, meridians and nadis and also around us in our aura. You can feel this energy if you rub your hands together for 15 -30 seconds, then slowly pull them apart 6-12 inches, then slowly bring them back together without touching. Repeat bringing your hands together and apart and you will start to feel a pressure or stickiness between your hands – this is the energy you are feeling.


This energy nourishes the body, and if the flow of this energy is disrupted then illness, physical, mental and emotional can manifest. The flow of this energy corresponds not only to our physical condition but also to our thoughts and feelings. Negativity can cause the energy to become weak, ki becomes restricted in flow and blockages can occur where negative energy collects. The physical organs at these locations are restricted in their functioning. If the negativity is not eliminated quickly, illness can result. Even Western medicine recognizes the role played by the mind in creating illness.

Reiki is guided by higher intelligence and heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field. The Reiki charges these areas with positive energy to raise the vibratory level and break up the negative energy. With the energy blockages removed and the pathway now clear, the natural flow of ki is resumed and the body begins to heal.

Reiki can never do harm

Because Reiki is spiritually guided life force energy, it always works for the persons greatest good, it can never do harm. A Reiki practitioner is simply a channel for this energy, and whilst they may work down the body, use Reiki to balance the chakras, or place their hands on a site of injury, they are not directing the energy or the healing. It always knows what a person needs and it will flow where needed, even if that is somewhere other than where the practitioner places their hands.

How is Reiki taught

Reiki is not taught or learned in the same way as other therapies. Of course, there is a theory aspect that is learned in the conventional sense but the ability to give and send Reiki is passed on during an attunement performed by a Reiki Master. The attunement can be thought of as tuning a radio. During the process the crown, heart and palm chakras are opened and sacred symbols are drawn into the student which act like keys to open up new energy channels which were previously closed. The student is then ‘tuned in’ to the Reiki frequency which enables the student to become a channel for Reiki.

What happens during a Reiki treatment

During a Reiki treatment you will be asked to sit in a chair or lie on a therapy couch. Soft music may be played or you can ask if you prefer silence. You will be guided into a short meditation to relax you as the practitioner begins the treatment.

Reiki involves light, non-invasive touch. Some practitioners prefer to place their hands on the body, whereas others may hold them just over it – both work equally well and you can indicate if you have a preference. You remain fully clothed throughout and the placement of hands will never be intrusive or inappropriate.

Initially the practitioner may use a technique called ‘byosen’, which scans over the body to detect energy changes. This may be done with the hands or a pendulum, especially if the treatment is combined with crystal therapy. During the treatment the practitioner will work down the body, focusing on clearing the seven main chakras. They will place their hands in various positions and use the Reiki symbols that they are attuned to as needed. Additional hand placements can be done as needed, for example on injuries or problematic areas. If needed the practitioner may pay extra attention to specific areas of the body that they feel are blocked, though the Reiki will instinctively go where needed anyway.

Map of the nadis and chakras

Map of the nadis and chakras

The Reiki experience

The experience received during a treatment varies greatly from person to person. You may be aware of the practitioner placing their hands on you or the presence of them over and around you. Some clients will visualise shapes, colours or swirling patterns, some may become sensitive to every sound, including your own heart beat and body workings or the sound of energy flowing through the body. The most common experience is the sensation of energy moving through the body, tingling, pulsing, a warmth from the practitioners hands or even a cold stream. It is not uncommon for clients to sense the practitioners hands somewhere where they are not actually in contact.

Whether you experience all or none of these sensations, be assured that the Reiki is still flowing in to you and going where it needs to.

Reiki treats the whole person – that is the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Many clients enter a deep state of relaxation and peace and may even drift off to sleep. At the end of the treatment the practitioner will seal and smooth down your aura before gently bringing you back to a state of full awareness.

Distance Healing

Distant healing is the ability to send Reiki to someone who is not physically present.

Reiki does not see difference in space or time. A specific symbol is used to send distant healing which brings all space and time into the here and now. One of the most fascinating things about Reiki is that because distance and time are no object, this allows Reiki healing to be sent into the past and the future. Reiki sent distantly reaches its destination instantly, though it can also be programmed with intention to be received at a specific future time or place.


After a Reiki treatment

After a Reiki treatment people generally feel refreshed and relaxed, though it is also common to feel more tired a while afterwards. This is a normal reaction and is the body’s healing response, just as your body urges you to rest if you have a cold. You may find that you sleep better or even have a few nights of restless sleep before it improves, again, this is completely normal and all part of your body healing from the inside out.

You should never expect a diagnosis after a Reiki treatment, nor should you be offered one, Reiki practitioners are not medical experts and Reiki should not be used as a substitute conventional medical advice or treatment. Your practitioner should give you some general information on what to expect after the treatment, as well as general after-care advice like drinking plenty of water to flush out toxins, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.

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