What is reiki healing and how can it benefit me?
Reiki healing first originated in Japan and is now used all around the world.

What is reiki healing and how can it benefit me?

Japanese kanji for reiki. Black characters on a white background.

Reiki is a Japanese word, formed of two kanji (Chinese characters), ‘rei‘ and ‘ki‘. When used together it means ‘spiritual energy‘ or ‘universal life-force‘. It’s difficult to translate exactly into English, but it refers to the energy from which we are created and also surrounded by. It is the essence of life. In the west, reiki is now known as a system of healing, where a practitioner channels universal energy through their hands to a recipient. Reiki is sometimes used as an alternative to conventional treatments. In this article, I would like to briefly discuss the origins of reiki healing and explain what it can be used for.

Where did reiki come from?

All traditional reiki practitioners, including myself, should have a lineage which can be traced back to the first known person to use this energy: a Japanese man named Mikao Usui (1865-1926). There are a great many stories about how he discovered reiki healing, however, lack of written records and the secrecy of his followers in Japan have made it difficult to unearth many details. We know that Usui was a well-educated and spiritual man, born within the highest ranks of samurai. He was also a Tendai Buddhist who studied martial arts and was unusually well-travelled. A popular story describes how Mikao fasted and meditated on Mount Kurama for 21 days. During this time he felt enlightened and experienced the energy of reiki entering his body. His newly discovered method of reiki healing was first used on himself and his family. In time, he opened a clinic in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo in 1922 to treat countless patients. His fame spread and he gained a following of students who wanted to learn his healing method.

A black and white photograph of Miako Usui, the founder of reiki.
Mikao Usui (1865-1926)

Reiki healing goes west

Eventually, a few of his students started to teach reiki healing in the west. There were so few of them that it is now easy to trace each practitioner’s lineage back to Usui, like a family tree. Usui’s healing method became known as reiki in the west and as with all things, has evolved in time to have different branches. Now, there are various types of reiki systems. You may have heard of Angelic Reiki, Tibetan Reiki, Seichim Reiki, etc. All have been inspired by Usui’s system but have had various influences from other cultures and the New Age movement. If you are looking for a practitioner who practices traditional reiki based on Usui’s system, look out for Usui Reiki Ryoho. In the UK, traditional reiki practitioners can be found on the UK Reiki Federation website (of which I am a member! please see my website blossomreiki.co.uk for details).

How do students learn reiki?

Each student receives an ‘attunement’ from their ‘master’, or ‘sensei‘, which is the Japanese word for teacher. This attunement is a sacred ceremony that opens up the individual’s energy system to the frequency of reiki energy. That person is then able to channel that energy through their hands to a recipient. There are three levels of reiki, each requiring a new attunement. Each level builds upon the last, and those who are reiki master teachers are able to attune their own students. During a reiki course, students learn how to focus the energy, what the hand positions are for healing, as well as how to direct the course of their spiritual development. As their energy fields have been opened up to a higher vibrational level, they need to learn how to manage it effectively. Reiki healing is different from other types of hands-on healing because the giver is taking universal energy around them and passing it on. Other healers typically transfer their own energy, which can deplete them and make them feel tired after a treatment. Reiki practitioners don’t feel exhausted after a treatment, as they get a dose of healing themselves.

The actual intention of reiki practice is personal enlightenment. The healing part is only a side benefit. I must stress that reiki is not a religion, as people of many faiths and cultures use it. Practitioners and teachers do not have to act or behave in a certain way or believe in any spiritual beings, which is possibly why it has become so widespread. However, there is one important guideline which is taught to all students, and they are the 5 reiki precepts:

For today only:

Do not anger
Do not worry
Be humble
Be honest in your work
Be compassionate to yourself and others

It serves as a reminder of how to conduct themselves each day.

What are the benefits of reiki?

From a practitioner’s point of view, the benefit is that they get to experience a whole new magical world. Reiki is a special gift that can be given to others to help them. It is comforting and exciting to have an ability which can help friends and family feel better. Reiki is a catalyst for change; many practitioners often end up with a completely different outlook on life.

For the recipient of reiki, the benefits are far-reaching. Healing can occur on different levels: spiritually, emotionally and physically. It is a holistic healing method which takes into account the whole person, so each healing is unique.

Reiki healing is good for the soul, it can provide clarity and renewal and helps people to connect to their higher selves to find peace.

Emotionally, it can release past hurts and current anxieties and act as a balm to calm and soothe.

Physically, reiki can heal pain or trigger the healing of many types of ailments, from a sore leg to an ear infection. Interestingly, reiki doesn’t always go where we think it should go, for example, someone might ask for their painful shoulder to be healed, but reiki will go to the root of the problem, which may be stress, caused by that person’s outlook on something.

The benefits of reiki healing are cumulative. Some people expect one treatment to cure their malady and although that can be true sometimes, often more than one session is required. As with any type of medicine, a single dose is usually not enough. However, a one-off treatment is very effective as a form of relaxation, some of my clients enjoy it very much on that basis.

I have personally used reiki for allergies, skin conditions, grief, insomnia, children’s illnesses as well as anxiety and pain. It definitely helps and I am always trying it out on different things.

Self Healing

A woman with her hands crossed across her chest, one of the reiki healing positions.
This is a self-healing position for the heart and the associated emotions.

Someone who is attuned to reiki energy can also use it to heal themselves, not just other people. It is a great source of comfort and can offer many insights into worries and problems. Self-healing is an on-going requirement for reiki practitioners, it ensures they work on themselves first before healing others.

What happens during a treatment?

Unlike a massage, the client stays fully dressed. They would normally be asked to lie down on a padded therapy table but reiki can also be given sitting upright. The practitioner will then set an intention for the healing and place their hands at various positions physically on the body or hovering just above it. There is no massaging or manipulation involved, the energy is just passing from the practitioner’s hands. The energy is often perceived by the recipient as heat or tingling. Sometimes people even sense colours or the feeling that there are several pairs of hands on them! Occasionally people feel like they are releasing pent up emotions and may react by laughing or crying. For most, it is simply a deeply relaxing experience and they fall asleep.

You may have also heard of ‘distant’ reiki healing. Since energy is everywhere and the practitioner is attuned to it, it can be directed to someone who is not even in the room with them. That means you can still receive reiki from the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. You won’t feel the heat that typically comes from the practitioner’s hands, but you may feel the energy changing around you. When I receive it, it feels a bit like I have static around me. If you have never had reiki before, for a full experience I would suggest seeing someone face to face. Distant reiki is great for top ups or for when you really can’t get out.

Is reiki suitable for me?

Reiki healing is complementary to conventional western medicine and can be used as an alternative for many minor ailments. It cannot take the place of major procedures such as surgery but can help with faster wound healing afterwards. Reiki is so gentle it is suitable for all ages of people and can even be used on plants and animals! It is always a good idea to monitor your body’s response to a healing session. For example, if you have diabetes, it would be wise to check your blood sugar after a treatment. It is not a magical cure, it is not going to cure something like cancer (or we’d have heard about it!), but is useful for alleviating side effects of illnesses and for giving someone a better outlook on life. I have personally never heard of reiki doing any harm to anyone, so if you’re considering it, you should give it a try!

In conclusion

Reiki is a safe and gentle form of hands-on healing which originated in Japan, but is now used all around the world for treating a myriad of spiritual, emotional and physical ailments. Treatments can be enjoyable and great for stress-relief. If you would like to find out more, you can contact the UK Reiki Federation and find your nearest therapist. If you are near London/Surrey in England, please look me up on blossomreiki.co.uk If you are particularly interested in how reiki can benefit children, please read my other article: Why you need reiki for children!

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Charlin has a background in teaching and education but has always had a keen interest in health, nutrition and spiritual wellbeing. She lives in Surrey with her cycling obsessed husband and three crazy children. She works as a reiki master/teacher at blossomreiki.co.uk and writes for aurasandapricots.com.

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