Reiki (pronounced Ray-Key) is a Japanese word representing universal life energy, the energy which is all around us. It is derived from ‘rei’, meaning “free passage” or “transcendental spirit” and ‘ki’, meaning “vital life force energy” or ” universal life energy”.

It is believed to come from ancient texts rediscovered and developed by Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan early last century.

Reiki is a Japanese spiritual form of healing that promotes balance in the body, mind and spirit. Although, like meditation and yoga, Reiki is traditionally a self-care practice, it can also be used therapeutically to support people addressing health challenges and to ease the delivery of conventional health care. The number of mainstream care settings where Reiki treatment is offered to patients has increased rapidly in the last ten years worldwide.

Reiki utilizes specific techniques for restoring and balancing the natural life force energy within the body. It is a holistic, natural, hands-on energy healing system that touches on all levels: body, mind, and spirit. This means that although we may come to the Reiki table looking for relief from some physical ailment or emotional issue, we may find that we start to reap the benefits on many levels and in unexpected ways.

What makes Reiki unique is that it incorporates elements of just about every other alternative healing practices such as spiritual healing, auras, crystals, chakra balancing, meditation, aromatherapy, naturopathy, and homeopathy.

Reiki does not discriminate; it just flows through us and helps our bodies to heal themselves in whatever way is best for us at that point in time.

Also, you don’t need to “believe” in Reiki for it to have a positive effect on your wellbeing. In fact, most people are quite skeptical about Reiki when they first see their practitioner. People are often only convinced of its efficacy when they see and feel noticeable results for themselves.

Reiki and Healing

In Reiki, the word “healing” has a somewhat different meaning from the widely accepted meaning. The widely accepted meaning for “healing” seems to be “curing” of symptoms, for that seems to be what medical doctors and the like look to do in their practice. The other meaning for healing, used in the practice of Reiki as well as other related areas, is the “return to greater wholeness”.

Reiki practitioners channel energy in a particular pattern to heal and harmonize. Unlike other healing therapies based on the premise of a human energy field, Reiki seeks to ‘restore order to the body whose vital energy has become unbalanced’.

Where does Reiki energy come from?

Reiki energy is a subtle energy. It is different from electricity or chemical energy or other kinds of physical energy. Reiki energy comes from the Higher Power, or the God-consciousness, which exists on a higher dimension than the physical world that we are familiar with. When viewed clairvoyantly, Reiki energy appears to come down from above and to enter the top of the practitioner’s head (Crown Chakra) after which if flows through the body and out the hands. It appears to flow this way because of our perspective. However, the true source of Reiki energy is within ourselves. This does not mean that we use our personal energy when we do Reiki, but that the energy is coming from a transcendental part of ourselves that is connected to an infinite supply of healing energy.

What is the origin of Reiki?

Reiki practice began with the teachings of Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 1920s. One of his close students, Chujiro Hayashi, was a medical doctor retired from naval service. Hayashi simplified the healing practices and helped his student, Mrs. Hawayo Takata, bring Reiki to the U.S. in 1938. Reiki is now practiced throughout the world.

How is Reiki related to Spirituality?

Reiki is a healing practice that enables people to access their own unique spirituality without dogma. Asian spirituality and medicine are intertwined; health is not seen as merely a lack of disease. Rather, spiritual development is valued as a cornerstone of overall health.

Integration Into Conventional Medical Care

The integration of Reiki into conventional medical care has happened largely as a result of strong anecdotal evidence and consensus in the medical community that Reiki is safe. There is also a small, but growing, body of research data to support Reiki’s usefulness in maintaining well-being and addressing symptoms of disease and the adverse effects of stress.

What can be treated with Reiki?

Reiki has had a positive effect on all forms of illnesses and conditions. This includes:

• Heart disease
• Cancer
• Leukaemia
• Depression
• Stomach aches
• Colds and flu
• Tension
• Anxiety
• Stress
• Emotional pain
• Insomnia
• Eating and metabolic disorders
• Back, muscle pain and sciatica
• Migraines and headaches
• Irritable syndrome and constipation
• Arthritis
• Gout
• Poor cardiovascular and lymph drainage
• Past life traumas

The side effects of regular medical treatments have also been reduced or eliminated. This includes the negative effects of chemotherapy and post-operative pain as well as improving the healing rate and reducing the time needed to stay in the hospital.

Reiki always helps and in some cases people have experienced complete healings which have been confirmed by medical tests before and after the Reiki treatments. However, while some have experienced miracles, they cannot be guaranteed. Stress reduction with some improvement in ones physical and psychological condition are what most experience.

As well as the physical and emotional benefits, Reiki can aid spiritual growth and for those wishing to expand their natural gifts and strengthen their connection with the divine. It is also known for balancing and cleansing the Chakras.

How does Reiki work?

Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field and charging them with life force energy. It raises the vibratory level of the energy field in and around the physical body where the negative thoughts and feelings are attached. This causes the low energy field to break apart and fall away. In so doing, Reiki clears, straightens and heals the energy pathways, thus allowing the life force to flow in a healthy and natural way.

Is Reiki a religion?

Although Reiki energy is spiritual in nature, Reiki is not a religion. Practitioners are not asked to change any religious or spiritual beliefs they may have. They are free to continue believing anything they choose and are encouraged to make their own decisions concerning the nature of their religious practices.

Can Reiki cause any harm?

Since Reiki is guided by the God-consciousness, it can never do harm. It always knows what a person needs and will adjust itself to create the effect that is appropriate for them. One never need worry about whether to give Reiki or not. However, it is given only when asked for. It is always helpful.

In addition, because the practitioner does not direct the healing and does not decide what to work on, or what to heal, the practitioner is not in danger of taking on the karma of the client. Because the practitioner is not doing the healing, and is merely facilitating the healing, it is also much easier for the ego to stay out of the way and allow the presence of the God-consciousness to clearly shine through.

What is a Reiki session like?

Reiki treatment typically consists of light touches to a series of areas on the head and torso while the fully clothed recipient lies on a treatment table or sits comfortably supported in a chair. Treatments normally last between 45 and 90 minutes during which the Reiki practitioner will place their hands gently on the recipient’s body, or just above the body. These include positions around the head and shoulders, the stomach, and feet. Other, more specific positions may be used based on the clients needs. Each position is held for three to ten minutes depending on how much Reiki the client needs at each position.

When needed, such as in the case of burns or an open wound, the hand administering Reiki can be held just above the body. The light touch used in Reiki treatment does not manipulate the body in any way, and no substances are ingested through the skin or the mouth. Reiki is therefore non-invasive, non-obstructive, and safe to combine with any medical intervention. The protocol for treatment is very flexible, allowing Reiki to be used simultaneously with arduous medical procedures such as chemotherapy or bone marrow biopsy to comfort and relax the patient.

Actually, Reiki practitioners do not manipulate or direct energy. They merely provide a connection through which the healing pulsations called Reiki activate spontaneously according to the need of the receiver. Reiki practitioners remain passive during treatment. Although Reiki is healing, it is not medicine in the sense that it is not directed toward a specific goal. No diagnosis is needed, and the treatment plan is the same for every condition. Reiki is much subtler than other energy techniques, more akin to meditation than to energy medicine, and could be thought of as applied meditation. The actual experience of Reiki is usually quite meditative. All the recipient has to do is relax.

What people experience?

A Reiki treatment is a highly individual experience depending on what is going on for the recipient. People often report feeling deeply relaxed during Reiki treatments. In addition, many feel a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and surrounds them. Some report feeling heat, coolness or tingling where the practitioner has placed their hands. Others feel their body gently moving, as if it were naturally re-adjusting itself. Fireworks or not, there is no need to get too hung up on these sensations. As the Reiki energy encourages one to let go of all tension, anxiety, fear or other negative feelings, a state of peace and well-being is experienced. Some drift off to sleep or report floating outside their bodies or have visions and other mystical experiences. At the end of the treatment, one feels refreshed with a more positive, balanced outlook.

Sometimes, the result might be something quite dramatic, like realising you are free from pain for the first time in years or feeling like a huge emotional weight has finally been lifted off your shoulders. Or it might be something quite simple like getting a great night’s sleep or an improvement in appetite. Such observations, however big or small, can be interpreted as outward effects of your body naturally restoring balance. Being observant to such changes will help you to measure the impact of Reiki on your personal wellbeing. For more serious or persistent issues (where a series of treatments is normally required), paying attention to such changes will hopefully motivate you to continue with the full course of treatment.

I tell my clients that Reiki is not a miracle cure, yet it can alleviate symptoms of disease and compliments western medicine and therapies for faster recovery and balancing of the body. Everyone is different and every treatment is different. The most important thing is to pay attention to how you feel after the Reiki treatment(s).

Reiki treatment promotes overall balance, and seems to enable the body to more effectively engage its own self-healing mechanisms. Recipients typically report feeling drawn effortlessly into a meditative state during Reiki treatment and feeling clearer, more centered and relaxed after treatment. The experience and effectiveness of self-treatment are comparable to receiving treatment from someone else, especially in terms of improvement in anxiety and pain. The most frequently reported benefits include improved sleep, digestion, memory and overall functioning, enhanced well-being and self-esteem, and reduced pain, anxiety, and fatigue.

Medical Studies and Results

As with other non-medical therapies, the scientific study of the effectiveness of Reiki is just beginning, but the data so far are encouraging. The data support the usefulness of Reiki treatment to manage anxiety, pain and fatigue. A study at Memorial Sloan Kettering looked at the effectiveness of touch therapies, including Reiki, to reduce anxiety, fatigue and pain in cancer patients. The intensity of the symptoms dropped by half even for those patients who reported the highest levels of discomfort. Although the symptoms increased somewhat after treatment, the intensity of discomfort did not return to pre-treatment levels during the 48 hours in which patients were monitored.

A few studies have documented positive physiological changes and improvements in the recipient’s subjective experience in healthy adults. The objective data include decreased levels of stress hormones, improvement in immune indicators, improved blood pressure and decreased heart rate. In a yet unpublished Yale study of inpatients who suffered a heart attack within the past 72 hours, Reiki significantly improved heart rate variability (HRV) and reduced anxiety over both the control group and the participants’ own baseline levels. Chronic stress is linked to a wide range of diseases and degenerative conditions, and HRV is an objective measure of both an individual’s current stress level and the body’s response to interventions to reduce stress. These data therefore warrant further investigation.

A few of the small studies that have been done so far have showed promising results for using Reiki to reduce stress, anxiety and pain. The data include objective measures (decreased stress hormones, improved immune indicators, decreased heart rate and improved blood pressure) as well as subjective improvements in anxiety and pain. One study showed benefits to people being treated for depression, and the improvements held when the participants were tested a year later. The National Institutes of Health currently has five research projects studying Reiki’s effect on stress, fibromyalgia, AIDS, prostate cancer, and diabetic neuropathy and coronary risk factors.

Reiki can help reduce symptoms of depression, hopelessness and perceived stress, as evidenced by a study in which participants who received six weekly Reiki treatments showed significant improvement over the control group and held the benefit when tested a year later.

Reiki is a spiritual healing practice with wide-ranging applications in mainstream health care as a low-cost, non-pharmacological intervention that can improve objective physiological measures and reduce subjective distress without interfering with needed medical care. By balancing the system, Reiki treatment can ease symptoms and help patients maintain a composed, hopeful state of mind. This is valuable at any time, and especially desirable when people undergo invasive treatments such as chemotherapy or surgery. Individuals and family members can learn to practice Reiki at home to support themselves and one another, reducing healthcare costs and engaging the family in a health-promoting, life-enhancing activity.