A Brief History of Usui Reiki Healing

Updated on October 4, 2019
Carol Morris profile image

Carol was introduced to Reiki energy healing over a decade ago and since it has become an amazing way of life that she loves to share.

Reiki is a life energy healing practice that is gaining popularity and interest. Many people are curious about its origins. The beginning of Reiki has always seemed a little mysterious. It's portrayed as a story surrounded by myths that nobody can confirm or deny.

When I was a Reiki newbie my master taught me the fascinating history of Reiki and since then I've learned other parts of the story from different sources—from books, different Reiki masters and the Internet. Here is what I've learned.

Reiki Universal Healing Energy
Reiki Universal Healing Energy

Reiki and Dr. Mikao Usui

It all started with Dr. Mikao Usui, the man who founded Reiki as we know it. Now, there are some people who say that Reiki existed before Usui, and I won't argue with that because there are so many different kinds of energy healing practices and I believe that energy healing has been going on since … well, forever. But, this article is about Usui Reiki, so we'll put all those other healing methods aside and we'll talk about them another time.

Back to Dr. Usui. He was born to a wealthy Buddhist family in Japan in 1865. He received a well-rounded education and studied in a traditional Japanese Buddhist Monastery. Usui practiced the Aiki martial art and was raised as a samurai. Once he completed studying in the monastery he mastered Samurai swordsmanship. The thing that interested Usui the most was different types of healing and medicines, including energy healing. He devoted a lot of time to study these subjects.

Dr. Mikao Usui
Dr. Mikao Usui

This interest took Usui on travels to China and the West where he studied different types of medicines and disciplines. During these travels, he took on different jobs, including working as a reporter, secretary, public servant, and even a guard, until he eventually returned to the Buddhist monastery.

Usui at the Mountain Monastery

In 1922, while at the monastery, Usui took upon himself a journey up one of Japan's most sacred mountains, Mount Kurama, where he would meditate and fast for weeks. Usui stayed up the mountain for 21 days, and toward the end, he started feeling weaker and weaker. The last night he was up on the mountain he felt what he described as a lightning bolt entering his crown chakra and he fell down unconscious. The next morning when he awoke he felt an awesome energy in his body, like nothing that he'd ever felt before. He felt that this new energy, which he sensed was a spiritual enlightenment, was a special gift and it was his responsibility to share it.

Usui rushed down from the mountain, and on his way, he stumbled and stubbed his toe. Like anyone who hurts their toe, he put his hands on his sore toe, and suddenly the pain disappeared.

It is also said that once Usui got down from the mountain he stopped to have a meal. The host at the roadside table had his granddaughter serve him his meal, and he noticed that she had a cloth wrapped around her head. When he asked her about it she told him that she was suffering from a terrible toothache but there was no doctor in the area. Usui offered to help her with her toothache and the girl and her grandfather agreed. He placed his hands on the girl’s jaw and she was astounded by the healing. The grandfather wanted to pay Usui, but he wouldn’t hear of it and proposed that they accept the healing as payment for his meal.


It is also told that once Usui returned to the monastery he found that the abbot was bedridden. He was suffering from painful arthritis and couldn’t get up. Usui placed his hands on the abbot and soon he was able to get out of bed and walk without any discomfort.

By then Usui knew that he had something special. Something that he called “Reiki”, which means Universal Life Energy in English.

After a good sleep and having gathered his strength Usui started to think about how to develop this special energy and how to use it in a way that would benefit others. He spoke to the other monks and it was decided that the best way to experiment and develop the Reiki was to take it to a part of the city of Kyoto where her could help heal the poor.

Dr. Usui and Energy Healing

Dr. Usui found a small place to live where he could receive patients and he offered the people healing in exchange for them bringing him food. There were many sick people living there, suffering from injuries and diseases such as tuberculosis and leprosy.

The very next day patients started coming to his house to be treated. Usui believed that every disease was the result of an inner cause. He would categorize the people according to their symptoms and treat them accordingly. Some people would get well after a few treatments and some took longer, sometimes even months. Dr. Usui noticed that people weren’t grateful for healing if it was received for free so he made sure to charge a symbolic fee for Reiki treatments, so the people would appreciate it.

Dr. Usui developed his system of treatment with the healing Reiki energy. He would heal people and he also taught others his system. He developed his healing techniques and an attunement method, which made it easier to pass Reiki on to other teachers and healers. Dr. Usui taught several Reiki masters to make sure that the Reiki system would be passed on.

One of those masters was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a former naval officer. Dr. Hayashi continued to develop Usui’s Reiki system by adding hand positions and instead of having the clients sit in a chair he changed the method to having them lie on a treatment table where more than one practitioner could treat them at the same time. He also improved the system by refining the attunement process. Dr. Hayashi trained more Reiki masters, including Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata was a Japanese-American who went to Dr. Hayashi for healing in 1935. After he taught Mrs. Takata the system she took Reiki back to America with her.

Mrs. Takata and Reiki

Mrs. Takata took Reiki to the West and she trained another 22 Reiki masters before she died. Mrs. Takata also made some adjustments to Usui’s Reiki system. She considered it too complicated and she made her system simpler.

Mrs. Takata is credited for keeping Reiki alive. It is said that if it weren’t for her Reiki would have been forgotten, even in Japan. The reason for this is that after World War II the United States had total control over Japan. And, the US made it mandatory to have a license for any type of healing. The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai did not want to be under anyone’s control so they decided to go underground, and members would only practice Reiki on one another and would not talk about Reiki with anyone else. That is why nobody in Japan would have found out about Reiki. Before the war Mrs. Takata had started teaching Reiki in Hawaii and later on the Mainland, she was a great promotor of the system and due to this she kept it alive.

Reiki healing hands
Reiki healing hands

The universal life energy, Reiki continues to be used and enjoyed by people all over the world. Today you will find new systems of Reiki taught by new masters. Reiki has unlimited potential. It knows no religion and no boundaries, and it can only be channeled to bring good to the world.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Carol Morris


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    • Carol Morris profile imageAUTHOR

      Carol Morris 

      5 months ago

      Thanks JC

    • JC Scull profile image

      JC Scull 

      5 months ago from Gainesville, Florida

      Interesting article.


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